Friday, April 27, 2007
for what, I wasn't sure. After two weeks of a disorganized orientation, I was used to not knowing what was going to happen next, and so I waited without questions. However, we didn't have to wait long, before two cars with two men came along quickly and brought us to a building we now lovingly call "The Prov." We were ushered into a room with couches, offered tea with cookies, the staple of the Chilean diet, and poked and prodded with many questions. Bethany, who is just about fluent in Spanish, did all of the talking. I didn't mind, because I understood maybe three words of the entire conversation and just stared at the rapidly moving mouths hoping something sensible would come out. After a while, I excused myself so that I could use the restroom, but when I came back, the room had filled with three more guests. Three women, one a nun, stared at me as I walked back into the crazy Spanish speaking room. The director had forgotten my name which I excused since I hadn't caught any of their names. As I approached he said in Spanish, "This is .... she." I introduced myself to these strangers, going around the room and dutifully kissing every one's cheek then quickly found refuge in the sofa. Because there wasn't enough room for everyone to sit comfortably, Kyle and I had to squeeze into the couch with one of the new women. After officially squeezing into our sardine can, this woman sitting next to me, whom I didn't know, was introduced again as my host mom. I was so embarrassed I tried to apologize and laugh at the confusing situation, but it was nearly impossible to turn and look at her as I was lodged meticulously in between her and Kyle. The other two ladies were also introduced as Bethany's host mom, and the nun was the director of her school. After we were pryed loose, our host mom was told to come back for us later in the afternoon.
After the awkward meeting, we climbed into a car and were taken for a tour around Pichilelemu. Our first stop, the ocean, Punto de Lobos or Point of the Wolves. We were told that this amazing location was named for the many wolves who used to come for mating, but since Chileans had taken up residence, they no longer came. We were a bit confused as to why wolves would come to this particular location by the ocean for mating, until our misunderstanding was corrected weeks later. Lobos did not refer to land animals, but creatures of the sea, Lobos del Mar, seals.
The waters at this location are particularly violent and treacherous. They dance in unison to create graceful and awe-inspiring waves. However beautiful, this dance is also frightening. The dancers are choreographed perfectly with centuries of practice, and the force behind these waters holds an ancient and incredible power. I am afraid of this spot and I am filled with contradicting emotions. Fear, and humility bounce around my body, but peace and happiness course through my veins. It is our first day in our new city and I can't keep my feet on the ground or figure out what emotion to grab hold of to keep as mine.
We drove around the rest of the city with our guide pointing out particulars in Pichilemu. The old Casino which is now an empty building was built by the founder of Pichilemu, in hopes of making the town a huge tourist attraction; seafood restaurants that are designed for tourists to pay too much dinero; and the Parque Ross, a park with a wonderful view of the ocean. After the tour, we venture past an Internet cafe, up some stairs into a room that feels like somebody's house, and into an empty dining room. We are served pisco sours, the Chilean lemon lime specialty drink, and local wine. Our meal is delicious, and the conversation is sometimes slow enough for me to follow and even chime in on occasion. I must say, however, the wine is somewhat to thank as it helped to loosen my tongue. After our delicious lunch, we were taken to our designated schools. Who ever had the idea to stuff and wine the American volunteers before their official and formal introduction to their places of employment had a sick sense of humor. In any case, the introductions went well and the schools were all very welcoming and excited for the new comers to teach their children English. After visiting my schools, and Bethany's school, (the rural schools were saved for the following day) our tour was finally coming to an end. But our day was far from over. Although I felt that it had already been the longest day of my life and all I wanted to do was crawl into my bed and curl into a ball, we had the second round of this on going test waiting for us at The Prov, our host mom. It was to be the first time, we were left alone with a Spanish speaker who didn't also know English.
