Thursday, October 15, 2009

Aniversario Etc.

The last week and half feels like it requires a play-by-play. Sorry if it comes off as tedious, but I'm just going to pick up where I left off. Last Thursday was the only routine day. Unfortunately, at some point during my trek home from the gym, my cell-phone either fell out of my pocket or was stolen. It was quite frustrating, especially since the only place I could go to get a new phone without changing my number was closed until Tuesday.

The next day (Friday) was the anniversary of Curicó, and the 7 of us who are here with Rotary were in the city's Parade. It was the kinda thing where we were told to meet-up at 10:15, the last person arrived around 10:45, we left the house around 11:15, the parade started at 1:45 (instead of 1), and we actually marched around 2:30. The time didn't bother me though, it was all very chill, and we passed the time talking to kids who were waiting with their schools. In the afternoon I had a soccer game, which was fortunate because I was in a bit of a bad mood from walking to and from my school (it's also my colectivo stop) twice in unseasonably warm mid-day heat on top of being peeved from losing my cell phone.

Last Saturday I went to Molina by micro (bus) with a couple of exchange students for Día de la Familia at the colegio one girl's host-parents own/run. It was the best asado food I've had so far-- I've been disappointed a few times with the meat, but this was particularly good. I came back to Curicó and went straight to a friends house to watch the Chile vs. Colombia game and celebrate his birthday. Chile won 4-2, assuring them of a spot in the world cup, so everyone was in good spirits. I got to celebrate the Chilean triumph as well as the American triumph (we qualified that night also). People consider Chilean soccer better than North American and US soccer, but I can always pull out the fact that the US is still 6 places higher than Chile in the official FIFA rankings (It was 10 up until 2 days ago). Departing from chronological order for a moment, Chile played their final (albeit meaningless for them) game of World Cup Qualifying against Ecuador on Wednesday. I went to a friends house to watch, Chile won, and of course
people hung around for a few hours after partying and chilling and such.

Anyway, Sunday was the birthday of my host-grandmother (coincidentally the same day as my real grandma-- Happy Birthday Bubbie!), so we went to her big house/farm to meet up with the rest of the huge extended family. I forgot to bring my camera, but the place was really sweet. They had horses (which I rode), and peacocks, and something related to antelopes. Ate good food, played some soccer, and hung out for most of the day.

Monday was Columbus day, so there was no school, and if I remember correctly I did nothing notable. However, on Tuesday, my high-school's aniversario (anniversary celebrated for a week) began. We're divided by grade into two alianzas (alliances, more or less) to compete in all kinds of shenanigans between Tuesday and Thursday. I participated in limbo (made it pretty far, but not far enough to win my team points), metro cuadrado (seeing how many people you can fit in a square meter-- my team lost 20-19), soccer (my team of me and a buncha sophomores upset the team of a buncha seniors and a freshman 1-0), a musical TV-themed skit (no idea how it was scored), a dance competition (my partner and made it to the final 6, one step before the finals), a costume procession (I was gula[gluttony] as part of the 7 sins), an improvised dance that was supposed to have been choreographed, and a soccer game (7 sophomores and I upset the team of 7 seniors and 2 freshman), as well as serving as the mascot (Doris de Buscando Nemo/Dorie from Finding Nemo) for my alianza in a few dance/parade/general-performance type things. Thursday night it all wrapped up, and much to my surprise and excitement, our alianza had won. We went into the night with a 9,000 point lead, but the alianza headed by the seniors almost always wins (often with a bit of help from the judges), so I didn't think the fact that we'd won almost everything would actually make a difference.

Friday, I finally got my Chilean ID, hung out in the house, then went to hang out and wander the town with a friend and his friend and his friends. It wasn't that exciting unto itself, but I felt like I was finally getting a taste of the real content of a Chilean teenagers life-- hanging with friends trying (and not always succeeding) to find an interesting way to pass the time.

Saturday, I went to the cerro (big hill that's also the city's big park) to clean up trash with the other Rotary Exchange Students in town, as well as some local kids in Interact (basically teen Rotary), then have a little picnic, and some bonding activities. Afterward, we meandered through the centro for a bit, then I went with a few chilenos to one of their houses to play some video games and hangout.

Sunday (today) I went to another Curicó Unido game. They played Ñublense, who are one of Curicó's 2 big-time rivals. The crowd was significantly larger, louder, and rowdier than the last game I went to. Before the game started, the some fans from Curicó's barra (super-fan section) stole a banner from Ñublense's barra, then late in the second half, a flare was fired from Ñublense's barra into Curicó's and hit someone in the arm. I was safely seated far away, enjoying Curicós 3-0 victory.

