Clases, Cumpleaños, y Caminatas

Trip Start Jun 13, 2009
Trip End Jul 26, 2009

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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

HOLA!  Hope everyone's doing well.  This week has sure gone by fast!  On Monday (June 22), I went to my classes, and afterwards we had a presentation about the artes de las calles (a.k.a - grafitti).  It was very interesting.  We learned about the some of the history of the grafitti in Valparaiso and several of the different styles that can be found throughout the city.  Our speaker is a great artist, and he showed us several of his works.  There can be a little tagging and wild style found around the city.  (More like vandalism.)  The majority, however, is so awesome.  I believe I might have already taken a few pictures of grafitti, but I'm sure there will be plenty of opportunities to do that.  One week I will even get the chance to do my own grafitti!

Yesterday (Tues. June 23), I went to my first class, home for almuerzo, and then to my second class.  For almuerzo (lunch), Margarita fixed a typical Chilean dish called Casuelo (I'm not sure of the spelling but that's how it sounds) con pollo (with chicken).  It was kind of like a chicken noodle soup.  In the middle of the soup, there was corn on the cob, a whole baked potato, and a chicken breast.  The correct way to eat this is to take the big things out of the soup and put them on a plate.  Eat the soup first and then mix the rest with lettuce and eat it all as a salad.  It was very good.  I haven't had one dish here that I don't like!  My host parents did not think that Americans liked to mix solids with liquids until I told them that we eat many different soups, like Chili and turtle soup.  Everyone seems to get a kick out of turtle soup.  They can't believe it!

During the afternoon, I returned to the house with another friend, Crystal.  We hung out in my room for a while, had once, and afterwards we went out for another friend's birthday.  Genevieve (who's in the ISEP program from Canada) turned 20 today.  Crystal, Brittany, Genevieve and I all met up in downtown Viņa del Mar and walked to a neat restaurant called Margaritai.  We bought Genny a couple of drinks and had a good time talking and laughing with each other.  The customers on the second floor of the restaurant were singing karoake, so we had quite a few laughs about that.

Today, (Wed. June 24), I went to class and home for almuerzo where I met another one of Oscar's friends, Mauricio.  They kept telling me that he's a hero in Chile.  When I asked to explain why, they showed me a 10.000 billete (diez mil pesos).  Mauricio looks very very much like the guy on the money!!!  hahaha!  That is why they call him a hero!  Together we ate fish sticks in the shape of a fish (hehe), fried potatoes, rice, and salad.  It was very good as usual.  Then, I watched Mauricio and Oscar play Mario Tennis.  Margarita had picked up this new game for the Wii for Antonia to play when she comes.  A short time later, I caught a colectivo (like a taxi, but much cheaper) that went past the house.  It took me down to the metro station, and I took the metro into Valparaiso to go to my class.

Before my second class, I stopped to talk to Fernanda (a Chilean student that is in my group - we meet once a week to hang out in order to practice our Spanish and her English).  She introduced me to two other Chilenos (cute ones too!) that would be joining our group each week.  On Friday we will be meeting at 4 PM to hang out.  I'm not sure what we'll be doing yet.  For our culture class today, our teacher took us on a walk to the feria mercado.  Kind of like our farmer's market.  Each of us students had to interview one of the vendors.  After being turned down by 3 women vendors, a kind gentleman said that he would love to be interviewed.  This man was selling every kind of vegetable imaginable and had been working there for 50 years!  He was a very interesting man, who had quite the story to tell.  When I asked about his feelings towards the recent installation of the Jumbo down the street (like our Wal-Mart), he said that it is hurting his business.  He mentioned that in today's world, everyone wants to use a card (credit card, debit card, bonus reward cards).  It's difficult for him and the other vendors to retain the same business as before because they only take cash.  This just goes to show that plastic is dominating small, family businesses even in Chile. 

Today was also the day for our second Caminata de Valparaiso (City Tour).  The ISEP group took a bus to Cerro Bellavista to visit the house of Pablo Neruda.  He won the Nobel Prize for Literature and is highly known around the world for his poems and other writings.  We only visited one of his houses, but there is another here in Chile and one in Germany as well.  Unfortuneately, I wasn't allowed to take pictures inside the house, but I enjoyed every second of it.  The house was four stories high.  One floor was the bedroom, another was the living room and dining room, and the top was his study.  All the rooms had really neat drawings, paintings, and artistic furniture that he liked to collect.  He loved the sea but wanted to live on the land.  He had many windows to look out at the sea and at all of the other colorful houses around him.  I understand how inspiration could come to a person from living in a place such as he did.  Even though I couldn't take pictures from inside, I'll always remember taking in the beauty and calmness that Chile brings every time I look out towards the sea and the city lights.  How beautiful!  Wish you all could be here with me!  After Pablo Neruda's house, the bus took us to the top of another hill.  This was the hill my host family had taken me to on my first day of being here, so some of the pictures may seem similar to previous ones.  I was still fun to look around.  It's definitely never boring!

I arrived home around 7 PM.  We sat down to eat and Oscar (Papa) showed me some mind games that they have.  For example, draw a rectangle with only three lines.  I couldn't figure out how to do it - hehe.  Then he finally showed me that all I had to do was draw a rectangle (using four lines) and put three lines inside of it!  Tricky, tricky.  That trick was one of his easier ones, too!  Margarita and I played lots of bowling, tennis, and golf on Wii Sports.  (I don't think she gets how to do the golf very well - but hey, what mom does?) hehe!

Ahora, necesito leer unas cuentas para mi clase de cultura chilena maņana.  (Now, I need to read some short stories for my Chilean Culture class tomorrow.)  I'll write again, soon!

Disfruten mis fotos!

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