Friday, October 30, 2009

---> Another Fat Student

One of the inside jokes about AFS is that in place of meaning American Field Service is means Another Fat Student. (Side note: I'm sure my english grammar is not funcioning, in place of writing ing I want to write -ando, not to mention all the other little spanish words that my fingers have become accostomed to typing!)

Entonces (there goes another spanish word I use a lot, it means 'so'/'anyway'), those that go on exchange should be prepared to put on weight. It must be because exchangers are so open to trying new food! Yesterday I went into town with Krista and Giulia, other AFSers in Copiapó. What else is there to do in town than eat? We went to our second favourite completo-selling place, a little tiny cafe that sells completo italianos and bought a completo each. At that place they cost 700 pesos, which is a about $2 NZD, and at the más rico completo selling place (actually I think selling place means shop, as I said, my english is as wrecked as Hugh Grant in an action movie) sells completos for 600 pesos, with homemade mayonaise - which reeks of garlic but they are the best completos one will ever eat in their life. Completos del carrito.

Right, now that I've finished with my little completo essay, I'll get on with the story. With Krista and Giulia we smoked (well, I didn't smoke, I think another bad thing about exchange is that if you smoked before you came, you will smoke a lot more on exchange. Poor lungs.) and ordered completos. Then went to the s'mall (because it's a mall but it's small, ha ha) to take out money and recharge money on cell phones and buy perfume and make up, all the little downtown things that I actually had done the week before). After eating the savory completos we all wanted something dulce. Luckily in the mall there is a very delicioso bakery. Bought a cake called 'mil hojas' (1ooo leaves) which, when made well like my abuelita makes it, should have layers of homemade pastry with manjar and chopped nuts, and when made comercially is flaky pastry with a bit of manjar. But this mil hojas really rocked it. I though 'custard square in CHILE!' Because really is was like custard square on steroids. Lots of pastry with manjar in between, then custard, then more pastry and manjar. All for 700 pesos - and it was about twice the size of the NZ custard square. Perfecto!

I think cheap, good and exotic food is definitely the reason for durante-exchange weigh gain. So to really rub salt in the wound, we found a bench in the mall to sit. It was right outside a videogames place 'los gorditos' (the fat people). Justice.

Actually speaking of weight, I arrived to my theatre class on Wednesday and everyone commented on how I looked slimmer. Wow, and just that morning I had gone out for my first (very short) jog. Good to know the results show that fast! By the way, jogging and reggaeton mix so well its like magic. The steady beat of reggaeton encourages the jogger and while running it reminds me of good times in Chile - so I don't have to think about the road works people staring at the chubby gringa running with an iPod that probably costs more than they earn in a month - and because it's in Spanish I can also concentrate on distinguishing the words and widening my vocabularly. Gracias Daddy Yankee, Jadiel, Wisin y Yandel, Blindaje 10 y Makano. 

What has made my (only two so far) jogging sessions possible is that the government in Chile ain't that good and the teachers of public schools are striking because they didn't recieve a payout that was due. So what do students of Liceo de Música do? We go to classes anyway. 

A bit about my school. Three types of school in Chile. Fully private is expensive, top, snobby kids (although that's a bit of a generalisation, because I have met kids from the private schools here and they are nice!). 

Mix of private and public - the government could pay only a little, so the schools are more 'top' because the parents have to pay a lot, or the government could pay a lot more of the fees, so they are less 'top' but still private because the parents have to pay a bit.

Public schools - the only fees that parents have to pay are this weird inscription kind of fee. Normally the kids that go there are from poor families (20% of the chilean population is below the poverty line, and there is a big gap between rich and poor). Some public schools are better than others - depends in which part of the city they are in. But generally they are 'flaite' which means gangster, problems with violence and bad grades. And unlike the other two types the schools are painted in bright colours.

So although Liceo de Música is public, is does have the advantage of being a music focused school, which means the students who go there are more 'sensitive' and nicer than students in other public schools. It's true. Not so many 'flaite' and if they are 'flaite' they're not scarily flaite, I'm friends with the ones that would be the most gangster students and they're nice. One of the downsides is that we don't have any sports teams. But the advantages, well...