Camila, a short, beautiful woman, with blond hair, brown, cheerful eyes, and an easy laugh was waiting for us when we arrived back to the Prov. She gave us a tour of the house and introduced us to her pregnant dog, Canela. She was patient with us and praised us for our Spanish. She told us that before, they hosted a couple from Germany who spoke absolutely no Spanish whatsoever, and our little Spanish was a great improvement on no Spanish. I was greatly relieved to find this bit of information out, because it meant that I had a low expectation to meet and exceed rather than a high expectation to fall short of. We discussed anything we could think of to talk about. We discussed the spiders on the porch, who refused to admit defeat even after their homes were destroyed once a week, the orange sun kissing the horizon and the bright moon taking it's place, the horses eating and neighing in the pasture, and the washing machine that stopped functioning but couldn't be fixed in Pichilemu. We also discussed, Jorge, her husband, who hadn't arrived home yet. After an hour or more of talking, we excused ourselves to the bedroom, to start unpacking our belongings. After a short while, Jorge arrived home. He informed us that he knew five English words, one of which was lawyer because that was his profession. Jorge is the equivalent to a district attorney and has a reputation of leading with an iron fist. As we talked over our fantastic four course meal, fit for a king, or at least someone in the king's court, they described to us a recent case of a corrupt public official taking bribes and pocketing money whom Jorge had prosecuted and successfully placed in jail. Among our topics were differences in American and Chilean culture, different animals, foods, and how and why we chose Chile. Somehow, we succeeded to have a two and a half hour conversation with our broken Spanish. When dinner was over, and we had given them their picture book of Texas, and their stuffed armadillo, we retreated to our bedroom to discuss the miracle that had just transpired. I don't know how it happened but amazingly we conversed and for the most part understood what was being discussed. It was an amazing feeling. We loved our family from the get go and they continue to be amazing. We are truly blessed to have such a wonderful family to live with.
Monday, April 23, 2007
p.s. I just want to say, that yesterday, as Kyle and I were walking home, we saw a blue truck drive by. There was nothing particulary interesting about the truck itself, except that in the back trailer was a white llama enjoying the ride. It was the funniest thing at the time and totally unexpected! Just goes to show that you never know what to expect in Chile.
Housed smack in the middle of Santiago, Chile, the Chilean Ministry of Education’s new crop of sixty volunteers sticks out like dachshunds in a herd of alpaca.
When we break for the festive nightlife of the city after a tedious day of orientation, our group evokes images of the pack mentality that causes misunderstanding between cultures around the globe.
Fortunately for us, the curious stares from locals and sputtering conversations impeded by language barriers turn more favorable when our veritable mission is exposed. Upon recognizing our goal to “open doors” through the English language, the citizens of Santiago answer our questions and help us on our way.
A welcome ceremony at the modern, glass-encased United Nations building on the day of our arrival yields enough goose bump moments to mask the fatigue of our redeye flights. Nightly Spanish lessons help us to better understand the “Chilenismos” that are smattered frequently throughout the Spanish here and make the language tough to decipher. And soothing glasses of wine shared in the midst of tiki torches, palm trees and screaming red umbrellas on the patio of our four-story international hostel ease the onset of total immersion.
For every instance in which we wear our wine at two in the morning or blow pesos due to deficient Spanish and terrible currency conversion skills, we aspire to convey gems of the English language to our future students several times over. We learn from our mistakes as well as from the most unlikely of resources, such as the street dogs of Santiago.
In comparison to American dogs, the street dogs are dirty and unkempt. They are a bit intrusive into public privacy and scavenge for food. Nonetheless, American dogs are not nearly as savvy. Our dogs are spoiled while the street dogs of Santiago prosper and gain intellect from the grittiness of their existence. Makes me wonder why those from the States are given the world yet many still howl at the moon?
My mother will be proud to hear that some of what I learn here is not from vagabond animals but through the escapades of others. On one warm and starry night I head “home” at a reasonable hour while my companions prolong their evening of debauchery in the bars of Santiago. The night tears right along before it comes to a screeching halt.
The off-duty Chilean police officer from whom my four compatriots accept a ride from bar to hostel blasts techno music and promptly backs his jeep square into a sturdy tree. He proceeds to slam the car straight forward, over the curb and into a street sign. My friends clamor for an escape as the officer spins his wheels fruitlessly in the middle of a flower bed.
Lingering visualizations of these exploits and my delight in making the right decision still make my day, as do thoughts of our daytime excursions into Chile’s vivacious schools.
