Last Day and the Family

Hi All,

Sorry for taking such a long blogging break. Here’s what I’ve been up to since my last blog (pictures will probably be a few more days): 

On Thursday we had to go back to Católica to get our grades. My group got a great grade on our project and the professors even mentioned potentially publishing it in the university journal. It would mean a lot more work for us, but would be really great! After that, I took my final exam at IES and then we had a debriefing meeting and an appetizer-goodbye. While some people then went to see the new Harry Potter (it came out on Wednesday night in Chile), I went home to pack. Soon enough it was time to meet mom, dad, and Carley at Liguria, a Chilean restaurant, where we ate with the host family. It was  really nice. Dad and Carley don’t speak much Spanish and my host family certainly does not speak any English so that was interesting. 

Friday morning I finished up with the packing and then was picked up by the fam. We went back to the hotel to drop my stuff off and then lazed around for a little bit. The day was kind of rainy so we did a bus tour of Santiago but stayed in the bus the whole time because of the weather. That night we had a great dinner at an restaurant called Nolita. It was Italian, but not the pizza and pasta Italian- more like risotto and lamb chops. SO DELICIOUS. Plus they had a lot of interesting art pieces in it. 

Saturday was a mess!! In fact, because it will take a little time to write up and may be slightly long, I’ll put it in another post (I know, the suspense is killing you).

Moving on to Sunday. We moved kind of slowly in the morning, but eventually made it out to Los Dominicos, an artist market that I had visited early in my trip to Chile. We didn’t get much, but I did get a painting that will hopefully adorn the wall of my apartment next year (if John and Tucker approve). Then we headed to Bellavista where we grabbed lunch before heading to Cerro San Cristobal (that mountain/hill in the center of the city). Like I said, we were moving kind of slowly, so by the time we were ready to go up it was nearing 5:00. I had really had my heart set on hiking up the cerro, since I’d already gone up the funicular, but I was concerned that if all of us walked up we wouldn’t make it in time for sunset. So mom and Carley took the funicular up, while I dragged dad up the path. Now, we moved relatively fast, and it was a little steep, but I didn’t think I set THAT fast of a pace. But my little viejito (i.e. old man) was huffing and puffing and sweating his way all the way up the hill. I forget that he’s almost 60! (And growing a beard back- not that they should affect his ability to hike). But we did make it up in 35 minutes which was not bad. After reaching the top we took some pictures and watched the sunset and then headed back to the hotel for some R&R. Carley wasn’t feeling too great so she staying in, but the ‘rents and I went to a tapas bar owned by a New Zealander (kiwi), which was perfect for a light bite. 

Today (Monday) we woke up nice and early to grab breakfast at Cafe Melba (owned by the aforementioned kiwi). My omelette was great! Then we headed back to the hotel to get picked up for our bike and wine tour. It was so much fun! We picked through 3 vineyards with  great views of the Andes and foothills. We got to do our first couple of wine tastings at the last vineyard with the owner who was hysterical. Then we went to a Chilean restaurant for lunch and a couple more wines. By the end we were pretty tipsy and tired. It was a full day activity, so we got back to the hotel around 7. Before we knew it, we were heading out to meet Gideon (my friend from elementary/middle school) at a vegetarian restaurant, El Huerto, which was delicious as well. Man it is so nice to have good food- Chileans are not renowned for their cooking ability, so its nice to finally be eating in some good restaurants. Haha.

I’m getting pretty tired, so I’ll fill you in about Saturday and try to post some pictures tomorrow.

Ciao!

Ah yes, of course they would play this at the changing of the guard.

The Last Week!

Hi-

So this week is our last week on the IES program. It’s kind of bitter sweet. I’ve had a lot of fun and I feel like my Spanish is a lot better, but I’m basically ready to move on (and travel with the family). 

