A Travellerspoint blog

There's No Place Like Home

A Reflection on the Last Few Months in Chile and the Joys of Homecoming


I have read that, upon returning home from an extended period of life in another country, a certain sense of displacement creeps into one’s consciousness. It does not come all at once, as a sharp gust of wind to the face but, instead, as a tide ebbing closer and closer to dry sand. This sensation, I believe, stems from an intimate connection to two different worlds. Compounded with that strange duality, one begins to wonder to what extent place, culture, and society influence self and, if so, of what true self consists.

My restless traveler’s heart has taken up old roots in Chicago, finding there the long-yearned comforts of family and home. Of course, a few things have changed—the kitchen has been redone, putting me into wild confusion every time I seek out the trash bin or a spoon, and my fifteen-year-old dog Tessa has lost most of her hearing—but the essence of the place remains the same. And I, in this place, revert easily back into daily routine, so much so that I often pause and wonder if the last year and a half in South America was merely an elaborate dream.

But, thankfully, it wasn't a figment of my imagination and, as I skim through photos of the past few months, I am filled with eagerness to reenter my Chilean life. Regretfully, I have not been keeping up with my blogging and will thus attempt to summarize my last months in Chile with as much brevity as I am able--though, evident from prior blog entries, conciseness has never been my strong suit! The last time I wrote, my college roommate Julie had just visited. That brings me to about the middle of September--how time flies!--so it is there that I will begin my recap.

And Then There Were 12

The end of September brought warm breezes, fiestas patrias leftovers, and seven energetic new faces to Chile. Johnnie and I greeted them at the airport with colorful signs, big hugs, and excessive amounts of close photo shots. The seven new CHACErs--Aislinn, Kaitlyn, Garrett, Francisco, Eamon, Greg, and Phil--have been an energy boost for our normalized Chilean lives, pouring new excitement into our school and weekend days. During their first week, we happily assumed the roles of tour guide, party hostess, and Chilean slang translator. We held an once in our apartment for the new Chilean host families to meet their CHACEr and I found my thoughts drifting back a year to the first time I hugged and kissed my Chilean "parents." How fleeting yet formative a year in Chile can be!

After a few days, the new CHACErs had found their niche into the daily school routine. Garrett and Francisco were assigned to the first unit, a godsend for their high energy and creatively (not to mention the fact that they nearly doubled the current male teacher population). Aislinn, Kaitlyn, and Phil were placed in the second and third units and were quickly integrated into the busy life of the Saint George educator--Kaitlyn even started teaching a full schedule after just a few days there! Eamon and Greg began working in two different Catholic schools, a pilot program to expand CHACE to schools beyond Saint George. Though they seemed a little nervous and apprehensive at first, being separated from their American companions, they soon found the great benefit in being the only foreign teacher at their schools. I am confident that they both are excellent ambassadors of CHACE, considering the wonderful and talented people that they are.

September blended into October and, before long, we were beginning the last quarter of the school year. With my amazing partner teacher at my side, the creative juices had begun to flow and together we hosted a string of successful--though sometimes chaotic--activities, including Career Day, a field trip to the school cafeteria, and a recipe unit. My personal favorite was Career Day because it was the first time during the busy school year that I was able to meet many of my students parents. Both Gaby and I were amazed at how many parents could speak English, most quite fluently! I also enjoyed the range of parent jobs, from doctors and lawyers to toy-makers and professional skydivers. I'll have to stay in contact with a few of them in case this teaching gig doesn't pan out...it's a good thing I'm not afraid of heights!

In early October, I went to my first Chilean high school reunion with Diego and, even after living in Chile for an entire year, was still shocked by the quantity of meat that Chileans consume! The asado started around 11PM (typical) and lasted long after I had gone to sleep, at around 4AM. That only further reinforces my belief that no one parties like Chileans!

From that moment on, nearly all my weekends were spent with the new (and old) CHACErs, soaking up all we could, from trekking in Parque Andino Juncal to dancing on stage at Amanda's. A few late-night McDonald's binges reminded me that we were still very American, though, at discotecas like Alto Barcelona, we partied with the best of them! On Halloween, both CHACE groups came together with the simple yet brilliant costume theme of the 12 months of the year. I chose December and, obviously, dressed as a Christmas tree--and by dressed, I mean "decorated" and by "I," I mean "my dear and dedicated friends" since it is quite impossible for a Christmas tree to decorate herself. Have you ever seen it happen? I didn't think so.

