I only have about a month left in Chile!! Of course I skyped mom and dad asking them to push back the flight date. Though I had my doubts about what I wanted, I think it will be worth staying here an extra two weeks!! I have yet to find some adventure to fill that time though. Last weekend I went to La Serena with friends and we had the usual weekend of sightseeing. It was a beautiful coast town only a six hour, unairconditioned ghetto bus ride away. The flat screen tv was strapped on over the emergency roof exit and belted to the sides…everyone hit their head on it as they boarded the bus. I suppose in an emergency we’d simply use the other exit as to not disturb the tv. My favorite part of the trip, which I unfortunately couldn’t capture with my camera, was when we went to an observatory and looked at the night sky. I spent the entire time with my head cranked up towards the sky looking for a shooting star. Of course right when I looked down as to not fall while walking downhill, someone saw one. We returned from the trip tired but happy about all that we had done! I finished school last week as well! My finals went well and I am just happy to be done with the disorganized Chilean school system. For the remainder of my trip, I’m planning on packing in various activities, especially things I have never tried before.
Yesterday some friends and I went camping to celebrate Mike’s brithday. It was a fun and new, diverse group of people and we had never really hung out before which is a shame because we had lots of fun. To access the mountain we had to go through a gated in country club of the sorts and of course they wouldn’t let us in. We ended up bribing a bus driver to let us lay down on the floor of his bus as he drove through the gate. Then we jumped off and ran for the hills, literally. We trekked for about an hour and a half as the sun set (I have very sore butt muscles to prove it) and then set up a tent and made a fire. It was an eventful night with a tent meant for 3 people shared by 5 (it collapsed at one point) and a lack of water but an excess of alcohol (great planning guys.) At least we ate a lot of choripan (chorizo with bread) and had a great sleepless night.
Upcoming plans for me include attempts at windsailing, a hiking trip down to Patagonia and eating as much Chilean food as possible before I leave! Missing Christmas at home will be a new experience for me. I didn’t think it would be very difficult as I have never shown too much excitement for holidays (too much stress!!) but after Thanksgiving…I know it will be a difficult day. Luckily to offset missing Thanksgiving at home, I went with a friend to an American restaurant that was serving turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, potatoes, green beans and pumpkin pie (o and sangria and pisco sour with cinnamon!). It was a delicious meal and we spent some time mentioning the things we are thankful for (like surviving Chile and for the wonderful friends and family we have back at home as well as the new friends and families we have found here!) I have been busy thinking of all the things back at home that make me happy to help offset my upcoming culture shock. It will be hard to leave my home here in Chile but I know I have a lot of wonderful things and people to come back to!!
In case any of my wonderful neighbors and friends are reading this back home (the Bjur family, the Guys, the Aukees etc.) I miss you all as well!! I have known everyone all throughout the important years of growing up! When I went to a friends house for dinner one night, someone started playing guitar at night and singing the Beatles and I couldn’t help but think of the block parties and the many summer nights spent all together singing around a fire and enjoying each others company. Also my condolences to the Bjur family. My mom let me know that Kai is not with us anymore in body, but she will always remain with me in spirit and I’m sure that many others feel the same way. I consider her my first dog and my best friend growing up. It made me really sad that I did not get the chance to see her again one last time to say goodbye and thanks for being the best dog ever!
Now that I’m completely teary eyed and sad, it’s time to get ready to head out to have a final dinner with everyone from the study abroad program (including my Chilean mom.) Chauuu!