On Monday, Kristin, Ashley, Amanda and I went to go see the changing of the guards at La Moneda, and let me tell you, it was quite a show. They had to do it in the back of the palace, which was slightly disappointing but we still got the whole shabang. Its about a half hour procedure in which there is a lot of marching, standing, turning, looking, and MUSIC. You’re basically watching a symphony. And its not masculine, militaristic music at all. In fact (and I’ll try to upload a short clip) there is a medley of different tunes, from havah-nagela to deck the halls to when the Saints go marching in to orchestra music. It was so random and funny. The guys are all dressed in uniforms with long coats and wear these boots. Everytime they turn or stop they have to tap their heels together and since there are little metal pieces, you can really hear it. I’ll put up some photos.

Why yes, that man is playing the xylophone.

Ok, enough pictures of guards. After that we had to go to class at IES. Nothing new with that. My group spent the night working on our project.

On Tuesday, I had my last clinical observation. It was at the Católica hospital and Kristin and I were in the dialysis center. Basically it was just a series of rooms with about 6 old people in each sleeping while getting dialysis. As usual, the nurses had nothing to do with us (especially since they generally don’t have to do anything once everyone is hooked up), so we left at 10:30 and went to Starbucks to do some more homework. That afternoon, in our IES class, we had our oral exam. We were put into groups and had to give a presentation on an assigned topic- our was organ transplants/donations in Chile. They have an extremely low rate of registered organ donors (about 8 per million people whereas Colombia has 23 per million) and until 2010 had a system in which, even if you were a registered donor, your family (after you died) made the final decision of whether or not to donate your organs, which meant they lost a lot of potential donors. I think it went pretty well.

After class, my group made the last few corrections to our 10-page paper and printed it! Finally! It was such a relief to have it done. To celebrate we went to a well-known themed restaurant called Oceans Pacific. Its really best to see pictures to get a sense of what it was like (but it was huge and entirely themed). Sadly, my salmon was on the dry/fishy side (Mom: please make me your not dry or fishy but rather delicious salmon when we all return). But we had fun.

Today was a VERY long day. Every group (all 11) had to give a 20 minute powerpoint presentation about the topic of their paper. We got there at 9, but of course, being on “chileno time” (which is starting to annoy me), we didn’t start until 10:00. Next time they should just let me sleep for those extra 45 minutes. Anyways we were there until 4:30 (yes, 7.5 hours). I think our presentation went well, but because it was so long and because we have an IES test tomorrow, no one was really paying attention- myself included. Glad it’s over though. Now I’m off to study for my last spanish exam tomorrow and then I’ll be free! Wish me luck.

Ciao!

Yo fui una de esas personas que vivió sensata y prolíficamente cada/ Minuto de su vida; claro que tuve momentos de alegría./ Pero si pudiera volver atrás trataría e tener solamente buenos momentos.

"Instantes" by Jorge Luis Borges

Weekend Update

Hi all,

On Friday we had the day off, and while most people went skiing, Gabrielle and I decided to explore some more of Santiago. The first thing we did, of course, was find sustenance. We wanted to go to Cafe Melba, a place recommended by Maricarmen for brunch. After walking up and down calle El Bosque for a solid half-hour we finally found it! Gabrielle got some delicious french toast, while I opted for bagel and lox (the first bagel I’ve had since getting here). So good (I’ll be sure to take the fam there- they arrive on Thursday!). Then we were off to finally climb Cerro Santa Lucia (although we obviously stopped at Mercado Santa Lucia to pick up some souvenirs). We walked up a few hundred stairs and finally made it to the top. It was nice, but I’m sure it would have been prettier had there not be so much smog :(

Then we headed down the back side of the mountain to explore a really cute/bohemian area- Lastarria. They have a ton of cute cafes, little vendors, some boutiques, etc. We visited el Museo de Arte Visual- a small-ish, modern museum. It was surprisingly nice. Following that we grabbed a bite to eat (quiche!) at a cafe. After walking around another street of stores, we traveled through Parque Forestal to el Museo de Bellas Artes- the main fine arts museum.

