Sunday, January 24, 2010

Todo o Nada

Someday we will finish my "Torres del Paine" trip. PROMISE. ;)

This past week I started student-teaching at a high school. Eventually, I believe I will have to teach all of the classes, including four Spanish 3 classes and two Spanish 4 classes. Although I leave exhausted everyday, I truly enjoy what I am doing. I truly am grateful to be able to speak Spanish whenever I want. Actually, most of the time I speak Spanish because I am illiterate in English anymore... for example, I told one class during some instructions that "bliss was ignorance," which produced quite a roar within the four walls. Oh well, maybe they'll feel freer to make mistakes while learning Spanish with me.

However, I've also recognized that teaching is a lot like our walks with Christ. For instance, we can just do enough to "get by" as a teacher, not preparing a lot or not being available for students. It's like each day in the classroom is out of routine, instead of mixing it up and making it more interactive. Some people choose to be teachers for the mere sake of the 3-month summer breaks; some people say they're Christians simply out of tradition or to have a mask. On the other hand, you have those teachers who are at school early, stay after, prepare whenever they have a chance, are constantly reexamining the day to make improvements, and really want what's best for the students. With ALL their heart.

I don't know about you, but I want to be that type of Christian...
not to mention, that type of teacher...
That tis all that is on my pea brain today.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

G.G.H.

The Great Goose Hunt

video

Well, I thought we would have an interlude between my Torres del Paine trip in CHILE. This following clip is what I call some home-grown adventure:

Saw a flock of 150 geese. Saw my Jack Russell Terrier. Convinced my parents to let the two elements combine. I should do this more often...

Starting in my early childhood years until now, I've always had a problem with wanting to see birds fly, no matter what measure I had to utilize.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Punta Arenas

And the sequel proceeds...
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We arrived in Punta Arenas in the early morning hours; as we stepped off the plane into the main terminal, we were warmly greeted by a freezing climate (did you get my word usage there? don't smile too much) Keep in mind that in the middle of December we are talking shorts, flip-flops, and happy-go-lucky weather in Valparaíso, CHILE. Different hemispheres, opposite seasonal rotations than in the USA. Nonetheless, we were about 6 hours from Antarctica -- so here we are, Dove and I, busting out the Eskimos in Punta Arenas when our friends are burning at the beach back in Valpo.
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Next, we organized our things (4,328 packages total) and headed to find a taxi. We had a stellar tour guide disguised as a local taxi driver. He showed us where the museums, downtown, and famous statues all were. Since we had not the slightest clue which hostel to stay in, he simply dropped us off with all our junk in the downtown. From there, we walked around and priced 2-3 hostels. NO WAY! Expensive. So, we walk "towards" one of the hostels that a friend of mine recommended. As we walked "closer", I told Dove to look at her map again. It didn't feel right. Oh wait, we were walking in the WRONG direction. She just smiled with guilt and said, "I just am warming us up for our grand hike. You know, a little bonding time with our backpacks." It wasn't until later into the journey that I found out she was directionally challenged: however, I'm not busting open that can of worms yet.
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Southern Chile is one of the safest and most common places to hitch hike. Golly, I had already successfully done it in Chiloé Island, might as well not let the thumb get rusty. Since we were on the opposite side of town than our hostel, I told Dove we would give it a go. There in the distance, we spotted a truck with an open, clean bed calling our backpacks' names. As his four wheels approached, the thumb made its way out into the open. Failure was accepted as he sped past us. We determined it probably wasn't the best place, you know, in front of a stop light and all. We decided to take a taxi instead, saving hitch hiking for later.We arrived at the hostel, relieved ourselves of the backpacks, and decided to walk around downtown before our tour left at 2pm. People walk everywhere in Chile. I was telling someone the other day that my daily average is anywhere from 30-50 street blocks, either because of pleasure or obligation. Either way, I got some great gastrocnemius muscles (look it up). Then, at 2pm, our hostel's van drove us to the PENGUIN ISLAND tour. Yes, the penguins were waiting for some cuddling.
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It's a 1.5 hour boat ride to arrive, 1 hour with the little guys, and 1.5 hours to return. On the boat tour there, our whole next 9 days were foreshadowed: ISRAELIS. That region of Chile attracts a multitude from Israel, first time in my life to meet so many Israelis. They tried to teach us Hebrew to pass the time, but it was highly unsuccessful. Spanish is hard enough, thanks. On our way, we were able to see "Tierra del Fuego" from a distance (really not a big attraction point). Then, from a long ways off, we saw the penguin island. Dolphins were jumping in and out of the water leading us to the island, like some magical scene from the little mermaid. Where was Ariel? MIA.
All these little black dots added up to be the 60,000 breeding pairs on the island. For my fellow penguin lovers, these were all Magellanic Penguins. Want to know why they're called that? Yeppers, I knew it! Well, you see this guy named Ferdinand Magellan went through this strait (*cough* Magellan Strait) on his trip around the world. He saw these animals at the time, calling them "black geese", but obviously they were later named in honor of him, the "Magellanic Penguins." Black geese- Ferdinand, what were you thinking there bubba?
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Penguins are one of my favorite animals, ranking up there with kangaroos and dogs. It was such a privilege seeing them in their own habitat. I loved watching them waddle everywhere; it reminds me of a mellow tap dance, like on Mary Poppins. (Why do all my comparisons end up in cartoon characters? Bah.) Another things that I adored were seeing the babies in their underground nests with their mothers. Word to the wise: don't mess with mama penguins. Lastly, the thing that really caught my attention was listening to them. I mean, I've never really listened to a flock of penguins, but I find the Magellenic Penguins' noise highly unique. I think it might have been mating season, but I honestly am not sure. This was the closest I could find: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aqDQwLd8RuU&feature=related (just click)
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We arrived back at the hostel, ate a small dinner, and passed out. You know the funny thing, though, is we are at the ends of the world ... we are talking about EIGHTEEN hours of daylight!! Only from 11pm until 5am was there complete darkness. I went to bed at 10:30pm that night under a brightly lit sky. Welcome, to the South Pole.
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Listen, we still have to travel to Puerto Natales and our 6-day Torres del Paine hike. Are you in for the ride? Stay tuned. :)

