Sunday, November 29, 2009

Some Random-ness

Arranged by topic of conversation! :)

LUGGAGE:Well, we are leaving Santiago today. At first we weren't very excited at the aspect of traveling afterward (well we were when we bought the tickets originally). Basically, who wants to travel with 8 months worth of stuff? Not I! I love to pack light and so the idea of us lugging around two good size suitcases each sounded a bit lame. I checked into luggage storage but all that I could find was at the airport and they charged about $5,000 pesos per piece per day. At this point $5,000 pesos is pretty near $10 US...yes the dollar is becoming worth nothing. So, 2 pieces of luggage for 8 days...thats $80,000 pesos...close to $160 US. Mmmm, I don't think so. Then we asked our hostel and they said they would take them for $500 pesos per day and the 1st day is free. So, it would be $7,000 pesos, about $14 US. Now THAT'S more like it. So, we are traveling light again and I'm once again excited to travel.

THE PROGRAM: So, the program is over. It officially ended on Friday. It was weird to realize that we are no longer affiliated with English Opens Doors. For the last 8 months it has been a part of our identity. Now we are "just travelers". I'm ok with this fact but it's still strange. I think that the hardest part of it was the lack of closure. The way it ended seemed abrupt. Then everyone started leaving and flying home. I guess we were just used to having the hostel full and bustling with people so that when everyone started leaving it felt weird. The hostel felt a little desolate! I'm not sure how much sense that makes. I fell tired! haha

SANTIAGO: So when we came into Santiago a the beginning of the program we looked around and thought, "huh". We didn't find it to be that nice of a city. It was interesting and big and all that jazz but it was a little dirty, there were street dogs and yada yada. Well, when we came back this time the 1st thing that struck us was how orderly Santiago was, how clean it was, and how few street dogs there were! hahaha. My how your perspective can change! We are enjoying the city but it will be nice to move on and do a little traveling.

COMING HOME: So, it really, really weirds me out to be thinking that we are coming home in 8 days. I have never lived away like this. I didn't go away to college. I have traveled some but I've never been away from home for so long. So, the concept of "going home" seems super strange to me. I'm excited but all of us volunteers were talking and most of us said that we are more nervous about going home than we were about coming to Chile. This is so true of Jason and I. I'm kind of one of those "dive into it head first" type of people and so the idea of Chile sounded so cool. I knew that it would be hard but in general I had the "bring it on" attitude. I'm excited about going home but we are also a little nervous. That probably sounds so strange.

FOOD: I'm hungry and want some. So, that means that I'm going to get off the computer and eat! See ya in 8 days...well, some of you at least! :)

Friday, November 27, 2009

1st Place!!!

Hola Todos,
Hey guys, how are you all? Well, it is Friday night and almost midnight here in Santiago so I am not going to make this a long blog post. I just wanted to share with you guys that today during the Closing Ceremony of our program I won 1st place in the Photo Contest!!! About a week ago a person from the "English Opens Doors" office sent out an email to all of the volunteers asking them to submit up to two photos for a contest. The "carrot" to get everyone to participate was that the winners would receive a free dinner in Santiago during the closing ceremony. Anyways, one of the two photos I submitted won (the photo above)!! I can't really claim the idea for the photo as my own because really it was Anna's idea. One day she came home and told me that to help her students learn the "partes del cuerpo" or parts of the body she had them tape cards with the vocab. on a volunteer student's body. Well, I thought that was an awesome idea and did the same with my Basica students. During one of these lessons on the parts of the body I took a picture and it turns out it was a good one because we won dinner for 4 at a restaurante called "Las Vacas Gordas" or "The Fat Cows". Anna and I took out the other 3 8-month volunteers to eat some yummy steak, potatoes, etc. The whole thing was just another blessing from God because it allowed us 8 monthers to get together one more time before we go on to return home or travel. It is hard to say good bye to a group of awesome guys whom we have bonded with, but the dinner tonight gave the "closure" we were all looking for. We will continue to try and stay in touch. It was an awesome night and a great way to end the program!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

On The Road

Well folks, we are on the road again. And this time...we aren't just traveling. We are going home. Well, eventually. After a little traveling of course. On Tuesday night Jason and I got on the bus with the rest of the volunteers in our region. Jason's co-teacher and her husband saw us off. It was so sweet of them to come. I didn't really think about it but if they hadn't come we would have been the only one's with out a family seeing us off at the bus stop...since we didn't live with a host family. So, off we went. It was a great mix of emotions. We were a little excited at the idea of going home an moving on to something else but we were also pretty sad. Copiapo has been our home for the last 8 months. Jason and I have lived almost all of our married life together there. Yet, I'm ready. I'm ready to see friends and family and to just enjoy the USA. The problem though is that after a couple of weeks at home I may be ready to return to Chile! :) I guess we will see!!!

