Monday, August 31, 2009

The Poetic Lunatic

Why do I always adore donating to the “artists” that jump unexpectedly on the microbuses? Let’s see, there was the Congo drummer who rapped loudly in Spanish, the guitarist who sung flamenco beautifully, and then today there was the poetic lunatic… He recited four long, romantic poems on the microbus – one of which is a favorite of mine by Pablo Neruda. In between poems, he did a comedy show by doing a weird voice with a green clown nose. Once again, I had to put my hand over my mouth so I could smile and laugh ever so quietly. At the end, he took the time to flail his arms about each row, either giving a “blessing” or to encourage donations; I never did figure that one out.

You know, I reckon if such a simple act can bring joy to my microbus travels, why not donate a wee bit to the cause? It takes quite a bit of courage and talent to do that nutty of a routine in front of an audience.

YEAH, for the microbus lunatics!
I’m ready for the next one.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Llamada de Emergencia

video

Finally uploaded!

This clip is 23-seconds of pure talent, to the song:

"Llamada de Emergencia"

(such a popular song here -- even mamá hums it in the kitchen) 99% of the time I refuse to dance reguetón... The other 1% is called dancing with three 9-year-olds on a Saturday night in Chile. This is merely a snippet of what the 45 minute dance session was like! :)

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Ode to the Sea Lion

ODE TO THE SEA LION

Oh, to be a sea lion!
To chat with the pelicans
about the day's catch.
To lie around on buoys
as the waves take you to and fro
and the sun gleams upon your tummy.
To mouth at the passers by
if they dare disturb any of the aforementioned.
Oh, to be a sea lion!
-pablA nerudA-

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Es Más

Song from our praise & worship band at church:
(you really ought to learn Spanish; it opens up your life to a whole new world -- much like that of Aladdin and Jasmine)

Siendo Dios
Being God
Cristo decidió tomar forma de siervo
Christ decided to take the form of a servant

Por esta tierra caminó,
Throughout this earth he walked
Como hombre vivió
Like a man he lived
A sí mismo se humilló
He humbled Himself
Por su amor el hijo su trono dejó
For love the Son left His throne
Y por amor el Padre al hijo entregó
And for love the Father's love turned over His son

CORO:
Triunfaste en la cruz por mí
You triumphed at the cross on my behalf
Anulaste toda deuda mi Jesús
You wiped away my debt my Jesus
Clavado en la cruz
Nailed to the cross
Del pecado y la opresión
Of sin and opression
Me libraste con tus brazos de amor
You liberated me with Your arms of love
Nunca más seré igual
I will never be the same
Por eso Dios le extaló
So God exalted Him
Nombre sobre todo le otorgó
And bestowed upon Him the name above all
Para que ante el nombre de Jesús
So that at the name of Jesus
Toda rodilla se doble a exaltar

Every knee shall bow to praise

Friday, August 21, 2009

Beautiful Vulnerability

Why do Americans tend to be portrayed as idiots in other countries? I mean there is more than just one characteristic than which is about to be unraveled, but this one concept is the one glued to my mind presently here in Chile:

We as a culture tend to be very trusting, friendly, and open. I live in a country where I would feel comfortable trusting most of the strangers I come across. Therefore, that same beautiful vulnerability can make us look like idiots when we enter through a cross-cultural door. For example, I walk down a street here, see a prim-looking and presentable person, and give them my camera to merely take a picture of me and the city life. With enough distance between us, this seemingly respectable person runs off with the camera. Thus, sometimes onlookers assume we have no brain. Think about it though … in the USA you could ask a person to take a picture on the street, in a garden, or in a restaurant. You can leave your stuff in most places while you go to the bathroom (or ask a friendly-looking stranger to watch it), instead of having to pack up every object. Heck, if you are studying in the library on campus, you can grab some lunch and chat with friends with an almost 100% guarantee that your laptop, wires, books, and even your pencil will all be in the exact place you left them. That is a treasure!

So honestly, Americans are not 100% idiots; we just need to accumulate the “USA button” and the “outside the USA button" to be aware of our cultural surroundings and norms. Maybe a little training here and there. There are other reasons why we look like idiots abroad, and that, my dear friend, cannot be explained through the venue of cultural anthropology...

