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!