Our “observations” of local students and teachers are reciprocated by the children ten-fold. We enter any given school and are poked and prodded like cattle at a 4-H fair. The younger students, clad neatly in blue or grey suits and ties for the boys, and skirts, sweaters and stockings of like colors for the girls, nearly fall flat on their backs when we stroll through the expansive interiors of their open air, two-story schools. Our egos blast into orbit.
We pose for cell-phone cameras and sign autographs. Our mere essence of being is as alien to the Chilean kids as a surfboard to an Ohioan.
The lucky amongst us are invited to join indigenous dances with children garnished only in grass skirts, body paint and coconut bras in front of hundreds of giggling students, teachers and friends. Although awkward and red-faced, we grit our teeth and bear the embarrassment of the moment because it offers a rare chance to release our perpetual inner-child.
After all the hoopla of Santiago, the next step in our journey is to part ways from the group and the big city to live out our dreams in a whole new reality in the schools of Chile.If all involved have taken anything from our first two weeks in Chile it may be that “gringomania” has struck in a huge way and there is no sign of a slump any time soon.
Thanks Rob for the great story!
Tuesday, April 10, 2007
Our first evening in Chile, Saturday evening we sat around outside under the awning introducing ourselves, drinking pisco sours, the native drink to Chile, and attempted to discover the path that led everyone here to the same place at the same time. Everyone had different stories, but it seems every one's story was exactly the same, looking for something different, wanting to learn about a different culture, different people, and a new way of doing things, in a foreign part of the world. We were all looking for something, but something we couldn't find where we came from, so we went looking for it. Many people ask me, "why? Why Chile? " And normally I say because we wanted to learn Spanish, the program was on sale, and Chile is beautiful, but the true answer is more complicated than that. I will only answer this question for myself, although I am sure Kyle's is very similar to mine, we aren't truly the same person, so I will allow him to answer this question for himself. I love Texas, I love my friends, and my home and my family, but I crave something more, something that I can't explain. When I first took the job at High Country Marketing, I was excited because I felt like I was going to build a strong future for Kyle and I, but along side that excitement was a voice screaming at the top of it's lungs that it was too long term of a job and with it, I would never be able to just get up and leave the country if I wanted. I guess I should mention that since high school, I have had a strong desire to join the peace corps. The peace corps offers many things that I desired, an ability to speak another language, to live in another country for two years, and a life changing experience of service to others. After taking my job, I was afraid that I would never see that dream realized, a dream that I had carried close to my heart for a long time. I felt suffocated by reality and by ordinary and a dull existence. My spirit is one of giving and adventure, and neither were being fulfilled in Austin. I felt so alone, afraid and timid, something I am not accustomed to. My spirit was desperate for air, but there wasn't even promise of it in my future, and I could feel it shriveling inside. With High Country Marketing, I had one client and two more that had said yes, but hadn't signed the dotted line. When the dotted line remained empty, my phone calls avoided, and my one client unhappy with the progress, my first reaction was to feel unhappy and confused, but within a couple of days, I realized that this door that slammed in my face could actually be my out, my window, my silver lining. I called Kyle as soon as the storm clouds revealed their first gleams of sparkles. Although my enthusiasm overpowered kyle's tenfold, I heard excitement in his voice. The next couple of weeks I spent glued to the computer, researching all of the many possibilities. I applied for at least ten positions, including, Japan, South Korea, Argentina, and Chile. We chose Chile, not for the money, obviously, but because we felt that it was the best fit. So here we are, on this roller coaster we have chosen, not knowing where the next turn will take us, but excited just to be on the ride!
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!
Two week orientation
Santiago, what an experience. The capitol of the richest economy in South America, makes me afraid to see the maintenance on rest of the continent. Santiago has divisions between rich and poor areas; from the west and the south, the poorest, to the east, the richest, it all seems to have in common a general lack of maintenance, included in this package is disorganization, rundown buildings not made to last and graffiti decorating the walls and crevices of the city. However, though we spent two weeks in this city, most of what we saw were the inside of the hostel, and classrooms where we were given invaluable information, in Spanish!