So now we are in Santiago until Sunday night. From here we will catch a bus and go to Pucon, spend a few days there and then go to Valparaiso. After Valpo we...COME HOME! So weird.

On another note...yesterday...I'm getting a little teary just thinking about it. Yesterday...I had a Starbucks Mocha. And it was beautiful. When Jason and I arrived in Santiago almost 9 months ago Jason REFUSED to let me have Starbucks. He said that I needed to "experience the culture of Chile"...or some nonsense like that! haha. Well, I have experienced the culture and now I'm allowed to once again indulge in Starbucks. Oh it was so wonderful. And I'm now going to go get another one! Ooooh, maybe they have peppermint so that I can have a peppermint mocha. THAT would be marvelous!!!! Ok, so that's a very mini, some what uniteresting update on what's up with us!!!

Monday, November 23, 2009

The Top 10 Things I Just May not Miss... :)

Ok, so Jason and I have made a real effort to not really voice a ton of negativity on here about Chile...though it has come out a few times (haha, strikes!). Basically, I´m a firm believer in the idea that when you dwell and think often of the negative...the negative things become stronger and more consuming. We in no way deny the negative things of Chile but just try not to dwell TOO much on them. So, now that we are back in the States, and out of Copiapo...I thought that I would post a few things that were a little um, "harder" to get used to. So, before I created a TOP 10 THINGS I WILL MISS LIST...well, now here are my TOP 10 THINGS I AM OK TO LEAVE BEHIND list...hehe! Enjoy! :)

10. Walking. So this one is a bit of a mixed basket. I love the walking aspect but it is super lame to HAVE to walk when you buy groceries. I always seem to over buy, a gallon of water, a pineapple, a kilo of bananas, a kilo of apples...that is SO manageable don´t you think?! :)
9. Street dogs. Hmm. There is so much to talk about on this subject. From them getting into your trash, to being dead on the side of the SEEING them get hit by cars (which is seriously traumatizing). Then there is mating season. um, Let´s just say that we have seen our fair share of Animal Planet at it´s finest...if you know what I mean! ;)
8. The water. The water in Copiapo was so full of minerals that it left a coat of salt chunks after a few times of using a kettle. You have to fill the kettle with vinegar in order to get the salt coating off. blah. I take water for granted at home...though people think SLO tap water is horrible I don´t think it´s so bad and it's nice to not have to buy water!
7. Being stared at. Yeah, at times it´s nice to be "different" and unique BUT...and I mean a BIG BUT...I crave like nothing else at this point to be able to walk outside with out the whole crazy city turning to stare at me (and this is not an exaggeration). Yeah...let´s just say that me leaving Copiapo has left it with one less blonde in there will be 0! :)
6. TP in the trash. Ok. So, basically the sewer system in Chile in not "equipped" to handle toilet paper...not sure what that means. So, everywhere you go there is a TP trash can next to the toilet. We had one in our house too, obviously. I will give no real details on this because I´m sure you can figure out why this is just plain nasty...and smelly too :)
5. Parties that go till 6am...LITERALLY...6 am. When do they sleep? We have no clue. We have lost many nights of sleep because of our very "social" neighbors.
4. The lack and diversity of exercise. I just can´t wait to work out in the run where it´s more "runner friendly". To not run in the excessive heat.
3. The sun´s INTENSE UV rays here. I´m not sure why...oh wait...maybe it´s because of the HOLE in the ozone layer above Chile. Yeah, that´s right. Really though, this is a big one for me...the resident whitey. After 10 min. in the sun, tops, I was burnt. It´s a bit of a problem being that we don´t have a car and we have to walk everywhere. 2. Doing laundry in the bathtub. Yep. 8 months. EVERYTHING hand washed. Sheets. Towels. Hundreds of Jason´s socks. I will say no more.
1. Hmmm. Well, I really can´t say that this is the worst thing...but I believe that I took it for granted big time while at home. It will be unbelievably nice to be able to express exactly what I want, when I want, and to actually have people understand me! What a concept! It's hard sometimes to just want to be able to contribute to a conversation, to know what you want to say, but to not be able to vocalize it in an understandable way. My Spanish got better over time but there were still many times where people just didn't quite know what I was trying to say. I missed just being VOCAL! :)
So, there you have it folks. Really, these things are very silly in the scheme of things. We truly loved Chile and feel like we have left a part of ourselves behind. So don't judge! haha. Every place, even SLO has advantages and disadvantages (shocking huh?)
Oh, and the Pucon pics are coming soon! :)

Thursday, November 19, 2009

If you can´t beat them, join them!!

