Monday, July 19, 2010

a casa, por fin

Only a month and a couple weeks late, but its finally time for that last and final blog entry.

I made it home, safe and sound. After a rough last few days, I somehow managed to leave my Chilean life and board the plane to go home. Somehow. Leaving Chile was harder than leaving the US --Honestly, probably the hardest thing Ive ever done in my life. It was a painful way to end such a great time and as much as I want to go back and recreate the entire year over and over again, I can acknowledge my ridiculousness. 

Being back is strange. It feels like no time has elapsed since last August. Everything about being home is the same as when I left and its hard for me because I am not the same as when I left. Its a crazy thought that I never thought Id think, but I dont really feel at home anymore. 

And so, instead of being unhappy and wallowing about Chile and this "boring" American routine Ive adopted once again, I am going to keep having amazing years because if I learned one thing this year, its that I know the things I want to do with my life and I know the kind of people I want in them. And since Maple Valley isnt exactly fulfilling my needs for maximum happiness, I am going to go elsewhere...

Chloe and I are leaving for Australia in October. (Or so our plan goes.) We dont know where we are going to stay, what job we are going to have, or quite frankly anything that concerns our trip. But, Im very, very excited to see where our gap year adventure takes us and kind of only scared about the fact that not having anything set in stone DOESNT freak me out.

I could end this with a lame "Ive had a taste, but Im still thirsty" quote, but instead, I will leave my three favorite quotes.

"Live in the sunshine, swim in the sea, drink the wild air." 
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

"To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty; to find the best in others; to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded."
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

"The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, and to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn, like the fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars..."
-Jack Kerouac

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Los Ultimos Dias

I can barely even begin to put into words just how amazing this year has been. After having what seemed like the year that would never ever end, I finally have to say that the year has changed to months to weeks and now down to just days. I have four days left in Chile. Four! I would love to know how it is even possible for such a seemingly grande period of time to go by sooooo fast. 

These past few weeks have been, obviously, amazing. As if I could think of another word to describe them. A lot of afternoons in downtown Talca, my last day ever in high school, several ridiculous going away parties, a weekend at a cabin in Lake Colbun with friends, and a trip to Santiago. In fact, my goodbye party was this past Friday and Im proud to say it was pretttttttty good. My bags are packed, as unfittingly eager as that seems considering the heartattack Im going to have Saturday night. I know it sounds silly to say that I never want to come home, but for the time being that is exactly how I feel. But, I do know that at some point on the airplane ride home, I will stop crying and get extremely happy because Im actually going home after so long. Its just that right now, I kind of wish that I could stay an 18 year old living in Chile, doing nothing of serious consequence except for having an amazing year. But thats one of those things that cant be.

Be home soon! LOVE LOVE LOVE

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Viaje a Rapa Nui

And, the third and final Rotary trip is over. I must say, as I fully expected, it has now been categorized as one of my top three weeks here in Chile. (The other two being the two other Rotary trips.)

Easter Island is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been. All of the colors are so intense and all of the Moai statues scattered around make it look so cool. We spent the first few days exploring and seeing all the different Moai, going to the beach, visiting volcanoes, caves, lakes, and magnetized rocks, and watching Rapa Nui dances. The last day, it poured down rain the entire day. Half the group decided to go to the beach anyways, and I along with the other half, went kayaking in the ocean with torrential downpours and then later we went scuba diving! Scuba-diving was the most amazing thing in the world, although not literally.  I really didn’t know what to say afterwards, I was so excited and impressed with the ocean. That night we went to a club thing and sang Karaoke and danced which was a lot of fun! The last day we rode to the airport in our little tourism bus. It was a tiny thing that we took whenever we went somewhere on the Island, and the 23 year old Rapa Nui driver would turn on this amazingly feel good techno style music and we would all stand up and jump around and dance and it was the best times ever. By that morning, I was kind of realizing that that would be one of the last times together with all of my exchange friends and I was so happy from dancing and singing and laughing that I just burst into tears and didn’t really stop crying until we got to Santiago, 7 hours later. Those good byes were the worst, because I had to say good bye to some really good friends for the last time.

I don’t really know what it is that makes them so amazing. Perhaps the days of school that we’re excused from. Maybe it’s the crazy beautiful places we go to. But, I think it might just be because you get to be with kids from all around the world who all have so incredibly much in common. I really don’t think I could explain how much I am going to miss the exchange friends I’ve made here. Spending so many days, 24/7, you would think one would get sick of them all or that it would be awkward or difficult.

So absolutely not the case.