Let us start from the beginning of our arrival. I believe I have already covered the most horrid part of the trip, where we weren't picked up from the airport, and streaming through my mind was the fear that this whole event might actually be a scam. My patience was running very low, not realizing that in the next couple of weeks, I would need all of the strands of patience I could string together to get me through this two week orientation. In the taxi ride to the hostel, instead of the relief I desired, I felt magma rumbling inside my body, preparing for an eruption that would compete with Mt.St. Helen. However, I realized that it might not be the best for a first impression, to go explode into molten lava, destroying all of Santiago with flames from the center of the earth streaming out of my nose and mouth and so, I quited the fire, and persuaded it to strike another time. Arriving to the hostel and finding it, the correct destination, relieved some of my anxiety. The first shower after traveling for close to 22 hours, was the most amazing shower I have ever taken in my life. We had flown from the worst winter storm of the season in New York, to the last stance of summer in Chile. We had sweat from having too many jackets on while carrying all of our belongings on a New York subway, as well as sweat from Chile's sun and the fear of never making it out of the airport. The hostel didn't have AC, and the cold water of the shower, made me want to melt into a puddle; on second thought though, I didn't want to travel down the pipes of the city only to find myself in the sewer system; so I left the shower a new woman, refreshed, clean and ready to take on the crazy adventure I chose to embark on.
The food at the hostel, I must say, was a bad orientation into Chilean food. We were served so much bland meat and rice, without the famous vegetables that this country in known for. Many people signed up for the vegetarian plates, which also had a bad wrap, because it was the same salad nearly every night, of ice burg lettuce, a couple of slices of tomatoes, beets, sometimes an egg and occasional cucumber. We arrived Saturday afternoon and had the rest of the weekend to relax and settle into the swing of Santiago. We were to find out later that there were 60 of us altogether on the 8 month program, and three couples. We were the only married couple, but another couple, a much older couple, was about to embark on both of their third marriages while in Chile. The second couple, the girl from Denmark, and the boy from Pennsylvania, Aaron and Christine, became immediate friends. Tall, super-model handsome, funny, and kind. They make an extraordinary couple. They met at Penn State while Christine was an exchange student from Denmark, and the rest is history. They had been living in Santiago for several months already, teaching businessmen/women to speak English, but felt isolated because they had come without a program, lived alone in an apartment, in a country that they couldn't speak the language well in so they had decided to change course and join English Opens Doors.
Sunday, Kyle and I split up, displaying our independence, trying to prove that we weren't that couple. I went to a tourist hot spot called San Christabol, which was a mountain with a really big statue of Mary looking down on the city of Santiago. It was a really fun trip, which included a ride up a funicular, gradually revealing the whole of the city step by step as we climbed up the mountain. After staring at the industrial city and trying to make out the mountain through the smog and pollution, we stopped to have some beers and appetizers at the restaurant at the top. It was lovely and exciting to be in this new place, with so many really interesting people. Kyle went with a group, including the second couple, to the ritzy mall that was so commercialized it felt like New York City. He said that it was by far the nicest mall he had ever been to. Surrounding the mall were restaurants such as TGI Fridays, Beni Hanas, Ruth's Chris Steak House and information helpers on segways roaming around the mall. However the trip was cut short because Aaron started to feel ill. That evening, paramedics, who make house calls, came by. We hoped that it was just the flu, but because they had traveled all over the country Malaria and other diseases were mentioned by the doctor as possibilities. After a couple of days they ruled out Malaria, but moved them to a hotel closer to the hospital. The illness turned out to be Dangay (sp?) fever which is a form of the black plague (don't worry, it's not found in Chile), but only kills about 10% of it's victims. There are evidently 4 different strands of this disease that is transmitted through mosquito's. A major risk area is Easter Island, which is where they were placed, and since it is more deadly the second time around, they have moved Aaron and Christine to our region, not our city, but an hour and a half away. Actually they told us that Texas is a risk area as well for Dangay fever.