Hola Todos,

I´m back again! This makes 2 days in a row that I´ve blogged, but with lots of time on my hands lately (due to the continued strike) I have a lot more time to email and blog. Speaking of the strike, I have realized that I´ve had the wrong attitude the whole time!! Yeah, I mean what´s the point of fighting an organized strike by teachers all over Chile? Now that we are going on week 4 of the strike I decided that "if you can´t beat them, join them!"

Here are a group of teachers from Copiapó marching around the Plaza.
(notice: the two street dogs participating in the march)

Here are some of the teachers from my school with a fancy new banner. Lookin´good!

Anna and I didn´t know that there was going to be a march downtown. Once again it paid to have my camera on me because I was able to snap a few photos of my collegues. Here they stopped briefly to let me get a better pic of them.

And then I decided to join in! Walter, a really nice teacher at my school, waved at me to come join them. I shook my head "no" because we are volunteers with the Chilean government so we are not allowed to get involved in teacher´s strikes (since the teachers are demanding money owed them by the gov).

But, right after saying no Anna and I thought "what the heck, why not?!" I mean, what are they going to do, kick us out of the program? Yeah right, we only have a few days left! So, here I am marching with my teachers (I was saying "we want money!" or something like that so that is why I have a weird expression).

Another pic of me marching with the teachers.

So, yeah I sort of joined my teachers in their strike. I think my marching with them lasted only a couple of minutes so I guess I can´t say I am one of the die hard strikers. Ironically I got a call today saying we might go back to school tomorrow. That is ironic because the strike has been going almost 4 weeks and tomorrow is technically my last day teaching. I am kind of hoping it works out because I can teach one more time, say good bye to the students and teachers, and give some small gifts to my two co-teachers and director. But, being Chile anything could happen so I am not keeping my fingers crossed. If you get a chance though pray that I get that last chance!! Ok, until next time...

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Going Crazy, Good Food, and Yummy Donkey

Hola Todos!

How are you all? Well, I thought I would update you guys on what Anna and I have been up to. The strike continues on and one of the dangers of too much time on your hands is going crazy! Here is proof that Anna and I are loosing our minds :).

Anna ate a grapefruit and after she was done said "hey we should make Tolby (our street cat) a helmet! So we did ;). Bad owners, bad.

Last Friday all the volunteers in the area went to "Kactus" which is an awesome Mexican Food place here in Copiapó.

Here, from left to right, are the volunteers Nick, Zack, and Paula. We all enjoyed hanging out all together since pretty soon we will be splitting up and traveling. It is sad to think we may never see some of the volunteers again.

The waitress thought that we would like to wear their Sombreros that they had around the restraunt as decoration. The favorite of course was the biggest one. Here is Anna trying it on.

Joe and I acting silly. We thought it would be funny for "big Joe" to wear the little hat and for "smaller Jason" to wear the big one. Maybe you just had to be there.

Now that the end is near we are getting even more invitations to eat out with friends. Last week we went over to José and Katy´s house (they are good friends of Lorena and David). They also got married not too long ago, are Christians, and love to travel. They are SUPER nice and we all had a great time.

Salchicón de Burro
Yeah, that´s right! We ate DONKEY MEAT!!! And it was good! I guess you can buy it in the "campo" or countryside and it is a traditional Chilean sausage.

The aroma of the donkey meat was strong, but it was actually delicious! I kept thinking of the donkey in Shrek :).

Anna made awards for the best student in each of her classes. She spent a lot of time making these cool awards and prizes. I´ll let her tell you about the ceremony she had for her kids.

A couple of pics of the pretty hills that surround Copiapó.

I will definately miss the hills....

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Do you want the good first or the bad??? How about the GOOD!

Ok folks! Here are some TOP 10´s. Jason and I have both created two lists for fun, The Top 10 Things We Will Miss and the Top 10 Things We Won´t Miss. We thought that it would be fun to post them on the blog! So here are my TOP 10 THINGS I WILL MISS when I leave Chile:

10. Manjar! It´s basically Dulce de Leche and I have grown to LOVE it. I´m pretty sure that it´s not in the USA...though I may be able to make it.

9. The dry hills. I love the green but the hills are really stunning at sunset here. I will miss seeing the beautiful shadows!

8. Walking everywhere. This is a mixed basket becuase I don´t like having to walk with a ton of groceries in my hands. I do like how non-dependent though we are on a car. Everyone else walks too which is nice.

7. Being unique. Not SO sure about this one but it´s sometimes nice to have people be generally interested in you and your story. We are by no means "another face in the crowd" here. haha. There is a rather LARGE part of me though that looks forward to not being unique anymore. Being constantly stared at gets a little old sometimes.