The teachers are in strike. All of the other public schools aren't doing anything, but Liceo de Música, being a bit different with more motivated and sensitive students, has organised to to classes for those that want to come, every day at 11am (well really later than that, being in Chile). We have one class, done by a student in the final year, then lunch, then another class, then activities. And because of that, in came the news cameras and we got to be on the local news show. (There was a close up of my face in the segment that showed the coming news, how embarrassing!) Here is the video that I took of the news segment when it came on the news. See if you can spot me!

Photos from boredom

Supporting the teachers
Biology class. El Chavez appeared on the news.

Chile love: cheap things. Earrings especially. I have bought so many earrings! But wear to put them? I was in the market with my host mum a few weeks back and came across a man who made trees from wire to hag earrings. Perfecto! Now all my cool little earrings get so be on a tree, plus a few necklaces and butterfly clips. My favourite earrings are my giraffes and a bolivian couple. And this cute tree only cost mil pesos (1000 pesos, or $3.)

How do I pass my free time here? Friday = going to the movies with the exchangers. We saw a movie called Todo Incluido, a family drama made in Chile and México. It was really good, and so were the sour gummis that Fabian the German kept trying to steal from me. Before the movies, we all ate completos at the carrito. The cinema isn't in the centre of town, it's a part of the casino hotel, the tallest building the Copiapó has.

Before going out, with Krista

El Casino

On Saturday I hung out with Krista, went out for icecream with my friend Emily, then on Sunday again we went to see a basquetball game. The days fly by when you're having fun. A day is not a day if I don't go out.

Currently I am reading La Pasión Según Carmela (Passion according to Carmela) by an Argentinia author, Marcos Aguinis. Latino literatura. previously I had read Matilda, Boy Meets Girls (A chic flic by Meg Cabot, but in Spanish) and Twilight (in Spanish), which were all translated into Spanish, and I understood pretty much everything. Now the difference between those and that, is that written originally in Spanish there are phrases and a lot of words I have never come across. It needs concentration. I'm also reading Cronica de un Muerte Anunciada by the famous Gabriel García Márquez. 

I owe my life to the genius who invented dictionairies. Although I am conversant, reading literature (note, literature, not books) is another story. But I need to read and this is a satisfying challenge.

Thanks to Krista, I am in love with a Spanish band, La Quinta Estación (The 5th Season). There's more to spanish music than reggaeton. And the cover album art it so cool. Que Te Quería is one of my favourites.

La llama se apagó   - The call finished
No sé - I don't know
Matamos la ilusión - Let's kill the illusion
Tal vez - Maybe
Y dónde quedo yo - And where does that leave me?
En este mundo sin color - In this world without colours
Sin historias que contarte - Without stories to tell you
Sin saber cómo explicarte. - Not knowing how to explain it to you

Que hoy te veo - That today I see you
Y aunque lo intente no se me olvida - And although I try I can't forget it
Que eras tú el que no creía en las despedidas - That it was you that didn't believe in goodbyes
Que sigo siendo la misma loca que entre tus sábanas se perdía, - That I'm still the same crazy person that got lost in your sheets
Y a fin de cuentas no soy distinta de aquella idiota - And after all I'm not any different from that idiot
Que te quería - That I loved you

No importa como fue - It doesn't matter who it went
ni quién - nor who
Queríamos beber, sin sed. - We wanted to drink, without thirst
Y dónde quedo yo - And where does that leave me
en este mundo sin tu voz - In this world without your voice
ignorando las señales que me llevan a encontrarte - Ignoring the signs that take me to find you

Que hoy te veo
Y aunque lo intente no se me olvida
Que eras tú el que no creía en las despedidas
Que sigo siendo la misma loca que entre tus sábanas se perdía,
Y a fin de cuentas no soy distinta de aquella idiota
Que te quería
Que todavía espera verte sonreír - That still hopes to see you smile
Que todavía espera verse junto a ti - That  still hopes to see herself together with you 

Que hoy te veo
Y aunque lo intente no se me olvida
Que eras tú el que no creía en las despedidas
Que sigo siendo la misma loca que entre tus sábanas se perdía,
Y a fin de cuentas no soy distinta de aquella idiota
Que te quería
Que sigo siendo la misma loca que entre tus sábanas se perdía,
Y a fin de cuentas no soy distinta de aquella idiota
Que te quería

Love that song! So much that I translated it on my blog, ja ja.

