Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Vina y Valpo

Weekend Trip to Vina del Mar and Valparaso. That weekend just about all 60 of us escaped to the beach town Vina del Mar. Kyle and I went with a group of 20 people. We had planned on a group of 6, but everyone left around the same time, so we stayed together. It had it's advantages, we got a discounted rate for our bus tickets and a discounted rate for filling up an entire hostel. We stopped at a pizza place to eat and then headed to the beach. Chile has a stray dog problem, most of them aren't dangerous, but
most are badly in need of bathes and a trip to the vet.
Evidently dogs like the beach too, and if you take their spot, they just plop down on top of your stuff. One particular dog also decided that people sleeping on the beach actually want to be woken up with a big wet tongue, and gracefully did his duty waking two of the guys in our group up from their restful slumber. He stayed around long enough to be named Jasper. We lay around, walked along the beach, took pictures of the Brazilian martial arts being practiced, shopped along the sidewalk and then headed back. Our hostel mom, Christina, took us to an Italian food restaurant run by her friend. The food was ok and a little overpriced. I really wanted to go dancing so we headed over to some clubs, however, dancing in Chile doesn't start until 1:30 or 2 am, and Kyle has a hard time staying up much later than 1 so we headed back after enduring karaoke for over an hour. Evidently we didn't miss much because they didn't play great music. The next day, the groups broke up into smaller groups, and we went different directions. Kyle and I wanted to visit Valparaso which is this little town 15 minutes (or 5 minutes, depending if you have a crazy bus driver on speed) away with a beautiful view of the area. It is a little art community and many of the walls of the buildings were painted with colorful murals. It was a fun filled weekend.
The following week was as packed full as the week before. Our days started at 8 and ended at 7 or later. About 10 people got sick, including Kyle. Everyone had different symptoms and the paramedics didn't really say what everyone had, just told most people not to drink the water or eat fresh fruit for a week and gave them a shot in the butt which made everyone feel much better. Kyle didn't get the shot, they said he didn't need it. It is unclear why they gave some people the shot and not others, but we won't worry about it. Kyle's birthday, we were to visit another school, and this time we were placed in the same group, but Kyle was sick and stayed home, so the teacher had the kids sing happy birthday to Kyle so I could record it on the camera and bring it back to him. He was better by the evening, well enough to go out for a drink, but he went home early, since he was still recovering.

The next weekend was a sad one, we had to say goodbye to all of our new friends, and we weren't sure when we would ever see any of them again. They were spreading us out throughout all of the regions, starting from the North in the desert, one of the driest places in all the world (one part of this desert hasn't had recorded rain in 400 years) to the place called the 'end of the earth', since it is so close to Antarctica. Chile is so diverse and we will all have so many different experiences in our different areas of Chile. The desert people left first, and it was hard to say goodbye without crying. The end of the earth crowd left next and so on until the 5th and 6th regions were the only ones left alone.
It was a packed full two weeks with lots of disorganization, complaining and frustrating moments, but it also was filled with lots of laughter and inspiration. With a group of kindred spirits, it is difficult not to become fast friends during two weeks, and I hope that we are able to keep in touch. I don't feel as prepared as I would like, but I only hope that I can make a difference in the schools I have been placed. Pichilemu, here I come!

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