I just got off of Skype with Scott Bolte, one of the coolest guys and closest friends I have. He was filling me in on his current adventures that are happening in Colombia and he got me super excited. He is enjoying some of the best climbing in the world on the most beautiful countryside that most people could only imagine. Along with being thrilled for him, I couldn’t help but to notice a felling of envy. He made me think about my current situation and reflect a little bit.
I have been having adventures here, however when I moved here I had an idea of what I wanted to do with my time and it didn’t involve partying on the weekends and using mostly English during the week. I wanted to be speaking Spanish at my jobs and I wanted to be taking adventures into the mountains as often as I possibly could. That is a really difficult task when you don’t know many people. I have been talking with a lot of climbers in the area lately and hopefully my adventure situation will turn around. I think I might need to start looking into other jobs where I am forced to use my Spanish. Maybe I will go somewhere that I can exchange my working on a farm or doing manual labor in exchange for free rent and food. Right now, I have to keep doing what I am doing and enjoying everyday here in Santiago.
I don’t want you to think I am not having a good time here. I am truly loving my experience and wouldn’t give it back for anything. I love my students and love their families. They will often invite me to eat dinner with them or go out for a drink together. And that is a lot of fun for me, but what would be more fun is if I could practice my Spanish and not ONLY SPEAK ENGLISH!!! At my other job working for the pub crawl is where I use my Spanish most often. I give a speech in English and the rest of the time I use Spanish and I love it. What I don’t love is partying every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday night. I know that in theory this sounds fun, but in reality it is one of the hardest jobs physically I have ever had. My body does not enjoy staying out till 4 in the morning three nights a week, sleeping in and wasting the entire next day, and then waking up to do it all again. That is not a productive/promising lifestyle. However, I get paid and I am able to use my Spanish which almost makes it worth it… I would prefer another mode of practicing my Spanish
I think what I need to do is earn up enough money to move to a small town where I can work on a farm or with a family in exchange for food and rent. Somewhere I need to use my Spanish all day everyday in order to hear instructions, find jobs, and get around. I want my boss to speak Spanish, I want my coworkers to speak Spanish, I don’t ever want to hear English, and I would like to find this perfect situation in an area where I can take an adventure into the mountains at least 1-2 times every week. This is a perfect situation for me and I will keep you updated on how it goes.
P.S. – It rained here for the first time in a few months the other day and I was biking home from one of my classes. When the rain mixes with the unbelievable amount of dust that is in the area there is a mixture of mud all over the city. That being said, I saw a car put a little pressure on his brakes and he started to slide, he then hit a curb, knocked over a tree, and flipped a few times. I ran over to the car and he was fine and so was his friend. After the situation was clear, I could not help but think about how AWESOME it was to see a real life accident with as much flipping as cars do in the movies. I felt honored, in a weird way, to witness such a crazy event.
I’m watching The Princess Bride for the second time dubbed in Spanish. It’s almost a miracle for me to be able to listen a movie in Spanish, then be able to understand every single word of what the dubbed Spanish movie says, all because I know the next line that should be coming up in English anyways!! I HAVE A REALLY GREAT FAMILY!
“My name is Inigo Montoya, you killed my father, prepare to die”
I have never had the opportunity to tell anyone that I have been shot with a fire hose or have tear gas shot at me. I guess that I have never done anything to piss the police off that much… Until today! I decided early this morning that I would go on a bike ride through Santiago today, but I wanted to go South this time because I always go North and I know it pretty well. When I started out I did not expect to find a crowd of people rioting in the streets. It was CRAZY. People were throwing glass bottles and rocks at the police and the police would repress them with fire hoses and tear gas. The people were protesting the extreme low of the minimum wage, labor rights, a new system of pensions, as well as the extremely high prices of what students have to pay for a good education. It was really fun to watch the people and listen to the cheers and chants that they had to offer.
I know what you are wondering, “How did you get shot by a fire hose and tear gas?” Well, I was so interested in what was happening that I kept getting closer and closer to the “main” crowd of people that the police were focusing most of their attention on. That being said, I got to close at the wrong time. They opened fire on us after an idiot threw a glass bottle at the trucks. Let me tell you something TEAR GAS IS AWFUL!!! The fire hoses were not to bad. I thought they were going to hurt with the water pressure, but it turns out you just get really soaked really fast. I felt like I had experienced something that doesn’t happen very often in a persons life. It was pretty cool.
