Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Chile gone dirty

Hey all!

The subject of today's post is all things that are, can be or will be dirty. Viewer discretion is advised:

The Air

Clearly I know that the smog exists but I had no idea how dirty the air was until I blew my nose today. I think it's a combination of the pollution, cigarette smoke and breathing in a decent amount of the stale metro air but still, I don't think the body is supposed to produce or emit anything black.

The Language

So, in my one day of exposure to chilenismos, I've found that Chileans take some of the most offensive visual images, label them with words and incorporate them into everyday speech. A couple examples:

La Raja, which literally translates to butt crack, is an expression used to describe someone who is the best at something or has a great personality or an even that is really fun! We questioned whether this slang was used by everyone, but our professor told us it was common and people of all ages use it in everyday speech. Don't worry, this explanation was accompanied by a rather graphic diagram of a puto (butt), on which the butt crack was highlighted in red.

El huevon, which means jerk, comes from the base word huevo, which means egg but can also be slang for a man's testicles when in the plural form. Yet the word huevon refers to the testicles of men in certain African tribes who stretch their balls until they drag on the floor. In my opinion, guys are usually jerks because they are over compensating for something, not because they are struggling to walk without tripping over their genitalia, but this is a different culture with different cultural norms.

The Dog

When I arrived last week, my host family's pet, Canita (translates to "little sugar") looked and smelled absolutely terrible. Marisol told me that the dog was dirty because she had gone outside and gotten dirty from rolling in the mud and playing with the street dogs. For the next few days, she was referred to as "la fea" (the ugly one) until someone decided to bite the bullet and give her a bath.

The Bathroom

Ironically, this is probably the cleanest place in the house. Marisol told me that I must leave the bathroom as clean as when I entered it. To assist me in this endeavor, there is a dustbuster on the sink counter which is used for vacuuming up stray hairs in the tub and on the floor. I can totally respect her wishes but the trade off is that I have to spend double the time in the bathroom just to vacuum up all the hair I've lost while showering. You'd think I wouldn't shed that much since I don't have that much hair to begin with, but the clandestine truth is that I might as well be a woolly mammoth with the amount of hair I leave in the tub.

Today's shout-out goes to anyone who isn't afraid to get a little dirty. Interpret as you wish.

Embracing the my down and dirty side,


Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Hola a todos!

When I arrived here, it seemed I had begun a new life, and landing in Chile was like coming out of the womb. Seriously, at first it was dark (although not exactly warm on the plane) and then once we landed and I emerged from customs, it was like seeing the world for the first time! It was very bright and there were lots of people screaming things at me that I couldn't understand and then suddenly someone pulled me off to the side and there, for the first time, I saw my (host) mother.

So, if last Friday was my birth, I'm happy to report that I have no moved up to the comprehension level of a preschool aged child. I can say full sentences, understand things that are said to me, and even feed myself! (well, I guess I was always able to do this, but now I know the names of the foods, excitement!) And to top things off, today I had my first day of school (I'm growing so fast!) and Marisol packed me a merienda (snack) of a cereal bar, cookies and a juice box and took me to school herself to make ure I would settle in at my new school. I liked the other girls there, they also came with juice boxes, and I think I made a few new friends! Hopefully tomorrow I'll get through puberty!

Bueno, all metaphors and jokes aside, today was wonderful! I started my intensive language class and everything went smoothly, we went through some vocab, conversed a bit and read some small articles. Tonight my homework is to review "chilenismos" or Chilean slang and let me tell you, there is A LOT to learn. They have literally seven different words for guy/gal and a lot for "boring" (apparently it takes a real comic to entertain the Chileans). But I'm happy to report that today, after my class, I understood SO much more and was able to converse, at times, like a normal person. And the metro was great, it's actually pretty simple and tomorrow myself and my friend Victoria and I are going to school by ourselves, sin nuestras madres (without our host moms). The class let out at 1pm but before we left, Naomi invited me and Heidi to go to "Las Colinas" (The Hills) with her to get a better view of the mountains/city.

Seriously, the mountains are like a landform from another world, this picture definitely does not do it justice. The only thing I can compare them to is the vast amount of green in Ireland; it's something you can't even imagine until it becomes a part of your reality.
Although the mountains were gorgeous, the view of the city....not so much.

