Tag Archives: Chile

Santiago go go!

12 Apr

In Santiago I stayed with my friend Cori and her husband Cesar.  They were excellent hosts with lots of Chilean wine at the ready!

While walking around Santiago many parts felt familiar, yet changed in the three years since I’ve lived there.  Walking around the cuico (rich) areas of town felt otherworldly– where did all of these foreigners come from?

Balding men in Corvette (or enter large company name here) polos who seemed like they would sooner be the butt of one of Jeff Foxworthy’s Red Neck jokes than lunching in a Santaigo sidewalk cafe were scattered everywhere, lunching in sidewalk cafes on business meetings!

I could make the few block walk from the metro to the apartment without hearing a single word of Spanish.  Men and women in business casual were speaking English on their way into Starbucks.

Luckily, old men in newsies hats still dotted the streets, seemingly strategically placed as a reminder of a different time.  They were anchors to the past, the last living reminders that this extremely modern city sprung up around them and not the other way around.

While studying abroad in Santiago I was often frustrated at the effects of the modernization and growth of the city.  I thought that it left it sterile and out of touch with its Latin American roots.  These same perks of the modern city I couldn’t help but LOVE this time around: its organization, clean streets, bus schedules and routes that you can check online, street art, international chain stores and restaurants, people who keep to themselves (and therefore don’t comment on your 1-pound fluctuation in weight, etc.), and access to art, culture and public spaces!

You mean we can play in this beautiful park?


Or walk through this sculpture garden?


Or randomly get off of the subway and run into an excellently curated and free Animal Extinctions Mini-Museum INSIDE of the Metro Station?


Or meet up with old friends who are shaping up to be the movers, shakers, and entrepreneurs of Santiago to reminisce, talk about ideas, the challenges of development, and drink borgoña? (red wine with lots of added sugar and fruit)


Or go to an art museum for free (or a small suggested donation) that has spaces for children to play, learn, interact, and do art themselves?


Or go for a run and then end up in an adult playground of gym equipment?


I guess this graffiti says it best, “Turn off the television! Turn on your mind.”


That’s what I was loving about Santiago, what I miss about home, and what I fear on a daily basis is missing in Paraguay (except, perhaps in Asunción or Encarnación).

I loved that should someone want to actually turn off the television and walk out of their house there were all sorts of things at their fingertips– books to be bought from vending machines or libraries in the metro, free events in the park, kids to play with and people to bump into in the park.

Bumping into literature, art, culture, museums, people who are different than you…Santiago was almost forcing these things down your throat at every turn of the corner.  I LOVED IT!  The city was making things that were once a luxury accessible to a more general public, the kind of thing that will help spur creativity, innovation, and critical thinking now and in future generations.

Santiago is obviously not without its faults– major smog problems, major public education strikes in the past year, and one of the most unequal distributions of wealth in Latin America, to name a few.

But on the whole Santiago is an enjoyable city and at least seems to be making an effort to open up cultural and educational spaces to populations that traditionally have been excluded from them in the past. The city of Santiago has half a million more people than Paraguay has in its entire country and therefore access to a lot more variety of and just a lot MORE resources.  Yet I still think the principles of the recent development initiatives are good and could be modified or used to inspire goals for places like Paraguay!


Woozie wowzie whoazie wowzie [ask Emily for an explanation]

14 May

Even though I have an exam and 2 papers due tomorrow I’m feeling surprisingly not stressed– nor motivated, but eh, whatever.

I’m leaving for Buenos Aires, Argentina with my friend Lisa and her sister on Monday til Friday.  I think we’ll take the ferry over to Montevideo, Uruguay while we’re there [it’s only about 3 hours]

I’m also going to an AIESEC Leadership Conference in Concepcion, Chile [about 6 hours south of here] at the end of May.

I have a feeling the end of my time here is going to go REALLY fast.

Ok, I’ll stop procrastinating now and start studying.  For real this time.

Happy Birthday, Dad!

13 May

AIESECers from the English Conversation Table (a 2 hour English practice session that I and another girl from @Miami of Ohio run every week) sing my dad Happy Birthday in Spanish and English!

