July 1, 2011


I have just returned from my expedition to San Pedro de Atacama, of which I will have to relate later. For now I will tell you what will be one of my favorite memories of Chile:

We got off the bus we had been riding for 24 hours in Viña to be greeted by taxi drivers and tourism agencies. One man in particular asked us if we needed any tourism information. I being slightly offended (although I really had no reason to be) informed him we actually lived in Viña.

He smiled and then refered to us as "Viña marinas", the term for locals.

June 30, 2011

Best Sleepover Ever!!!

Last Tuesday, a few gringas and I went to sleep at the university, where the students have been living for almost 4 weeks now. It was really cool to see how they were living, what they were doing and generally speaking to them to get an insider's view on the toma.

In the administration building they have ping-pong tables set up as well as audio equipment for the concerts they put on (all songs in English which I thought was interesting). All the buildings are decorated with inspiration sayings by famous Chilean and Latin American activists. In the cafteria they had a daily schedule (wake up at 9, HA!, breakfast, meetings, lunch, free time, meetings, concerts and talks, bed at 3, true) and a schedule for what chores need to be done and by which majors (cooking and cleaning tasks mostly). I was surprised at how organized they were. Students bring sleeping bags and sleep in classrooms, usually taking shifts allowing them to go home sometimes. I admire them greatly for sleeping on those hard floors and in the winter too (many of the buildings have sections of open roofs, which must have been terrible considering the rain we got last weekend). There is a puppy (smallest more adorablest ever) living with the students. Supposedly the dog was found in one of the academic buildings the night the university was taken and so it was named "Toma".

Talking with many of the students we soon realized how big of a deal this was. Although there have been other protests and tomas in the previous years (2006 and 2008 most notably), none have had the numbers, organization or have gone as long as 4 weeks. The students are steadfast in their beliefs, but still anxiously await the day Chilean special services intervene.

Even more interesting, was the next morning after we woke up, we learned that the students had taken the remaining campus buildings (my science building) and the International Office (which previously had been granted permission to resume its activities by the student association). They tomaed these remaining buildings in response to a meeting with the Rector that went poorly.
As of now the toma continues, there was the largest protest of this movement today in Valpo and things may be spreading to other South American countries like Peru.

¡Buena suerte!

June 17, 2011


43,352 minutes
722 hours
30 days
4 weeks
I feel overwhelmed, stressed, depressed, angry, but I am taking careful precautions in planning my first meal back in the States (as of now I'm thinking INDIAN BUFFET...saliva saliva saliva).
As I near the end of my stay, I've obviously been reflecting on all the awesome things I have done and wild experiences I have had...which brings me to this lovely chart:

Heather Horton was right about culture shock and I have definitely experienced all of these stages (I believe I am in between "reentry shock" and "re-integration", closer to shock though lol). But the pattern conveyed by this chart is similar (I believe) to what a break up is like. I mean, like living in another place, you change your life in a fairly drastic way. You lose a sense of comfort and familiarity and are alone in an unknown area. But when you master or at least understand where you are, you can grow and experience different things. Sure, its uber uncomfortable and terribly difficult at times, but I know I have dramatically changed (or am in the process of changing lol) because of the things I have learned and have come to understand. This is more than just a few vocab words or dancing by yourself, its realizing how you interact/respond to different situations.

 I realized about 2 weeks ago, that I adore Chile, its place, people, customs, oddities and even sometimes its food (this realization actually hit me like a brick wall). Coming to Chile, living here, experiencing this country was like starting a new relationship again, but in reverse because the exciting bits at at the end are when I got to know Chile and fully appreciate it from a non-touristy point of view.
This song expresses my love quite aptly, especially for Valpo (and there are pictures!!!)

But I'm not done with Chile, yet, I still have a month left for exciting adventures!!! Now enjoy the song constantly in my head (although I don't mind-its quite catchy)

June 12, 2011

Weekend Escape to the Village I Cannot Pronounce: Colliguay

Trying to spear a fish with a thorn attached to a stick (en serio)

Poza = pool (como a pond)

Cody the model dog

Easter Bunny (game from "Inglorious Bastards")

Last weekend a few of us rented a cabin in the Andes, no big deal or anything. It was a nice break from city life and cold. Highlights include chorizo (delicious spicy Chilean sausage), new dog friend named Cody, Ed thinking he could spear a fish (and actually attempting) and majestic mountains....oh and puppy piles!!!

*These photos and the Santiago photos are courtesy of Whitney, a very talented photographer whom my mother would love because she actually takes pictures to document her life*

Katrina and Whitney go to Telepizza

Everyone has seen/heard about the movie "Harold and Kumar go to White Castle" in which two young guys go on a crazy long adventure filled with ridiculous exploits  to get to White Castle. While things go wrong along the way, the journey ends up being better than they could have expected. This is how I would describe my day in Santiago last weekend. Whitney and I headed out of our adorable hostel around 11, after a night of Telepizza, beer and crappy American movies until 3 AM. We go to:

La Chascona: Pablo Neruda's house in bohemian Bellavista- I have now seen all three residences. Check life goal.

random art gallery: we literally stumble upon a art gallery displaying the local photographer's club pictures.