Its like an instant connection just being in Chile together, but then when you start to talk, you realize how similar you are to all of them, despite the fact that they live across the country/continent/world. I have friends from the Netherlands, Germany, New Zealand, Australia, Belgium, Canada, France, Denmark and Bermuda! I have friends from Ohio, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Michigan, Nevada, California, Wisconsin, Oregon, Iowa and Indiana. And obviously, Chile! But, its not just that I’m friends with these random kids. I, as corny as it sounds, love them to deathhhhh. This is going to be tough to leave.

Its down to less than a month and the time is just flying by. Love my liiiiiiiiiife!

Saturday, May 1, 2010


These are my new friends! Rocio, Caty, Cami, and I. Begoña took the picture. It took me so long to learn their names! Apparently Ive made friends with the "bad" girl in my class, but nada que ver! I still dont understand what theyre talking about! The only thing they do is talk during class, which everyone else does anyways. Im proud to say that Ive gotten in trouble sooo much this year for laughing and talking in class. That sounds bad, but really its not! Im so happy that Ive finally gotten to the point where I can express myself in Spanish. Last year I was such a quiet, boring person in class because I couldnt communicate. Not anymore! Its just sucky that Im leaving so soon.

Here are some amazingly interesting facts that Im sure you would all looooooooooooove to know about school in Chile.

  • The majority of schools in Chile are private. 
  • Almost all require uniforms.
  • Enseñanza Medio is the equivalent of High School.
  • In their Junior year they choose between Scientific based studies or Humanistic.
  • They dont get to choose their classes- a mandatory 13 classes are given.
  • The grades are based on a 7.0 scale.
  • There school work is focused on passing the PSU (equivalent of SAT but harder)
  • They really dont do much in class. Really.
  • Talking over the teacher is completely normal.
  • The curriculum is fairly easy and based almost entirely on tests, not homework or classwork.
  • The hours are completely arbitrary and daily can range from 8am-2pm or 8am-7 pm.
  • Most students go home for lunch and come back one or two hours later.
  • They dont use binders.
  • They use lined paper notebooks and they get completely filled up with notes and nothing else.
  • The teachers rarely come prepared with material, they usually make it up as they go.
  • You stay in a class of about 20-30 from Kindergarten to Senior year with usually the same people.
  • You dont change classmates for each class, just teacher.
  • Paper fights, chants, cell phone music, games, naps, and eating are all very very normal during class.
  • They dont have Prom, Homecoming, clubs, ANY form of heating, or Graduation.

Weve had a few aftershocks recently. Not too big of ones, just like 5 magnitude or around there. We had one when we were in Language class and I got so upset! The teacher wouldnt let us leave because they hadnt rang the giant bell in the courtyard yet. He told us that when the cieling started to fall in, then we could run down the rickety metal stairs and out into the courtyard, but never ever before they rang the bell. Definitely doesnt matter if you hear the afterschock coming, and then feel the entire building shaking. The bell will tell us if it is an aftershock or not. Ugh.

On Tuesday Im going to Easter Island!! So, so, sooooooo incredibly excited!! Please, feel free to be jealous. :)

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

donde se fue el tiempo??

I checked my email today and it gave me that awful sicky feeling and that amazing burst of happiness all from one sentence. Im leaving Chile on the 5th of June and arriving in Seattle on Sunday, June 6th. I will be leaving my home and going home.
As Im sure youve all realized by now, Ive had a pretty amazing time in Chile. I still keep having these days (pretty much every day now) where I just get so happy to be here, and as bored as you guys might be of hearing about them, I really dont care! I truely never want to leave. But I am so ready to come home!! There really isnt a  lean towards one or the other. Its honestly split equally. Im happy though, because there will be no sadness. Ill keep being happy here and then Ill transfer right into being happy there. Its like the glass is always full. Ha.

Ive been keeping pretty busy. The weekend before school started, I went to Santiago for a Rotary District Conference. All of the exchange students were there and a lot of important Rotarians from different parts. The guest speaker was a guy from Arizona who had some huge position in Rotary. But it was mostly just fun because of the exchange students!

The next day, we woke up very, very early and went into downtown Santiago to run in the Santiago Marathon. I would just like to say, I ran a 10k marathon. Woooo! And in less than an hour, too! 59 minutes and like 37 seconds, ha! It was so exciting and we were so filled with adreneline that we never even really got tired.
(For every distance that you were running, 10k, 21k, 46k, they gave you a different colored shirt, and then separated us into sections to form the Chilean flag in the picture.)