The rest of the months were, unsurprisingly, awesome and we had a great time celebrating our CHACE togetherness. Other costumes at the party included Chilean miners, Zorro, and a Saint George student. Speaking of miners, I should mention that being in Chile during the rescue of the 33 miners was an incredible experience of Chilean solidarity and compassion. After 69 days of subterranean living, the men were brought up to the surface in a tube-shaped cage (el carrito) with the eyes of every Chilean glued to the TV in anticipation. The excitement began at midnight on Tuesday, October 12th and lasted until 10PM the following day. As each miner was brought to the surface, the crowds watching cheered wildly with tears running down their faces--we joined in wholeheartedly!

To read more about the miners, check out this article:

Year-End Celebrations and Prospects for the Upcoming Year!

In November, it was clear we were on the final stretch. I made an extra effort to spend time with the teachers who had become dear friends and began a crazed pace of interviewing for the upcoming year. At this point, I had decided that I was interested in spending another year in Chile but wanted to try teaching high school English. Saint George didn't seem to have any openings so I began looking elsewhere. The interview process was intense--for Villa Maria, the job I finally took, I was interviewed no fewer than four times, which included a written and oral psychological assessment...in Spanish! In the end, I was proven sane and offered the job. (Thank goodness I fooled them!)

Other highlights of November include Confirmation retreat, surfing in Pichilemu, a thrilling Girl Talk concert, the Saint George Spelling Bee, and the annual CHACE retreat. It was strangely comforting being back at the beach in Zapallar, looking out over the same rocks but knowing that I had been changed in ways I had not even yet begun to grasp. Father Scully flew in for the retreat and provided the perfect mix of calm and humorous reflection. I realized how lucky I had been to share this experience with such amazing, dedicated women and how sad I would be to leave it all behind. It was in this moment that I decided to accept the job at Villa Maria and extend my Chilean experience--there was still too much to see and do and I wasn't ready to say goodbye!

We returned to Santiago for the month of December--our final month as CHACErs--and began...the celebrations! Even though I was pretty certain I was staying, I still had plenty of despedidas to wish me a happy, well, goodbye! The weather was perfect for barbecues so I quickly filled my calendar with them, making sure to see all of the groups that had impacted my Chilean experience: Confirmation leaders, misiones students, first unit teachers, the Holy Cross priests, and friends! The first unit teachers threw me a special party at Claudia's house and, as a surprise, each teacher gave me a gift to remember her by. I was touched by their generosity and friendship and will truly miss each one of them next year.

On December 10th, we signed our finiquitos, marking our last day at Saint George's, and embarked on an entire day of tramites, tying up odds and ends. We received our final paycheck, closed out bank accounts and insurance plans, and began the process to receive our retirement funds--yes, we have retirement funds! Then, finally, we were done.

The next day, we left on vacation! Megan, Heather, and I met up with Jordan and Chris and, together, we ferried over to the island of Chiloe. I had been there previously with my parents, but it was fun to revisit the beautiful wooden churches and see the National Park for the first time. We also had plenty of spontaneity--one afternoon we paid a fisherman to take us out in his boat so we could get better pictures of the palafitos (houses on stilts) and another day we hitchhiked from one small town to the next! We had come such a long way in one short year!

After Chiloe, our group met up with Johnnie in Puerto Montt and we took a bus to the trail-head for the hike to Cochamo, undoubtedly the most beautiful place in Chile. We walked for seven hours, believing ourselves to be lost since the average time for the trek is only five hours, but it appears we were merely slow. Entering the area of the refugio was like coming upon a piece of paradise--the grounds were situated in a green valley, surrounded by granite mountains and an evergreen forest. The next day we hiked up, rather, scaled rock walls up to a beautiful view overlooking the whole valley and our entire crew sat for an hour in near-silence, breathless (and not just from the climb!). We ended the hike with a waterfall slide--literally! A series of gently curving rock had created the ideal place for a natural water slide and we bravely took on the icy water for the rush of the slide.

Then, it was back to Santiago, and back to goodbyes. We packed our bags, had one last three-hour long Chilean lunch (in which we were compared to Sex in the City by onlookers, not too far off from truth!), and headed home. Heather and I were on the same flight to Georgia so we spent our last minutes in Chile together, sipping down pisco sours with weepy eyes as we reflected upon the past year. There never seems to be enough time.