Then it was time to refuel again, so we went to an ice cream store thats on a list of 30 things to do in Santiago. I got some fruity flavors- it was good, but probably did not warrant the hype. We realized it was nearing 6:30, so we met up with some friends at a Mexican restaurant to watch the Copa America game between Chile and Uruguay (it was a tie 1-1). Bronwyn and I went home to change- we ended up watching the end of the Mexico-Peru game in which Peru won (1-0) with a goal close to the end of the game. Because it was our last Friday night in Chile, we went out to Bellavista- the whole night ended up being kind of a fiasco (one girl lost her jacket, there was some…bickering, etc.) but it was fun nonetheless.

Saturday I slept in until almost 12- WAY later than I intended. After lunch with the family, I met up with my final project group at Starbucks and didn’t leave there until dinner (once- i.e. bread, jam, and avocado). I was pretty tired so I decided to go watch the Devil Wears Prada with Kristin and Kelsey, then hit the sack.

Today was pretty uneventful as well. I woke up on the late-ish side, skyped with the padres, did some homework, went to the gym, and ate dinner. We have SO much work to do this week, which is really unfortunate since its our last week on the program (although I’ll be here with the fam for longer). 

That’s about it for now! 

The week of July 4th

Hi Everyone! I’ve been a little slow on the updates but here’s what I did this week:

On Monday, Católica took all of us to a Ruca, which is basically a Mapuche clinic. The Mapuche are indigenous and they’re medicine involves a lot of herbs. The Machi (healer) sees when people are sick in his/her dreams and also sees what kind of medicine they need. They believe that everything is about maintaining an equilibrium within yourself and within your environment. It was very interesting. This was more of a teaching Ruca so they taught us one of their chants, explained how they work, and gave us some delicious food (including the best zopapilla (sp?) I’ve had since coming here. After that we went back to IES and watched a movie called Mar Adentro to prepare for our debate on euthanasia. The movie is about a man who was paralyzed from the neck down after diving into water that was too shallow. He lived as a paraplegic for years and refused to use a wheel chair- so he stayed in bed all of the time. He went through the courts to get them to allow him to be euthanized but was denied. **Plot spoiler** In the end the group of people that had been working with him on the case helped him kill himself with potassium cyanide. His actual death was filmed but you can’t see who gave him the drink- all you see is a hand placing it beside him, so no one was ever caught or convicted.

Following that uplifting experience, Kristin, Kelsey, Gabrielle, and I spent close to 5 hours in Starbucks (yes they exist even in Chile) working on our final project- we’re doing a research project/presentation on dental health here. Kids (as well as adults) have tons of tooth decay because most of them don’t visit the dentist preventatively- only when something hurts. I could go on about the topic for a while, but I’ll refrain- if you want to know more, ask me!

Tuesday we went back to the Primary Care clinic. I shadowed a dentist and a nurse. The dentist’s office looked a lot like the ones in the US. The interesting thing is that pregnant women, under GES (illnesses that are guaranteed to be covered by the state for free), get to visit the dentist. Though it has been shown that pregnant women are more susceptible to dental problems, I think it would be a better use of money and resources to do preventative care and education at a younger age. Kids are only covered under GES for preventative care at ages 2, 4, 6, and 12- certainly not enough times to teach and reinforce good habits. The culture around pregnant women here is really interesting- when you’re pregnant you get a lot of care, but you’re also expected to take most of the responsibility for raising the child. Again, another topic that I could go on about, but won’t for lack of time and space. My time with the nurse was fine- she does a lot of well-child check-ups for toddlers, so it was cute to see them.