No, I am not a terrible photographer, this is the most we could see of the city at 4:30 in the afternoon. The smog (in spanish, EL smog, if you were curious) literally covers the city and it's at its worst during the winter months. Look out for some better pictures of the Santiago skyline in October!
And here is proof that I didn't copy and paste these pictures from the Internet haha. (Naomi (left) and Heidi)

Bueno, shout-out of the day goes to Catie Gainor! I finally saw Sex and the City 2! What's more, I saw it with my host mom! Which was incredibly nerve racking, since in the first 10 minutes, there is a sex scene and a gay wedding, both of which are extremely taboo in Chile. I gritted my teeth through the rest of it, trying to hide my enjoyment assuming that my host mom would find it appalling, but at the end, she jumped up and said she loved it, that it was a movie tan lindo! She said she was jealous of their lifestyle "elegante" with their fashion and their hombres. Bueno, Marisol is tan liberal and I had nothing to worry about!

Abrazos y besos a todos,


Saturday, June 26, 2010

A couple quick anecdotes from dinner last night

So in the craziness of the day and the fact that I was sleep deprived, I forgot to give you all the entertaining details of dinner and I guess just life here in general, because clearly I know so much with my one day of experience. Anyways, this is a special second post (within the last twelve hours) but don't get used to this many updates so fast. But, my host mom is currently taking her English lessons so I have bit of time.

So, last night, after I had napped (or rather, gotten half a night's sleep) and showered, Marisol told me that we were leaving in about ten minutes. I assumed this meant we were going to run errands but when I asked her what store we were going to in the car, she told me that we were going out for dinner with people in the program, did I not remember when she told me this thirty minutes ago? Guess it slipped through the cracks.

Let me just say that, in general, we will be eating at home and for that I am glad because being in a restaurant and simply trying to order food proved to be extremely challenging. I basically just took advice from my host mom and ended up eating bread with butter and salsa (surprisingly good), "logos" as an appetizer (apparently this is a type of mussel or clam possibly? They said it was a shell fish but the meat wasn't slimey but rather tough so I still have no idea what I ate), one empanada which was delightful, and "lomo de pobre" for dinner. My host mom told me that it is a Chilean specialty so I figured I might as well try it. Turns out "lomo" is a word for steak I had not learned (I'm not a big meat eater and this was probably my first time ordering steak in a restaurant in my life) and it was half the size of the plate with eggs on top of it! Nowhere did they mention "huevos" but still they came with the meal, with a side of onions and french fries. At this point I was already very full and feeling a bit off due to all the travelling but I politely picked at the steak and ended up taking it home as leftovers.

The conversation during dinner was at first a bit awkward but someone brought up the topic of movies and then everyone got chatty very fast. It turns out that Jim Carey is a beloved actor in Chile, the host moms all raved about him, saying he was so funny and attractive (who knew?). In addition they drooled over Nicholas Cage, citing his (what they referred to as) excellent performance in Ghost Rider.

My shout-out goes to Dr. Finneran for convincing me to buy a wool sweater in Ireland. It is SO cold here that I am currently wearing it over a t-shirt and a sweatshirt and can say that I am comfortable but nowhere near feeling too hot to take it off. To put this in perspective, in the US, even in the winter, I can only wear this sweater for twenty minutes until I am soaked in sweat.

Peace, Love and Ace Ventura Pet Detective,


Friday, June 25, 2010

El dia mas larga de mi vida (The longest day of my life)

Hello lovely people,

Thanks for all your support! I made it to Santiago!

Everything has been great so far although extremely overwhelming. It's hard to believe that it is now 1AM my time and it has been two days since I landed in Miami.

So yesterday, after checking out of my hotel at noon I spent the day in the Miami airport. Everything was going swimmingly until the fire alarm starting going off! Yet a reassuring recording came on the intercom and informed us that the Miami fire department was investigating the alarm and that we should standby for instructions. I was glad to hear it the first time; yet when the alarm continued to sound and the same recording came on about 40 more times (this is a conservative estimate), I had a different opinion. At this point, there was nothing that was going to stop me from getting on a plane to Santiago, I was ready to go Icarus style, minus the flying too close to the sun and falling to my death part.