Other than the insane riot, I received yet another job here in Santiago. It’s not a teaching job, but it is a lot of fun. I was asked by my boss from my English institute if I wanted to make some extra cash on the side and I obviously said YES!! He told me his friend was looking for a new tour guide for her pub crawl and the only qualifications were that I needed to have high energy and be able to speak English. I told here if I could choose two middle names for myself those would be the ones, then she gave me the job right away. It’s a cool job, I take tourists around a popular area and show them 4 different bars where there are free drinks and dancing. Basically my job description is I get paid to have a party and I just try not to loose anyone along the way. I get to dance with pretty girls and make sure that they are having a good time. I get to practice my Spanish with all of the people that are native Chileans and come just to have a good time. It is a win, win, loose situation. the loosing aspect is that in Chile the normal hour to stay out at night is around 4:30 in the morning. This is a problem for me because I tend to enjoy an early nights sleep. But, I am learning to live as the Chileans do and I will try my hardest to keep up my energetic self after 3 long nights of staying up till 4am.
Those are probably the highlights of my past week and a half. I have been really busy at work with my classes, but I am learning to take them in stride. I was really stressed out at the beginning with my classes, but now I can show up with an idea of what I am supposed to do and basically stretch out my activities to make it a full fun class experience for my students. I will try to write more about my exciting life in Santiago later on this week. Adios.
This past week I have experienced two types of emotions. The first is the recognition of stress in my life. Last week I was given 2 more classes and I thought that was a lot of work to handle… This week I was given 2 more. I now have 14 classes a week that I need to prepare for. I didn’t think the work load would be this bad, but every time I think I am finished with work I have another class to prepare for that night or the next morning. Because of this, I thought the work load was the reason I was getting more and more stressed, I was wrong. This brings me to my second large emotional experience.
I crave people sometimes and when I am not around them everything else seems like it is an insanely harder experience. This changed when I went out Wednesday night. There is a group that meets every week at a bar near my house. They meet to speak and practice both English and Spanish. The idea is that there is a bell that rings every 20 minutes and every time it rings you switch the conversation you are having with your group from English to Spanish and 20 minutes later you switch back to English. It was a lot of fun. You get to meet people from all over the world and all types of people wanting to practice their non-native language. After that Wed. I met a few people that would be attending a pizza night out that Friday with a lot of people from the United States that moved to Chile for all types of reasons, but they all craved other human contact like me. It was nice to talk to them, but they introduced me to another group that meets every Saturday to go on an Urban Hike throughout Santiago. That being said, I woke up early the next day to go on a hike where I continued to meet more and more people. I had a great experience at all of these events and I know that I will be going to these events later on in the weeks to come.
These are a few of the friends I met at the bar that had the language exchange.
It just seems like whenever I start to feel something is out of place in my state of emotion the universe conspires to help me out with a few good experiences to get my brain back on track and helps me continue being happy and enjoy my everyday experiences in this foreign place where things can get stressful quickly. I think that whenever I feel like something is out of place I need to take an internal look and figure out what it is I need to experience to balance my state of mind. If I can do that, I think I will complete all of the goals that I set out to do.
I will try to post more often… This week was a little busy. My goal to to post 2-3 times a week, however I am averaging around 1 time a week. Like I said, I will TRY to post more often.
So I haven’t written anything in about a week and a few days, probably because of how busy I have been at work and trying to explore Santiago. This past week I was given another 2 classes to teach and it has increased my workload by 100%. This took some adjusting, but I think I have a good grip on it now. I just have to prepare for the class a day beforehand and read over it the day of… just to make sure I know what I am doing.
Those are classes… The boring work stuff haha. I have made a few friends here in Santiago. They are Americans which gives me the opportunity to speak ENGLISH! Unfortunately, I don’t have the option to speak and practice my Spanish. Anyway, these guys have been taking a TEFL course on the weekends and that gives me the option of solo weekends to take the adventures in the Andes by myself. Last week I went to a soccer game with a Chilean friend who had an extra ticket.
