Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Back in the USA

Today I arrived back in the US. What a change from the warm sunny climate of Chile! I am currently in northern IL, almost right on the lakefront, and my fingers are chilly and my nose a little nippy as I type:-)

Last night while I was flying out of Santiago I actually got a little teary-eyed. For the short time that I was there I managed to make several real friendships and gain an appreciation for Chile that I never had before. The country, the culture and the people became real to me in a way that I didn't really expect. One month doesn't seem like a long enough time to truly invest in a different culture, but I guess that is what happened to me. Now to try and think it all out a bit!

Hope you don't mind joining me on an exploration of what this trip has meant to me. No more live updates from the Southern hemisphere, but I feel like my adventures with Chile may be just beginning. I'll keep you updated on how that goes!

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Departure Day

Today is my last day in the Southern hemisphere for at least a bit. Chile has been awesome! I needed a rest so badly that you could almost see my frayed nerves;-) I didn't expect it to come during a short term class, but it certainly has. One benefit of having my laptop stolen was that I was forced to slow down and let go of deadlines and homework.

Most of last week I spent lying on the beach reading or just thinking about life. It is hard to find time to think, as a general rule, and I am going to miss it. I am also going to miss all the wonderful people that I met here: Claudia and Carlo, Tia Nana, all the Davilas, Cindy.....

I thought this blog would end when I left Chile, but there is so much more to traveling than just being there. Now I have to process the whole thing, so you get to hear more about this fascinating January for the next few weeks at least.

Friday, January 20, 2006

A better day in the South

Today we went to the beach and I spent 4 hours lying in the sun and reading a paperback adventure novel! This has been one of the most relaxing courses that I have ever taken;-) I certainly needed the slower pace and the beautiful weather. It hasn´t rained once since I got here, and it is cool at the coast with breezes straight off the ocean. God has been so kind to me to give me such a great time, and such a great tan!

Well, the tan might not be so great. Currently it looks like a sunburn... Jana told me there is hole in the ozone over Chile, and I thought SPF 40 sunscreen would be adequate, but not quite. It isn´t terribly painful, and the fact that it will turn into a nice tan makes the minor difficulty less terrible.

Not much more here. Life is good. Carlos, Claudia´s husband, is coming in tonight to spend the weekend. On Monday I will head back into Santiago with him and go back to the Davilas. Then, just a short time more and I will be heading to frigid Chicago, where my walks will take place in the snow, rather than in the warm sand.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Hard times in the Southern Hemisphere

Life in Chile was going well until Tuesday afternoon. When I returned to the apartment with my Chilean host family everything looked fine... until I looked for my laptop. I thought Claudia may have moved it, but when I asked her she said "no" and turned to look in her room. Both of our laptops and my digital camera were gone.

The police came and Claudia and I spent about an hour scanning security camera footage. There was a man in dark clothes delivering a package to the apartment down the hall when we left for the store, and the police thought he was probably connected. We finally saw one of the building emplyees leave the front desk with package. It took him 6 minutes to do a 30 second errand.

There is little hope that we will get the computers back and less for the camera. The police think that it was probably someone living in the building acting with the employee, maybe even the man down the hall that received the package.

This has been hard. I lost all my coursework for this time here: my daily journal entries and 178 pictures for a photo essay. Claudia and her family have been wonderful, but it is still difficult. On top of that loss, I will have to pay the college for my laptop, since it was still technically theirs. That won´t be too easy on a student payroll:(

Aside from this hardship, it has been wonderful here! We are in a building that is just across the street from the Pacific Ocean in Viña del Mar. Yesterday we took the morning to go into Valiparaiso and see the port. Chile has been very good to me! Relaxing pace and newfound friends and fun with my horrible Spanish! It will be hard to go back to the duldrums of winter in Kentucky. There will be no more pictures to add to the blog, but I will try to write one or two more updates before I leave.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

This is a fascinating picture. On a wall with a bunch of markers was this inscription: "Es mas deseable una hermosa muerte que una larga vida." This roughly translates to: "It is better to have a beautiful death than a long life." Kind of creepy, I thought, but very suitable to a cemetery:-) Posted by Picasa

Just a small taste of the beautiful structures that filled Cementario General. Posted by Picasa

One of the halls in a large crypt. I just love how the line of pillars leads to the open doorway and the tree. Posted by Picasa

Fun in the Cementario General

Today Jana and I went to the Cementario General. I know it sounds strange to list a visit to a cemetery as a highlight of your trip but I found it fascinating. I love to visit cemeteries! I don't think it is because I am morbid, since I am very much in love with life, but there is something about all the stories that are lying in one place that just calls to me. I agree with Anne of Green Gables: Cemeteries do provide so much scope for the imagination!