I haven’t written in like….o 3 months or so…woops! Time has really flown by here while studying abroad. Luckily, Chile stopped trying to kill me for the most part. But it continues to give me reminders of my impending death by sending spiders after me. I had one crawl out of my backpack (very big, very slow, very terrifying) and I screamed and threw the bag on the ground. I almost ran into a giant spider hanging from a web in the dark…then I sat down next to a tarantula (I will be posting pics. Also, they called tarantulas “pollos” which also means chicken….which I can only hope isn’t because they eat chickens…). Other than that I have been doing a lot of hiking. I went to Mendoza Argentina with a group of friends and had a decent time…can’t say I was a huge fan of the town. But I did go hiking, rafting, zip lining, and repelling and loved it!!! I plan on continuing mountain climbing/repelling activities somehow when I get home. I think the nature and the weather here in Chile is what I will miss most. We also went as a group to Temuco, which is in the southern part of Chile. There we did volunteer work (I sat around and played soccer with children instead of laying cement) and saw lots of cows. We got to visit a Mapuche village (the Mapuche are the indigenous people here who are fighting to be recognized by the state) and it was very interesting seeing such a different culture and way of living that has survived since before the conquistadores.
Other than that, it would appear that I have gotten over culture shock completely. I feel like this is my home…o wait…I go back home home in 5 weeks. Shit. I miss everyone back home and it was great hearing that the Bjur family keeps tabs on me and that everyone else sends greetings! I feel that I will need the attention of friends and family when I get back in order to stop myself from going absolutely insane. It’s a lot harder than it sounds to get over the concept of culture shock…I now have two homes. Two realities. Even two sets of “parents”!! And I enjoy each for their own respective reasons!! But in 5 weeks I’ll be chowing down on bbq food and hugging Bentley :) (Let’s just not mention the gross weather and snow I will be up against in comparison to the 80 degree summer I have here now…….)
Number one question: Why are there so many hilarious and weird people here?? Love it!!
For those of you who haven’t been able to access my facebook, here are a few snippets of my recent trip to Iquique. Beautiful but tiring. Also note the big bandage on my left leg, courtesy of my spider friend.
Sometimes, I miss you. A lot!
1. Where is the bbq food? Pulled pork, chicken, wings, a big juicy steak? Can I at least have bbq sauce for my hotdog? I mean…I can only eat so much mayo and ahi.
2. There are all these beautiful stray dogs…how come no one wants to take them home? In the USA they would be adopted so ridiculously fast my head would spin. Stray huskies, Labrador retrievers and German Shephards? What is the meaning of this?
3. I know it’s a big city and all, but would it hurt to say excuse me when you smash into me and almost knock me over? Or perhaps “salud” when I sneeze? No? Fine. Whatever.
4. I still don’t understand what the point is of selling me a receipt for what I want to buy, then making me walk over to another counter to give you the receipt, get my product and then get another receipt as proof of purchase. Maybe with food so you don’t handle food and money, but with my shampoo? I’m confused.
5. I am obviously NOT from here. Don’t ask me directions on the metro and don’t get mad at me when I’m confused with your receipt transaction services or can’t understand you when you mumble.
6. Please post what times you are open. It’s really confusing when stores are closed randomly on weekends or bars are closed on random nights of the week.
7. Can the taxi drivers have some sort of GPS at least if they don’t know the city? How am I supposed to tell you the directions if I don’t even know where I am?
8. I would just like one clear, concise answer. No one ever seems to know anything. Do we have class next week? Will we be making up missed classes due to protests at the end of semester? What bit my leg and caused a festering wound? Why am I puking violently? These are all answers I’d like to know.
9. Just because I’m American doesn’t mean I act like the girls from Jersey Shore or Lindsay Lohan. I do not carry a gun with me everywhere and I don’t support everything our evil government is doing.
10. I’m blonde. I get it. But stop calling me Hannah Montana and Brittany Spears. I would rather not associate with either of them.
11. I repeat. Where is the good American food. Everything here is really healthy and there are some delicious things, but I could go for a big juicy burger, a steak, pizza, real sushi or some normal chips.
12. Why do they use so much salt on everything here? Everything is really healthy…besides the obscene amounts of mayo and salt they put on stuff here. And their obsession with diet/light products.
13. When I say I’ll have a little bit more food (like un poco!) I don’t mean bring me a second serving of what I had the first time. A whole plateful is not un poco mas.