Monday was our first day of true orientation and what an orientation it was! We were told to dress up formally because we were meeting officials of the Government and program. We were bussed to a building, shoved into an auditorium and made to endure lectures in Spanish, which went through one ear and out the other. I really had no idea what was being said, but the frustrating part was, I cared to know. I wanted to know about this program and how it was started and everything that they covered, but they spoke to us, the teachers of English, in Spanish, and close to half of us didn't understand enough Spanish to gather a worthwhile amount. Half way through, we were given a break with cookies, cakes and tea, which we would soon discover was part of the daily routine in Chile. (my favorite part). Tuesday was the history of Chile... in Spanish. I honestly didn't know why I bothered to show up to Spanish only events. They only helped in making me feel more stupid about myself for not being able to speak Spanish. The discussion about the Chilean school system was in English, which I was very grateful for. Just to give you some idea of the Chilean school system, there are three different types; completely publicly funded, half private, half government, and full private. The half and half schools and the full private are mostly Catholic. Most of the schools don't have enough rooms in the school for each teacher to have their own classroom so instead, the students remain in the same room throughout the day while different teachers travel around, having to lug their own materials with them. Some of the schools gear their students towards University while others are vocational. All schools require uniforms which is why the students are refered to as penguins. Last year, students went on strike and demanded reforms to the school systems, it was called the Penguino revolt. The government consented to the changes, but nothing as of now has been done. They warned us that if nothing changes, it might occur again. It wasn't violent, there just wasn't school for several days.
Wednesday was a day of revival for almost everyone. We were broken up into groups to visit our first schools and we were like movie stars. The school we visited on Wednesday was a vocational school with three different electives along with their basic classes, sewing, cooking and babysitting. Very few of their students make it to University from this school. English is important for the country because of their booming tourism and if they want to compete in the international market it is a necessary asset. Many of their English teachers don't even speak English. Teachers make pitiful wages here and the only way they can afford to travel to an English speaking country is if they receive a scholarship or if they marry someone with money. There were two teachers at our school, a young woman who spoke well, and a nice old gentleman who made a concerted effort, but seemed as capable in English as I am in Spanish. There were a few girls in the class who spoke English very well and spoke for their classmates. This school was an all girls and after our tea and cake break and our introduction to their school, recess began. From that moment on, I couldn't hear the sound my own voice, let alone any of the many girls who were trying to practice their English. Girls were screaming from every which direction, but they all seemed to be facing the same direction. There were 12 people in our group including James, the tall and handsome Australian and Cameron a very tall and brawny black guy. Chile has a little diversity, but I haven't seen any black people since I have been here except for Cameron and Cameron is impossible to miss without being the only black person in almost all Chile. The screaming girls were chasing Cameron and James taking their camera phones out and taking pictures. Which ever way they turned, a mob followed them. It was a hilarious scene, one that I will always carry with me. When we got back to the hostel to share our experiences we realized that every school was very different but everyone had the feeling of being movie stars! We were ready to learn how to teach so we could help these schools with so little resources and English teachers who aren't really familiar with the subject that they teach.
Thursday, April 05, 2007
Boston and New York!
Arriving into Boston was a giant push into reality that the rest of the world experiences a 'real' season called winter. Before we left Texas, we experienced a beautiful week of 70 degree weather. It was obvious that winter had made it's last grab for stablitity and had desperatly tried some attempts at swirling cold air, but spring had grabbed it by it's legs and not so kindly, showed it the door. Winter had officially left the building, and spring was showing it's beautiful, floral, sunny face.
Stepping off the airplane into Boston, I was immediatly thrown into confusion and pain. Instead of a wonderful warm welcome, Boston, unkindly threw icicles into my exposed skin. Spring was blossoming in Texas, but Boston was still under the evil ice princess' thumb. With wind chill it was negative 6 degrees! My amazing husband, thankfully had not been so naive as I, and thought to pack our scarf and hat close to the edge of our baggage. Bundled in nothing but a thin shirt, a light jacket, a scarf and a hat, we battled with the cold and our impossible luggage alike. Both battles were fierce, and I almost gave out to the cold waiting for the bus for over 20 minutes at an unprotected bus stop. Lorie, Kyle and I huddled like peguins, sharing our body heat and using our backs as shields to the unrelenting wind, but it was still so cold, I considered crossing the streets to the heated stores, but that would risk my missing the bus, so I toughed it out, but not without much wimpering and complaining. Poor Kyle had to struggle with our huge cumbersome trunk. Dragging it up subway stairs, and 4 flights of stairs to Lorie and David's apartment.
