I’ve meant to write this before I left for Chile, but I’ve just been really busy and haven’t had the time to really sit down and write anything. I’ve been here for 3 weeks now and it’s been freaking awesome! Let’s start with the first week in Santiago…this is gonna take a while since I’m doing this by memory.
The first day I arrived was pretty ugly…it was cold and rainy and foggy and cloudy when I got to the airport, and it was cold. Anyway after an hour or so I got to the hostel…and must I say it’s one of the nicest hostels that I’ve stayed at…screw Rocking J’s. Anyway, since I arrived early there weren’t that many volunteers there yet. I took a shower and nap and later in the afternoon more volunteers started showing up. Basically it was greet and meet and what not. Drank some wine…some beer, then ate dinner and went out to this place called Dublin, an Irish Pub…go figures. Tasted my first Pisco Sour and found out that one shot of whiskey actually means two…they give you a shitload here. Anyway…some of us left earlier to go to bed because we wanted to visit el Cerro San Cristobal the next morning to attend mass and so we did.
The next day we got up pretty early, ate breakfast and left to take the metro. Apparently it was a holiday so after we got to the bottom of the hill, instead of having to walk up (which woulda taken an hour at least), we got to take the tram up for free. It reminded me of the tram that goes up to the peak in Hong Kong. So we got up, walked a little more then attended mass in the little church. After that we took some pictures and saw the Virgen and left. Not gonna go into details. We then took the metro to Santa Lucia to visit the fort which was built about a century ago as a look out for enemies (Spainards). It was really sunny so we got to see the mountains. After that we left and went back to the hostel for the 4 pm meeting thing. Met most everyone else. Took some visa photos…and took the Spanish diagnostic test thing. Then I think we went to dinner or something…
First day of orientation was tiring…and after the first few days it was really getting a little boring…breakfast sucked at the hostel…dinner sucked too. Anyway, the orientation consisted of TEFL workshop, Spanish classes and informational meetings. At the end of the week we found out our placements and host family and got the news that the strike was over (It was a strike that lasted 3 weeks and in most regions there was no school). Anyway, we also found out the time that we had to leave for our regions. Luckily, I was in the Los Rios region so we had an extra day in Santiago. So, all of us going to Los Rios decided to take a day trip to Valparaiso. It was another cloudy day but it was still nice. We went up the concepcion hill and another one which name I don’t remember. Also visited the port and what not. It was a nice trip. After that we went back to the hostel and got ready for our 10 hour bus ride.
The bus ride wasn’t all that bad…I slept the whole way (it was an overnight ride) and the seats were semi-cama so it was nice. We got to Valdivia around 8 or 9 I don’t remember exactly. Met the regional coordinator and some other people. Then our host families came picked us up…I was the first to go.
My host dad came to pick me up. We talked and I had a hard time understanding because of the Chilean accent. Anyway, I’m used to it now. So, the family that I’m living with is really awesome. Mom, Dad, and 5 kids…4 daughters and a 5 year old boy. The youngest daughter goes to the school INSAT (Instituto Superior de Administracion y Turismo) which is the school I work at. The two older daughters are both getting married by next Feb. The other one studies at a local university.
The first two weeks have been really awesome. My host teacher is really really nice. The students are also nice, but since they’re high school students discipline is always an issue. It reminded me of (junior) high school in Hong Kong, except this time I’m the teacher and I’ve got the power! I have work 24 hours a week plus some extra hours for planning with my host teacher and doing some extracurricular activities.
It’s been great also because I’ve been exposed to a lot of the cultural aspects already. There’s always gatherings and such at the house. Families are really close here. Last weekend we cooked over 150 lbs of seafood…and I’m not kidding…it was cooked in some of the biggest pot that I’ve seen. They call it ‘Pulmay’, which is basically a seafood combo with chicken, potatoes and soup. I also had cazuela, sopaipillas and some other local yummy tasty food which names I don’t remember. That’s about it. So, so far it’s been great.
I made a list about things I learned from Costa Rica, and I’m planning to make one for Chile also…already have a lot…just wait for it.
Oh and this program that I’m on is called English Opens Doors. It’s a program funded by the Ministry of Education and the government here in Chile. I recommend it.