I hope gaining another year of wisdom was spectacular, dad!

I think a Chillabration is in order for when I get home…do you think Dairy Queen can fit “Molly, Ben, and Dad” all on to one cake for the birthdays we missed?  Or should we just get 3?

Don’t for a minute change the place you’re in

5 May

This post was originally titled: The two pound bag of Reese’s Mini Peanut Butter Cups in my closet remained relatively untouched until the beginning of this week. Today there are only 7 left…if that’s any indication of what kind of week this has been.

Then I ate the last 7, and suddenly the title didn’t fit.

The original content of this post was complaints, but I decided that didn’t fit anymore, either.

I did find myself extremely frustrated this week at multiple points which explains why I downed an entire two pound bag of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups (oh man that sounds ridiculous when you say it out loud, emotional eating anyone?).  But Carybeth introduced me to the idea of the “Happy Week” earlier today, and I’m going to try it out [I also don’t want to give my father any reason to make a smug look of I told you so- there is in fact no reason to ever leave your country] 🙂

My frustrations kept stemming from cultural differences that were happening at my University (La Catolica)– heralded as the best University in all of Chile, and one of the best in all of Latin America.  Turns out it’s also extremely close-minded.  This week’s left me longing for my Madison bubble where I can walk around grinning knowing that everyone thinks in an equally liberal manner.  [ha! just kidding, kind of.  I have also realized that being at Madison it’s easy to never develop your power of persuasion because it doesn’t take much to get everyone to jump on your bandwagon since you all share similar opinions.  I realized during election season that I needed to put myself in positions that would develop my ability to reason and discuss with people who shared totally opposite view points than myself– so maybe I was asking for it?]

But man, I am just a fish in a totally and completely wrong pond.

I received a pretty poor grade on an in class essay for my History of Latin America in the 20th Century class [apparently the prof didn’t get the message that you’re supposed to grade easier on the gringos, this isn’t their native language and they’re just studying abroad, ha].  When I asked a Chilean friend to take a look at it his first comment was, “Well you got a bad grade because you didn’t follow history, you say here ‘stolen lands’ when referring to indigenous lands…nothing was ever stolen, we just mixed…Besides it’s just the Mapuche that make up 3% of Chile, and the government tries to work with them, but they’re crazy.”

Feeling already frustrated I went to my group project meeting for my Poverty and Social Exclusion class where I talked about the email the TA had sent me with an issue example for our topic: the sociocultural dimension of poverty interventions. The TA pointed out that in Chile they often try and do interventions in the Mapuche communities in Mapudungun [the Mapuche language], but that the language is often not spoken any more except by the elders.  So this is one example at an attempt to be culturally approrpiate that fails.

When talking to my group it became clear that they thought that the Mapuche topic is “overdone” and “I mean really, how many of us even know someone that is Mapuche, or someone that has a Mapuche last name?”  [Apparently she missed the last Chilean census that determined that 90% of Chileans have Mapuche blood.  Ninety percent.  In a country where if you want to be successful it’s not okay to embrace your heritage and having a Mapuche last name limits you from many job opportunities]

But what do I know, I’m just the estadounidense gringa that doesn’t have a perfect grasp of the Spanish language [these are the 3 reasons that I’ve narrowed down as to why one girl in my group particularly does NOT like me: a) from the U.S.- most likely this option b) not from Chile c) I don’t speak Spanish perfectly.

So, since it’s happy week, I will have the largest smile on my face next week when we give our presentation on the sociocultural dimension of poverty and talk about “uniting factors like friendship and love,” and The Littlest Prince, and a group of middle schoolers that uses role playing to facilitate inclusion and discourage bullying, and show a video with English subtitles [“To make our foreign classmates feel included” -direct quote in an email from the student to the professor], and make a mural with all of our hand prints in paint at the end to show that together we make something beautiful, as well as write one promise they each make that day to be more socio-culturally understanding, “like learning how to say ‘hola’ in Dutch.”