14. I am not meek nor will I act like a polite little girl with you Chilean men. I’m sarcastic, I make jokes and your attempts to woo me with your lies will not work. Try not to be so frightened of me when I have a backbone.
15. When I buy something for 3000 pesos and I pay with a 5000 bill, please do not give me twenty 100 peso coins back. The zipper on my wallet already broke from trying to contain all this change.
16. It’s very hard to choose which perfume, mascara, headphones or lotion I would like to buy when it’s locked up in a glass case 6 feet behind the counter.
17. I just want to smell nice for once. I need easy access to a Victorias Secret store with lotions and perfumes and such.
18. On the topic of smelling nice, people here love to spray on 8 or more spritzes of cologne or perfume. Apparently they mean business when it comes to coverage. It makes for an interesting and overwhelming smell in close confines like the metro. But luckily the majority of men seem to wear the same cologne.
19. It’s very adorable that every dog here has their own closet full of dog sweaters and such. Even the stray dogs have some made for them. But how come none of these pups know how to play fetch??
20. Everyone seems to have these beautiful smartphones…yet no one answers your texts. I guess they’re used for web browsing?
21. I would like to hear some worldly news…or just something that doesn’t pertain to soccer, protests or 10 minute segments about the perhaps haunted restaurant down the street.
22. Dear Metro, I’m sorry I suck at navigating you. But why do you have to charge me again if I accidentally walked out of the gate and then realized I needed to buzz back in? Yet going on 5 buses in a row only charges you once….
23. Please create a new Lottery commercial. The first time I saw this I thought it was great. The next 300 times I heard it on the metro I wanted to shoot someone. PARTISTE JUGAR UN LOTO. NO!!! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=11idkAJEWG0
24. I love all the love that goes around in a room when you walk in and greet everyone with a hug and kiss, but creepy men please do not give me an awkwardly long hug or actually kiss me. I’m pretty sure that’s kinda rude here.
25. It’s actually slightly amusing that traffic doesn’t pull over for ambulances. It’s even more amusing that ambulances stop for pedestrians and street lights. What’s the point of the emergency lights and sirens if you’re not going to achieve anything?
26. In general, I think everything is a little disorganized and slightly ass backwards here. I gave this country a chance, really. And I love it to death despite all the oddities and disasters it has thrown at me. But for real. Ass backwards.
This past weekend we went on a trip to Northern Chile to the wonderful city of Iquique. After a two hour flight we ventured off to our hotel and then went off to dinner. I was a little shocked at how much of a ghost town it was that night, but I figured maybe it was because it was a Thursday.
Friday morning we headed off too the local hospital to hear about birthing practices and recent changes in Iquique. Strange tourist activity and it was a little frightening to hear that the ground breaking changes they were making are allowing family members into the hospital and trying to make patients comfortable. Right after we visited the cemetery which was interesting as well since it didn’t look like a typical cemetery in the United States. Many pictures are posted in my facebook if anyone is interested. Afterwards we had lunch and went off on a boat to see the city from another point of view (and to see some seals!). Then we ventured off to a school to volunteer and re-paint a bunch of their stuff (railings, walls, fences). It was a lot of work and all of us got very dusty, dirty, and paint covered. But it was all repaid to us when the students put on a show of traditional dances in full costume! It was great seeing kids of so many different ages participating in such a cultural activity…and they were so good at it! Chilean people definitely have a rich culture and loving nature that I can’t help but wish was more present in the United States. Afterwards we listened to a speech from an indigenous woman, but I had to miss out…which is another part of this epic story/journey.