As you can see, the mountains behind the soccer arena are incredible looking. I will be honest, I was watching the changing colors of the mountains more than I was watching the actual game happening on the field. That was last week and it gave me an idea of what I should do this past weekend. I really wanted to see what those mountains looked like from the top of them. I decided it would be a good idea to bike as far up them that I could and then hike the rest of the way to the top. This turned out to be quite a trek. It took about an hour to bike about a fourth of the way up these massive mountains. Afterward I began my “trek” to the top which involved a lot of slipping and sliding due to the steepness of the mountain I had chosen to climb. I know it doesn’t look like much, but in the picture I am still a solid hour and a half away from even starting to climb that monster.
After I made it to the top I ate my packed empanada from the delicious empanada stand down the road from where I live and I began my decent back to my bike. On my way back I took a different tail back down and found a perfectly placed waterfall that was at the base of this mountain. I was SO excited to see it. I could drink the water and swim under the waterfall… It made the rest of the hike a lot easier.
The water felt so good!
Once I finished swimming, I hiked back to my bike and had to make the bike ride home that took over and hour and a half to there. Turns out that going down the mountain takes only about 5 minutes and the rest was pretty much down hill to my apartment. I was very happy with my day. I began to make dinner with the intentions of going out with a few friends that night, however right after I finished eating dinner I laid down for a few minutes to rest my legs and then I woke up the next day… Turns out I was way more tired than I thought I was. All in all it was a really good weekend. Now it’s back to the grind stone, getting ready for classes this week. Ill try and post more often.
Today was a day like any other here in Santiago. I woke up crazy early to make what Chileans call, “an american style breakfast,” which was basically cheesy eggs, toast, and bacon. I have to have a good breakfast if I want to have a good start to my day. Afterward, I had to go to my first class of the day where I teach a guy who doesn’t speak very good English at all. He is more of a “use the same words to describe everything” kind of guy. This type of communication was hard to deal with at first, but now I can translate his broken Spanish/English and LARGE hand movements into a solid form of communication. It’s actually fun to try and figure out what this guy is trying to say to me. After his class I have a little down time where I go and find something to eat, or I eat the lunch that I made for myself. I basically try and kill 5 hours between my first and last class of the day… I would really like more classes to teach only the season for classes isn’t for another week or so, so I have to deal with what I have offered to me right now. My second/last class of the day is my favorite class. Her name is Veronica and she is one of the friendliest people I have ever met. Our class is usually us having really interesting conversation in slow-spoken English about subjects that are really compelling. She has a BIG heart and I really like when she talks about the things that make her happy in life. (Dad, she should be a leader of the club.) After class is done we usually talk about things that interest us, only I am allowed to talk in Spanish and this usually goes on for about 45 minutes or so. Today, Veronica gave me a lot of fruit and begged me to take it. I kept telling her that it was hers and I felt a little weird taking her food, but she insisted until I caved in. I asked her why she was being so nice and she told me that she wanted me to feel like I had someone who was looking out for me in a country where I didn’t know anyone. She is always giving me Tips and Tricks to staying safe in Santiago, like a mother figure. I really look forward to going to her class because I know that there is always a fun conversation ahead. After class I usually go home and make a killer dinner and prepare for the next day.
Since tomorrow is Saturday I didn’t really have plans and wasn’t sure what I was going to do with my day off. Only moments ago I was messaged by a friend of mine that told me he had a spare ticket to the Chilean soccer game. This game is deciding who is going to the world cup, or something like that, and it is a HUGE deal. It is expected to me a crazy day and I am really looking forward to it. I’ll let you know how it goes.
Other than those exciting moments in my life, I don’t have much going on. I will fill you in on more whenever they happen.
So the past 8 days I have had the unfortunate experience of not having the internet. I know that I should be able to entertain myself, and I did, however it was something that I really could have used to e-mail my bosses/ send work to myself in order to prepare for my classes. This meant that there was a lot of time spent at the only place with free wifi, McDonalds. All that being said, my classes have been going great! I was very nervous when I first began to teach them, however now that I have had a few classes with each of my students I have begun to recognize a flow that I really enjoy within each class. I basically prepare a class the day before I am supposed to teach and then I incorporate my lesson into a good conversation with my students. It is a fun job and I think that the more I work the better and easier the classes will be. I would like to start getting paid though… I am recognizing that I am not allowed to go get food quite as often as I have been, I need to start cooking at home more and more to save a little cash. With that on my mind I made a few dishes like these;
A perfect omelet. This should put a smile on my Dad’s face.
With the help of my friend Ava we made amazing Chicken Parmigiana with pasta and fresh tomato sauce.
