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 '¿QuĆ©? 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 CopiapĆ³, 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!)

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