That Wednesday, I started school. Finally! After a four and a half month long summer vacation, it was nice to finally start being with Chilean kids again and have something to do. At least for the first ten minutes. And then I kind of remembered how boring school is and how much I really dont like going. All the same, I have some new friends now and its crazy how much easier it is now that I can speak Spanish and everything. We get out every day at 1:30 and my school is like 1 block away from the plaza, so I get to go eat lunch or go shopping or walk around every day before making my journey back to the country side with the cows and the fields...

Last week, I went to Santiago for a night to go see Matisyahu in concert! It was so amazing and one of the top nights here. The next day we went to the US Embassy and met the Ambassador from the US to Chile, which was pretty exclusive, ha.

Marisa and Adriana are teaching me how to cook, finally! I learned how to make Estofado (Stew, basically), Tortilla de Zanahoria (Carrot something), and Sopaipilla (Fried bread made with some sort of vegetable that I dont even know the equivalent to in English). Im very excited because Im making a small cookbook and when I come home everyone is going to be so impressed by how domesticated I am and I wont be made fun of for being able to make just Mac and Cheese.

Lately Ive been having deep conversations with my grandma, Adriana. She is such an amazing person. While we were making Sopaipilla tonight, she told me epic life stories. Apparently she used to work at a mental hospital and was in charge of 8 patients, one of which was a schizophrenic, who once locked her in his room, took a butcher knife from under his matress, and proceeded to tell her that the devil told him to kill her! She then talked to him for 3 hours and persuaded him to leave the room by offering him a pack of cigarettes. And she told me childhood stories about how her and her siblings lit chickens on fire, buried live bunnies to see if they would dig their way out, and cut up a cat and hung it up but when it rotted it dripped worms into their water area and other such delightful stories. She also has had more than 200 boyfriends, but her sister beat her because she married young so her sister had more time. She was 19 when she got married! But among other things, shes been telling me secrets that no one else knows and Ive been talking to her about some things, too. I really like her and I feel like shes going to be the Chilean I miss most when I leave.

If everything works out like it hopefully will tomorrow, Ill be on my way to Easter Island next Tuesday for the third and final Rotary trip! I think this is the one that Ive looked forward to most, so those 5 days on a semi-tropical French Polynesian island should be well worth everything.

Let the countdown begin.

Friday, April 9, 2010

El Norte

And yet again, another amazing, amazing Rotary trip. Going to Northern Chile for 12 days with a bus full of exchange students was fabulous. The ridiculous amount of time we spent on the bus was just as fun as the warmly welcomed time off of the bus. I can’t think of a time when I’ve laughed so much. I learned so many jokes, stories, riddles, life stories, foreign slang, and random things to just barely tide me over until the next trip. We had so many adventures and crazy nights with only ten minute power naps in-between sleepless nights, that the entire time seemed like one very amazing and very long day. We sand boarded in a moonlit Valley of the Dead, got stranded in the Atacama Desert when our bus broke down, climbed ancient ruins, bought unbelievable amounts of artesian sweaters, bags, and jewelry, and visited what seemed like every plaza and church North of Santiago.

I can’t believe it’s over and I can’t believe that my countdown to come home has begun. I really feel like it was last week when I was saying how fast two months had gone by. I just hope that these last two months will take a freaking long time and that June 5(ish) never, ever comes.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Viaje al Norte

This week has been the usual, extended summer vacation week. I'm trying to embrace it because school finally starts in a couple weeks! I went to Santiago one day this week with Sara and we donated blood and ate Japanese. I've also been going running because I'll be running the 10K Santiago Marathon on April 11. Ha, good luck with that, right?

Tomorrow will begin our second Rotary trip. The last one was so amazing and by far my favorite week in Chile, that I can only imagine how good this one is going to be. We’re going to Northern Chile for 12 days with 20 exchange students and 2 Rotarians! Our itinerary is as follows:

Day 00: Santiago (April 25, 2010)
Day 01: Santiago to Los Vilos, La Serena and Mamalluca
Day 02: La Serena and Copaipo
Day 03: Calama, Chuquicamata, Chiu-Chiu, Lasana, and San Pedro
Day 04: Tatio Geisers, San Pedro, Chaxa, Valle De La Luna
Day 05: San Pedro, Pica, Matilla, La Tirana, Humberstone and Iquique
Day 06: Iquique and Zofri
Day 07: Iquique and Arica
Day 08: Arica and Lago Chungara
Day 09: Arica and Antofogasta
Day 10: Caldera and Bahia Inglesa
Day 11: Caldera and Santiago (April 6, 2010)