Other than the new found interest in cooking AMAZING food for myself I have been looking around Santiago to find the hidden gems that this city might hold in all of its nooks and crannies. I figured that a long walk is a pretty good way to start this exploration. The area in Santiago called Bellavista is a somewhat touristy area and is where I previously found a TACO BELL!! So after walking around this place for a while I saw a sign for a city zoo that was half way up a mountain right next to this neighborhood. I figured that that would be a wonderful way to spend the afternoon and I was absolutely right. This zoo may not have been the most impressive zoo in the world, however it did provide a service that entertained me for the better part of 8 hours. I really enjoyed seeing animals foreign to Chile like the common deer, a raccoon, a swan and many other animals that are commonly seen in any neighborhood in North Carolina. My highlight was a teeny tiny monkey that I saw half way through my walk in the park; I have yet to see something cuter than this little guy. I was also impressed my my “5 legged friend,” the classic African elephant. Can you guess what the 5th leg is?
He is a baby, I didn’t think something this innocent existed.
Other than a great day at the zoo, I have just been working, learning Spanish, and preparing for work. The work season is beginning to pick up more and more and I should be able to actually start making money in the next 2 weeks. Until then I should just be laying low and figuring out my classes. I will post more here in the next week. I have been writing a lot, however due to the fault in my internet I couldn’t put any of it up online. More is soon to come.
So, I was thinking to myself the other day that I was getting a little lonely here in Santiago. This is mostly because I have made few friends (due to the language barrier) and because I tend to be able to entertain myself easily. This was working for me until I felt the BURNING desire to talk to someone, ANYONE that would take the time to listen. This feeling grew and grew and grew until I finally started to feel a little depressed. The day that I began to feel that sadness of depression something happened. I met someone that was very interested in talking to me at the grocery store. That wasn’t it, after I left the grocery store I ran into one of my roommates cousins who would be staying with us a few days and only spoke Spanish. She was very interested in talking to me and we ended up having a few hours of conversation. Later that night, we had a gathering of a few people in our apartment and had an awesome time talking, sharing stories, and playing a few card games in order to pass the time. To my delight, I could understand about 80 percent of the conversation and I even added a few points here and there to keep the conversation going. It was a lot of fun and I am glad it happened… I really needed it. It recharged my internal battery and I feel like I am on cloud 9 again.
A little side note, I got another job!!
How cool would this job be?
An interesting side note, I found these guys on the way to my job… They are cleaning the widows with nothing but a harness, a bucket of water attached to the harness and a rope…. A slightly different operation than in the United States. I thought it was really cool to see. Now, I see them everywhere cleaning windows and fixing buildings… All with just a harness and a rope.
All of the really cool things I see down here are when I don’t have a camera. That being said, today while I was walking around my “neighborhood,” (The 4 blocks surrounding my apartment.) I ran into a really cool activist group called Nuevos Tiempos. Now I have no idea what they were protesting about, but they went about it in a very cool way. I went out during lunch time, A very busy time in my neighborhood, and as I was looking around for food I noticed a group standing on the steps. They rolled out a piano and then they began to sing some of the best choral music I have ever heard. They were all very popular classical opera songs, however these people put on an incredible show. The men’s booming voices could be heard 5 blocks away with all of the traffic that was going by (and traffic is really loud here.) In-between each powerful song, one of the members would walk out and shout inspirational things that I couldn’t understand, then they would begin another wonderful song. It was a lot of fun to watch and it makes me excited for other fun things that might be hidden away in the many different streets of Santiago.
Over the past two and a half weeks I have come to the realization that my feet were not quite as in shape as I had once thought. I found this out after countless hours of walking, day after day on the only thing that is in the city, cement. What began to happen is an incredible pain started growing in my feet. It was so powerful that it became the deciding factor as to whether or not I would be going out that day to do anything, like buying groceries. I had to make a change and do something so that I could continue to see the city and explore without this feeling of knives in my toes and feet. All that being said I BOUGHT A BIKE!!!! It is awesome! It’s like playing real life frogger here in the city. You can go faster than cars and weave in and out of traffic like a spaceship going through an asteroid field. Needless to say I am being as safe as I can and there is no need to be worried. But check out my new ride!!!!
This has got to be one of the cooler bikes that I have had the opportunity to ride… IT IS SO FAST!