Monday, August 25, 2008


Chileans function on a very relaxed schedule. I was told we would be departing for Santiago at approximately 11am since its about a 6 hour drive from Los Angeles. However, we did not wake up until a quarter after and didnt eat breakfast until nearly 11:45. It has been rather easy to adapt to this lax lifestyle and I think Im going to enjoy it. Once we were finally packed and in the car it was four in the afternoon. We drove north on Route 5, which spands the entire length of the country, for about 4 hours until we arrived at the grandparent´s house, or "El Campo" as they call it. There to welcome us was Ricardo´s father as well as three of his brothers and their families. In El Campo, there was a sense of the country side and the tradition of the Huaso-the Chilean cowboy- and, although it was dark, I was told the property sat just beneath the Andes Mountain Range.
Over dinner, my host father pointed at the man sitting at the head of the table and said, ¨this is my father¨, which I had understood clearly when first introduced. Then, my hostmother acknowledged the woman sitting beside him, his wife, and said, "this is my mother¨. Now I was confused. I nodded my head with little reassurance as they all laughed at my perplexed facial expression. Over dinner, desert, and several cups of tea, my host mother and grandmother struggled to explain to me that both sides of the family had gone through divcorces and that Vici and Ricardo werent actually brother and sister. Shortly after dinner, we boarded the family´s four-door Nisan pick up and finished the remaining 200km distance to their apartment in Santiago.

Living in Santiago were Nacho´s older siblings Daniella and Ricardo, who were both studying at Universities in the city. I was particually interested to hear that Daniella´s boy friend was the director of the Spanish copyright of TV show The Office. The next day, we attened another family reunion, but this time I was prepared with the knowledge of their unique family tree. That afternoon we drove Nacho to the Santiago International Airport to catch his flight to Stateline, Nevada and his new home on the coast of Lake Tahoe. We arrived a safe 3 hours before departure and Nacho proceded through checking and security with no issues. The plane was in the gate and the weather was clear, but the family insisted on waiting until it took off. Two and a half hours later... the departure screen for AA flight 954 changed from "On time" to "Boarding" to "Last Call" and finally to "Departure" and then we hurried outside to watch the plane take off. It seemed a little excessive, but the family was pleased to stay close until the last moment.

Despite being one of the most polluted cities in the world, Santiago was interesting. Although we were in a urban setting, I enjoyed the picturesque view of the Andes which could be seen perfectly outside the apartment´s balcony. Before daprting, again behind schedule, we ate at a traditional Chilean restuarant, where we all shared empanadas with pevere (a tipical salsa), and an array of surf and turf. We arrived in Los Angeles at around 1:30am and I had to wake up for school the following morning...

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

First Impressions

August 20, 2008

Well, im in school now and easily confused by everything. Yesterday was my firsty day, however; I came with Nacho, my host brother, and now im on my own. I´ve learned quickly that Chileans dont heat anything. For instance, to take a shower in the morning you have to run down stairs and ignite a heater (a custom that I was not aware of for my first three showers). If only I had read the "Chile: Customs and Traditions" book I brought along, I might not be suffering from this small cold. I keep telling myself, "taylor you lived on a glacier for thirty days", but really I am cold, always. I have yet to be formally introduced to a principle or a teacher for that matter, which strikes me as strange and makes me wonder if they even know that im in the school. For the most part we remain in one class and the teachers rotate through, but every once and a while everyone gets up and departs for another room- there must be a bell, but i have yet to hear even the slightest noise. Since I dont have an established schedule I usually follow the people that ive actually managed to maintain a fluent conversation with. Today that brought me to an all girls Art History class and I dove right into Renaissance art. Despite my initial interpretation, El Colegio Aleman de Los Angeles does have a strong German influence. When I first entered the Klasse Aleman (as its spelled on the door) the boy infront of me turned around, and in broken English said, "Do you know Ronald Macdonald?¿" Confused, I continued through the door to see the teacher dressed in a flambouyant organge sweater with massive orange hair- it was rather hilarious. As if she doesnt know how foreign I am, she asked me to read from the German story we were working with. I later learned she was a substitute and actually didnt speak Spanish either. Its too strange to sit through an English class and observe people trying to learn my first language. I think I finally understand why you cant truly learn Spanish, or any language for that matter, in the class room. You really do need to become emersed and use it daily. However, everytime I turn on the radio, TV, or use the computer im blasted with pop culutre from the states. I´ve yet to hear Juanes on the radio instead, I cant escape Britney Spears, Fallout Boy, Yellowcard, and more. Anyhow, I am enjoying Nacho´s selection of Dispatch and Bob Marley. Bueno, me voy, escribire mas luego.