Sunday, December 6, 2009

El Sur!

Hey everyone!

I only have a few minutes but I figured I should fill you all in. Grandma Marge, Mom, Dad, and Jamie all came to visit, which was just awesome. My favorite part was the dinner with my two families, we somehow managed to communicate. What a special time for me to share with the people I love.

Now we are in Patagonia, and finished our trek through Torres del Paine yesterday. We spent four nights, five days in the park completing the W. It was one of the hardest physical and mental challenges, but so rewarding and incredible beautiful. The time spent with friends and in nature was irreplacable. Sunrise at the torres, glacier gray, camping out.....Pictures to come. Today we are relaxing and exploring Puerto Natales, and tommorrow trying to go to Argentina to el Calafate, depending on our various passport and Chilean ID situations work out.

And I have to share with you all how thrilled I am= my knee was a champ! I am one lucky gal.

Love you all!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Class time!

So I've decided that I should take the opportunity to tell you all a bit more about the history and culture of Chile! I know it's long, but I took the time to write what I feel is important. Also, I apologize in advance for any errors. If you don't have to read it all, just skip to the last quote by Noam Chomsky.

Chile was conquered by the Spaniards, most forcefully starting in 1540. Indigenous groups, most notably the Mapuche, made the conquest slow. In fact, the Mapuches never were fully conquered. Today, there are many Mapuche words in the Chilean vocabulary- how much does that say about the strength of their group?! (Remember the picture from my last update?) There is also still a lot of conflict between the Mapuche people and the Chilean government.

Fast foward: February 12, 1818, Chile was proclaimed an independent republic.

The War of the Pacific, which pitted Chile against Peru and Bolivia, resulted in Chile expanding north, cutting off Bolivia's access to the ocean and gaining valuable natural resources... hence the tensions still lingering today.

1891: Civil War, establishing a parliamentary style democracy.

1970: Salvador Allende became president. His ideas of creating a Socialist Chile included nationalizing many industries, government administrated health care, a program of free milk for children, and the redistribution of land. His ideas were intended to improve the welfare of Chile's poorest. However, as the nationalization of US owned companies in industries such as copper mining as well as fear of communism (my opinion) led to some very dirty tricks. The Nixon administration worked to destabilize the government, by doing everything in their power to hurt the economy, funding opposition parties, and paying off the media to report complete lies. (fact: When bodies were found, such as one tied to a pole after being dumped in the ocean, it was claimed by the media as results of fighting within the opposition parties. Some Chileans still refuse to buy the newspaper Mercurio for accepting bribes from the U.S. and printing these types of lies.) For this along with many other factors, the economy went into crisis.

On September 11, 1973 a military coup lead by Augusto Pinochet overthrew Allende.

Pinochet led as dictator until 1990. This period of time was marked by horrible human rights violations. An estimated 4,000 were killed, 30,000 forced into exile, and tens of thousands detained and tortured. It is hard to think of these numbers, I know. But for some perspective, my Chilean grandfather was tortured for a week in 1973, without his family (aka my Mama and Abuelita Chilena) knowing if he would return. Due to international pressure, Pinochet held a plebiscite and was voted out, by a slim margin of 56% to 44%. (There are still a shocking number of Chileans who are pro-Pinochet, one friend telling me that if some deaths were the cost of turning around the economy and creating social order, so be it. ) If you don't believe me that the U.S. played a significant role, read these. I think that this is so important because as U.S. citizens we are horribly uniformed about the reality of the international actions of our country. (And until we as the people are informed and organized I have reason to believe this pattern of imposing our values, reacting due to our fears, and protecting our economic interests without remorse of the consequences will continue.)