I’m sorry did you think for a second that I accidentally ripped a page out of my older sister’s 1st grade teacher’s curriculum guide?

Maybe if we’re lucky rainbows and butterflies and puppy dogs will shoot out of thin air.  At the very least I’ll animate them into the power point.

Anyways, looks like I just got a bit complain-y, happy week starting now…

*in a chipper voice*: While it makes me a bit jealous to see people’s statuses that say they are going to sit on the Terrace in Madison, because we are currently entering our winter here and it makes it quite cold when there is no central heating [or heating, period.], I will rejoice in the fact that my duena just gave me an electric blanket that a past student left here.

And I will laugh at my brother’s response to my email that said essentially the same thing [since he doesn’t read my blog that little booger]:

Molly, ignorant people in positions of power is infinitely frustrating.  Get used to it.  Ignorance in national ethos is also frustrating.  But you’re probably already used to that: USA! USA! USA!


I guess I can’t have any more frustrating weeks, because they don’t sell peanut butter cups in Chile!

photo-315At least I’ll definitely be warm while I’m sleeping [were you wondering what Chilean plugs looked like?  I thought so.]

I’m writing this post instead of studying for my exam in Seminar of Latin America in the 20th Century, where my professor hasn’t talked about the 20th century once…hm?

16 Apr

In Chile when you want to take a shower or need hot water, you need to light a califont with a match.

This is a califont:

califontThe burnt looking part of the machine is where normally there’s a little tiny flame burning and you stick the match in.  However the other day there was some sort of gas leak issue with the system at my house and we couldn’t get it to light.  We soon found out that we’d have to get the whole system replaced, which would be difficult because our old system was gas arriving through underground pipes from Argentina…when I found this out I kept imagining just one single pipe running from just our house all the way to Argentina, I kept drawing the conclusion that this was probably illegal (Then I laughed, because clearly it’s an entire system, not just ONE pipe running to ONLY our house)

So the system we opted for is to buy big replaceable gas tanks [from Chile] to connect to the califont and stove…buy local?

The fact that the brand of the new califont is called “Junkers” has me interested to see how this will all actually work.

Anyways, the stove isn’t hooked up yet which is adding an obstacle into Lisa and I’s baking plans before my party on Friday.  It will be hooked up eventually though and then we can go back to making jokes like: “Oh hey, I’m going to preheat the oven” [lights match, lights stove] “Ok, it’s preheated.”

Or my personal favorite, [which first occurred the day we attempted to make a key lime pie only to discover the grocery store didn’t sell limes, graham crackers, or a few other ingredients, and we thought it was a huge triumph to even have it ready to put it in the oven] when we said, “Ok, it has to cook for 25 minutes at 350 degrees.”

To which Anita responded while laughing, “Okay, you can have big flame, or little flame, there’s no such thing as degrees here.”

There wasn’t a chillabration, but it was pretty darn close.

14 Apr

Even though I spent the first 10 waking hours of my birthday writing a 10 page Spanish paper, I still had a fabulous day.

I received this gem of a video from my fabulous cousins:

Then I got really amazing gifts from Cori and Lisa, and I also got to see my friend Anton from Colombia who’s here on work for the week.

We went to The Giratorio for dinner, a 16th floor revolving restaurant with fabulous views of Santiago.  They brought me a piece of cake with a “9” candle in it, because it was “la unica que tengo.”  The waiter took the candle back out at the end for “the next person that turns 9.”

I think this may truly be my first birthday week in full form, as Cori, Lisa, and I toasted my birthday a few times over the weekend, I went out tonight, Cori and I are going to get pedicures sometime this week, and I’m having a party on Friday!

Thanks to everyone for sending me birthday wishes…even if it was only mentally 😉

Hoy es hoy, y ayer se fue, no hay duda.

13 Apr

After receiving news that I didn’t get the grant I applied for [which means no Colombia for me this summer] the universe must have felt just a little bad for me and gave me a long string of little bits of good luck.

