The GoGlobal Blog

Month: June 2012

Louis :)

Louis :)

The reason why I labeled this blog Louis, is simply because that is the name of mi gato aqui en Santiago!

As lame sauce as this may sound, he has grown to be one of my most loyal and cuddly companions while living here!

He sleeps with me every night, keeping my feet warm and he is always waiting for me anxiously when I come at night after a long day at the University, with lots and lots of purring and hugs ( yes he seriously does give me hugs with his paws!)

I normally am not fond of cats to be honest, more of a kitten person with the whole cute cuddly thing going on- but Louis has proved to me that not just dogs are loyal, cuddly and always willing to show you love at the end of the day. Alright you may be wondering,  why is she writing about her cat? The only reason I have is that I love animals and wear my heart on my sleeve and it makes me sad that I’ll have to say Chao Chao to Louis forever, in just one short week! The same with all of the friends I have made here- finally starting to hit me a little bit, how I finally can converse with my chilean friends with ease and how comfortable we feel around each other.

I really can’t believe that I studied abroad- in Chile- for 6 months… and I’ll be going home soon. It’s one of the weirdest feelings I’ve ever felt. It feels like it is the right time for me to go home, but at the same time it feels as if It went by so, so rapidly.

I can’t quite put my finger on it, possibly because whenever something big is happening it always takes a long time for it to really hit me, because I feel like I always am living in the moment and not really aware of how quickly the future is coming- even more so since I’ve been here in Chile.

I’ve been having, the most amazing times of my life… not kidding. Not only have I seen some of the most beautiful places on earth, I’ve learned so much about this countries history, culture, people and for this- I have also been able to reflect on my own country and customs. I have come to realize a different way of life, and gained a totally different perspective than my North American point of view that I always have had.

I’ve made friends that I will never forget, and gained some much knowledge in such a short period of time. It’s quite insane just how much you well you learn of a  language when you live in the country for long enough and are just forced to learn the language to survive!

Enough reflection for now though, I still have a week left to do all of that- and I’m sure I’ll probably want to be blogging like crazy while I’m sitting in the airplane, overwhelmed with the feeling of being in some kind of time machine- a connection device, that will transport me from this world- to a whole different world- the United States.

Entonces, as it pours rain here, and I’m bundled up in my winter coat, pants and double layer of socks, and I cup my hot cup of Nescafe.. I’m listening and giving a little bit of advice to my host sister- she is practicing for her Presentation tomorrow that she has been busily preparing for since the first day I arrived! She recently just graduated from university, with a major in Graphic Designer and is finishing up her first book- a book filled with really cool art and poems that she is going to be displaying and presenting tomorrow to her University alums and professors!

Yesterday when I woke up for breakfast before heading off to classes, there were two of her head professors of Poetry- who have been here once before. They are definitely one of the most interesting people that I’ve met, about 50-60 year old men, always wearing french berets and glasses on their noses, and talking incredibly loud about anything from the 200 year old wine they drank last night, national news, to poetry they have been working on.

In fact the last time they visited my house, we sat around the table talking, laughing ( most subjects were well over my head in spanish) and we turned on the TV to see him on a TV show being interviewed, and this was back in March when it was terribly hot outside and he ended up “showering” in the garden outside to escape the heat- quite a character indeed. Anyway, so the other day they were here again, and I had the pleasure of having breakfast with them, and they mentioned that they knew there were really bad forest fires outside of Denver right now- which definitely impressed me how well informed they are- most Chileans respond when I say I’m from Colorado by saying ” Oh is that near Miami? ” haha.

Today while I was in my journalism class, vigorously working on my final presentation with my other journalism friends, one of the classmates ran up and told us there were really bad protests going on below in the street! So of course my friend Fabio and I both exchange glances and grab our cameras and are down there within a few minutes.

It turned out to be really fun, and I got some great footage of police arresting a few crazy students who were yelling insults and throwing rocks at the police- and Fabio and I ended up being pretty wet from the water and tear gas they were spraying at us from the army tanks, but nothing bad passed and in the end we were just tired and felt we had another great day as journalists 🙂

I’ll be uploading a few close up pics of the police using their dispersion techniques at students protesting and spraying them with tear gas! Oh, how I’ll miss the active protesting of Chile, and as my mom told me tonight at dinner- the students here are very passionate about their education and won’t stop until it is free and equal.

