Monday, October 19, 2009

Alcachofa

Never had seen a raw artichoke until Chile.
Never had eaten a whole artichoke before.
Never thought I would enjoy the artichoke so much.

video

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Cuentacuentos

Story #1 We took over 25 buses during this past trip. Obviously we don't have our own car, so it was the easiest and most convenient way of getting back and forth. That has nothing to do with our story. Just thought you should know. Needless to say, one of those many buses we took carried us away to Cucao on the Chiloé Island. We went to a lookout point in the National Park, and there we saw an earthly wonder. In the distance, we could see about 8 condors hovering over the forest. These are one of the largest birds, and their wing span is beyond comprehension --not to mention the end of their wings are like "dedos" (fingers), the easiest way of identifying the bird. Back on track.... Karla, my traveling partner, and I were trying to persuade the flock to come closer by loudly trying out our possible condor-calling skills. (That in itself was worth seeing) But nothing compared to what happened three minutes later. Five condors decided to respond to our calling and flew no more than 15 feet over our heads. We were in shock. Pure joy was spilling over as we just stood there in amazement. Wild condors. A must in life.
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Story #2 Many years ago, God created the heavens and the earth. He filled it with such creativity and majesty, one of which included this complex thing called the human bean. But them human beans were always so busy and caught up with their own lives, that they never stopped to breath in the beauty of the nature around them. It made God somewhat sad because it was a special gift He had prepared for them. Someday them human beans will just realize that boredom is not an option with so much beauty constantly swirling about. Someday. Isaiah 40:12-31
Story #3 The island of Chiloé and its people are so tranquil. The landscape with its diverse coloring is a fillet for the eye gates. However, we only had five days total so we divided up our time into 2.5 days on the island and 2.5 days on the mainland. After the island, we spent the next few days in Puerto Varas, an hour north of Puerto Montt. One of the days we explored the German towns in the area. Imagine seeing how German and Chilean cultures intertwine. I ate it up. Oh and speaking of eating, shall I whet your taste buds? In our five days the top dishes were as follows: shrimp & crab casserole, fresh salmon at least once a day, kuchen (a german cake), chocolate stores, wild fruit smoothies, and spectacular red wine for $3 a glass. Yeah, you can wipe the drool off now and go get a snack before you continue...
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Story #4 People are ready and willing to talk to strangers in the south. In my time there, I talked 2 hours with our hostel owner, 30 minutes with a villager artesian, 30 minutes with a Valdivia dance instructor, 20 minutes with our waitress, and any other random victims that crossed my path. I love talking to strangers. (well, after they pass a few decency tests)
Story #5 In the United States, we practice what is called direct communication, meaning we are more open and honest with opinions, responses, or thoughts. Meanwhile, in Latino culture and many other cultures, they practice indirect communication, where they are more prone to beat around the bush, be more subtle, or drop hints to give their opinion, response, or thoughts. For example, even though it seems outlandish to us, people would rather give you incorrect directions than tell you they don't know or can't help you. It's about keeping the "friendly" atmosphere in the moment. Sometimes in indirect cultures, Americans are seen as entirely too blunt. I think the ideal point resides in the middle of the two poles.
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Story #5.5 Karla and I wandered in the cold and the pouring rain for about 30 minutes on a road, thanks to poor directions. At that point, we were thinking, "Indirect communication needs to become extinct." Usually, I can catch on when someone is just making it up, but this time = failure. Finally after we reached our destination, we found out we would have to walk another 2 miles in the rain for the closest bus stop. Thankfully, the rain had let up a little. With our sublime luck, after about 5 minutes of walking, it started to spew cold rain from the heavens. That was the last straw! (P.S. "Esto fue el colmo" FYI in Spanish) I told Karla we would "hacer el dedo" (HITCH-HIKE) I have never hitch-hiked in my life - neither in my first language nor my second. I put out that killer thumb, and from a distance I could see that a truck was about to stop. It could be good, and be filled with a family, or bad, and filled with a bunch of boys. It was good news! However, I resorted back to stage one of my Spanish skills. My request came out something like, "Uhhh...hi...need downtown...we...in back??" The dad looked at me like a LOCA, but he let us climb in the back of the truck. Got er done, safe and sound. Everyone should try hitch-hiking in their second language.
Story #6 With my program, I had the opportunity to see a SouthAmerican fútbol game. I have decided to put my thoughts into bullets:
1.) Northamerican football fans have nothing on Southeamerican soocer fans. The games have barbed wire, policemen in every other 5 aisles, and security guards in stunning yellow outfits. Oh, and the fans are required to go through 4 different checkpoints to make sure that the ticket is not false, you are not carrying weapons, or you have any fire-related objects with you.
2.) Alcohol is neither allowed nor sold in the stadium. Trust me, it is already a hazard without that influence present. However, people smoke like there´s nothing to live for. I learned that the equivalent for "chain smoker" in Spanish is "pucho con patas" (cigarette with legs) or "cenicero" (ash tray). The more I am here, the more I believe that this country struggles more with smoking than the USA.
3.) No trash cans in the stadium. Please take a moment to visualize that one. *pause* Did you see the cigarette butts, the water/soda bottles, the papers, and the other remains? Not the most sanitary aspect.
4.) As far as cheering protocol goes, it is very outlined. Stand on chairs before game starts. Before first kick commences sit down. Only stand when poor call is made or your team approaches a potential goal. Jump like wild men and women when goal is made. Possibly light the illegal fireworks that the guards did not find at the checkpoints. After the cheers (which I learned three), the "whoooooo" part under the name of soccer. Stay silent after cheers and utterly focused. An Ecuadorian doll was being chucked among the fans during the game.
5.) When among such passion and enthusiasm for the game, it is almost impossible not become a nutty fan yourself during the process. Watching soccer and seeing it live are two distinct subjects. Great experience!!