That afternoon we had our debate on euthanasia. We picked sides out of a hat- I was on the “against” side, though I don’t think I have a definitive opinion on it yet. It went pretty well, although I think it would have been much more heated/interesting had it been in english. After that Bronwyn and I made our way to Jumbo- its basically like Super Walmart- to buy food to cook for our family. We ended up making a REAL salad (with lots of ingredients), corn bread, turkey tacos, and chocolate chip cookies. Our family really liked the salad, which was great, and of course they liked the cornbread- it seems like Chileans only eat bread! It was funny because we bought salsa for the tacos, but here everything that is a sauce (dressings, tomato sauce, etc.) is called salsa, but salsa as we know it (the kind that goes with Mexican food) doesn’t exist, so it was difficult to explain the concept to them, but they liked it. They also LOVED (and had never had) chocolate chip cookies. They seemed so happy that we cooked for them, which made me feel really good. Out of the 8 or so students they have hosted in the past, they said we are the first ones to cook for them, which surprised me. So if you’re going abroad next semester: be sure to cook for your family! They’ll really like it.

On Wednesday we went back for our last visit to the primary care center where I hung out in the “procedimientos” area (mostly blood drawing) and with the paramedic (basically the person who takes your weight and blood pressure at the doctors). Both were quite uneventful. In the afternoon I went to the Santa Lucia market with some friends where I picked up a couple little souvenirs. Then I went home and worked on my essay that was do today on the role of women in society (I focused on their role as mothers- or if you’re more cynical, incubators). 

Today was a lot of fun! In the morning we went to Hogar Santa Clara- a home for kids with HIV whose parents can’t take care of them. The kids are on winter break so, after hearing a short presentation on what the home does, we got to play with them. They were ADORABLE. There were two 5-year-old girls who were listening to music and dancing- let me tell you, they have better/sexier moves than I do. They were really impressed that I knew the words to the songs and I even “taught” them a dance (that I happened to be making up on the spot). I also helped bath a 4-month-old baby, which was adorable. The nuns that work there are amazing with the kids! It is clear how much they care about their well-being which was great to see. Finally I got to play with Bruno, a three year old with some type of muscular problem that causes him to have to wear leg braces (he still can’t walk yet). He was one of those smiley, chubby kids. One of my friends took a picture, which I’ll try to post at some point.

Afterwards we had class at IES. We didn’t really do much in it. I was feeling kind of jittery so I decided to hit the gym for a bit before meeting up with my project group. We were in Starbucks again for over 4 hours. Then we went to this great (and cheap) sandwich place called Elkiko- I had a completo de ave (basically a chicken burger but with avocado- I asked for them to leave the mayo off). By the time we walked all the way back home, it was already 10:15, so I decided to come back and write this post. Tomorrow, I don’t have anything specific to do and I wasn’t able to make skiing work out, but its been a long week, so I’m excited to sleep in. Also, tomorrow marks the first day of the last week of the program- its crazy that we’re already in mid-July. My family will be here in a week! It all seemed so far away when I signed up, but here we are!

With love from Chile!

San Pedro de Atacama

And now, the update about Atacama:

We had so much fun in the desert! Who knew that a dry, dusty location would have so much to do! On Friday morning we woke up at 8 and walked into town to Todo Tierra Natural (a recommendation from Kristin’s guide book) for breakfast. It was so good! I had yogurt, fruit, and granola with honey as well as a tea called mate de cocoa (made from cocoa leaves and supposedly illegal to see in the US because of its relationship to cocaine). The other girls had really good omelettes as well. Then we headed back to Backpackers where we were picked up for sandboarding. It was so much fun! It’s kind of like snowboarding except that it doesn’t hurt to fall, its harder to turn, and its a lot hotter. Plus you have to walk up the sand dune before you can go down, which is actually really exhausting. There wasn’t anyone else there except for the four of us and our guide and it was really tucked away (you definitely need to have a manual car that can handle off roading to get there)- it was so quiet and beautiful.