As you can see, we’re going to a lot of places. Granted, I’ve been to two of them already, I’m pretty sure it will be completely different. This time will be a completely new experience because of the people I’ll be with. Plus, we’ll be going to different parts, so it will definitely worth it. I originally wasn’t going to go because it seemed silly to pay to go to places I’ve already been, but I talked to my dad and he practically got mad at me and sad “Oh yeah, sure, Emily. Go another time when you have the opportunity…You‘re already there, just go!” So, I’m going. : )

I don’t know what I’ll do without my daily dose of aftershocks though!  I’ve become so accustomed to them, that it will be weird. I was reading a friends blog today and she referenced Mary Poppins, when every day at tea time they braced the furniture and held onto the valuables because they knew that the house was about to shake. Well, that’s kind of what it’s like, except we don’t get the luxury of knowing that it will be exactly at tea time.

Until then…

(I just found this link. This is the son of the family that I'm with right now and his interview after the earthquake.)

Thursday, March 18, 2010


I am having such a happy day. These past couple days have been so sad and I've wanted nothing more than to just call Rotary and tell them that I'm going home. But today, I woke up with a huge smile on my face and practically skipped around the house. Everything makes me smile and I'm so happy to be living in Chile, despite everything that is happening here and at home. Today is just an amazing day! March 22 will be my seventh month here. I still can't believe how fast this time has gone by. I literally feel like I just got here last month. I have less than three months left here, and although that scares me a lot and makes me very, very sad, I'm going to take advantage of it. :)

Monday, March 15, 2010

sin luz

Last night, almost the entire country blacked out for about an hour. From about Valdivia up to La Serena (if you care to look at the map) was without power. It was wierd. And today was one of the first days without an aftershock. Or at least an aftershock that I felt. I probably just jinxed that...Today, us four exchange students from Talca went to Chinese for lunch and then I went to a get together with my old classmates. It was so good to see all of them agian. Tomorrow Jorge, Fran and I are going to Santiago for the day to take care of some things. Oh, and I was in the newspaper!

Hopefully, I won't have any more strange phenomenons to report back for awhile. But between earthquakes, fires, aftershocks, and blackouts, you can't be too sure...

(There was just a fairly large aftershock...)

Saturday, March 13, 2010

ayuda y mas incendios

School doesn't start for a month or so (thank you, earthquake), so Sara and I have been trying to get involved with all the volunteer organizations that have been going on. Through people that know people that knows a person that knows people we found an organization called "Yo Quiero Reconstruir la Region de Maule" (I want to rebuild the region of Maule) and we spent a few days collecting food to send to Constitucion. We were actually supposed to go with the group today, but at the last minute our host parents teamed up and decided it was too dangerous. Last weekend, we had a few Rotary things where we went to the towns surrounding Talca and handed out boxes. We still haven't really found any solid way of helping, though. I was hoping we would be able to do more hands on, interactive things. So far, its just been handing out pre-made boxes and leaving, which could easily be done without us. I guess I have to be happy with that, because my host parents are too scared of letting me do anything else. Hopefully, things will settle down and I'll be able to find something good.

The other day, I was on the bus going through downtown Talca and all of the sudden I looked out the window and there were giant black clouds of smoke coming from one of the buildings. Naturally, I got off the bus and went to check it out, but there were so many people that all I could do was take pictures, but everyone was staring at me because there I was, the gringa taking pictures at all the horrible things that are happening. I've found that Chileans really don't like when you take pictures of tragic things because they think you're laughing at them. Nonetheless, I've never seen a fire (except the one in the field just days before), so I wanted pictures.

On the news, they were saying that flights to Buenos Aires, Argentina are only $50, and so Jorge (host dad) is  figuring out when we can go!! I'm so excited!

The most recent aftershocks were pretty scary for me. I had two of my exchange friends over at my house and we were woken up by the first one. It wasn't as strong as Rancagua (epicenter) but equally as scary! I freaked out because I thought that my little sister was home, so I ran upstairs screaming her name, but she was at a friends house, so I was upstairs during the earthquake for nothing. Then, 10 minutes later, another. And then another. I was a little upset. I think that they should stop now...

Tuesday, March 9, 2010


Although naturally, the aftermath of the earthquake is still here, its definitely settled down a lot. The roads are getting fixed, the rubbish is getting swept into piles and cleared away, and contact is being made with unaccounted family and friends. Things are going back to their normal routine, taking into consideration that there will always be little reminders of what happened- whether that be candles, pictures, and flowers in windows, a caved in roof, a crack in the wall, or a missing family member.