  • "I don't see why we need to stand by and watch a country go communist due to the irresponsibility of its own people. The issues are much too important for the Chilean voters to be left to decide for themselves."Henry Kissinger
  • "Not a nut or bolt shall reach Chile under Allende. Once Allende comes to power we shall do all within our power to condemn Chile and all Chileans to utmost deprivation and poverty."Edward M. Korry, U.S. Ambassador to Chile, upon hearing of Allende's election.
  • "Make the economy scream [in Chile to] prevent Allende from coming to power or to unseat him" — Richard Nixon, orders to CIA director Richard Helms on September 15, 1970
  • "It is firm and continuing policy that Allende be overthrown by a coup.... It is imperative that these actions be implemented clandestinely and securely so that the USG and American hand be well hidden..."A communique to the CIA base in Chile, issued on October 16, 1970
  • "We didn't do it. I mean we helped them. [Garbled] created the conditions as great as possible. — Henry Kissinger conversing with President Nixon about the coup. Telephone call from Kissinger to Nixon
  • "So, let’s imagine how [the September 11th attacks] could have been worse for example. Suppose that on September 11, Al-Qaeda had bombed the White House and killed the President, instituted a murderous, brutal regime which killed maybe 50,000 to 100,000 people and tortured about 700,000, set up a major international terrorist center in Washington, which was overthrowing governments all over the world, and installing brutal vicious neo-Nazi dictatorships, assassinating people. Suppose he called in a bunch of economists, let’s call them the 'Kandahar Boys' to run the American economy, who within a couple of years had driven the economy into one of the worst collapses of its history. Suppose this had happened. That would have been worse than 9/11, right? But it did happen. And it happened on 9/11. That happened on September 11, 1973 in Chile. The only thing you have to change is this per capita equivalence, which is the right way to look at it. Well, did that change the world? Yeah, it did but not from our point of view, in fact, who even knows about it? Incidentally, just to finish, because we [the U.S.] were responsible for that one."Noam Chomsky.
Now you do!

Friday, November 13, 2009

I climbed up a volcano! Ok, so a quarter of a volcano. There were two buses of students from my program, but when we got to the base, the weather was super crappy, so the 7 of us were the champs that still decided to go for it! That thing I'm holding is one of my crampons! It was a great experience: difficult but a great experience nonetheless.

We went rafting!! So much fun!

And meet a Mapuche woman. I plan on a history update ASAP, so I will explain more then.

... and saw the sites in Pucon, Chile, such as this beautiful waterfall, with beautiful friends!

My mom, dad, Jamie, and Grandma Marge are coming in less than a week! :)

Monday, October 26, 2009


At a beach in a nearby town.
Sand Sledding! No sandboarding for me, but this was still awesome.

Horseback riding along the beach! What you don't know is how long my stubborn horse took took to get to the beach...
Oh yeah, I saw Daddy Yankee in concert! Hahahha. (Yes, I'm aware that this is not quality music.)
And I was pumped to be there!
At cousin Tito's Birthday Party! Tito and the Gringos :)
(side note: gringo isn't derogatory here.)
So after a long time of searching, my Mom found this magazine with photos of Tito's favorite model. He was so THRILLED! Thanks Mom for helping out this one!
We had a special dance class last week, and our instructor (on the right) had a friend help out. They performed a bunch of dances, each with their own traditional outfits. The highlight though was after this dance (from East Island). It was my friend's birthday, so he got to dance with the pretty lady on the left!

This is where I went camping. And below is my tent!!!!
Can you tell I love it?

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Por Fin...

Hi everybody! Hope you are all doing well.

I get really overwhelmed with bloging and/or journaling if I try to "catch up" on everything I've done. Instead, I'm just going to write about today, and if I don't fall asleep maybe some more!

Today I woke up early to meet my friend Andrew at 7 to catch a bus to a nearby town. (Off topic: there was a street lamp down, and I found it funny and that although the street was blocked off, I was able to walk right on by. There was no one nearby, the wires weren't covered, nothing! Here, the attitude is more like, "If you're dumb enough to touch it..." versus the thought in the U.S., more like, "They could sue me..." I also realize I'm stereotyping, but I thought I would share my thoughts!) Anyways, three hours, a nap in a micro, and an encounter with a driver we couldn't understand later, we made it to La Campana. It is a nearby mountain (but to the locals it's a hill!). We climbed all 1.920 meters above sea level- around 7 k. It took 3 hours, 20 minutes to summit, but about 4 to get back down! The going was harder work on the muscles, but going down was by far more dangerous, and I took a good spill. (update in the morning) The good news is that I'm hardly sore and the knee is good, too!