6. Don Gelato icecream. I know. It´s a bit high on the list. But´s really THAT amazing.

5. The daily challenges and oppurtunities that Jason and I have to grow and draw near to the Lord with. This has been a huge growing time for me...or so it feels to me. :)
4. Spanish! Seriously, it really bums me out to realize that I won´t be speaking in Spanish daily. All that work and effort from the last months could possibly be lost. I guess not lost forever if we return to a Spanish speaking country. But yeah...kinda sad.
3. My school and my students. I have had them for almost a whole school year and have grown very attached to so many of them. They are a constant joy and you wouldn´t believe how many times they have me cracking up in a day! They are so sweet and they will be greatly missed. I will also miss the other teachers who have helped to make me feel welcome, made me speak in Spanish, and have just made me laugh. It will be hard to say good bye on Thur.
2. The life in general that Jason and I have created here. Just the every day things. I will miss sitting at our table drinking coffee in the morning. The routes that we always walk. Going to our grocery store. Sometimes what makes life so great and nice aren´t the big, exciting things, but the everyday normalcies. Not sure if that makes sense!?
#1. THE PEOPLE. We will miss our co-teachers, our friends, the hospitality, and laughs we have had with friends. It will be so hard to leave and really, I can´t imagine doing it at this point! By far, the people in Chile have been the greatest part of being here!

Friday, November 13, 2009


Hola Todos!

Yeah!!! The Library is open again! Phew, I was having withdrawels from not getting to use the internet for 4 days or so :). Well, today for your viewing pleasure I uploaded some photos from Anna´s and my day trip to Caldera last Saturday. Caldera is about 45 minutes away and is a cool little beach town that reminds me of a mix between Avila and Los Osos. So, here aer some pics of our fun day!
One of the first things that we did when we got there was walked along the pier. Right next to the pier is a Fish Market which Anna and I strolled through.

In the Fish Market there were all sorts of crazy looking shell fish and fish that we have only seen in Chile. It was fun to mix into the energized atmosphere of the market with fish mongers shouting their wares and prices, locals buying things for lunch or dinner, etc.

This is one weird...what do you call it? Shell fish? I have no idea what it scientifically is classified as. This red mass is called Piure and is not for the faint of heart. Anna and I have tried it once and hated it. If you look up a description of it, you usually will find the phrase "tastes like iodine". GROSS! Yeah, I definately never have a craving for iodine. If you notice there are oval impressions all over it and that is because the "meat" that you eat has been taken out and...

...put in a bucket and then...

...washed and put in a bowl to sell. Mmmmm, doesn´t that look appetizing!

But, there is a good restaurante that is at the end of the Fish Market if you want something a little more "normal". So far Anna and I haven´t had a chance to try out the food there.

Here is a picture of all the people shopping. It wasn´t a huge market, but definately popular among the locals and tourists.

Sorry about the pic being rotated the wrong way. I´m not sure how to fix that. Anyways, this is Ceviche otherwise known as raw fix bathed in lemon juice. Supposedly the acid in the lemon "cooks" the fish or shell fish, but my rule of thumb is to not buy this stuff. Don´t get me wrong, I like Ceviche, but just not when I am unsure when it was prepared. I love scallops "ceviche" style, but only when I catch the scallops and make it myself.

Here are some of the things that they were selling. Look in the back at the long fish. Those are called "Congrio" or Conger Eel. They are not eel, but kind of like the Lingcod found in CA. I REALLY want to catch one, but I may just have to be satisfied with eating one at a restaurante.

More fish, crabs, and shell fish.

The boats were very cool to look at because they were all so brightly painted.

On the pier the fishermen were repairing their nets. That was also interesting to Anna and me so we watched them for a bit.

Here a local fishergal is filleting some fish to sell. When she was done filleting she threw the guts and scaps behind her for the...

...fat lazy seals. Watching them kind of reminded me of being on the pier in Port San Luis. It made Anna and I miss home a bit.

Here is a close up of one of the big males.

Anna checking out the seals.

After walking along the pier Anna and I went to two different Empanaderías. The first was Empanadopolis which is very popular. Here I am eating an awesome Chicken, chees, and olive empanada.

Here is a pic of the front of the restaurante.

After eating at Empanadopolis Anna and I went to the other very famous Empanada shop. The other one is called "Casa de las Empanadas". Well, after eating there we wished we had just gone to Casa de las Empanadas because they were SOOOOOOO good!!!!!!!!

A shot fo the sign above the restaurante.

After eating lunch Anna and I went to Bahía Inglesa or "English Bay". It is super touristy and during the summer it gets very crowded.

Two hot lookin´gringos.

Normally the water is crystal tourqoise blue, but there was all this kelp making the color gross green! It was too cold to swim, but fun nonetheless.

Ok, I´m getting kicked off the internet! My 1 free hour is way up, so until next time!!!