Although the trip started out a constant struggle, the rest of our time spent in Boston, was nothing but lovely. Lorie and David were amazing hosts. Their apartment is very small with a bedroom acting as their living room, dining room and entertainment room. They have very little storage space, but it was so amazing what they were able to do with a little creativity. Their kitchen was obviously very used and very loved. We had a wonderful home-cooked dinner almost every night. At one time we had 6 people staying in their studio apartment. It was great fun eating, laughing and sharing with friends. Lorie and David had another friend ,Mike, coming in to town the day after we arrived. He was interviewing for an art school in Boston (which he was accepted into). And Jennifer came in for the weekend to explore Boston with us, making us 6. We went to a new-age concert which was interesting, we explored the Boston Fine Arts Museum and walked the walking tour which included a really old grave yard holding legends such as Ben Franklin's parents, Sam Adams, Paul Reviere,and John Hancock. Each gravestone was nicely decorated with a flying skull which was kind of creepy. We ate New England clam chowder, oyster po-boys, and discussed the hardships of the orignal settlers and their amazing ablity to survive the harsh winter (if they survived). Overall the trip was beatiful, relaxing and a wonderful start to our adventure.
Getting to New York was simpler than I imagined. We hopped on a greyhound bus for $15 and traveled for 4 hours. Jennifer met us at the bus station and helped us with our bags to her beautiful apartment. I was expecting something much smaller for a New York apartment, and granted her room is the size of a closet, but the living and dinning area is spacy and full of natural light. The doorman was always friendly and properly New York like. Tiggy greeted us with her incredible loving and playful spirit. It is amazing that Tiggy has Aurora genes, they are so unlike the other. (Oh Aurora, how I miss her!) We walked Tiggy every morning because Jennifer had to get up early for work, but I was amazed at the lack of places to go to the bathroom. So many people have dogs, but there is no grass available to soil. The sidewalk seemed to suit Tiggy just fine, but I didn't enjoy picking up the brown gifts she left in her path. Tiggy is a bad walker, very demanding, pulling herself sick and barking at anything with a pulse, but overall, as long as she wasn't outside, she was wonderful to be around. Every morning Kyle and I went down to the corner to eat bagels which were wonderful and covered in cream cheese. Jennifer also took us to a concert which I must admit was better than the first. We explored the Met and some of Central Park. We ventered to the Bronx Zoo which was much better than I imagined. Kyle and I cooked spagetti with shrimp one evening and I was astounded at the lack of spices in their apartment. Jen seems to consist on grapefruit and oatmeal.
It was obvious that New York was not ready for us to leave because as we were attempting our departure, the worst winterstorm of the season attacked New York and left us waiting and wondering if our flight to Chile would be canceled or just delayed. Luckily, it was only delayed for four hours. By the time we recieved our meal, it was 11:30 in the evening and we hadn't eaten for nearly 12 hours. My stomach cramped as soon as I scarfed down the airplane food and I quickly fell asleep. The plane ride was 10 hours and I slept for 8. I woke up just in time for breakfast and then we landed in Buenos Aires, but of course we had missed our connecting flight. We then had to wait another 4 hours in that airport. After much boredom we got on the plane to our destination, Santiago, but we were in for a rude surprise. Even though I had e-mailed in advance to warn the Ministry that we would not be at the airport at the original time, no one was there to meet us. We waited for 30 minutes and finally realized that we had no one meeting us. I was honestly feeling two conflicting emotions, one of fear and one of pure anger. We were not given the address of the hostel we were staying at, we were assured a ride from the airport. I went looking for a computer with luck, but Kyle had better luck. He found a computer looked in my email and found Stephanie's number. A very kind Chilean man called the number for us and arranged a taxi to the hostel. It was not a good starting off point, but as we continually learn every day, one must have lots of patience in Chile.
For more pictures: copy and paste this. There are two seperate links here.