Got to go to lunch now. Bye all :)

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

---> Back in time

Since I havn't had a lot of time to update lately I'm going to skip back to two weekends ago and write about then!

So . . . what did I get up to then?

First things first. Friday night:
I was re reading the email about the AFS activity that was going to happen on Saturday, when I came across a word I did not yet know so I asked my host brother and to my horror, discovered that I meant I had to make a poster about New Zealand. In three hours, but first I had to go into town and buy paper and glitter pens. (The latter being very essential). Frantically I phoned the other exchangers to ask and Krista, from Finland, was already in town looking for the things, so I hopped on board a colectivo and flew downtown. We went to a good stationary shop where the assistant was incredibly helpful and bought all our necessary items, then decided to go and have something to eat while we were in town. 

I returned home and started making my poster, frantically because my counsellor was coming by in a few hours to pick me up (I was staying in her house for the weekend as my family went to Coquimbo). She arrived (luckily all my bags were ready!) and we drove to her house, where I finished making the poster and ate a really good alfajor (biscuit with manjar in the middle, coated wth chocolate) and a glass of milk. Then went to bed with the poster finished!

The day started sunny and full of promise. The other jeep-loads of AFS affiliated people arrived to the house of my couseller, (where we had arranged to meet before we drove to Caldera to sell things in the market). Krista arrived but with a really pale face and told me that something horrible had happened. It was such a difference from how she was the day before. I followed her to find out what was wrong and it was so horrible. Her host brother had been in a horrible accident and passed away, her parents had gone to the city where we was studying and her exteneded host family was all at her house. All of us AFs people were really really shocked and upset for her and her family.

We arrived to Caldera and set up the stall for selling clothes and the easels with the posters about our countries.

Me, Giulia, Krista, Fabian and Ananda with our posters

This whole 'selling clothes' thing was to raise money for a national scholarship to send one student on their exchange for free. Us students talked to the people about exchanges and a nice couple from the south of Chile wanted a photo with people from other countries! 

I had fun telling people that The Lord of the Rings was filmed in NZ and The Last Samurai too, and that the latter was filmed a five minute walk from my house! (Yes, I did see Tom Cruise!)

After, we had a barbeque and Fabian had to go for a swim in the freezing cold water as a kind of punishment/dare, due to the fact that his poster was just a little bit smaller and well... with just a little bit less information! 

With Giulia and a girl who's going to France we had a look in the market at Bahia Inglesa, the market there is one of my favourites (even though I love just about any market in Chile!)

We drove back home in time to watch the soccer game in which Chile bet Columbia 4-2 and qualified for the World Cup! Chile is an extremely patriotic country and with my temporary hosts we drove to the centre of town to fly the Chilean flag and honk the horn a lot, which about half the city was doing! It was amazing, everyone was crazy and walking round with the flag, or in the car with their flag, hugging and cheering and shouting 'Chi-Chi-Chi-Le-Le-Le Viva Chile!'

This took quite some time, but while we were in town we decided to watch a movie at the cinema, and watched one called La Nana, which is about the life of a maid in a Chilean household. My counsellor didn't like it but I found it interesting. 

Tacos for lunch! I hadn't realised until then how much I missed mexican food!

After lunch we went to the church to pay our respects to the family of Krista, giving flowers like it is the custom to do, and sitting for a while in the church. It was a sad moment.

After that, I was dropped of at the house of my chapter president to stay for the other night. There were cousins from Santiago visiting and I helped them make an advert for a project they had to do. It involved me saying something like 'spanish spanish spanish OH MY GOD spanish spanish spanish'. It's really funny in Chile when the gringo say 'oh my god' because it is said so much in the Hollywood films, it's like a stereotype.

We were called to have onces right after the video was finished. Completos and torta for onces, yum! Then because this is Chilean and Monday was a holiday, we prepared ourselves (or the younger ones) to go out to a party and that is what we did!

