I guess I never really got around to posting something after Chile. I was excited to be home, but I will always remember Chile for the great times I had, the not so great times, and the life lessons I learned. My life in Chile wasn’t at all what I expected or wanted it to be, but it was exactly what I needed at the time. My 10 months abroad forever changed my life, and I will be forever grateful to Rotary, my host country, and my family back home for supporting me and helping me become the person I am today.
My Chilean Birthday celebration began like this: extra hugs and kisses from my family, then when I arrived to school everyone sang happy birthday to me, 7 times total during the school day (3 times in English). On the way to the bus stop after school I was introduced to the Chilean tradition of throwing food at the birthday girl. I was walking down the street minding my own business when half a dozen eggs were broken on top of my head. Needless to say, I was very surprised. After hearing them sing Happy Birthday two more times, I had to get on the public bus to go home. It was a very sticky adventure. Apparently, eggs broken over your head is the Chilean version of a birthday hat, because about 5 people I don’t know wished me a happy birthday. When I finally arrived home, I washed my hair 7 times, and put on clean clothes to greet my friends for my birthday party. We ate completos, (hot dogs with avocado, tomato, onion, and mayo on top) and chocolate birthday cake. All in all it was a very un-forgettable birthday and i will never forget the sensation of egg yolk sliding down my back.
Also, I would like to thank everyone for the birthday wishes. It is nice to know that after all of this time you all are still thinking of me, and it helps to know that I have a life to come back to. Love you all!
I am writing this blog today to ask a serious question. Is jello the new chicken noodle soup? I personally think that eating jello when you are sick is about as logical as wearing shoes inside the house, and yet my host family is convinced that both are related to the common cold. I have a little bit if a runny nose and a sore throat. I told my host mom, and she said that the cause of my predicament is because I walk around barefoot all the time (and not because there is no soap or toilet paper in my school’s bathroom). The simple solution she suggested was jello. I’m beginning to wonder if I have been sent to the twilight zone. Let me know if any of you have any tips on how to get back to reality.
I had an amazing time in Easter Island, and it was truly a once in a lifetime experience. I saw the infamous moai heads, ate fish off of banana leaves and drank from a freshly picked coconut (picked by a man in a thong i might add) on the beach.
On our first day of our marvelous journey about 30 exchange students boarded a plane at 9 in the morning headed westward for paradise. we arrived at noon local time (making the plane ride about 5 hours) and ate lunch before heading out for our first visit to one of the many volcanoes. Much like Hawaii, Easter island is formed by volcanoes and very secluded. It wasn’t discovered until the 1600’s by The Netherlands. We hiked up the volcano, where we learned about the bird man and the traditional egg fetching ceremony. We saw the typical dwellings and saw a lake inside a volcano that has 0 known animal species living inside of it. After climbing the volcano, of course we had to come back down. They took us to one of the caves where there are a few cave paintings left.
Our second day started with a tip to where the Moai (or giant easter island heads) are made. They are carved out of the solid rock of the mountainside and then moved to a standing up position to have the final details added, and then they would be moved to their final place. Many people think that the Moai are just heads, but they are actually made from the torso up, and the mountain side just eroded and buried most of the statues chin deep. One of the ways that the Rapa Nui cultures difffers from that of Hawaii is that the Moai do not represent gods like the tiki gods. It is believed that the Moai represent prominent people in the leadership system of ancient times on the island. After the mountain side, we whet to the place where the most famous pictures of Easter Island are taken. There are 21 completed Moai all lined up and it is the largest gathering of completed Moai on the island. We spent about an hour there taking pictures, then we moved on to lunch, where they cooked meat and fish over an open fire and served the meat on a leaf with a side of camote, the typical potato grown on the island with a suprisingly sweet taste.
On the third day we had the morning free for buying souvineers, then in the afternoon we went spelunking in one of the island’s many caves formed by old lava tubes. We saw more Moai and learned that all of the moai statues that we saw (excluding those in the process of being built) were all reconstructions. There had been a war on the Island that almost wiped out all of the native people, and in a form of disrespect for the other tribes people would push over the others statues and when the Island was finally discovered there wasn’t a single standing Moai.