The amount of support that Chile has received has been incredible. A fundraising telethon was held last weekend called “Chile ayuda a Chile” (aka, Chile helps Chile) and people from all over the nation donated, including the giant franchises and wealthiest families. It doubled its goal with an amazing $60 million. The Red Cross and other organizations have been working non-stop to send relief down to the more badly hit areas. Hopefully this weekend I’ll be able to go to Constitucion with a group to hand out care packages. Because the Universities have been postponed until April and many schools are too damaged to use, an amazing amount of volunteers have surfaced adding to the amount of support.

And last night, I witnessed another first. We were on our way home and when we turned onto our road, we saw thick puffs of black smoke coming from right where our house is. When we got a little further, we saw giant orange flames coming from the fields right in front of our house. All of the blackberry bushes and dead grass had caught on fire, and being an abnormally windy day already, it caught the entire field on fire. From the inside of the house, it looked like a lake of fire. I went out to take pictures and by that time the fire fighters had arrived and I watched them put it out. (Chile doesn’t have fire fighting as a profession. Its purely volunteer based.)  And then, I went to bed, because God knows, we’ve gone through enough weird things this month, that nothing really phases me anymore.

Friday, March 5, 2010

terremoto 2010

Well…I’m alive.

As crazy as it might sound, despite the fact that an 8.8 earthquake hit Chile, I am so glad I was here for those three minutes and x seconds. Chile doesn’t have a lot of stick houses built on mud, so it wasn’t nearly as destructive as Haiti, but nonetheless, its done a lot of damage. The epicenter was in Concepcion, the second largest city in Chile, which is about 80 kilometers away from where I live in Talca. By some sort of luck I was in Santiago that night so it was only about a 7.2ish and wasn’t quite as strong (although strong!).  We were at a birthday party that night and then a group of us exchange students broke off to go to a discotec. We had literally just gotten there and went up the escalators and were standing on the balcony trying to get in for free (because we’re gringos) when it started. At first, all of us looked at each other and said, “Wow. That music is so loud, it’s shaking the building!” Then, the tiles started to fall off the building, the lights went out, and everyone ran out of the door of the disco screaming. Across the street you could see the entire building flexing and some of the windows breaking. The ground level was just tons and tons of chairs and tables, and people were just running and shoving them out of their way. The balcony we were on felt like it was about to snap off the building or that the giant glass panels were going to fall down on us. So, another exchange student and I ran down the stopped escalators that had cracks in them and by that time, it had kind of “calmed” down, so we just sat down in some chairs and waited for the rest of our group. I think we were all more shocked than scared. It’s definitely not something you expect to happen…
By the time we decided we should probably go home, there were no more buses or taxis or collectivos or metro. Nothing. So, we just stayed on the sidewalk and waited. At about 5 in the morning half of the group left and when they came back, they brought bread and cheese and this 27 year old guy who then invited us back to his house so that we could get a little sleep. I thought it was incredibly sketchy, but we went anyways and just sat around his dining room table in the dark until the sun came up and we could go look for a way to get home. Of course, there was nothing. We waited for the bus for about an hour and experienced the first aftershock before some guy in a truck (sketchyyy) picked us up and took us home, to Andrew‘s house. The house had power so we just watched the news all day. We tried to sleep, but the aftershocks and phone calls were a bit preventative of that. For some reason, Andrew was drying a sock on a stick that was attached to his TV, and we used that as our  “Aftershock Detector” because it jumped so much. The news was crazy to watch. We didn’t really know how bad it was, especially in Concepcion and Talca and it was scary to see all of it. My host family was coming home from the beach that day, so they picked Sara and I up to go back to Talca. The ride home was ridiculous. The roads are so bad. There are just giant holes in them and huge elevated parts and ripples and the pedestrian overpasses all fell. At one point there was an hour and a half detour through hills and farms just to skip a 10 kilometer strip of highway. We got to Talca at night but we had to drive through town a little bit to drop off Sara. It was bad. Everyone was outside, either with fires or sleeping in tents or cars. We didn’t feel the earthquake like we would have in Talca, but it was pretty clear how bad it was just by how no one wanted to be near their houses. A lot happened to Talca, not just because it’s old, but because a lot of the houses are made of adobe.  On the way to my house there is (or rather, was) this long fence and giant house made entirely of adobe and brick and now its completely gone. My  neighbor’s house(who is also another exchange student) was pretty badly hit. He was sleeping when it happened but woke up to his host dad screaming his name out. So he ran out of his room right before his light fixture crashed down on to his bed, and made it down the stairs right as the books were falling off the shelf and finally out of the house as all the statues and glass knick-knacks shattered. Their fence fell down completely (rod iron and brick) as well as all the other fences in our ‘neighborhood’.  My host mom’s brother cleaned up our house before we got there, so I’m still not quite sure how bad it was, but they said that all the wine bottles fell in the kitchen and a few things fell off tables but nothing serious. The book shelves in my room broke, but everything was very fixable.
I went straight to bed when I got home, as I hadn’t slept in awhile and woke up the next morning to what they call an “aftershock”. It was totally another earthquake. It was like a 5 or 6 on the Richter scale. My family made fun of me because I jumped out my window.
That day they had to go visit a friend, so they dropped Matt and I off in downtown Talca. It was awful. Almost all the buildings were either on the ground or pretty badly hit. There was glass and bricks and rubbish all over the street. And there were police everywhere. Apparently they were shooting anyone they caught looting because the first night a lot of places got robbed.  There was another strong aftershock that night and I couldn’t sleep the entire night. I got about two hours of sleep and woke up sick and couldn’t eat anything. The aftershocks didn’t scare me at first. But they still haven’t stopped and its almost been a week. Monday and Tuesday we didn’t really do anything. The power still wasn’t on which meant no water either. That was gross. Almost 6 days without a shower…We had to go to a friend of Jorge’s house to take showers.  Wednesday I woke up early and went to Sara’s house so we could go help out downtown. I spent the night there with Chanel. We played Pictionary and Bullshit and made S’mores. In the morning, Sara and I went to help again. We went to the supermarket to buy hygiene products to send to Constitucion.