La Memoria de los Derechos Humanos: Museum about human rights, with specific exhibitions about the Pinochet regime- the most beautiful and well-done museums I have ever experienced. You need to go if you are ever in Santiago.

Catedral Metropolitana: Giant, beautiful catholic cathedral located in the heart of Santiago. I have never been to a catholic cathedral before and found it surprisingly similar to a Hindu temple with various ornate displays of saints/gods.Outside we saw a street performer gather a crowd of several hundred by mimicking people or pretending to ring the bells when they rang or other silly things.

Museo Historico Nacional: Displays Chilean history through the modern era. I was humbled to see Salvador Allende's broken glasses.
Iglesia de San Franciso: Red and gold church, which is known as Santiago's most famous religious establishment (oldest?) ,but cannot compete with the grandeur of the cathedral.
La Moneda y Casa Colorado: historical government buildings which we could not sadly enter because they were under renovation to fix damage from the 2010 earthquake.
La Moneda is the Presidential Palace, where Allende supposedly committed suicide.
Epic statue of Allende with ministry buildings and three Chilean flags
Pedro de Valdivia: First (royal) Governor of Chile

cafes con piernas (Cafes with legs): Cafes supposedly for business men to go and the baristas wear short dresses. We stumbled upon the three but dared not enter  in the business district and then between the streets “compañía de jesús” and “catedral” we saw several trashier ones, a little bit ironic.

The hill was full of antique castle-like buildings and structures.
Cerro St. Lucia: Beautiful hill that is a park in the center of Santiago where all the young folks go up to make out. Sadly Santiago is not a pretty city from above.
View of Santiago at  the top of Cerro St. Lucia at dusk
National Library: Stopped in briefly to see one of the most beautiful study lounge.

 Emporio La Rosa: Most delicious ice cream I had ever had. Ironically, there is one in Valpo I had been meaning to go to and Whitney and I had stumbled upon this one when we believed we were lost and just wanted some ice cream. We weren't actually lost and this wasn't just "some" ice cream.

  "We came, we saw, we DESTROYED" 

June 6, 2011

The Battle of PUCV

Ok, so I still have to tell you the rest of my cultural exploits in Santiago, but something more important has come up. Remember when I was talking about democracy in Chile and the various student protests, well the situation has escalated a bit. Last Thurdayish, the students took Casa Central, the main administrative building that holds classrooms and a library, amongst other buildings at one of the universities I attend.When I say they "took" the buildings I mean they took control, barricades the doors and windows and are now holed up in them. They are fighting  for the democratization of the Chilean education system (specifically at the college level). Tuition has gone up at universities, making a decent education in this high stratified country more expensive. The students are asking for more state funding and a decrease in tuition.
Last I have heard, classes have been canceled indefinitely. This paro (strike/protest) is a part of a nationwide effort and a group of students in each area (supported by the teachers' union) gets together to vote every few days to determine whether or not they will continue the strike. I will have my gingo classes still, as in the ones run by the foreign exchange office, which include my internship and my Spanish/culture class as the office and the students have come to some sort of agreement. This kinda makes me feel like a strike breaker as I still have these classes in Casa Central.
I do wish I could do something to support this students because I completely feel  for their cause.
So I wish  you the best Chilean friends and students in that your demands are met to help Chile become a more democratic society.

May 31, 2011

Part Uno of Weekend Cultural Extraveganza: Fútboooooooooooool

Actually, they never did say "GOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAL", which retrospectively is very disappointing.
This last weekend I ventured over to Santiago with a dangerously large group of gringos to watch Chile's most popular soccer team "Colo Colo" play the University of Chile (La "U", a professional team) in a heated quarter-finals match.

However it wasn't quite the cultural experience I had been expecting or better yet, had been prepared to expect. A Chilean friend of ours sent all the gringos a long and detailed e-mail about the history, dangers and do/don'ts of attending this match. But besides the riot police, crowding climbing fences and occasional flares, it seemed to be a "normal" athletic event.

The fans are extremely passionate, but when goals would happen they did not get mad but instead sung their favorite chant. Or when there was a penalty (for bad acting, jajaja), there would be a golfers' applause. But like my experience watching the same team in a bar, the chants can be surprisingly vulgar (so much so one would not want one's mother to hear such words). Something interesting about the less vulgar chants is that they come from protesters' during the dictatorship (or the other way around) and that Colo Colo is represents the Mapuche (Chilean indigenous folks),  so for some there is a real connection to the team.

I leave you with some of these lively chants: 

Un abrazo,