Thursday, August 2, 2007

Public Transportation

So I seem to have disappointed my audience, and for that, I apologize for the brevity of my last blog. By popular demand, I'm going to do what I normally do and write way too much. I hope all you office-monkeys out there enjoy reading this as much as I would if I were still in your same position :)

So, no, the chaos, which began with me losing my suitcase on day 1, has not stopped. That was, in fact, just the beginning....

I've now been in Santiago for 2 weeks, which feels something like forever, and at the same time, something like no time at all. In that time, I've managed to put back more bottles of Chilean wine than I can count, gone out more times than I can count, gotten much less sleep than I can possibly imagine, and hey, it feels amazing not to be able to count the minutes and days and weeks and months til sweet, sweet lunch break, short-lived weekends, the holidays, that next big vacation...

I'm livin' it! And I think it really just hit me yesterday, after 2 weeks filled with long, questionable rides on various forms of public transportation. Buses, planes, taxis, trains… I’m in motion again.

Between metro rides to meet with new Chilean friends, crowded bus rides to do teaching observations in a town called Maipu (yes, it’s funny) at the far corners of the city, and riding 80 mph in ‘colectivos’- collective taxis- around one-lane twisting mountain roads to go hiking in the Andes, I’ve been able to experience so much here in Santiago!

Everything’s been a sort of “controlled chaos,” which they say is normal here in Chile… or at least that’s what they tell us at the Ministry of Education (MINEDUC)- the masters of this “controlled chaos,” and also my employer for the next 4 months.

For one, in the course of a week, I have packed and unpacked my suitcase no less than 4 times.

There are 5 of us traveling to Patagonia to teach, out of 25 volunteers total, all of whom have already left Santiago for their various cities. MINEDUC originally told us we’d be in Santiago for two weeks (one week longer than everyone else). Then, this past Monday, they said we’d be leaving the following day with everyone else. So I made a mad rush to pack my bags, only to discover on the “day of my departure” that I actually, really was not leaving for another week.

…a relief. I had more things that I wanted to do in Santiago. More sights to see, more new Chilean friends I wanted to hang out with, more time to gather my thoughts. So I breathed a sigh of relief and unpacked my bag…

All was well until we were told the following day we were being forced to leave the hostel we were staying in due to overbooking and moving to another hostel in Santiago. Up-we-go, and here I am in my new hostel…still in Santiago.

I finally leave for Patagonia on Monday morning at 5 a.m. It will be nice to finally unpack “for good”, during my 4 months in Punta Arenas—a cold, windy place, which I hope with every part of my frozen body, has heat.

Two things in Santiago have been rather sporadic… the availability of heat in various establishments, and access to the internet… neither of which I really mind, by the way, as the cold is a “refreshing” break from the blazing-hot sun of August, and I’m rather enjoying being cut off.

But since I know you’re all dying to keep in touch with me, I finally bought a cell phone today. My new number is 92104898. I don’t know the country code to call Chile from the US, but it’s probably on Google somewhere.

I’ll post my address in Punta Arenas soon.

I’ll end by saying I got my host family assignment and it is a married couple with two kids, ages 1 and 4. I’m excited for that.

I’ve added a facebook link to some pictures I’ve managed to put up, which will show better than I can tell, the places I’ve been, people I’ve met, and so on and so forth. See below:

Some highlights include my hiking in the Andes with a view of some waterfalls- “las cascadas de las animas”- walking out of a bar after a night out at 8 a.m. when the sun was coming up (Vegas-style), and of course, making connections with a great group of new people, the 25-or-so fellow teachers, all hailing from many different states and backgrounds and stages and walks of life, all here for whatever reason life has provided us to travel.

To think I ever questioned doing this...

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