Afterwards we went back to the hostel to change clothes for our trip to Valle de la Luna (ie Moon Valley). Before it started we ran into a cafe and had some quiche- yum! The tour group, Layama, took about 20 people in a bus to the valley, which is said to not only be one of the driest places on earth, but is also said to have a strong resemblance to the surface of the moon. I’ll post some pictures up, but it was a really interesting tour and we got to watch the sun set over the valley- muy linda. Plus I discovered a new trick in which I take photographs through the lens of my sunglasses- the extra filter makes the reds appear much more strongly. Gabrielle and I also discovered that if you move just right you can appear multiple times in the shot. Hahaha- fooled you camera!

That night we ate a great dinner at Adobe and then hit the sack early because Saturday morning we had to wake up at 4:00 for a tour of the Tatio Geysers. They are in a valley/basin between mountains at around 14,000 feet. It takes about 2 hours to get there, so you arrive at the site just before sunrise. It was beautiful but FREEZING! I feel like a sausage wearing all of my clothing. But there were about 100 geysers there and the guide explained to us how they formed, etc. 

Then we had breakfast at the site before hopping back in the van to go to the hot springs. Because it was still so cold and we were all wearing so many layers, none of us got in- though Gabrielle did stick her feet in. We drove around a few other places to take some pictures of vicuña (like llamas) before stopping in an old town that had been abandoned but was reopened about 10 years ago for tourism purposes. There we had the BEST cheese empanadas- they were so fresh and warm and delicious. We also tried some llama- it was fine, but tasted like most other meats- but at least now I’ll have a new fun fact. That afternoon, after getting back to backpackers, we rested for a while in the sun, took a shower, etc. Then we walked into town where we grabbed a bite at Todo Tierra Natural once again (I had some great tacos) and picked up our photos from sandboarding (they take them for you!). We also did some souvenir shopping in town (I got you a little something, Jonathan). Around 5 we decided to go back to the hostel to start working on our final project for Católica, but eventually got hungry, so we took another suggestion from Kristin’s guide and went to Ckunna where they had a pre-fixe dinner. I had tomato soup (nothing special), GREAT risotto, and mango ice cream. Yum. For some reason, we were all somewhat giddy/delusional from the heat and being tiredness so we were laughing all of dinner. The waitstaff were definitely staring at us, but there really wasn’t anyone else in the restaurant, so we didn’t feel that bad about it. I think I laughed more this weekend than I have during the rest of my time in Chile combined. It was great! We then picked up our breakfast for Sunday (we left early for the airport) at a convenience store and went back to the hostel where we pulled our bunkbeds together to watch Tangled.

Sunday morning we woke up early to catch out ride back to Calama for the flight to Santiago. I just love security at the airports here! Not only was it so easy to get through (you keep all of your clothes on and you can bring as many liquids as you want), but they also let us leave the “secure” area to get a snack from the outside area- unheard of in the US. Plus I don’t think anyone ever checked my ID… despite all of that the flights still feel very safe. Anyways, on Sunday, July 3, the gringo bar- California Cantina- was having a 4th of July celebration, complete with hamburgers, “freedom fries”, and apple pie. So we obviously had to go. Gabrielle and I dropped our stuff off at my house before hitting up the “family friendly” event. The food was SO good. It is funny, though, that the “gringo burger” still has palta (avocado) on it and that the fries had parmesan on them— oh well. Also, on the actual 4th their celebration was watching the Chile vs. Mexico Copa America game (which Chile won 2-1, sorry John Bruno). Gabrielle and I were very ambitious that day, because we decided to then head over to San Cristobal to see the sun set from the top. Because of the smog, you really need to take advantage of any semi-clear day there is- and since its not going to rain for a while, we decided to take advantage of the partially clear sky. We quickly went over to the “mountain” and took the funicular up (yes, you can walk up too, but we were running late and didn’t want to miss the sunset). The view from the top really is beautiful, but the smog definitely detracts from it, but I’m glad we did it. 

After all of that, I finally made it back home for dinner. Whew, such a busy weekend, but so much fun. I’ll keep updating on the latest activities, but we have a lot of work, so it will likely be delayed.