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Make 'Em Laugh

I cannot stop smiling.

It’s almost sad how much I thrive on social interactions. Like a dear friend says, “I think the worst form of punishment would be without the light of day and without a hint of social interaction.” I must concur. The good news is that I finished the 150 page book today. The not-so-great news is that I have to write the report tomorrow (shaky nerves support this declarative sentence). The fabulous news is that I explored Valparaíso today with a dear friend, Paloma (Dove). We spent about 3.5 hours together eating and roaming the beautiful Chilean streets. Gosh, get two nutty girls together and a camera and graffiti – and you’ve got it made in the shade with some lemonade.

So much is starting to pick up here on my end! And yet, writing has always been and still continues to be such a form of relaxation for me. Back on track, I would love to write a blog, holy cow even an essay, on the differences in education here versus back in the United States. Each is quite different – maybe another time. However, the funnier side must not be withheld from your knowledge bank… okay, so when I was in Costa Rica, I was in the middle of a mass with one of my close girlfriends, Irene, and in the middle of the aisle there was a scuffle. Two stray dogs had entered the service, growling and wrestling with all their might. But the show went on! The ticos continued singing the songs, meditative and all in the midst of the grrrr.

With that being said, I visited a history class last week. I kept hearing a cell phone go off in the middle of class – the strangest ringer I’d ever heard. It was a like a distorted meow. After about 5 minutes of this discourteous cell phone ringing, I looked to my left … and there was a stray cat meandering about our classroom. My mouth dropped ever so widely. I looked around frantically – not even the teacher was perturbed. I just smiled the whole class. Oh and then in my crazy poetry class, the last five minutes or so the prof decided to show a youtube clip to emphasize his point on Ezra Pound. In the process, he yanked out a cigarette and lit it up the last 5-10 minutes of class. Teaching and smoking. Teaching and Smoking. I couldn’t help but giggle subtly. It is not the action that produces the laughter as much as the thought of the REACTION of how this would be seen in an American classroom… Enough about the funnies. More to come later I suppose.

My English is starting to stink.
Maybe, just maybe, that means my Spanish is improving.
MUCHO GUSTO.

*More pictures have been added. Takers a lookers.*

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Por Fin

Por fin, my classes are finally starting to come together.
I will have two classes with foreigners and two classes with Chileans -- TRANSLATION: advanced grammar, advanced writing, poetry with Chileans, and dancing with Chileans. Yes, I said dancing. Nerviously, I attended my first dancing class. Thankfully, yesterday there were only four of us, all girls. It was stinkin' amazing!! We will be learning salsa (my fav), tango (oh yeaa), merengue (all hips), samba (from Brazil), hip hop (whoot whoot), rock n' roll (bringing it back), and disco (who knows what this will include?). Yesterday, we had a taste of everything within one class period. During the American dances, the Chilean instructor busted out the moves better than any of the Americans in the class. I was giggling so hard -- I believe the class will be a mixture of intense aerobic workout and an addictive dancing class. Tomorrow the class meets again. Ready.Set.Go.

Houston, we have hit the winter rainy season here in Chile! To the right, you will see people getting splashed with waves of water by the speeding micro buses. To the left, you will see people trying to survive without owning a pair of rainboots or an umbrella. Directly in front of us, we have a gringa named Kerrie Isabel who usually loves rain but not when the cold is part of the formula. That concludes our uncomfortable commentary on Chilean winter rains.

I have been eating fruit like no other. Actually, I just engulfed a bowl of bananas, clementines, and kiwi (one of the main fruits of Chile). The picture of this blog features my 9-year-old sister eating kiwi "the American way." Truthfully, I think it's more my way than anything, but I just couldn't break that to her. Therefore instead of peeling the skin off (like most normal people do), I just cut it in half and go diggin' with a spoon = "the American way." When mamá asked Mariajesus if she wanted a kiwi last night, she replied, "Yes, but do not peel it like normal. I want mine the American way." I busted out one of my American flags to make it even more official...

Off to go read another chunk of that poetry book...

