This past weekend the other girls and I from the U.S.A took a trip down to the coast to a little beach surf town called Pichilemu, it is where Jack Johnson filmed one of his music videos, no joke.
We took a bus down after our classes on friday, it was about a 4 hour bus ride down and then we got in around 11 pm and ate some deliciously bad empanadas. Mine was so cheesy and greasy that I had to give the last half of it to a stray dog that was following me around. I really am starting to enjoy the Chilean food more and more though I have to admit. On Saturday morning we woke up bright and early and had our first ever surfing lessons! We started off by stretching on the beach and practicing getting up and balancing in the sand then on boards. With our wetsuits on and anxious minds we then stumbled into the freezing cold Pacific Ocean with our huge surfboards. It was really hard, I won’t try and say that it wasn’t. Once I got past the feeling of having numb hand and toes and salt water constantly rushing up my nose and throat every single time I wiped out on my board, it was such a fun sport! There really was no better feeling then when I finally stood up on my board and rode a little baby wave for about 30 seconds, it was so cool and addicting! I want to go back and try again!
That night we had a really entertaining St. Patty’s BBQ with the other people at our hostel. There were a few british guys, a Swiss, an Argentinean and more Chileans. We had some delicious food, music, irish dancing and lots of fun mingling! This week school has been hectic with classes, actual homework and just meeting all of the Chileans at school.
Today I felt again as if my brain had run a marathon, simply just from going to one class. It was my Photojournalism class, and of course after lunch I rush up to the building, climb 6 flights of stairs to where my classroom should be to see that they changed it to a different building on the other side of campus! So I have to go there, and I see all of the students just in groups laughing and talking to themselves while the professor is talking with someone trying to figure out where we should go. So, for about 10 minutes or so I just stand there quite awkwardly by myself, until we finally start heading down the stairs to outside, seeing as we still have no classroom. A girl in the class, thought I was chilean so she came up to me and asked me if I was in the class de Fotografia, and I responded yes! Then we got to talking and she realized I was not Chilean haha and I told her I was a foreign exchange student from Los Estados Unidos and instantly her face lit up and she responded, quite loudly, ” Nooooo, en serio?!” before I knew it, there were literally about 10 or 15 students surrounding me in a circle all saying “Charlie! Charlie!” and asking me the same questions such as , where do I live, do I know where New York or Miami is, Can you speak some English for us? All of these things..I literally felt like I was in a zoo, and I was the animal. But, I did end the day with a few new really good friends and we exchanged contacts and I can’t wait to hang out with them! After the class, a few guys invited me to go hear a speech with them that was about Education and the Political Fights going on in Chile, so of course I went! It ended up to be really really interesting and a heated debate ending in people storming out with banners and going into the streets. I was invited to go march with them, but I had to turn them down because of my fear of somehow getting arrested and being deported back to the states, so I did something a little less dangerous- I rode my bike home the 8 km during rush hour traffic in Downtown Santiago.
My host mom has the flu, so I helped her out around the house a little bit and warmed up some dinner with my sister. We made delicious ravioli with Alfredo sauce and bread with avocado and honey! Tomorrow morning I’m actually meeting up with a girl from Notre Dame and we are going to a really poor high school about an hour and a half from here to go teach english, my advisor at the university warned me that it was loco, with about 50 students to one teacher in a classroom..so I expect that I’ll have my hands full!
All I know for sure, is that I’ll be taking the metro because last Thursday I attempted to ride my bike to school, not knowing that there would be huge protests and I ended up being tear gassed and almost pushed into a broken window by the police. The riots are absolutely crazy, students all wear gas masks or scarves wrapped around their hands that are soaked in lemon water to fight the strong tear gas that the army tanks spray at them with such force, its unbelievable the violence that I witnessed. I’m just lucky that I wasn’t hurt anymore than just a few chemical burns on my face and a whole new perspective on freedom to peaceful assembly, something that doesn’t exist here in Chile.
“There are no foreign lands. It is the traveler only who is foreign.” – Robert Stevenson