But everything went off without a hitch and I arrived in Santiago this morning (or I guess yesterday morning now) at 7:30AM. I had a gorgeous view of the Andes as we descended through the thick layer of smog that circles the city and I breathed a sigh of relief when we finally touched down. After going through customs and collecting my baggage, I went through an automatic door only to be greeted by literally 100 screaming Chilean men, offering me a taxi, a transfer, basically anything for which they would receive payment. I waded through the crowd looking for my program director but she was nowhere in sight. In the mean time, I'm looking extremely lost and panicked and about 50 of the screaming Chilean men offer me the use of their cell phone. At first I declined because I didn't have any pesos to tip them but then I got desperate and called the program director, only to find out that my host mother was meeting me at the airport rather than her. Literally I turned around and there she was and all was well with the world.

The rest of the day is sort of a blur. It has felt soooooooo long but each time I look at my watch it seems 4 more hours have passed. The main points were that I got to my host family's house, ate breakfast and then my host mother took me on what I thought was a trial run of the metro but it turned out that we were having a meeting with the program director, durin which I split my attention between her speech and trying not to fall asleep. Afterwards, we came back and had lunch, then, while the rest of the family watched the Chile vs. Espana soccer game, I took a desperately needed nap and the next thing I knew it was 7pm and we were off to dinner with everyone on the program.

So far, I have spoken spanish decently well, I think, or my host mother has falsely encouraged me that I am and it's working. I can't even count the times I have just smiled and nodded because I have no idea what she said; this rivals the amount of times I have mis-conjugated a verb or simply have stopped mid sentence because I have no idea how to say a word in Spanish. (thus far these words include, sponsor, bar, and to flush...if any of you know these off the top of your head, please leave them in the comments). However, it's difficult to feel disheartened when everytime I see someone from the program, they kiss me on the cheek and give me a hug, even though I saw all of them atleast three times today. If I'm going to immerse myself in a different culture, I'm glad it's this one simply because of the constant affection.

In the craziness of the day, I have yet to take any photos but I'll try and upload some for the next post.

My shout-out of the day goes to Kate Williamson who made a delightful playlist for me at the end of the semester and which kept me feeling as relaxed as possible during the last forty eight hours. Muchas gracias amor!

Ciao bellas,


Thursday, June 24, 2010

Stuck in Transit

Hello all,

So about this time, I would be landing in Santiago. However, due to some nasty thunderstorms in Chicago, my flight was delayed 3 1/2 hours and I missed my connecting flight to South America. I'm scheduled to leave at 11:35pm tonight and it can't come soon enough. I figured the best way to tell you all about this first "adventure" of mine would be in the form of a timeline, which is as follows:

Wednesday-Chicago time

3:00pm-My parents drop me off at the airport, the lovely O'Hare airport, where I know many of you have unfortunately spent too many hours. I check my bags, wave to my parents about a dozen times, go through security and arrive at my gate about 20 minutes later, 2 1/2 hours before my flight is supposed to take off. As an "early Eskenazi", I'm right on schedule.

3:25pm-I meet a lovely woman from Grenada whose husband works for the airline and has travelled all over the world with her two children who are 11 and 13. She confidently tells me that she could leave her children at any airport in the world and they would have no problem figuring out how to get home. I'm sad to say that I was intimidated by a preteen. The last time this happened was in 7th grade when this girl moved to my middle school from California and told us about all her adventures with celebrities. (She wore Ugg boots. We all though she was crazy.)

5:15pm-The flight I'm supposed to be on lands from its previous destination, right on schedule.

5:25pm-The sky turns black and huge gusts of wind and rain pummel the windows of O'Hare, rocking the planes from side to side. In the mean time, close to two hundred people have gathered at the gate. Two previous flights to Miami were cancelled and the over one hundred people who were on standby for my flight just looked dejectedly out the window.

5:55pm-The time my flight was supposed to leave. The storm continues to rage.

6:30pm-Lightning streaks across the sky. I start to worry that I will have to run for my flight. Frustrated, I go and eat a tomato, mozzerella and pesto sandwich, surprisingly good for airline food and probably the best thing about O'Hare airport.

6:35pm-A representative from the airline gets on the intercom and says, stiffly, that NO, she does not know when the flight will be leaving. If we would take a look outside, clearly there are tornado-like winds which means that the plane cannot safely leave the ground. I don't appreciate her patronizing tone. Two minutes later she returns to the intercom to tell us that the first flight out will be to New Delhi, India at the gate next door and we will just have to wait our damn turn. Ok, she didn't say damn, but it was definitely implied.