The stories are really hard to hear though. There were a few women that had babies during or directly after the earthquake. Nobody can communicate with people from Concepcion or Constitucion and a lot of people have lost family and friends there. People got hurt getting out of there houses. The Universities and office buildings are destroyed and no one can really work yet. Obviously, not a lot of good came from it. But things are finally getting back to normal, though. There aren’t mile long lines at the gas stations or overly priced food and water. The armed soldiers outside of the grocery stores are reducing and the buses are starting to run again. And we got power today! School still hasn’t started and for a lot of kids it won’t start for a couple weeks. Some schools are getting completely demolished. But for the schools that weren’t really damaged, they all start Monday.
I really don’t know what to say. Its been weirdly crazy. Yet fun.

Happy 1st Birthday, Sophia Marie. You have no idea how much I miss you.

Saturday, February 13, 2010


"Update update update update blog blog blog blog please please pleas love love love"
                      -Cory Koch

I´m almost positive that it´s raining or maybe snowing in Seattle and it´s surrounding areas. And that makes me smile because I am at La Serena sitting in our giant apartment that you need to only go down the elevator and out the gate to touch sand that burns the toes and makes you run into the mildly cool water. We are going to be here for 2 more weeks. So I´m pretty content!

Before we got to La Serena, we stopped for a couple days in Pichidangui to visit with family and go to the beach. The first morning that we were in La Serena, I woke up because my bed was shaking and then I looked at the cieling and the light fixture was swinging back and forth and then I jumped up and yelled to Fran who was sleeping right next to me and we ran out of the room into the living room and Marisa and Jorje and Adriana were all standing in the doorway and Adriana was crying because she hates earthquakes. It was very strange. The only earthquake I ever remember was when I was in 3rd grade, but we all thought it was just someone on the roof for some reason. It started in Mendoza, Argentina and it was a 6 pointer, but it wasn´t that strong when it got to La Serena.  And today we were laying on the beach and there was a little tiny one.

I started reading Crepusculo, also known as Twilight. It´s in Spanish, might I add! I started it a couple days ago and I´m already half way done. It´s really cool because I was reading and then I realized that I don´t even have to translate into English as I read. I just understand. And I understand almost everything. It makes me very happy!

I´m also very happy beacuse of this family. It is such a difference from my old one and they are soo so nice and happy. Yesterday we were in the supermercado and Fran was walking around to everyone and sticking her cheek out so that they would kiss her. And then Adriana looked at me, and walked over and kissed me on the cheek. And then Marisa did the same. And then Jorje did. And then Fran did. Happy Happy Happy!

So really nothing to interesting to update about!