I left on Thursday for Valparaiso with Cori and Lisa where we saw La Sebastiana, one of three of Pablo Neruda’s houses, and the only house where you can wander around at your own free will.  It was filled with all sorts of trinkets, stained glass, and beautiful ocean and Valpo hillside views through giant windows.  My favorite thing is that they had his books out to read all over the house; I definitely fell in love with his poetry this weekend.  Maybe it was just being in the house, but everything I read sounded fantastically beautiful.  I remember reading Ode to My Socks in 12th grade English class and just being confused/indifferent.  It was nice to read the poetry in Spanish and see that a lot of times it was poor translating that made the poetry awkward.

We wandered into a random bar later that night that had great live music for the finale of good luck day #1.

In the morning we headed to Isla Negra, which is south of Valpo, to see another one of Neruda’s houses.  We knew we were going to be late as we got stuck in a taco (traffic jam), but ended up meeting a nice couple on the bus.  Actually, we didn’t meet them until we got off the bus, they just eyed us up through out the trip…particularly while I sang the English words along with the Spanish translation of Boyz II Men’s I Swear.  But, they helped us find the Neruda house, and even though we missed our reservation we got some empanadas, sat on the beach, and then went back when the house re-opened and got a tour of the house with the most impressive set of collections (pipes, bottles, shells, miniature guitars, insects, etc.) that I have ever seen.  I also bought THE best presents from the gift shop.

After some more lounging on the beach we set out to find somewhere to stay, which we were warned would be a near impossible task because it was Semana Santa and all Chileans had flocked to the coast, but after asking one random man he directed us a few blocks down the street.  We managed to rent our own cabana with 3 beds for about 20 USD.  The highlight of the stay was when we were leaving and saying goodbye to the old man that we had chatted with a bit through out our time there.

“So, what brought you to Isla Negra? Neruda?” he asked through heavily accented Spanish.  We smile and confirm.

“Neruda was a friend of mine you know.  Yeah, him and Salvador Allende.  I have a picture of us all together in 1958 when Allende was campaigning for president for the first time.  I didn’t even know about Neruda’s poetry, I hadn’t read anything of his, I just met him through politics.  He belonged to the Communist Party and supported Allende.  I’m a Communist too, I have been for 71 years, since I was her age [points at Lisa].  Yep, all of the people that come here to visit every year don’t understand that practically every person in Isla Negra has a personal connection to Neruda, yep he was a friend.”

“Que interesante!” I exclaim with wide eyes and wanting to know more.

“Eh, mas o menos,” he responds with a half shrug, half smile, while staring me straight in the eye. [more or less]  “Do you want my autograph?” he chuckles to himself.

We hopped on a bus back to Valparaiso where we checked out the Museo del Cielo Abierto (Open-Sky Museum) and then headed towards the beaches in Vina just as the sun crept out from behind the clouds.  We began to think about where we could possibly stay Saturday night, as we were again without reservations, the beach perhaps?  As luck would have it as we strolled down the beach looking for a spot I heard “Molly, Molly!” being called from somewhere.  I turned around to see my friend Pancho with his girlfriend on the beach.  In a matter of minutes it had been established that he was staying with his cousins in an apartment and we could stay with them for the night.  We went back home with them and had a delicious barbecue!

Back in Santiago today Cori, Lisa, and I cooked a delicious Easter brunch of fresh squeezed orange juice, homemade hash browns, fried eggs, and Swedish pancakes!

And tomorrow (actually right now) is my Birthday!  So now I just need to crank out 12 pages of a Spanish paper before my Birthday dinner tomorrow, whoops!  I’m having a birthday party at my house on Friday with drinks and desserts, and then we’re going to go out and dance salsa after!

P.S. Does anyone know anyone that wants to hire me for any job between the dates of July 6th and August 23rd?  I am compliant and I can lift at least 50 pounds.

Otherwise, Dad do you want to just hang out for awhile? haha.

P.P.S. Aunt Melanie, this also means that you will most likely be graced with my presence this summer!  🙂

“Dadme para mi vida
todas las vidas
dadme todo el dolor
de todo el mundo
yo voy a transformarlo
en esperanza”

-Pablo Neruda

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