6:45pm-Myself and a freshly tanned 60 year old man bond over our anger at the storm. He gripes that it is unfair that the India flight gets to go first but that it is best to get all the Indian people out of the airport since they are "stinking up the place". Despite all my frustration at the airline and the weather, this was the worst part of my day.

7:40pm-The storm calms and we are finally allowed to board the plane. If the plane leaves at 7:50, like it is now scheduled to do, I would arrive in Miami at 11:34, giving me approximately 1 minute to catch my connecting flight.

7:55pm-Everyone has boarded and the captain announces that they just need to load the luggage and we will be taking off in about 10-15 minutes.

8:15pm-The captain announces that there are still 62 bags left to be loaded.

8:50pm-We begin to move onto the ramp and take our place in a line of at least a dozen planes.

9:20pm-We finally take off.

9:45pm-Rather than stress about my flight situation, I choose to peruse Sky Mall magazine. They advertise for a multitude of inplausible and expensive products, the best of which is the "Indoor Doggy Doo-Doo Area" which consists of a 12 x 16" piece of synthetic grass mounted on a plastic grate which holds the "liquid" so it will not spill on the floor. Great for dogs in high rise apartments or times of severe weather.

Thursday-Miami time

1:00am-We finally arrive. When it is my row's turn to get out of our seats, the teenage girl sitting next to me is too entranced by her cell phone to notice and blocks me in. In my imagination, I use her lap as a spring board to jump ahead of all the other people on the plane, simultaneously turning back time an hour and a half and miraculously making my flight to Santiago. In reality, I lightly tap her on the shoulder and ask through gritted teeth if she will please get up so I can figure out whether or not I have to sleep in the airport.

1:30am-I get to the rebooking station and am given a hotel for the evening and a ticket for the flight at 11:35pm Thursday. The agent jokes that technically it is a flight "later today" but somehow that does not mask the fact that I still have 22 hours until I will board the plane.

1:50am-I wait outside the airport for the hotel shuttle with a group of other people who missed their flights to South America as well. A man with a piercing in his ear approaches me and asks me what hotel I'm staying at. Before I can bullshit an answer, the hotel shuttle drives by and I run to catch it. Saved by the...bus.

2:30am- I email my program director in Santiago with my flight information and try to get some sleep.

8:00am- I wake up to eat breakfast which ends at 9:00am. After speaking with the front desk, it appears that I have to check out at 12 noon, which means another long day of hanging out in the airport.

9:00am-The Breakfast Club is on TV. I nearly cry with happiness and know that the absolute dweebiness of Anthony Michael Hall will get me through the day.

My shout-out of the day goes to Megan McLean, who missed a connecting flight and had to sleep in the Dallas airport las semester. I thought of you often yesterday and realized that if you could get through that, I could deal with my situation. Thanks for giving me perspective.

Off to the airport soon. The goal is to stake out the best food and internet areas. If any of you are lucky enough to get to the Miami airport in the future, be sure to give me a call and I'll be able to direct you around what is soon to become my second home.

Hear's to my borrowed-Seinfeld mantra, SERENITY NOW!



Friday, June 11, 2010

Hello all you lovely people,

As previously advertised, I've decided to write a blog while I'm in Chile. I'm so excited to be able to share my cultural experience with all of you! A couple quick things I want to include in each post:

1) I want to keep it REAL in this blog. I refuse to partake in any censorship of content or emotion. Freedom of the press, baby.

2) I want to do a "shout out" at the end of each entry; basically a quick tid bit addressed to one of you guys, maybe about something in Chile that reminded me of you, etc. Of course I'll think of you all everyday because you are all wonderful and great but this way it makes the blog a bit more personal and you all have more of an incentive to read it. I mean...what?

So, 12 days and counting. I need to hop on the bandwagon and get my life together, probably starting with the state of my room. It's probably unacceptable that still have papers and pictures from high school scattered around my carpet, buried by containers of cleaning supplies from college. How ironic.

Currently I'm feeling pretty tranquil, yet that seems to change by the hour, so you've all caught me at a good time. There's so much to do, people to see, and the idea of saying goodbye to everything familiar to me for the rest of 2010 is more than remotely terrifying. But there is a good amount of excitement pounding through my veins and I know it will be great once I get there. I just have to, you know, get to that point.

My first shout out goes to Amy Miller who gave me great advice on purchasing a hiking backpack. I went for the Osprey, it baby blue and glorious!

Serenity now,