Sunday, January 31, 2010


I´m afraid I have to make this short, but I just wanted to inform everyone that I am indeed safe and that I don´t have internet at my new house, so my posts and skypes and othersuch forms of communication will be very random and spaced. However, I am veryyy very very happy with my new host family and I love everything about them. More on that later. LOVEEEEEEEE

I hope you made it home safely, Mama Bear!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

mi vida es la raja

I have the most amazing life. I've noticed that lately. I mean, how cool is it that I'm living in Chile? When I think about all the things I've done here, it makes me smile so much. I've climbed an active volcano. I've bicycled in the driest desert in the world. I've seen the Torres del Paine. I've swam in the Strait of Magellan. I've been river rafting and zippy lining. I've been to discoteks. I've been to asados. I've been to a rodeo. I've ridden the trains, the buses, the micros, the taxies, the collectivos, and even horses. I'm learning Spanish. And, I'm only half way done.

And my family is just wonderful and I miss them so much, but it's very nice to know how much they love me. And my best friend is a sweetie-pie and I'm pretty sure I'll keep her forever. And I get to come back to the US and start my adult life by getting a job so I can buy a ticket to Australia to live with my brother and my best friend. And then I get to come back and go to college. And then I get to do whateverrrrrrrr on earth I feel like doing- whether that be being a journalist, backpacking, opening a hostel, writing a book, being an English teacher in South America- anything I want.

So I kind of like my life. Thank you, Mom and Dad. And everyone else.

Monday, January 25, 2010

La Idioma

The language of Chile. Oh, where to start. Before I came here, everyone warned me that Chileans spoke "bad" Spanish. But of course, I thought, how could they? They're Spanish. I'm the one that is going to speak bad Spanish. It wasn't until I got here and spent the first three months in a constant state of confusion and frustration that I finally understood. They have their own rules, their own words, their own phrases, their own accent, their own conjugations, their own rapid-fire delivery... For example, Como estas? is now "como estai" (es-tie). Hablado is now hablao. Esta para alla is now "etapaya". They have no vosotros form. They pernounce b's and v's the same. They add "poo" or "pway" sounds to the end of words to add emphasis. Half the words I learned in school they don't even know or just don't use. For example, girlfriend isn't novia. It's polola. maiz=choclo. fiesta=carrete. And then they just have their own words. piola (alright, so so), bakan (cool), filete (super cool), flaite (ghetto, tough, unusual, loud), etc. All of their names for clothes are different. They say "mas o menos", "asi que" "es que" "entonces" a lot. AND HOW COULD I FORGET, "cachai" which literally means "do you catch it" or "get it? you know?". That makes itself into a conversation a couple hundred times.

I'm starting to be able to tell the difference from someone thats from Chile and someone that's from another Spanish country. Argentinians have really funny accents because all the double l's the pronounce like j's. Ella=Eyja, and all their Ch's are like S's. Spanish people have really throaty accents and talk with lisps. Mexicans just have a different accent. One day I was in the car with my exchange friend and her host parents and their was a guy on the radio from Spain talking and I understood every single word. And then her host mom told us that it was really hard for her to understand because of his accent.

At first it was incredibly hard for me. I felt like I wasn't learning anything and that I wasn't ever going to. Nobody was helping me and I wasn't understanding anything. December felt like a complete standstill and I thought that with my mom coming, it was only going to get worse. But now, I feel so much better. I can understand almost everything. I can carry a conversation. I can find my way. I think having to be the mom and do all the talking and arrangements for the past month has actually helped me a lot. I'm a little slower, but not at all as much as I thought I would be. I almost started typing this thing in half Spanish, too. So, I have hope. I don't feel so depressed that I'm going to be the one that never learns it and goes back to the US with nothing. I think in a couple more months, I'll be fluent (more or less) and I'm pretty excited about that.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

por fin, 18

Whoopsadaisy... Ha, it's been a long time. I do get some slack though, because that mother of mine is still here. Not for very much longer though! :(

So, I last left off when we were in the desert. It was very hot. Hot. Hot. Hot. Hot. We were there a bit too long, but I had a good time, even if la madre didn't. We saw all the sights (and then some), played hundreds of games of Rummy, and got lots of sunburns. The stars at night were incredible (as I said before, we were in the middle of nowhere...) and the sky was BLACK. But, I'm never going back.

After San Pedro, we went back to Talca for a few days. One of the nights we were there we cooked an American meal for my first and next host family. We made fried chicken, mashed potatoes, garlic bread, brownies, and chocolate chip cookies. It was quite the adventure. We went downtown with Chanel and Matias to buy a suitcase for her to take back, plus all of the groceries. We bought a giant red suitcase first, rolled that around the streets of Talca, and upon entering the supermercado, we wheeled it around the store in the cart. Then we had to find all the special things to make our food, which took ten years. And then! We had to take all of the bags from the store AND that lovely red suitcase on the tiny little micro back to our house. There was no room, it was about 90 degrees, and we were a Chilean boy, a black girl, a white girl, and a very american mother (all carrying a big red suitcase and groceries). So, we filled the suitcase with all of our bags and basked in the stares. There was enough food for breakfast, lunch, and dinner the next day.