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Off to Neverland!

Since the start of September, my mouth had been watering for my Patagonia trip to explore the southern extremities of Chile. I had some hit-and-runs with Chile's northern desert region, its tropical central regions, and a mere sampling of its southern Chiloé Island area. In December, however, I would make my way down to the ends of the world...
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And here came our 11-day adventure full on, DECEMBER 12th.
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The first two days were spent in Santiago, the capital of Chile. Although I had been there before twice with my program, there were still a few spots that I had to see before I left -- two birds with one stone. Needless to say, we visited the Bellas Artes Museum, Plaza de Armas (with purses tightly embraced), the older parts with quiet cafes, and an artisan market of a billion aisles (no, really). After being in flip-flops all day, our feet were filthy, and I mean dirt black, by the end of it all. Oh, Santiago. To the bathtub! Nonetheless, it was a lovely time with my dear friend (Vero), not to mention I got to play around in her backyard CHOCOLATE FACTORY. Charlie was no where to be found, if you were curious. At the end of a long day's exploration, we even helped package some Christmas products, trying not to eat them all instead.
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On December 14th at 2:40am that morning our plane left for Punta Arenas, Chile. This was Dove's (my traveling buddy) first time to fly, so we were both a bit nutty aka hyper. I told her the toilets were the best part of the plane- the loud, scary noises and all. Anyway, we climbed aboard and took our seats. I was ready to pass out immediately, the low of the morning hours had finally hit me. Dove was like a little child excited at every sound, color, smell, atom that came her way.
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As usual, the average flight time to get that massive plane off the ground was 30 seconds. Dr. Anderson, my anthropology professor, got that tradition started in my life -- usually the better planes take off in 25-35 seconds. That's a phenomenon in itself, no? Supposedly, Dove stayed awake the 4-hour flight, while I passed out like a log to her side. She had the window seat and told me before our landing, "The clouds were amazing as the sunrise shone brilliantly through them. And then below all of that, you have our Pacific Ocean smiling." Honestly, flying reminds you that we really are not in charge of anything. We are just like little ants that God deems worthy to love with all of His might. What a thought.
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Stay tuned to see what unfolds after landing in Punta Arenas, CHILE. :)