After getting up late (which everyone did that morning!), we ate lunch and then I watched TV for a while with Javiera (the daughter of my chapter president, who went to Denmark) and the we went to the funeral of Marcelo (Krista's host brother).
The funeral was pretty sad, it was such a contrast to Saturday, which was full of laughter and fun. But in exchange you have to really prepare for everything and that's one of the things that can happen. It shouldn't though.

RIP Marcelo

Thursday, October 15, 2009

---> Where I could be now . . .

(In Santiago)

Such a long time since I have done an update! Sorry about that everyone. Today I'm feeling a bit regretful of my general disorganised-ness. I'm not sure whether my life in Chile has influenced it or over seven months of no heavy deadlines (yes I have to meat deadlines but they're not life-or-death the way they would be if I was a real student in my NZ school), but despite being before the deadline in getting my forms in for a tour of the south of Chile with AFS, I've missed out on going as the spaces filled up too fast. 

To rub salt into the wound, I was told I would be contacted if by any chance a space did become clear. Yesterday I was sitting on the micro (crowded, rackety bus but cheap and exchangers like 'cosas baratas' (cheap things) and I received a phone call. My heart thudded with excitement and images rushed into my head of me arriving in Santiago and greeting my AFS friends who thought I wasn't coming. I answered, said '¿Qué? Lo siento, estoy en el micro y no escucho nada?' (What? Sorry, I'm on the bus and I can't hear anything) and the man on the other end of the phone said something then hung up. My stop was two seconds down the roads. I'm not deaf or anything, bus it's so hard to hear when the bus is rattling over the potholes and there are boys rapping two seats behind you in the bus. 

I waiting for about an hour for them to call me back, then finally rang the number only to find out it doesn't exist. That was more than salt being rubbed into the wound, it was lemon juice as well. (Which as a matter of fact, here in Chile, it there's any slices of lemon left over from a salad, you put salt on it and eat the lemon.) Finally I figured out I had to take off the plus sign and the first two digits then call. The phone finally rang - my heart really was pounding! - and suddenly the disapointment sunk in when I discovered that it was Entel PCS, my phone company, that had called me. 

So the four-day process, of getting the papers printed, getting the signature of my AFS chapter president, depositing the money, buying the bus tickets and sending the papers had all been in vain.  Or had it? I went with Giulia, from Italy (and who was lucky enough to be going on the trip) two days that week to try and buy the bus tickets - the first time we didn't buy them because we had underestimated how much they cost (thanks to the bus terminal lady that would have made us pay MORE for bus tickets) - and the second day we bought them and after walked to the town plaza to have an ice cream. Because we're so gorgeous and famous, we have our problems with the paparazzi following us but couldn't avoid them getting a shot of us as we sat down to enjoy our gelatos. The next day we appeared in the social pages of a top Chilean tabloid. Okay, joking. But while we were sitting down talking in the plaza, a photographer from a local paper asked us if he could take our photo. He took our photo then asked for our names (and although I made sure my surname was spelt correctly it was mispelt in the paper and makes me sound incredibly 'flaite' (gangster)).

Oh so famous

I'm on the left, Giulia on the right. Social pages of  El Diario de Atacama

The plaza is definitely one of my favourite places in Copiapó, I love how in Chile there are many areas for 'social gatherings'. There are little plazas in nearly every neighbourhood and between the two lanes of some roads, there are footpaths in between with grass and trees on both sides and benches to sit on. 

But back to the plaza, frecuenctally there are markets on, there's the 'normal' market and at times another market on the other side of the plaza. Both markets sell the same sort of things, earrings (I have an earring fetish!), scarves, bags, fanny packs, chocolate, tee shirts, necklaces and bracelets, hats, books and much, much more. I spent a while at the plaza last week talking to a Mapuche (the indigenous people of Chile) about what the symbols on the earrings meant and the south of Chile.  That day, as well as Mapuche earrings, I also bought a bag, because my AFS NZ backpack is simply huge and apparently I have knocked someone with it on the bus (how embarrassing!). So I love the markets and the plazas here, that's for sure.

Anyway, speaking of plazas, that's where I'm heading in a few minutes, so chao! (Yes, it's ciao in Italiano, but in Chile we also say chao. Adios sounds so . . . formal, for this relaxed country!)