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Calliope's Odyssey "If you smile at me, I will understand, 'cause that is something everybody, everywhere does in the same language." -CSNY

Tom Jones=God

CHILE | Tuesday, 6 March 2007 | Views [1272]

So I bet that you didn't know that Chileans worship Tom Jones. He was one of several artists invited to the annual Viña del Mar music festival this year, along with Ricky Martin, Bryan Adams, Oreja de Van Gogh, and others. The women here think he's muy sexy. I beg to differ...lounge lizards just don't really do it for me.

Things are going well here in Chile. I finally feel like I'm settled in. I'm living in a student dorm in a really nice neighborhood called Providencia. About 70 people from all around the world live in my building. For some reason that I haven't figured out yet, the majority of the students are from Panama, but I've also met people from Colombia, Mexico, Chile, England, Norway, and the US, of course. The house was pretty empty until the last couple of days because Chilean summer vacation is just ending. The best part of our house is Inés, the "tía", or housekeeper. She has the nicest, spunkiest personality and basically she's like our host mom. The worst part of our house is that we have to provide everything ourselves. And by everything, I mean that we even have to provide our own toilet paper. Weird, huh? I really like the area I live in. It's a little upscale, but my neighborhood is full of cafes, restaurants, and shops. My friend Liz and I are addicted to a little pizza place about 2 blocks away from our house. We go there so much that they know us already, which is a little pathetic considering we've only lived here a couple weeks. We should probably branch out...

School still hasn't started, which is kind of throwing me off. We had a 2 week Spanish practice course right when we got here, but that ended and real school doesn't start until March 7th. Even then, I won't really be going to normal classes because we have a 2 week trial period for our classes, meaning that nothing important happens and we don't really have to go. Call me crazy, but I'm looking forward to classes starting. It's weird not having a schedule. In addition to my classes, I'm going to volunteer in an English classroom in a school with kids from lower income families. The volunteer program is called English Opens Doors and is a Chilean government program. I also plan on taking salsa and Portuguese classes for fun. I'm also going to have a Chilean language partner who is studying English. Hopefully in addition to living with mostly native Spanish speakers, this will really help my Spanish. Our Wisconsin study abroad program is with Michigan too, and it's been fun getting to know the Michigan kids. We have all kinds of arguments about which school is better. I must say, the Wisco kids are better at partying. And we have better fight songs.

Since school hasn't started yet, I've been bumming around Santiago and traveling. The city itself is definitely less crazy than Quito, which is refreshing, although I do miss mi lindo Quito. It's nice to not have to worry about little things as much, like if I'm bringing too much money with me when I leave the house or whether cars will try to run me down when I cross the street. Crazy cosmopolitan Latin American drama exists here too, though, just in smaller doses. There has been rioting lately because they reformed Transantiago, which is the bus system, and people are unhappy with it. The other day a guy smashed the thing that takes the money on the bus because he was so frusterated.

Last week I went on a trip with 9 friends from my program to Patagonia. We camped and trekked in Parque Nacional Torres del Paine for 4 days. The park was beautiful and probably the most wild place I've ever been. We hiked the "W" route, which made a "W" shape around the base of a mountain. The mountain peak had a tower-like formation, hence the parks's name. Besides the snow capped mountains, crystal blue lakes, and glaciers, the most notable thing about Torres del Paine is definitely the weather. It would snow, sleet, rain, and be hot as hell all in one day. The most insane part was the wind. 60 mph wind would come off the lakes when we were hiking and I seriously felt like I was going to blow away. I actually did get blown over once, when I was squatting down to get a better angle for a picture. The wind came and I tipped right over! My 40 pound backpack didn't really help me keep my balance either. The trip was awesome, though. I had never really done anythi
ng like that before, so I'm proud of myself for surviving Patagonia :) Now it's time to go to Viña del Mar to relax on the beach and do absolutely nothing until school starts.

Another endeavor I've dedicated myself to is to learn something about Chilean wine. I went on a wine and cheese train with some friends a couple weeks ago. The train took us to Santa Cruz, which is a vineyard town a couple hours outside of Santiago. We got to taste different wines and cheeses on the train. Most of the other passangers were a little on the snooty side and were most definitely wondering what a bunch of loud American kids were doing on the train, but we didn't care. To learn a little something about wine, it was worth it. I mean, at least now I know how to open a bottle of wine!

Tags: chile, getting settled, tom jones

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