Chile y Sus Otros

We’ve had a mentally exhausting week, as our new course is very thought-provoking and requires lots of close, critical reading.

We started late on Monday morning (11 a.m.) to recover from our flight the night before. Our professor Andreea introduced the course: “Chile and its Others,” all about how we define “others,” or marginalized people. We’ll be discussing the experience of indigenous peoples, people of newly emerging sexual orientations, and immigrants, with respect to Chile and also the U.S./world. We started the week by watching a documentary by Patricio Gúzman, a famous Chilean filmmaker exiled during the dictatorship, called “Nostalgia de la Luz.” The documentary related the astronomical studies in the deserts of Chile to the recuperation of the disappeared prisoners of the dictatorship. The largest concentration camp from that period is in the desert, and to this day, the mothers and wives of many disappeared men search for their remains. The connection Gúzman made between these women and astronomy was shaky at times; yes, both the women and astronomers are searching for answers, but their struggles are incomparable. In any case, it sparked lively conversation. read more

San Pedro de Atacama

‏San Pedro de Atacama was incredible. Absolutely beautiful views, an excellent guide, and so much activity. We could not have asked for a better block break. 

Isa had a bunch of us stay at each other’s houses to make our ride to the airport easier, since we left at 4 a.m. Austin, Monique, and Katie came over the night before at 10, and it was fun for them to meet the family. We spent a lot of time talking in the kitchen with Paula, who may have roasted me for the first time: “You know, you said that you had a huge lunch and weren’t that hungry, yet you ate ALL that food at dinner…”  read more

Don Giovanni and Quilapayún

It’s incredible that this time in a month, I’ll already be back in the states. The time has really flown here.

This is just a short post before we leave as a class tomorrow at 6 a.m. for San Pedro de Atacama, the driest desert in the world, as Pamela told us. There, we’ll be trekking, swimming at a lake, rising at 3 a.m. to see a glacier erupt…cultural “things.” We didn’t get information about this trip until literally today, because our airline, LAM, is on strike. Our original flight got cancelled, so Isa was freaking out trying to get everything straight. All is well, though. read more

Daniela Amaya, Completos, y Las Palestras

An eventful weekend!

Thursday night was the concert for my host sister’s band, Daniela Amaya (follow her on Instagram, @damayamusica)! Dani (Daniela) is a kinesiologist by day, musician by night. She works her day job really only to make money to fuel her real passion, music – she works for an insurance company, taking calls from people looking to qualify for physical rehabilitation benefits. Honestly, she’s almost never home. She goes straight to recording, practicing, meeting with her band, etc. after work. When she is home, she’ll occasionally play piano in her room and it’s wonderful. read more

El Otro 11 de Septiembre

Much has happened in just half a week! Where to begin…

Tuesday we had our first “temblor”! Around 7:25 a.m., I woke up to my bed shaking and realized I was experiencing an earthquake. I didn’t feel scared honestly. I think David put it best when he said, “It kinda felt like I was being rocked to sleep like a baby…I kinda liked it.” Turns out it was a 4 on the Richter scale, so noticeable, but not life-threatening.

Normally, David, Austin, and I would be running at that time in the morning, but we had decided to do a long run in the afternoon to ascend “Cerro el Carbón.” The initial intent was to trail run up this thing, but it was just too steep. It took an hour to reach the top, and I think only around 12 minutes of that were actually running, the rest swiftly hiking. But the view was incredible! We were higher than the Costanera Center and had probably the best view of Santiago we’ve gotten so far (and we’ve had some pretty sweet views). read more

Isla Negra, Valparaíso, and Viña del Mar

All is well down here in Santiago! Paula recently bought Roberto and I our next round of ice cream. This time it’s half “chocolate almendrado” (chocolate with nuts), half “frutas del bosque” (fruits of the forest…I asked Paula what that even means and she was just like, “You know…berries.”) Our new family pastime is watching “Caso Cerrado,” a hilarious Latin version of Judge Judy that takes place in Miami, all in Spanish. Paula was dying the other night at two cases in which men came in saying that their wives were physically abusing them (“Mira, él dice que ella le pega!”). We also tonight watched a Latin version of Catfish. Priceless. read more

El Palacio de la Moneda

Today we visited the Palacio de la Moneda, also known as the official center for the Chilean government. La Moneda has taken different forms over the years, has been destroyed and rebuilt various times, and has slowly but surely opened its doors wider and wider to the public. With our excellent guide, Paulo (who looked like was a secret agent…he never took off his sunglasses, even indoors), we got to see several rooms and patios and learn their different functions.

We arrived at La Moneda and were escorted in by several guards in very official green uniforms and squeaky black boots. The building is a large off-white building, not unlike the White House, with north and south entrances marked by huge Chilean flags. Paulo would later tell us that when the flag is raised with a particular emblem, that indicates that the President is somewhere within Chile. If the emblem is removed, he/she is traveling outside of Chile. The guards took our passports and pointed us through the metal detectors before we met Paulo, a young and enthusiastic Chilean guy. He gave the tour in Spanish, but as he knew we were students, explained everything very clearly, elaborating and acting out words. It was pretty entertaining for all of us. read more

Felices Pascuas, la Nenita, y el Oriente

Sunday was Easter! Paula and Roberto don’t really attend mass, though they are Catholic, so I ended up going to a service with my classmates David and Caroline in Parque Metropolitano. We took a steep tram, el funicular, up to the statue of the Virgin. There’s a small church up there, with lots of long benches and a stage for big shows outside. We made it just in time to grab seats in the church. Others were stuck in the doorway or outside of the church altogether, but fortunately there was a loud speaker projecting all the sound to the outdoors pretty clearly. read more

Good Friday and Pomaire

We’ve been here a full week! It seems like longer, though, since we’ve fallen into a routine.

Friday was a day of great views and delicious food. I woke up early to meet David at Parque Metropolitano to run and also hike to the top of the park, where there’s a huge statue of the Virgen Mary overlooking the city. Since the sun rises at practically 8:00, setting out to run at 7:15 meant running by street lamp, with almost no one around. This Easter holiday weekend leaves Santiago “empty,” as many make their way to Viña del Mar or Valparaíso for a mini vacation. For the first time all week, I wasn’t surrounded by commuters – office workers, nurses in their scrubs, bikers, etc. We reached the trail to the statue and David set off running, I half-running (if you could even call it running), half-walking, as I nearly died of cardiac arrest trying to run the trail the day before. But we reached the statue at sunrise and she was incredible! The panoramic view of Santiago at dawn, coupled by such a holy figure during holy week, was truly special. We will return often. read more