I'm starting to develop a rhythm here in Chile, I've started classes, my English is starting to sound awkward and I'm probably getting fat. But I'm totally cool with that.
Today I am going to comment on my impressions of Chile.
I really do enjoy most of the food here. Meals lack spices (Chileans love salt, butter and mayo) but are full of fresh fruits and veggies (I now eat tomatoes). A typical breakfast consists of cereal and yogurt, fruit, black tea and some sort of carb (delicious cake or small sandwich). Lunch is the most important meal here as family members will often come home during the middle of the day to have a large sit down meal. Popular lunch food includes pasta, rice, chicken or fish, Spanish omelets and tomatoes.
Then there is "dinner". My specific family does not have dinner, but takes "once" (pronounced "own-say"). Some Chilean families take once at 5ish and then do a late typical dinner at 8 or 9. Many more have started to take once later and just not eat dinner. Once (which means 11 in Spanish) is a mix between English tea and Spanish late-afternoon snack. This meal/snack includes crusty bread rolls, ham, cheese (note: cheese here is interesting. Not very many of the exchange students like it, but I'm actually a fan...shhh! Its like Indian Anmul cheese, or sharp mozzarella), palta (avocado!!!!!!), more black tea and some sort of delicious cake or pie. By far this may be one of my favorite things about Chile.
In addition to these wonderful meals, there are empanandas (I seriously have no idea how to spell it right now) which will make me fat. Empanandas are like, I mean you know what they're like, except these are bigger, flakier and GLORIOUS. I promise to try to take a picture of one or two before I gobble it down.
Not a fan of the water still, like well water except not good?
After lunch is usually when my day actually begins (so like 3 or 4, this drives me crazy but whatevs). Since its the end of the summer and I live 5 minutes away from the coast, I've basically gone to the beach every other day. We actually ran into another gringo group from Santiago, and they were very jealous when they realized how often we go to the beach (I have no idea what they do in Santiago during their free time). Anyways, the beaches are lovely. This is a beach we visited last weekend in Con Con, which is like a 15 minute bus ride. Its big on horseback riding, surfing and bomb empandas:
This is Renaca, a beach we visited this weekend, located in a ritzy neighborhood and close to the sand dunes:
On Friday, because of the devastating earthquake in Japan, there was a tsunami warning for central costal region of Chile (aka exactly where I was). My neighborhood eventually had to evacuate, but luckily nothing major (or really anything) occurred. This next picture is of the beach we were at that day (the tsunami was not suppose to hit until midnight). You can see the Chilean navy line up in an attempt to protect the coast and/or a giant game of battleship:
Finally this is a picture of a 18th century, possibly German, castle located very near my neighborhood:
I have already told you about my adventure on the micro, but fear not for I have conquered the Vina-Valpo bus system. I ride it probably 4 times a day for about 75 cents each time. Its usually crowed with the aisles completely full of people who struggle to stay standing as the bus moves and drivers in general are crazy. If the aisles are not full, vendors (typically candy, ice cream or trinkets) will display their goods.
I have to take the micro everywhere because the university does not have a campus in the typical sense. But it seems to be a great school full of bureaucracy and confusion. For example, on Monday I had a class for the first clave (period) at the farthest building attached to the PUCV system. I had to get up at 5:30 ,much to my host family's dismay, and take 2 micros and a shuttle to get to this building by 8:15 only to discover the proffe (Chilean slang) did not show up. I'm also disturbed by this idea of taking multiple classes at once and wish the rest of the world would accept the superiority of the block plan. I still don't have a set class schedule but hope to finalize it this week.
My home stay is going pretty well. Its interesting to witness how similar and at the same time very different family life can be here when I compare it to home. I have 3 sisters (although one is married and lives outside of the house), but am closest to the mom. She won't let me do anything to help, I can't clear the table, help cook, wash my dishes, she even remakes my bed! (Although I hear this is common with the other host families)
So while its different, I could totally get used to this hahaha.