Published: May 21st 2008May 21st 2008
Hey there, y'all
It's been way too long since I've written one of these.
I'm just realizing lately that I'm down to six weeks. Seems like a lot, right? Well, that means six 5-day school weeks to sit through, yes, but I'm down to just six weekends. Sad. But still, I'm feeling almost ready to go. I feel like there are just a few more things to do, and then I'll be really dying to get home.
It's getting cold here lately, winter and all that. I have to go to school in the morning not only with the school sweater, but also with gloves, alpaca wool socks, and a thermos of tea or coffee. Well, all that's not really necessary, but it keeps my cozy.
Today is the 21 de Mayo, a huge national holiday. I think I've already told this story, but basically, this holiday goes back to the Guerra del Pacífico (The War of the Pacific). This war was caused largely by conflicts over the world's largest deposits of sodium nitrate, which are found in the Atacama Desert. This mineral is used in fertilizers and explosives. But anyway, this was where Chile expanded it's
territory from it's limits by Antofagasta (I think) all the way up to Arica, land-locking Bolivia and taking a good chunk out of Perú.
So, during this war, on the 21 de Mayo most of Chile's big warships were up by Perú. Along come a couple of Peruvian ironclads. So one of these ironclads, the Huáscar, is cruisin by Iquique. Captain Arturo Prat boldly makes a stand with a little wooden boat called the Esmeralda. Anyway, Uncle Prat gives his men a pep talk, the Huáscar rams them, and all these crazy Chileans board the ship and fight to the death. Instant hero.
So across the length of chile, they do parades. I marched with the school today. Got to carry the school flag, whooo!! If you can march with a tuba you can march with anything
We just had the last Rotary exchange student gathering. We went up to Iquique for a fun, but sadly short weekend. Iquique is one of the cities in way northern chile, I think it's within hours of the Peruvian border. I think it kind of had to be that short, the rotarians in charge of the exchange program have jobs
every town, every city here has a plaza. It's kind of nice, you have a public place where you can meet people, hang out, etc. I guess we have more parks instead of plazas
and it can be hard to get time off.
We got there on friday, and went to the hotel where we stayed. On saturday, we went to the rotary conference for the whole district. Very dull, but that's ok. Then we headed over to the Zofri, Iquique's zona franca. I'm not sure how you say that in English, but it means there's no tariff on imports. Cool place. So we had shopping time, and then we went back to the hotel. On sunday we had sort of a year-end chat with the rotarians, had lunch, and then we went to the bus station. We did have some time before the bus left on the way back, so we walked around the city a bit. That was the trip.
It was still cool though, because there was a lot of free time in between all this stuff where I just hung out with the other excange students. You talk, laugh, remember, it's good.
On monday after the orientation. I hung out with my friends Samantha (fellow wisconsinite) and Sebastian from Germany. We spent the day in their city, Copiapó, which is about an hour and a half bus
ride north of Vallenar. It was a groundbreaking day. We walked on a side of the plaza that we'd never walked on before, I tried 2 new kinds of ice cream, and we ventured forth into the unknown of a Regional Museum.
Let's see....I joined a folklore workshop that will be after school once a week, and also a drum set one. I'm interested in the folklore, and I figure I should learn some percussion because I'm always drumming on tables and I'd like to learn some actual drumming drumming. Problem is, I'm down to a few weeks so I don't know how much I'll learn.
Oh, something I find interesting, which I don't know how commonly it's practiced, but it seems to be considered good manners in Chile. In Wisconsin, it seems like for my family, any food in the kitchen or on the table is free game unless it's specifically forbidden. Here, it's like there's a lot more possession of the food. Like, if you bought it or made it, it's yours and nobody will touch it until you offer or serve it. I've made desserts and stuff, and wondered why everyone asked if they could
I had fun with a camera setting that gives a flash for the close stuff, and then a nice long exposure for the background.
have some even when I pointedly put it in the middle of the table. I'm trying to remember to offer stuff now.
Other good manners...permiso. It asks for permission. Whenever you reach in front of someone you say permiso. When you leave the table you say permiso. In some situations where you're socializing with a group of people and you have to step away, you say permiso. If you walk between people who are talking, you say permiso. If you step into another class's classroom, you say permiso. When you're late to class, you say permiso as you enter, and apologize. Permiso is a great word
I've rediscovered the glory of milk. It's been getting cold, so I've been having tea to warm me up. Tea in the morning, tea from my thermos through the school day, tea for the afternoon. Sometimes coffee. It's soooooo good. But I was forgetting my milk, which is also one of the best drinks in existence. Though the milk here comes in a box, and it's like....sterilized. Nothing living in it, so you don't have to refridgerate it until you open it. I don't think it's like that in WI....not sure...but the
where's Leal when you need him?
night photos always come out blurry
milk tastes different here. Oh well.
Enjoy your 21 de mayo
See y'all soon
There are more photos below