3 things that are different here

1. Wild/ferile dogs are everywhere because there aren't many if any pounds, and neutering/spading are not common practices. Most of the wild dogs are german shepherds or unrecognizable mutts, but every once in a while you see an interesting dog. Today I saw one that had to have been half german shepherd and half dachsund. It was awesome. I want one.

2. Parking here is distinct. For paid street parking, instead of meters and meter-maids, they have guys standing there who help you park, then give you a slip with the time of arrival, and you pay them when you leave. They also have guys who help you park at a lot of stores, and they are among the few people you are supposed to tip. However, even though people are guiding them, in general a lot less attention is paid to parking within the lines.

3. The date is written DD/MM/YY instead of MM/DD/YY. It's more logical in that it goes from smallest to largest, but I've found at least one advantage of our system-- if you have a computer sort dates alphabetically, it does a much better job of achieving chronological order.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Pura Vida

Although I know I´m turning into a broken record, the progression of life continues to be that more and more, things feel more like routine life than new adventures. It's a bad thing though-- I like having things to do, I´m more comfortable with, well, everything. I posted my weekeday schedule last week, and I´ve been sticking to it, outside of a few blips here and there. As for last weekend, my host-parents went to the apartment in viña del mar, and left my host brother and I here with the nana (basically a maid). I went to a party friday night which was good times, but saturday through sunday I more or less did nothing. It was very relaxing, with intermittent stabs of boredom. I had plans to go out with friends Saturday night, but the kid who has a car had gone to Santiago, so we were out of luck. I did go for another little bike ride down the road and into the campo (countryside)on Saturday, and this time I remembered to bring my camera. Enjoy some highlights:

Yesterday in the morning and all day today, my class took a practice PSU (their equivalent of the SAT/ACT) so I´ve had a lot of freetime. I´ve mostly been passing time in the Library, reading and browsing the web, but I also spent some time helping out the younger English classes. The kids are really cute. One little girl whispered in my ear that she loved me, then wanted to hold my hand the rest of the time. I've been helping the sixth graders practice for a standardized English exam for an hour every Tuesday and Thursday. It basically consists of asking them questions about their family, their likes, and their favorites, but it's good because it takes me out of math class. Not that I have a problem with the math class, but 4 days a week in a class that I'm two years past would just be too much. Inequalities and basic geometry of triangles are already painful enough 3 days a week.

Last night (Tuesday), instead of going to classes in the gym, the exchangers had a meeting with our counselor. We basically just figured out plans for trips and events (a parade this friday, a day in Santiago in a couple of weeks), although the meeting was supposedly to discuss alcohol and alcoholism and rules and such. Afterwards, we went out for ice cream. I think we all get along quite well, which is nice. It´s good to know people who are in the same boat, and going through more-or-less the same things.

Changing topics, I´d like to share to comments I´ve overheard about the US:

¨The solution to all of Chile´s problems would be to declare war on the US. The only problem would be if we won.¨

(After someone used to US to justify the death penalty as being good)
¨And which country in the world is the most absolutely crazy, with people who are all totally nuts?¨

3 things that are different here

1. Milk is all ultra-pasteurized, and comes in boxes that aren't kept refrigerated. Well, the box says you should refrigerate it once it's open, but people don't heed the instructions very often.

2. Their equivalent of a senior trip is taken before senior year. It's also done through the school, and (just about) everyone goes together. My class is going to Cancún in December and unless something changes, it looks like I'll be going with them. I´m still a little disappointed because the original plan was to go to Camboriu (a beach town in Brazil), which is much more exotic/exciting/oustide-of-normal-gringo-vacations/interesting than Cancún (plus I've never been to Brazil), but the class decided on Cancún before I got here and it should still be a sweet trip so I´m not complaining.

3. A popular mode of transportation, and the one I've been using the most, is colectivos. They´re basically taxis that work like buses. They run a route, stop whenever someone flags them, and let you off when you tell them to. I've never had to wait more than a couple of minutes for a colectivo, and they only cost 350 pesos (less than 70 cents). The only inconvenience is that the closest a route comes to my house is at my school, a 25 minutes away walking down the shoulder of a major road. It´s not so bad now, but since summer´s coming and it's going to get hot, I'm trying to figure out the schedules of the micros (busses) that run past my house.