The video in the last update is from the soccer match- I made national TV! You are all proud, right? I think it is when they asked me who was going to win, to which I said, "Chile, obviously." And in Spanish, obviously!

Last weekend was my host cousin Tito's birthday party, so I got to meet his friends. It was a great time, and I had some conversations beyond the where-are-you-from-how-do-you-like-Chile talks! This Thursday Tito even went out with me and a group of friends from my program and our language-exchange group. (I can dance basic salsa now!)

In my time here, my self-evaluation of my Spanish is a yo-yo. When I can have a conversation- up. When i can't understand someone- down. I suppose in general it's emotional to be here. I miss my loved ones, but I can't think about leaving Chile. I feel as though my Spanish is finally at a level where I can have more meaningful interactions and relationships, so I'm trying to focus on making the most of my time left here. As Tito reminded me, it's never too late! Sometimes I am really frustrated with myself, like when I can't remember a vocab word that I know I've studied. However, when I think of my first weeks here, I know I have learned so much. (As Tia Ana will be happy to tell you, I didn't understand anything!)

Thursday I'm going to Buenos Aires!

Love you all!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Thursday, October 8, 2009

I know, I know...

I haven't been updating! However, I will now:

So, two weeks ago I went to the Atacama Desert. It was one of the most amazing trips of my life! The highlights:

Renting bikes for the day in the Valle de la luna. We were alone practically all day, riding in the desert. Watched the sunset, and rode back by the moonlight. Simply amazing.

The hostel owner took us to a "secret thermal." There are tours to another one, but there are alot of people and it's expensive. So we just trusted this guy, and we ended up in the middle of nowhere at a gorgeous thermal. Again, we stayed to watch the sunset.

To summarize that week, I don't think I've ever felt so complete and at peace, and grateful as I did so many times there.


Tomorrow night I'm camping on a nearby beach. Sunday we are going to the Daddy Yankee concert in Vina!

This is from the festival of a thousand drums. The parade ended right by my house, and as you can see it was very energetic and colorful. As my mama chilean would say, it's because Valparaiso is such a passionate city.

This is us getting ready for our 5 hours of sleep in the Santiago airport after our trip! We're champs.

No words for this! (Ok, so it is a salt lake. On the other side were flamingos!!)

What a ride!! (And who's proud of this ACL?! I'm sooo grateful that I am getting to experience Chile so fully, and I hope I always remember how lucky I am! )

Please watch the video! It's a short one.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Fun Week!

Hey everyone! This week has been great and full of fun times. Saturday we had an excursion with ISA, and then I left for La Serena with some friends! We got back in time to celebrate Independence Day in Valpo. Next weekend is my trip to the dessert north. Due to the number of activities and the amount of projects due (as it's the end of the month), I will have to postpone a longer update!

Thursday, September 10, 2009


I've heard that it's hard to comment, so here's my email!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Sunday night update

Decided to share some thoughts!

The fruit here is really good! There aren't berries very often, or at least that I've seen. However, the oranges, bananas, and kiwis are great! They also chirimoyas and pepinos. (The literal translation of pepino is cucumber, which they also have. However, additionally there are pepino fruits. Think watermelon meets peach and banana. I can't explain, that's all I've got! I have a feeling that they are probably one of those exotic and expensive fruits that Randazzo's has.) Anyways, mmmm! So a quick run down of my average meals:
Breakfast- cereal with yogurt or milk, and banana. Tea/coffee depending on my caffeine needs, a bit of pan, juice... (explanation: my friends and I have discussed this multiple times. We just can't call it bread. It's pan. Bread is sliced, for sandwiches, and is lame. Pan is a more of unit of bread. Not to be confused with a biscuit, however. Because, again, it's pan. And pan is verrrryyy important here.)