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Kiwi Kisses & Cookie Crumbs


*Finished "The Ode to the Artichocke" by the one and only Pablo Neruda. Surprisingly enjoyable. What a warlike vegetable. (My goal is to finish his book of odes before December = 65 in all)
*Got kissed passionately on the cheek by a kiwi vendor. Gag.
*Giggled entirely too much on the micro buses this week. The Chilean man to my right was jammin' out to "Bad Boys" on the bus. What am I supposed to do with such a circumstance, be stoic? Yo creo que no.
*Start my dancing class this coming week. Yeah, we'll see about that. I went to a dancing place with a bunch of friends this past Wednesday to go Salsa dancing. It was a BLAST ...even though my hips don't function very well.
*Bought ingredients at JUMBO (like Wal-Mart except on steriods) yesterday to make chocolate chip cookies. Supposedly we're infamous for our cookies in the USA. I made about 60 this morning. Only 20-some remain presently. (I had like 8...gorda)
*Started the rainy season yesterday. Decided to go to a free concert last night in the midst of all the rain and cold. It was rockin'.
*Bought a beautiful off-white winter coat for $14. Oh happy day.
*Been fed well this week. See CHILE pictures for more of an idea.
*Required to read a 150-page book (of course in Spanish) for my poetry class by the end of this upcoming week. On that note, I must depart from thee... (AYYY!)

!! Check out all the new CHILE pictures by clicking the link to the right-hand side !!

Friday, August 7, 2009

BeAcHdAy


Dear Lord,

Thank you for this outright honor of being in Chile. Right now I am seated upon the Pacific shores marvelling at how majestic You truly are. How did you know the sand and the hues of blue in the ocean would be almost more than the eye could behold? How did you know the exact sound to give the waves coming upon the shore to emit such tranquility? I am amazed at how you have prepared me for this exact place, especially in this last year. Oh my, yes! Your ways are indefinitely higher than anything I could imagine. Truthfully, Lord, I feel undeserving of the richness swirling around me. I pray that in the coming months my heart will stay tender, my eyes will remain open, my mouth will spew with Your joy, and my soul will rejoice knowing I am right where you intended.

Amen.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Pucha

Pucha. There's never a dull moment in my life.
Would you like a mini-run down on my day? Hold on to your britches.

This morning I resembled a 92-year old grandmother getting out of bed, being sore from the intense Pilate workout. Thankfully, I arrived on time to my first activity where I visited a nursery in the poorer part of Viña. I was able to meet the mayor of Viña, and tomorrow I think our group is actually going to be on T.V. Not joking. I froze up because cameras tend to make me super nervous.

On the thirty minute bus ride to Valpo (where my uni is), I had to go potty bad -- how ironic since "I love to go pee" and all. Therefore by the time I used the girl's room and found the crazy classroom, I was fifteen minutes late to my first class. I peeked into the window, seeing about 35 Chileans looking intently at the professor in the front. I thought, "Do I really have to go in there?" But ANIMO Isa. So, I tapped lightly on the door and tried to sweetly explain that I got lost. Everyone in the class started to giggle. I sat my duff down and wanted a little brown bag to put over my head. Oh and let me just state that there is no way on God's green earth I will be taking that class. There were three pages (TRES!) of the different works we would have to read. Are you for real dude? Pass.

Then, to reward myself for my braveness on entering the class (yes, I do believe in external motivation) -- I bought myself some coke and a chocolate bar to accompany my lunch.

Next, I had my “workshop of developing the written and spoken language.” This professor is hilarious and the students are very welcoming. I was the only gringa, which was exciting at the start. But let me tell you a secret, I barely understood anything. She speaks like a rocket ship about ready to explode. I was laughing to myself while thinking, “I’m feeling rather idiotic right now.” So then, we divided up into groups of 6 within the classroom. Thank the Lord Almighty that I was with a group of five amazing Chilean girls. However, we had to read a fine-print, two page article in matter of seven minutes. Someone read it outloud to the rest of the group, but with all the background noise, you can imagine how my sentiments of idiocy augmented.