Our last full day spent on the Island began early, with horseback riding to the top of the largest volcano. We showed up and had people in our group who had never even ridden a horse before, and they gave us each a horse with stirrups tied on with twine and no head protection then sent us off in the proper direction. It was quite the event, and believe it or not only one person fell off, and it was his own fault. The views were gorgous and me and Larry (named by yours truly) was quite the companion. After a tiring day of horseback riding we had a quick nap then were treated to the privilege of watching traditional dances performed by the locals. after eating a meal cooked traditionally in a hole. We got our faces painted and were taught one of the dances that they performed for us.
It was an amazing experience and a gift to be able to participate in so many parts of their beautiful culture. I am truly grateful for the opportunity to have seen such amazing wonders at such a young age.
Yesterday I presented about the United States to rotary during their meeting, and I hate to brag, but everyone loved it. I used a program called “prezi” and it was really cool. I’ll post the link to my presentation (its online) so that you all can see the wonderfulness. It’s mainly pictures, so it should be pretty self explanatory.
Today I am leaving for the north with my host family for Easter Weekend so I will be out of touch for a while, but I will be sure to have gorgeous photos for when i return.
School here have a range of funding that goes from 0 to minuscule. So imagine my surprise when the Biology teacher announced that we would be dissecting during class. Much to my surprise, the students had to provide all of the materials. That’s right, everyone had to go to the supermarket and pick up a kidney, and then bring in knives to dissect. It was nauseating. I have serious concerns about the Chilean health code after today. I showed up without anything because my group said they would take care of it. The teacher sends us into the “lab” and my friend reaches into her backpack and pulls out a brown smushy blob. I thought my heart would jump out of my chest. Then they broke out the rest of the materials, which for some consisted of a really dull scalpel, and for others consisted of an x-acto knife. The put the kidney on the bare table, and began to hack away at it without any instruction from the teacher. ON THE BARE TABLE. Now while dissecting may not be my favorite thing, it doesn’t completely freak me out like it does to some people. Without the smell of formaldehyde and the fact that one group brought a cutting board it almost resembled cooking. This isn’t the fact that still haunts me however. The fact that no one thought to bring soap is what really made me want to vomit. When clean up time came, they wiped off the table with some wet paper towels and when I commented on the fact that it still wasn’t clean, they looked puzzled and didn’t understand that just because we couldn’t see the blood anymore that it wasn’t clean. I decided not to touch anyone for the rest of the day and skipped lunch. Some experiences are better lived on an empty stomach.
Today my friend from Canada was a little shaken up after the earthquake (no pun intended) so we decided to have a fun day in the center of Santiago. Our first stop was Santa Lucia, a fort which was originally Spanish, then taken over by the French. I’m not exactly sure how accurate this is, but the Canadian said so. There are 2 distinct types of architecture in the fort, near the base is French and towards the top is Spanish. The change is very noticeable and the fort is very famous.
Our next stop was lunch. After hiking around for a couple hours, we decided that refreshments were well deserved. In all honesty, I have to say that this was my best meal in Chile, and it wasn’t even Chilean food. We went to a Peruvian restaurant, and I was in heaven. It was like a little bubble outside of Santiago. the waiters were courteous, the food came quickly, and after a while I was convinced that even the air was cleaner. It is rumored that Chileans breed their cows to have more fat, because they think it means more flavor. I have gotten used to cutting off half of my meat because of this gruesome fact, yet was pleasantly surprised at this restaurant. I was able to eat 100% of my meat, and the risoto was to die for. they even put in the extra effort of presentation which for some reason seems to be frowned upon everywhere else. It was a great day in the end and well worth the 2 dollar trip in the subway. Its nice to know that not everywhere in Santiago is the same. Its nice to have a change sometimes.