Anyway, the cemetery was beautiful and very interesting. I took 98 pictures while I was there; many were for my photographic essay but some were just because I liked them. This is an old cemetery so many of the crypts are more elaborate than what you see in the US. I am posting a few pictures for you to enjoy as well!

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Jana and Cindy, outside of Cindy's apartment. Posted by Picasa

Girls' night out...

Tonight Jana and I spent the evening out with her friend Cindy. Cindy has lived for the past 8 years in Chile, working full time. She is Canadian, from Toronto, and has been married to a Chilean man since 2000. We had a lovely time chatting at a country club-like place near where Cindy lives. I enjoyed getting to know another woman close to my own age (she is 30) and appreciated her insights into living in Chile. Jana has been very generous in sharing her friends with me! It is such a blessing that we get along so well:-)

The princess in her garden! Posted by Picasa

The results of Alyssa's exploration of my make-up bag. Not quite my normal style! Alyssa enjoyed wearing my sparkly lipstick:-) Posted by Picasa

Full Princess Treatment

Alyssa enjoys giving, and receiving, the "Full Princess Treatment." Here is the results of many (and I do mean many!) hair-do's and a complete exploration of my make-up bag:-) Alyssa gave me her full treatment, including the use of her favorite jewels. I in turn made her up as well as I could. I hope that you enjoy the results.

More from Santiago

Yesterday I went downtown to see more of Santiago and visit some sites for my independent study. The day was a gorgeous, with a nice breeze and relatively clear skies (except for a bit of smog). We went to several churches and the cathedral, saw a panoramic view of the city from Cerro Santa Lucia and went to the National History Museum. And I got hardly any pictures because my camera battery died and I forgot to bring the other one! So, it looks like we may go back downtown before I leave so I can get the rest of the pictures I need for my photo essay.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Annie's Parents' house. They had the pool in their yard, although it is almost like one big yard just divided up by paths, flowers and hedges. Posted by Picasa

Alyssa, Christopher and Me after a long afternoon of swimming. Check out the gardens! The picture doesn't do them justice! Posted by Picasa

A bit of today

Rodney wasn’t feeling well this morning. He stayed home and we went to church in Longquen, a town about 45 minutes south of the Davilas home. The church is small and meets in a room in a gymnasium. After church we went to Annie and Pius’s home for lunch. They are a Swiss/Chilean family with grown children. Their two youngest children were out of town, but their oldest son Adrian and a nephew from Switzerland named Philip were there. After a LARGE and delicious lunch of German-type food Annie, Jana, Christopher, Alyssa and I went down by the pool. The water was cool, but not too cold, and the property is so beautiful.

Annie and Pius live on a large piece of property with several houses. Annie’s sister and her family live in one house, and Annie’s parents live in another. The property is large and beautifully landscaped. Since it is summer the flowers are in bloom and the grass is lush and green. There are several gardens and they have three cows, a llama and a pack of dogs;-)

Me on at the monument steps, behind me is the city of Santiago. Sorry it's so hazy... Posted by Picasa

Full view of the statues at the monument. You can't see it very well in the picture, but Mary is treading on the serpent.... Posted by Picasa

A bit more of what's been happening...

On Friday Jana and I went to Cerro San Cristobel to see a large monument to the Virgin of the Immaculate Conception. The statue is in a park with a chapel, a smaller crucifix, a chapel and an outdoor ampitheater. There are other picnic areas and a zoo as well. The road up was steep and twisty, but we saw a lot of bicyclists and skaters. You wouldn’t catch me trying to make it up that road! It would have killed me before I was a quarter of the way up. Going down, however, would have been pretty exciting;-)

The view from the monument was spectacular in every direction. You could see all of Santiago and over to the mountains! The day was a little hazy, but Jana said that on a clear day the view was even more fantastic. Here are a couple of pictures of the park including one with a tiny bit of view.