Monday, September 27, 2010

Week of Celebration + Vina del Mar/Valparaiso

These last few weeks have been quite eventful! Here's a little "itinerary" of the happenings...

Thursday: Party at the school with performances by every grade and then a party for the teachers after (last blog post)

Friday: Day/Night-long cookout in the mountains...a lovely, relaxing time filled with delicious food, games, music, dancing, and family. The group consisted of friends from La Serena and nearby. Everyone brought food and smiles. Towards the evening there was live music, and though I may not have understood all of the words, the guitars were beautiful.

Top: One of the music performers and an outgoing father
Bottom: View of the house/patio

Saturday: Celebration at home all day and night...we decorated the patio with balloons and other "fiestas patrias" goodies. Rodrigo grilled out a ton of meat, and grandma came over to make the salads. We ate and then sat around, drank wine, and talked for hours...which then turned into more eating and TONS of dancing! I learned how to dance Cueca (the official dance of Chile), then I taught everyone how to line dance, and then the family showed me how to dance many other dances from Brazil, Argentina, and Chile. This night was by far one of my favorite nights in Chile. I had a blast dancing and drinking with the family :) Oh, and, if you notice the attire worn by the family, these are classic, central-northern Chile clothes (they do not wear these clothes all the time. Just for special occasions).

Sunday: Trip to Ovalle (about an hour away in the middle of basically nowhere) to celebrate some more! Rodrigo's mom and brothers live out in Ovalle, so we spent the day with them. This day was fairly uneventful (other than food and conversation), and then we finished the trip with a concert in the center square of Ovalle...Los Jaivas! A very loved and well-known group in Chile. The entire town made it to the concert. On the way home, my "sisters" fell asleep on my shoulders. Needless to say, I feel like I'm a part of the family now. :)

Monday: La Pampilla. The EPIC Pampilla that everyone in Chile knows about. Alvaro, Megan, and I spent about 8 hours at this massive carnival. Nearly 500,000 people in one, small(er) place = mayhem. We met up with some other "gringos" (people from gringolandia/aka America) for a few hours, and it was great to speak some English for a bit. Not only did we have to wipe away layers of dust from our sunglasses, but we also had to fend for our lives to get on the carnival rides. Megan and I (accompanied by the ever-so-wpatient Alvaro) stood in line to ride "Kamikaze" for about an hour and a half. Basically, the closer you got to the front of the line, the more crowded/suffocating it became. We literally didn't have to move my feet bc the crowd just pushed us forward. To actually get up the stairs and onto the ride...I had to use some middle school basketball boxing out skills and then muscle myself through so we wouldn't get pushed out of line and into the crowd of screaming teenagers (and adults). Some Chileans (well, some adolescents) have NO sense of personal space, patience, manners, or organization. What about lines and the people working the ride you may ask?! BAH! The workers could care less and the only way to survive is to push and squeeze right back. After the ride we went to the Americo "concert," which by the time we walked to the concert venue there were so many people that Americo was the size of an ant and the music was barely audible. So, we aborted that mission of listening to music that sounded like the same song over and over again (to listen to Americo's top hit and to get a feel for what all of his music sounds like, click this: Te Vas)...and then went to stuff our face with food that I never thought I would eat in my entire life (see picture).

Tuesday: Recovery. And a nice run to the beach, along the beach, and through the city "centro." :) Also, the ever-so-fabulous Alexis (my host teacher) gave me a bunch of tourist information about Chile, which was a HUGE help! Alexis, you're the best!!

Wednesday: Travel preparations! And Megan's Birthday! Megan's host family is kinda like my second family here. They are all so friendly and nice...and get so excited when I come over. Needless to say, I always have a full stomach and a huge smile on my face every time I go over. To celebrate her birthday we made "cocaidas" (little sugar balls topped with coconut) and ate pizza. Oh, and, drank beer. Yes, Steph went to bed with a smile on her face this night :)

Thursday - Saturday: Vina del Mar and Valparaiso. Megan and I jumped on the bus and headed south about 6 hours to absolutely nothing planned About 10 minutes outside of the city her "cousin" called us and invited us to stay at her apt in Vina. She lived about 15 minutes walking distance from the bus stop/city, which was perfect. It was a very relaxing trip--we started the morning by grabbing a "colectivo" (a communal taxi) to Starbucks, walked around Vina del Mar/chased some castles, then jumped on the "micro" (a bus/taxi) to "Valpo" (abbreviation for Valparaiso), boarded a "lancha colectivo" (a communal boat tour) of Valparaiso port, took an "ascensor" (lift/elevator thing) up a hill (picture on right), and had lunch overlooking the city. The view was worth every peso and grain of salt! We made friends with the owner and came to find that the people in Vina and Valpo are really nice and friendly.