Let me tell you, though, nonverbal communication is a lifesaver. Pretty much the whole time during our group discussion, I made intense eye-contact, nodded my head passionately, and agreed wholeheartedly with the points being brought up by the different members (even though I had no clue what the heck was happening half the time). They thought I was just the sweetest thang on two legs. (I told you, nonverbal all the way).

My “adventures” don’t stop there. But quit if I bore thee to tears.

After that brain drain, I skipped (I wish) to my next class which was two blocks down. It was on the fourth floor – but the building didn’t have a fourth floor! WHAT? So, I asked. Oh little gringuita, you have to go to the third floor, find the secret hallway, go to the secret stairwell, and find the classroom there. Oh okay. I take note of that for next time. What a riot! My next class was the grammar class with foreign exchange students. My unquenchable thirst for grammar shall not be filled within those four walls. The professor straight up told us that his focus will be more on cultural linguistics than the preferred delicacies of direct objects, subjunctive, or verb conjugations. Although I was a wee saddened by such news, we will see in the week to come what pros might reside here.

Next, I hopped on the micro bus that stated clearly the street I always go to. Nonetheless, somehow this bus driver knew not to ruin the pattern of my adventurous day. Therefore I found out that it was changing routes for the day. I ended up having to walk an extra mile or so. Good exercise for the stress.

Arrived home. Had time to eat a “completo” – a jumbo size hot dog packed with avocado, tomatoes, and of course the infamous mayonnaise. Left rapidly for my night class at 7:00pm.

This particular class is held at a local branch here in Viña. Yet again, I confronted the case of the secret stairwell to arrive at the secret classroom. I met some really nice Chileans, one of whom I almost attacked in the bathroom thinking no one was in there. That is another story though, my dear reader. My poetry class started. His introduction was sweet. He was telling us that we needed to memorize some poetry for the final. He asked us the importance of memorization. He referred that in English to memorize something “by heart” – interestingly enough, the word heart is also associated in such a way in three other languages when in reference to memorization.

After that intro though, turbo Chilean lost me. Although I could sense his enthusiasm for the subject, I was again left clueless like a lost child seeking her mother in a Wal-Mart superstore. Therefore, I resorted to reading the syllabus, which includes studying a variety of poets from all over the world. I think this class (even with turbo Chilean man soaring) is a check mark.

I decided I needed another walk after my day. A brisk 30 minute walk back did some good to the grandma bones. Tomorrow brings two new classes. Oh boy.

My complex right now is:
Do I take hard classes to refine my Spanish, have no life, meet Chileans, and totally destroy my GPA? Or do I take easier classes to free up time to spend with my family, do volunteer work, protect the GPA, and learn Spanish in different ways? A balance I suppose is necessary.

You have to understand my thought process. I am not complaining about any of these circumstances. I have moved past that in my life. Most of the time, I cannot help but laugh my head off about what life throws at me. God is always there laughing with me, or so I believe. He did create humor afterall.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Take Note

Take Note: No matter what level you are in a language, you will ALWAYS have cultural brain farts... especially if you are already prone to do that in your first language.

*Mamá chilena asked me in the kitchen tonight if I liked or knew how to cook. As I was multi-tasking (first mistake) and heating up my hot chocolate, I replied "Pues, no tanto pero a mí me encanta orinar." Which translates as, "Well, not a lot but I love to go pee." No more than a second later, I yelled, "NO! NO! HORNEAR mamá. HORNEAR." (No, no BAKE mamá, BAKE!)

But by that time, no dignity could be recuperated.
Roars of laughter.
True story.

P.S. Classes start tomorrow!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Five Senses

Mayonnaise omnipresent, like no one's business.
Spinach and asparagus soup with unending lettuce.
Bakeries tempting the good ole olfactory at each corner.
Vendors yelling in the miles of market.
The rawness of life displayed at the market.
Walking everywhere. Everywhere.
Mamá randomly saying "to be or not to be" in the kitchen.
Playing UNO with the entire Chilean clan.
Hearing the recorder everyday.
Cuddling with my six blankets in the bed.
Men whistling or honking their horns at me.
Window shopping for a Chilean winter wardrobe.
Friendly Chilean grandpas coming and talking to me.
Sweet Chilean moms giving directions to the lost gringa.
Waking up to Spanish each day.