Last Monday (as in August 23rd) I woke up and felt this wonderful bruise on my leg. As I was pulling up my pant leg, I was wondering if perhaps I had gotten a little tipsy and stumbled into something since I tend to be very ungraceful even during sober activities. But alas, I looked at my leg and discovered a pea sized dark spot with a red halo around it. After staring at it for a few moments I decided that’s probably not normal and thought of the arañas del rincon (corner spiders) that are quite feared and deadly here in Chile. I showed my host mom and after a little bit of panic we went to the emergency room. Their brilliant idea of treatment consisted of drawing a pen circle around the red halo (which really hurt considering an area about 4 inches around the bite hurt immensely), giving me an icepack, and telling me to sit and watch the wound. So there I sat for 7 hours, the only gringa in the hospital with some kind of unidentifiable bug bite. But on the bright side I missed all my classes. In the end they told me it wasn’t the deadly spider but to watch it anyways and come back tomorrow morning. I came back the next morning and the bite appeared slightly better and a blister was beginning to form. By the end of the day, I had clumsily managed to rip said blister off, leaving a crater on my leg (pictures also up on facebook.)
So back to Iquique…after our psychotic tour guide Claudio dragged us around all day to sightsee and listen to him ramble on (no one was listening cuz most people were tired and hungover from hotel parties), I was attempting to pay attention to the indigenous speaker but my leg was throbbing and I could no longer walk. My friend Yereem and the program director Elsa brought me to a clinic down the street (sketchy as HELL) where I had to wait for over an hour to be seen. In addition to this, we hadn’t eaten since noon and it was already 1030 pm. I cannot survive on that little food. I wasn’t sure if my dizziness and confusion was from some deadly spider bite or from my starvation. Finally my name was called (Natalia…Bar…z.. la gringa??) and the doctor informed me that I would have to go alone since bringing in anyone is against the policy. Hello? I don’t know spanish medical terms and I’d rather not make any mistakes in this situation? Nope. So in I went, all alone. I was informed that they would simply clean the wound. At this point Elsa practically kicked down the door rambling in Spanish about how if they didn’t let her in, she would take her business elsewhere. They also explained to her that they would clean the wound…and then kicked her out. By clean, they meant pin me down to the table and slowly scrape away infected raw skin (quarter sized wound) with a razor blade and no numbing. I bit on my sweatshirt to stop from screaming and cried. The doctor told me I had to stop moving or else the razor might slip and he might just cut off my whole leg. HAHA. SO HILARIOUS. Fuck you!! I was given antibiotics and sent back to the hotel.
Day two of our trip we ventured out very early in the morning and spent the entire day in the desert. Our breakfast at 7 am consisted of bread and cheese and we didn’t eat again till 430. I think they were trying to kill us and collect insurance money on our behalf. We came back home at night so exhausted that I went straight to bed rather than eating or showering. I was very covered in dust…and it wasn’t of much help that the doctor had forbidden me from showering as to not get my wound wet.
The next morning I spent the entire time sleeping on the bus while we made occasional stops and other people got off to take pictures. My friend Ariel spent the day vomiting after eating seafood….turns out she has a shellfish allergy. Chile is slowly trying to kill us all. Today I went to the CIEE program office to show them my wound and see if I should visit the hospital again, because after taking off my bandages finally it seemed to be a little infected again. When I was told I might have to repeat my doctors visit experience, I instantly began to feel ill. I figured it was a mental thing and tried to put it to the side. By the time I got to the metro to begin my usual 45 minute journey home (after struggling for an hour to try to print something for class…NOTHING MAKES SENSE HERE!) I was almost positive I was going to vomit. I was so disoriented I went the wrong way on the metro, adding another wonderfully crowded 20 minutes onto my trip. I slowly trudged home from the metro and was thrilled once I got back home to be able to rest. I was very scared that I would get a fever and have to be rushed to the hospital for my bug bite. As I sat down to dinner and took my first bite of salad, I had to jump up and sprint to the bathroom to vomit. And since that moment I have spent a majority of my night being violently ill. Tomorrow I have an essay due that I have not started and will NOT be doing between trips to the bathroom.
So all in all, I wholeheartedly love Chile, but it does not seem to love me back.