Sunday: Recovery

PHEW. lots of adventures :) Below are some detailed pictures of all the fun. This blog doesn't do justice, but I think the pictures help illustrate everything a bit more.

Fiestas Patrias:
Fiestas Patrias

Vina del Mar and Valparaiso:

Friday, September 17, 2010

It has begun!! Fiestas Patrias in Chile

Buenos Dias!! Fietas Patrias has begun!!!

Yesterday was the start of the week-long celebration of Chile's independence. This year is already amazing, considering it is Chile's 200th year of independence! Every single class at the school prepared a dance/performance of all sorts to celebrate the Fiestas Patrias. The dancing were awesome, very informative, and beautiful to watch. The kids spent SO much time and effort preparing the dances, as I'm sure you will see by the pictures.

After the performances the teachers had an "asado" (BBQ) at the school, which consisted of TONS of meat, games, wine, beer, and dancing. I had a blast and learned how to dance-ish "Cueca," the national dance of Chile. BTW, the Chileans can't believe that America doesn't have a national dance...and I can't either.

We're (the host fam and I) are about to leave to spend the day at Ferni's best friend (Nicole's) father's "Parcela" (plot of land) to eat, drink, eat, play games, eat, and dance.

Here's the link to some pictures/videos from yesterday...enjoy!

CAB Actos y Asado con profes!


Friday, September 3, 2010

Spelling Bee and Ferni's Bday!

A few weeks ago Colegio Andres Bello had it's First Annual Spelling Bee!! The week before and the week during the Spelling Bee were eventful getting ready for the big event. There were two Spelling competitions--one for the Basico students (5th - 8th grade) and one for the Medio students (9th - 12th grade).

The kids were so cute about the Spelling Bee!! Some of the participants had written pronunciation, definition, etc. on their study sheets. Others didn't look at the study sheet once...but it was all good in the end! Everyone had smiles and felt "special" for participating. Also, it was a full house! Many of the other English classes came to watch the event and cheer on their fellow classmates who were competing.

My role in the "Bee" was the "announcer of the words," host, and judge. It was no Mock Rock, but it sure was a lot of fun. :)

The best part: BOTH of my sisters participated. Paula and Ferni are by far the best English students at the school. Paula (13) had a slight mess up with the word "book"...she spelled it with a "c-k," and knew she messed up...but since the Spelling Bee is so hard core, the kids can't correct their mistakes. The events that happened after this reminded me why I loathed middle school as much as I did...

When Paula went back to her classroom after the Spelling Bee, the kids had drawn a huge book on the board and written "B-O-O-C-K." This really upset Paula, of course, and she came home in tears and all the women in the family proceeded to cry in sympathy for her. Kids can be SO mean! However, as we assured Paula, they're just jealous...ugh kids.

As for Ferni, 17, she won the whole thing!! And quite humbly may I add :) I mean, she's basically my walking English-Spanish Dictionary, so I'm not surprised one bit!

The day of the Spelling Bee was also Ferni's 17th birthday!! Just one more year til she can drink...not that it's a big deal for her since she is so "tranquila" (chill), but she is getting old :( We had a DELICIOUS "asado" (bbq) for lunch and some equally delicious desserts at night to celebrate the special day. Her rents gave her a really nice digital camera and Paula gave her nail polish. Both gifts brought tears to eyes immediately! So cute :) I gave her a homemade birthday card...the best this volunteer could do considering I'm still waiting for my first stipend that's over a month late...

On Friday night Ferni had her best friend Nicole over for some karaoke. Needless to say, we sung the night away...and all songs were in English! The family sets up their living area with a projector, speakers, microphones, and all for karaoke. Everyone participates and everyone has a great time. My family patiently watched my rendition of "Always Be My Baby." Within 20 seconds of the song they were able to tell it was my favorite song of all they let me belt out my horrible attempt to sing like Mariah Carey. It wasn't the same without my best friends singing along with me.....

Anyhoo, here is a link to some pictures from the Spelling Bee and Ferni's B-day. Enjoy!

Spelling Bee & Ferni's Bday">Click here for pictures!