**Please see link to RIGHT "Casi Patagonia" for more pictures and stories from the trip.**

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Chiloé

Tomorrow night, my friend KarlOCA and I depart for our 5 day trip to Puerto Montt & Chiloé Island. We will spend 3 days on the island exploring: Castro, Ancud, Queilén, Dalcahue, Curaco de Velez, and Achao. I am looking forward to the old churches, the little villages, a tranquil population, and the breathtaking ports. Then, we will travel back to the mainland for 2 days to explore: Puerto Montt, Puerto Varas, Frutillar, and maybe Lago de Todos los Santos to the west. There we will explore a beautiful lake, German influence in Chile, and volcanoes in the distance. Please see my maps in order to follow the adventure better. And as you should know by now, many pictures will be taken.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Miércoles

I have my second dance exam this Wednesday.

Here in Chile, the education system is different: specialization, taking classes only within your degree. Usually, USA universities promote a "liberal arts" education approach -- meaning we require a more holistic realm of knowledge in literature, language, math, history, philosophy, and science. Both have their advantages and disadvantages.

In my dancing class, therefore, every Chilean student has a physical education major and has taken other dancing classes before this. It all makes sense now why the majority are stellar, and I look like junk at times. But Isa still enjoys dancing to the fullest, don't you doubt it!!
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This Wednesday the genres in the 5 min time frame include:
Disco ("I Will Survive")
Rock N' Roll ("Shake, Rattle & Roll")
Reggaeton ("Llamado de Emergencia")
Tango ("Por una Cabeza")
Rhythm & Blues
Hip-Hop
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I will be recording the performance but not necessarily sharing.
Thanks for your prayers. :)

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Una Loca (pause) Muy Especial

It always starts with the introductory statement,
"So I climbed on the micro today..."
THEREFORE,

So, I climbed on the micro today and gave the driver my $150 Chilean pesos (=$.30) for the “escolar discount.” Here in Chile only the people with the “special” student cards get the scholar discount. By law, unless I have this card the chofers are not required to give me the discount. They have every right to refuse. Nonetheless, the scholar discount is 1/3 the regular price!! With an innocent, honest gaze and a paper signifying that I am indeed a student, normally I can receive the discount with a bit of persistence.

Back to our story… After I handed the man the money, he looked at me, and I showed him the paper proving that I am a student, but since I was part of the exchange program I was not given such a card. He looked at me again, this time looking at me directly in the eyes, and stated aggressively, “If I were in YOUR country, they wouldn’t give me any discount of any sort.”
I was dumbfounded. Although thoughts flowed through my mind, I decided to stay quiet and see if he gave me the discount anyway. He did.

I sat my duff down in the micro seat and started thinking (always dangerous, the thinking that is). I thought to myself, “If he is making that sort of statement, he has some sort of bitterness towards the United States, whether consciously or unconsciously.” Made me sad. Made me really sad.

Not being satisfied with the outcome, I decided to write him a little letter that I could give to him when I got off for my stop. It went something like this:
Dear Sir,
It makes me sad to think that you do not like my homeland, the United States. Yes, it is true that you probably wouldn’t be given any sort of a discount. However, I just want to encourage you to not have the perspective that our government or the media that we produce is a good reflection of our people. Quite different subjects. I am sorry if you have had a bad experience with an American. But, I hope that today my smile has given you a new hope about my homeland. Thank you for the lovely discount. I really appreciate it. See you soon. Chau.
The American,
Isabel


You should have seen his face when I handed him the folded letter and said thank you. Although some Americans have SERIOUS issues (that SHOULD be addressed), I still am proud of my country. That man deserves the chance to know the other side of the USA. Honestly, I would have loved to see his face after he read it. I would have loved to see if his brain changes somehow. But knowing my beautiful luck, there is a good chance I will see him again before I leave in December. Así es.

(CARADURA, ya sé ya sé)