This past weekend, was more of a relaxing- rainy weekend for me as well. On friday after my painting class I walked over to a chilean friend- Fabio’s apartment that is about 20 minute walk, his apartment reminded me a lot of Hong Kong actually- very small, cramped, and a bit dirty with lots of loud noises outside of people cooking, cars rushing bye and the sweet sickly smell of woman cleaning, cooking and smoking cigarettes all at once. We hung out, people watching from his awesome view in his room since he lives on the 24th floor of his building downtown, then we climbed up to the roof and took a few pictures as well, then we met up with more chileans and went a bar to just converse, drink beers and relax and enjoy the weekend after a long week of classes! On Saturday it poured rain for most of the day- Teresa and I went to starbucks and did homework and I painted all afternoon, my final project for my painting class. I have to say though- all the rain and cold and huge puddles the size of lakes that are in every intersection ( once I actually saw someone take a taxi to cross the street- that is how bad the rain is here at times), it is well worth it the days after, because all the rain clears the sky and smog and the beautiful Andes mountains are incredibly spectacular. They are so big, I can’t even describe always looming over the clouds in the distance, and after the rain clouds clear- the peaks are glittering brightly in the snow, covered in magnificent snow… it’s unlike anything I could ever imagine. Santiago truly is a unique city, trapped between the gigantic, mind boggling  Andes Mountains on one side, the Pacific Coast on the other, Patagonia and the thousands of lakes in the South and rugged, dry, mountainous Atacama to the north.

Sunday was equally as relaxing, very brisk again and rainy consisting of catching up on sleep and homework and of course cuddling with Louis for most of the day 🙂

On Monday though, it was sunny finally! I spent the day enjoying the sun and the view of the Andes-  playing tennis after my classes in some free public courts just 15 minutes from my house, it was a great day, and ended by going out for ice cream with friends and laughing about how much of a clutz and accident prone I am.

Now, I have a lot of homework to try and fit into this week before I fly back to the states- a few very long spanish essays, presentations and tons to read. I’m thinking this beautiful rain storm tonight will either- lull me to sleep or put me in the mood to study- vamos a ver!

“Live as if you are to die tomorrow, Learn as if you are to live forever. ” -Ghandi

Mount Everest anyone?

Mount Everest anyone?

After a series of unfortunate events this past weekend, lets just say it was either bad luck, bad kharma or just good ol’ Shirley staying true to her clumsyness… I had just the inspiration I needed last night!

After spending almost a full day at the hospital getting x-rays and finding out I’ll be in a boot for about 2-3 weeks and no more running, Capoiera or Yoga (my chilean activities I do to keep busy!) and having to try to explain to a staff at the hospital my foreign health insurance that was completely in English- in a strictly speaking Spanish hospital… I was a little down in the dumps.

I walked over/ limped in my boot to my good friend Teresa’s house down the street and we just finally had the chance to relax, sip cups of steaming tea and catch up- since we both have been so busy lately with people visiting, school, trips, etc.

She left to go to her volleyball practice all the way back at Alberto Hurtaado (about 40 minutes from where we live) and I wobbled on home in the cold, COLD dark chilean winter night- a lot harsher than you would imagine!

To my surprise I came home to find my host mother cooking up a huge storm! I asked her if we were having a special dinner tonight and she said yes when Sebastian, (her oldest son who lives in Mexico City now but just got done climbing Mt. Everest so he’s back home for a week) returns home tonight. Curious, I asked ” Oh, where is he right now?” and she casually responded, ” He is at La Moneda (Chilean White House!) receiving his congratulations and shaking the hand with the president!”

Quite amazing! So, we had a great dinner that night of Ravioli, Sweet Coconut Rice, Stir-fry, and orange and caramel crepes for dessert! While talking all about his amazing 16 day climb to the top of Mt. Everest. My first impression of my host brother was wow, he is really rugged,tan, missing a few fingers, and just really humble. He has been spending his life training and climbing mountains, traveled all over the world. We got to talk all about the dead bodies he saw on the way up the mountain, his training, all the other climbers he met, how crazy Swiss people are, the Yaks that were huge and snowy creatures that he encountered after the 3rd base camp, frost bite, and how mental strength is the key to doing anything you want.

I suppose that is true even with just a simple injury such a sprained ankle, or true with living and studying in another country for 6 months. It’s all how your attitude is and you will get have as much fun as you let yourself and accomplish as much as you put into it.

The Chilean winter has definitely set in here! Last night I had more trouble sleeping from the cold than my aching swollen ankle! I was all wrapped up in 2 sweaters, sweat pants, smart wool socks, and a winter jacket- while cuddling with a heated water sack that my mom gave me— and still was freezing! Today I moved a lawn chair out in the garden directly under the sun and just relaxed soaking up the warmth (still with multiple layers on) and read a book.

I’m going to be attempting to hobble my way onto the metro today and to class at the University, at least now from an anthropological stand point I can compare the gawking and stares of people at my giant ugly boot on my foot from Chileans to Americans since this isn’t the first time I’ve been through this. Reactions to come.

“Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day. You shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.”
― Ralph W. Emerson

Catching up

Catching up

It’s been over a month since I last blogged- oops look like I have been adopting the Chilean lifestyle maybe a little too much 🙂

My study abroad experience so far has been spectacular, a once in a lifetime learning experience that I got the chance to share with my “Pololo” or boyfriend from Loyola over the last past 2 weeks! He came and visited me, I got to show him around my new home- Santiago and then we also traveled up North to the driest desert in the whole world- The Atacama. I know what you’re probably thinking- ew who would want to go spend a week a desert? All pre-concieved expectations or thoughts that I had before going where instantly thrown out the window when we landed in the plane, seeing the beautiful snow capped Andes painting the horizon and the endless foothills dotting the skyline that slowly descended into the glorious peaking sand dunes, caves, and canyons that jutted out from the mars like landscape. It was like nothing I have ever seen before, it didn’t feel like we were even on earth anymore. We were in some kind of far, far away land where time moved slower, sand was constantly layering your skins, clothes and hair, and you had adventures constantly at your fingertips. We spent that week staying in a really nice  hostel where I got to know one of the owners really well and practice my spanish! We also met a nice Chilean couple that looked just like Mr. and Mrs. Claus… no joke. On the first day we were there we were hiking just a few km out to some Ruins to go climb and we ran into them in their car and they offered us a ride, of course we declined saying the hike was the best part there! Constantly over the next few days we would run into them, we would help take pictures, see Geysers together, and eventually watch Santa Claus jump into some hot springs in the middle of the desert and I leaned against Rick trying to battle the altitude sickness.

We rented off-roading bikes for 2 days and explored all over! We rode to more ruins, to Valle de La Coyo, Valle de La Luna (Valley of the Moon- named after it’s craters and space like appearance), Valle de la Muerte (Death Valley) and everywhere in-between. Off roading was really fun and an adrenaline rush too. We hiked almost everyday too, exploring salt flats, caves and dried up river beds that winded through many canyons. We ended our trip by watching an amazing sunset over the beautiful Atacama desert and then having to spend the night in the airport- freezing cold and sleep deprived, I somehow smooth talked my spanish skills into being able to catch the next flight home, a god send after spending over 12 hours huddled in a corner in the airport.

I still can’t really wrap my head around all that I’ve learned and done since I arrived in Santiago over 5 months ago. I know, it won’t really hit me all the friends I’ve made here, new language that is part of who I am, the culture that I have learned to either adapt in some ways and in other ways still feels foreign to me. I know for certain what I’ve gained from this experience is a new sense of independence and confidence.

The other night when I was at my friend Maria Jose’s house just hanging out and one of her sisters asked me why I chose to come to Chile (if I had one chilean peso for every time that question was asked..I’d be rich) I responded by saying, I knew if I could come and live in such a foreign, far away place then I could do anything else in the world.

I still believe that’s so true, I conquered this amazing journey- now just about 3 weeks away from heading home to Colorado to be with my Family, I know I am a different person than I was when I left them in January..

I know that I am constantly having to remind myself, I didn’t choose to come live here because I thought it would be comfortable, or even as nice as what I’m used to at home. I came here to challenge myself, to live without the comfort of all my normal amenities, routines, friends, family and even my own language. And that the feeling of being homesick or frustrated is totally normal and expected and I shouldn’t fear it!

Another thing that I’ve learned being here is that, I am not a solo traveler, I get lonely easy. That yes Chile is beautiful and there are so many opportunities but it doesn’t mean half as much to me if I can’t share it with a friend or loved one and cherish it together.

Oh another nice chilean adventure I have under my belt as of yesterday– I was on a bike ride just exploring my surrounding neighborhoods when I was bitten by a stray dog! I was riding my bike along a street close to my house when he just came running up all excited and grabbed my ankle/leg and just tore at it- ripping my pants and leaving me on the ground with a bloody leg. The dog didn’t mean any harm, just got overly excited I think- but it hurt and still does really badly! I can see where his teeth tore my skin, it’s pretty cool. But I ended up having to ride in a scary car with the police here, Carabineros to a hospital clinic where they just cleaned up my wound and prescribed me some antibiotics. I was so nervous to have to ride in the car with a bunch of the carabinero’s since they usually aren’t the friendliest people- but most turned out to be nice, one even wanted to add me on face book and another asked me to give him English lessons. But when they asked me what I was studying and I said Journalism- they all gave me pretty dirty looks and went on a rant how the journalism in Chile is very mediocre and dirty, usually not telling the truth.

It was an experience that I’m glad is over with, and I can just chalk it up to a funny story!

Today I’m going to a music festival in a huge park downtown with a few more Chilean friends!

I’ll try to not wait another month before updating this time 🙂

“This is what travel is about. We strain to renew our capacity for wonder, to shock ourselves into astonishment once again.”