Lunch is the primary meal, and varies greatly. When one is home for lunch, it is a process. You take out the place mats, the butter, marmalade, manjar, pan, napkins, juice, sugar, salt. You set the table. One thing that is fun about other cultures is how every culture is particular about different things in different ways. For example, in my house it is not important to cover the marmalade or leftovers. However, nothing ever just touches the table: it is always on top of a place mat. Not good, not bad, just different! It also strikes me how habitual we all are.

Here there is a difference between "once" and "cena." One is dinner and the other is a light dinner. The staple? Pan. Duh. Tea, coffee, maybe some leftovers, butter, maybe cheese, manjar, pate, sometimes a little sandwich of mayonnaise, tomato, and lettuce on bread. At one of my friend's house, it is bread topped with scrambled eggs and a side of fruit. So it varies, but not with pan!

One of my friends here doesn't like mayonnaise, tomato, or avocado. Three things- that's it. In the U.S. it isn't ever a big deal. In Chile? Oh man! That's basically the food of Chile. As Kaeli's dad says, "Gringaaaa!" (Here this isn't a negative word. It's just easier than saying "extranjero".) Oh Rande.

But I digress...

Next week, the 18th is Independence Day! I'm really excited. Time to practice those traditional dances I've learned in class! Icing on the cake is that I don't have classes that week. So off to La Serena for a few days :)

The last weekend in September I'm also going to the Atacama Dessert. If you get a second, google some pictures- it's beautiful! I have lots to look forward to coming up here.

What did I do this weekend, you ask? Well, not a ton. Drumroll for the not-so-exciting-news. The end of the month means lots of things are due! Poetry essay and presentation, Communication project, Grammar exam... ick! In order to travel next weekend, I've had to be a bit lame this weekend. It's going to be totally worth it, though!

Happy Labor Day weekend everyone!!! :)

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Great Weekend


I am really tired, so this is going to be a quick update! Friday three of us went to La Campana again, but this time we hiked a more leisurely path and had a picnic. I forgot my camera, so when my friends post pictures I will steal them and post them here! It was beautiful, and a perfect day. The highlight was the tarantula that Kaeli almost stepped on. It was huge, you will all be properly grossed out by the photos later! Friday night I went to a friend's house for her host sister's birthday party. It was a great time- both fun and great for practicing my Spanish with new people. I also learned some new salsa moves from some of the parents! (It is totally normal here for someone my age to have their birthday party at home with both family and friends. In fact, I got scolded by a grandma-that-could-get-down for not shaking my hips enough!) Saturday I went with a different friend and one of her host sisters to a protest against damns in Patagonia. Afterward, I got my nose pierced! Now, before anyone gets too upset please remember that this is NOT permanent! And I love it! Saturday night I we went out to eat, so the picture with the HUGE hot dog is a completo. I don't know if I explained already, but it a toasted bun, hot dot, diced tomatoes, avocado, mayonnaise, mustard, and ketchup. Awesome, huh? Today I went to the zoo with Mama, Macarena and her BF Martin. Well, I need to get some sleep. Love you all!

Thursday, August 20, 2009


Views from my class, and on the way home! (and number 1 is my apartment!)

Sunday, August 16, 2009


Birthday Chilean Style

My host family bought me really sweet gifts (no pun intended!!) and Mama made me a scarf!

The game that Mama invented, at Macarena's class get-together.
Carne! mmmm...
At midnight on my Birthday I was talking on skype with my family, when my host family came in with a minature cake and singing happy birthday!

My two families- how lucky am I?

I had a great birthday, even though it was weird to not be at home. My family here really made it special for me. We went to Macarena's class get-together, and after had a little fiesta at the house with the family and my five closest friends here. One friend even preformed a Spanish rap for me! We then finished out the night by going out dancing until the club closed at 5:30am. Definitely a day to remember!