(I wrote this two days ago, so much has happened since): I didn't oversleep -- I was so, so worried I would and then miss meeting my group! I didn't even wake up in the middle of the night to worry about not waking up. I was feeling so independent and so thankful for Holiday Inns. They even had complimentary buffet breakfast - did I mention I was thankful for Holiday Inn?? Thank Ma for choosing that hotel for me, and dad -- thanks for taveling a lot and earning points -- we miss you lots and it's crazy, but sure love these Holiday Inn points of yours! I went across to the airport at 7 AM to meet my group and after 2 very kind guys trying to help me -- except I didn't know where I was headed -- I was just looking for someone with a "SIT" sign somewhere in the Santiago airport, maybe near a coffee shop. How descriptive, no? After going up and down the levator a few times. . . (yes, I found the elevator this time). I was walking and kinda looked behind me, and then Rosana was hugging me and Robeto was kissy my cheek and at that point I figured I had found them. I was about the 5th person there, so we sat down and had coffee, water and mosas (sweet breads). I think the people on my program are very kind and tired and very well traveled. We then drove tow hours to the Pacific Ocean. It's beautiful -- I've never seen the Pacific Ocean. We are in Algarrobo -- a vacation town. It is summer vacation for Chilean students -- school starts the 1st of March. Staying at Hotel Pacifico for two nights. We eat and eat and eat. Breafast, tea with sweets, lunch, desert, cocktails and appetizers (empanadas) . . . followed directly by dinner. . . and then desert. Wow.
A couple of girls and I walked on the beach and saw adorable children, some laughing and some throwing tantrums. We had a welcome lecture, and then a name game -- everything in Spanish. Todo en espanol. This is a very good thing. Let's be real, I love learning and this experience is so tangible. I couldn't say that one minute ago, now I know how to say it kinda moments. Rossanna y Roberto, the directors, speak slowly and clearly for us to understand. They want us to know that Chile is a country of contradicitons -- a beautiful country, but one with many contradicitons -- the poor and the rich, those with opportunities and those without. Also, we must remember that thier doors are always open very wide and that they are here to support us and build relationships with us. I found out I will be living in Santiago Centro-- dead center of the city, supposedly. I'll be where it's happening.
In the evening of our first day together, we went to the Pablo Nuruda's primary residence. Nuruda is a famous poet of Chile -- in reality, he is one of the most famous poets of the 20th century. He was also a politician -- with communist leanings. When he died in 1973 (the same month as Pinochet took over as dictator) Pinochet denied permission for his funeral to be a public event-- but, people took to the streets and this marked the first public protest against the dictatorship. His house was crazy, and wonderful . . . collections of glass, ships in bottles, statues, African masks -- and oh, an entire room of seashells. Most rooms just seem like exhibits -- but that's not because it is now a museum, that's how he had the home. The coolest part was an incredible floor to ceiling stone abstract art mosaic his artist friend made him. Any artist friends out there who want to make me an incredible floor to ceiling mosaic of rock fireplace in my future home?? Let me know.
2 more points: Stairs and Spanish
Stairs: Remember my story about day 1-- carrying my bags DOWN 3 flights of stiars (yes, I'm still sore) --turns out we are on the 5th floor of the hotel and there is not an elevator (but there is an incredible view). So, I carried my luggage UP. However, the twist is that I have friends now. So, they helped me and I helped them -- "un equipo" -- a team.
Spanish: I am very thankful that Iam understanding Roberto y Rosanna very well. Carlos o Carlo is in charge of academics I think, yet I cannot yet understand him. . . and I could only sort of understand our bus driver who was in a headed debate about the new president who will be inaguarated in March and the state of the education system -- way interesting. Roberto has tow sons -- Rodrigo, 20, and Benjamin, 7. Rodrigo sat next to me at dinner-- and I asked him if he and Benjamin are good friends-- he assures me they are.I also asked him where his favorite place is in Chille. He told me a name that I cannot remeber, but it is about 2 hours from Santiago and it has some of the clearest skies in the world. It is very romantic and mysterious . . . there is a good energy there he told me. I must go. [Note: maybe the skies are so clear because there is a whole in the ozone over a big chucnk of Chile -- how comforting. I am going to wear sunscreen.
This is a gift. I can't believe I am here. Oh, I have a 25 page paper to research and write in the last 4 weeks of the program. All in Spanish, of course -- ALRIGHT. ha.
*I am copying this out of my notebook in my new room in the apartment of my new family . . . so I have lots more stories coming soon.
Un abrazo ("a hug") a todos,