Ciao!

P.S. Sasha Davis: Check your facebook- we have to start practicing for the no-talent-talent show ASAP :)

Thursday

Hi Friends! Sorry its been so long since my last update- things have really picked up here. A quick update on Thursday before I get into the details of my trip to Atacama.

In the morning (at 8 AM!) we went to a family clinic in Santiago. Its really interesting because they basically split the area into sectors and then have a corresponding wing in the hospital. So if you live in the red area, you go to the red wing in the building where they have a 2 family doctors, nurse, matrona, dentist, psychologist, etc. I shadowed a nurse in the vaccination area and a family doctor- it was probably the most enjoyable/informative clinical experience yet. Then we ran back to IES for class at which point I had to rush back home to pack for Atacama- I didn’t have a chance the night before because of my night shift. Gabrielle, Kristin, Kelsey, and I met up at the airport for our evening flight to Calama- the airport in northern Chile. It was already dark out, so we weren’t able to see the mountains. After a 1 hour drive to the desert of San Pedro de Atacama, we were dropped off at Backpacker’s hostel. I know I’ve already mentioned it, but I’ll say it again: we got to the hostel and they showed us into a room for four at which point we were asked “Are you Rosa from Brazil?” We said we weren’t, so the woman went to grab her computer at which point Kelsey checked her phone and realized she had made a reservation at Backpackers in BELIZE! Luckily the group from Brazil never showed up, so we were able to stay there, but it was definitely a close call that kept us laughing the entire night.

Quick update

Hi everyone!
I am currently writing you from San Pedro de Atacama- the desert in northern Chile. We arrived at our hostel last night (my friends accidentally booked a hostel by the same name in Belize but this one luckily had a cancellation). A quick update from the week:
On Monday I basically lazed around the house and attempted to write my paper on addictions (major fail-I ended up having to finish the second half the hour before class- oops). On Tuesday we started our morning rotations in different medical facilities. My group went to Sótero del Rio, a public hospital that looked like it was straight out of a horror film about people in an insane asylum. Not only was it an extremely old facility, they also lack basic safety precautions like using gloves or properly disposing of needles. The facility was more like a campus so it took an hour and a half to get everyone to their stations. Kristin and I were supposed to be in pediatric oncology but due to a major communication error no one really wanted to show us around. So kind of a bust but it was interesting to see the hospital. Then I had class (turned in aforementioned essay). Right after I met up with my friend Gideon from Atlanta! He’s just started his fall semester in Santiago with Wash U. It was really nice to catch up.
On Wednesday morning my group went to ASPAUT- a school of autistic children in Santiago. Given that they function on money solely from the state and donations, it was pretty impressive. They have 108 kids throughout the week in classes of no more than 8 with at least two teachers. The kids that we there when we were there were around my age and severely autistic- most were nonverbal. After that I ate, took a nap (which is unusual for me), and then met up with Sam Collins-a recent Bowdoin grad who just moved to Chile where she will be teaching english. We went to an adorable tea house called Le Flaubert where I has a great (purple) bowl of soup- it was some sort of cabbage soup but much better than it sounds. It was great to see two familiar faces in two days! I then had to run back home, take a shower, and get dressed for my overnight shift at the hospital. I was put with Dr. Maldonado in the intermediate care unit. Nothing major happened but he was great at explaining what he was doing etc. Ken (another person from IES) and I ate dinner with him at 3 other doctors. I had already eaten so I didnt order anything but all of the men got the BIGGEST hamburgers I have ever seen! They were close to 8 inches in diameter and had the bread and patty as well as ham, cheese, a fried egg, mayo (of course), tomatoes, and lettuce on them! It probably exceeds the daily limit of every nutritional value (especially fat). The irony of four doctors eating something so bad. Ken and I finally went to bed at 2 am only to get up at 6:45.
Were getting ready to get going in San Pedro so I’ll fill you in on the rest when I get a chance.
Ciao!!