Saturday, January 16, 2010

Verano es Re Filete

Sorry no pictures-- my camera is lost and I want to get this post up before I leave tomorrow and I don't really have time to hunt down pictures from facebook and most of them aren't even uploaded yet and maybe I'll put them on later and you get the idea.

Since the last post I have had a lot of fun. New Year's eve, I went with my friend kuko to his families new year's eve dinner which was laid back and fun, then went to a huge new years eve party. New year's eve is the biggest party night in Chile, and the party that I went to lived up to it. There were 2,000 people there, and it was quite a blast.

A couple of days later, I got a call from my Brazilian friend Breno inviting me to go to Pichilemu, a surf-town about 3.5 hours away. The next morning at 6 AM, Breno, two of his Chilean friends, and I hit the road. The plan was to camp, but by luck we came across a room with beds, better location, private bathrooms, and a very laid-back owner for a cheaper price. ~$20 USD for the room, which we had from 10 AM until 7 PM the next day. We basically just hung out, spending just about all of our time in the four block stretch of road that included our house, empanada shops, street vendors, and the beach.

After a day of rest when I got back, I headed up to Santiago with most of the exchange students from Curicó to go to the goodbye parties of the southern-hemisphere rotary kids who head home in early January. The first day's party was in a park, but when the park closed, we moved the party by bus and by subway to a mcdonalds, then to a little disco. The next day, I hung out with Andrew, whose house I stayed at, then walked around Santiago for a while with the Curicanos and a couple of Santiaguinos. By my request, we hunted down and Indian restaurant for dinner. Ethnic food is one of the things I really miss here, and eating Indian food put me in such a good mood. That night was despedida part 2 in an exchange students house, and there were good times to be had by all. The next morning, we were all more than a bit exhausted, so we said our final goodbyes, grabbed a bite at McDonalds, and headed home.

When I got home on Thursday, everyone in my host family except for the dad was in Viña del Mar, at their beach apartment. Friday after lunch, I headed up with my dad. We stayed until Friday, just hanging out. It had potential to be boring because I didn't manage to meet up with any friends there, but I made the most of the opportunity to just wander around the town and get some people-watching in.

That Tuesday, I headed back to Pichilemu with a different group of people. We rented a house for the 8 of us ($25 USD a piece for 3 nights, 2 blocks from the beach), and had a smashing time. A lot of chilling, walking around the town, plus two half-days of surfing. I was pleasantly surprised that I still remembered most of what I'd learned in my 3 or 4 surfing lessons I've had in the last 8 years, and even though it was too windy for the waves to be good, I managed to catch a good few waves, and I'm hoping to head back and do it again before summer break ends.

Tomorrow, I leave for Pucón (a vacaction town on a lake) for two weeks with my family, which should be good times, then as soon as I come back, I'll be changing families. Shortly after, my dearest mother is coming to visit. I don't want summer to end.

Almost 5 months in, I feel like I've just recently reached a new level of comfort/integration/acclimation. Boredom, which had been one of my major worries, has vanished for the time being, and that suits me very well. I think I've probably already changed more than I realize, because thinking back on the beginning of the exchange, my thoughts and worries and opinions on things here seem so strange and foreign. The most tangible change I think is my adjustment to independence. My family here basically lets me do whatever I want, as long as I can do it for myself. I remember how exciting it was the first time I walked to the colectivo and took it to the centro for the first time, and how exciting it was the first time I headed of by bus, just me and some friends on a trip we planned ourselves. To me these almost seem routine now. I think this is something that varies a lot between exchange students, and has a lot to do with the families-- there are some people who do everything with their families, and feel like they have less dependence here than back home. It's weird to think how different my experience could have been.

3 things that are different here

1. Telephone poles are all concrete. I looked into this one a little bit, and couldn't find any definite reason why they should be different, but they are.

2. Fanny packs don't have the same stigma that they do in the US, and are pretty commonly used. I bought myself one. It's useful as heck.

3. There's definitely something different about how old people look. Most of the time I guess 2 years older than people actually are, but there are also people who look younger than they are. I can't think of a good explanation.