And after everyone left, Chanel was bringing all the dishes in from the patio. I watched her pick up the plate of chips. I watched her walk towards the sliding glass door. I noted that it was closed. I hear the bang and I watched her fall backwards onto the ground before I, too, fell to the ground laughing. Probably funniest moment ever.

The next day I packed all of my stuff to move host families. Like, all of it. I don't live there anymore!! I'm sad. Chanel has replaced me. Then, at 12:30 we went to the bus station and went to Valdivia for a couple nights. It's a German influenced town on the coast down south and it was really pretty. One of the days we were there we took a boat tour of the seven rivers that they have. And that was also the night of elections for the new Chilean President. Piñera beat Frei... Everyone was hanging out of their cars with flags and honking and singing and shouting and screaming and dancing and celebrating. I like it when they have something to celebrate. It's always so much fun.

After Valdivia, we went to Villarrica- the lake district. Favorite area in Chile. It's very similar to Washington in that it has trees and mountains and lakes and rivers all over. But it's somehow way prettier. It has this volcano. too. It's the most active in Chile and it's more than 9,000 feet high. Oh, and we climbed it! Whoo-hoo. And the next day we went river rafting which was also amazing! And then we went off into the middle of the forests to my birthday hotel! We were originally going to stay in the Magic Mountain one, but they put us in the giant tree house hotel! It was like a fairytale. EVERYTHING was wood. The trim was sticks. The walls were wood. The coasters were wood. The pictures were sticks. The railings were logs. It was built on tree stumps. Everything. And it was built with a spiral ramp up the middle and there was a tree growing up the center with a waterfall at the bottom. It was basically just huge and amazing and comfortable and amazing amazing amazing. On my birthday we went zippy lining in the forest and then went hiking and then spent the rest of the day at the spa before we went to dinner. They made me a cake and sang Happy Birthday, too! So, now I'm 18. Whoooooo. Bring it on.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Mama Bear

Mama Bear is here! Mama Bear is here! It doesn't really seem like she's the Mama Bear anymore. More like I am! I have to order the food, check in to the rooms, ask for directions, do the grocery shopping... She just says "Hola!" in her wonderful American accent! I love it.

We've had a good time so far. We spent the first week in Vina del Mar in an apartment that we rented. It was about 14 blocks from the beach and a few miles away from where my host family was staying. The first couple of days we just lounged about and she caught up on her sleep/calmed her travels nerves. New Years we spent with my host family, which didn't turn out so good, but was fun nonetheless. We spent days just walking along the streets and exploring. Every time we passed a tree or a house, she would stop and try and figure out what the name of the plant was, comment on how her garden would look so much better, or marvel at the spikes on all the iron fences. Then she would start walking again, trip on the unlevel, holey, cracked sidewalks, and then laugh until she saw another flower or fence. It was a lazy week.

After Vina we went to Santiago for two nights. We stayed in the Happy House Hostel, thanks to lovely and it was soooo cool. It had giant (possibly 20 feet) ceilings and intricate molding and trim that they decided to paint hot pink to contrast with the light pink walls. "This is the pink room. The girls just love it." We spent the two days we were there walking around Santiago and going to all the main attractions. She HAD to go to the Post Office in the Plaza de Armas and we went into the Cathedral there, too. Then we went to La Moneda and Cerro Santa Lucia (Capital Building and a giant hill). Both nights we were there, I left her to go to going away parties for all the exchange students that leave this month. The second night I got home right in time to bring our bags down to the street and go to the airport to catch our 5:30 flight to San Pedro de Atacama.

And here we are, in the middle of the Atacama desert, the driest desert in the world, sunburnt and wishing we were at the beach! Don't get us wrong, it's really amazing here. The mountains are giant and the desert is actually really pretty, despite it's ridiculous dryness and monotony. We saw the famous church from here, went biking into the desert where I got a flat tire, climbed ancient ruins and hills, bathed in the hot springs and walked through the markets. Today we're moving rooms, biking to a lake, watching the sun set in the Valle de la Luna (Moon Valley) and tomorrow we're going to Satar de Atacama or the salt flats to see the flamingos and float in a pool of water with 40% salt. And then we're back to Santiago via plane and then down South to Talca via train!