Home-Time Chilling

And now I am home again, enjoying the slower pace of life and the chance to catch up with my family and old friends. I have become far too comfortable with my daily routine--wake up late, exercise, read, surf the web, cook dinner with Mom, eat, watch TV with Dad, go to bed--and hope that I'll be able to get back into school mode come March! But, for now, I am using this time to eliminate the clutter from my bedroom and my mind, and set clear goals for the year to come, and the future beyond!

The only adventures that have broken up my lazy routine were the family trip to Deer Valley Utah--in which we were all beginners, slow plowers proud!--a few trips to Chicago, and a glorious visit from Danice, my best friend all through high school. Speaking of which, I recently visited my old high school and gave a presentation on Chile to the current Spanish students--all in Spanish! It was thrilling to be able to communicate so easily in my second language and wonderful to see some of my former teachers, all of whom remembered me! I hope that my memory will serve me as well for my former students! As I was packing up my things at the end of the presentation, the janitor came up and struck up a conversation in Spanish. He expressed his amazement with hearing me speak Spanish and we chatted for a few minutes about ESL and the benefits of learning a second language. I left my school, confident that I am moving in the right direction, even if I'm not sure about the end destination!

And that brings me, at long last, to the present. I VOW to blog more frequently in the coming year so as to avoid these lengthy summaries but I hope it provided at least a small glimpse of what I left in Chile and what is yet to come!



I am copying my housemate Megan's technique of putting all the pictures at the end of the blog entry. Enjoy!

1. The welcoming crew: Johnnie and I at the Santiago airport
2. My hero, the skydiving dad
3. High school reunion meat (first of many grill-filled meals)
4. Garrett, Aislinn, and I in Parque Andino Juncal
5. The girls in Parque Andino Juncal
6. Partying with the CHACE 10 girls
7. The 12 months of Halloween!
8. O Christmas Tree...
9. Lili's birthday party
10. Hector and I in front of the carrito (the cage used to rescue the miners)
11. The surfing crew in Pichilemu
12. The big waves in Pichilemu, where they host an international surf competition every year
13. Girl Talk concert (I think this photo speaks for itself)
14. The beautiful beach in Zapallar, site of the annual CHACE retreat
15. Some of our group in Zapallar
16. Despedida with my misiones group
17. Despedida with the Confirmation monitors
18. Despedida with the first unit teachers
19. A tough goodbye
20. Signing my finiquito (goodbye Saint George!)
21. Jordan, Chris, and Heather on the boat to Chiloe
22. The palafitos (houses on stilts)
23. Picture taken on our spontaneous boat ride with the local fisherman
24. What was waiting for me as I trekked back out of the park in Chiloe...no, this is not a joke!
25. Ready to trek Cochamo
26. What a view in Cochamo!
27. Heather scaling the moutainside
28. Heather and I at the peak of Arco Iris mountain in Cochamo
29. Last lunch in Chile, Sex in the City style!
30. Back in snowy Libertyville (so much for summer!)
31. Hamman family ski trip
32. Cross-country skiing with Danice and Meli

































Posted by lhamman1 21:50 Archived in Chile Comments (0)

Adventures in Teaching

A glimpse of my everyday

I came across the following entry in a forgotten Word document today. It seems that, during one particularly eventful--yet typical--day of teaching, I felt the urge to record the experience so as not to forget. Enjoy a glimpse into the occasional craziness of being a second grade teacher.

A glimpse of teaching at Saint George:

9:40AM: I arrive at 2A just as the bell rang. The students are outside in a make-shift line; a few are sprawled on the ground drawing circles in the gravel while others peer through open windows of nearby classrooms. The door is locked.

9:42AM: The door is still locked. Students have become more restless. Ignacio is spinning himself into a frenzy. Three girls have begun planning some sort of clapping game and two boys are wrestling on the ground.

9:43AM: Antonia S. tugs on my dress and said, "It is beautiful." "Thank you, Antonia." She tugs again. "It is beeeeeeautiful." "Thanks, Antonia, now get back in line."

9:44AM: The teacher's aide is sprinting across the playground with the key. She hands it off to Margarita who darts around the building to unlock the main door.

9:45AM: Margarita opens the side door and the entire class pushes into the room like newly-sheared sheep entering a narrow gate. I manage to drag my flight-attendant cart of teaching materials though the door without tripping any students--a true accomplishment.

9:47AM: The students are beginning to sit in their "puestos" in the circle. Two girls are exchanging notes and Pedro is walking around aimlessly. I finish writing the "Menu" on the board and begin the count-up. "1...2...3..."

9:48AM: "29...30!" We finish counting and most of my students are seated. I greet them with "Good morning, second grade!" "Good morning, Miss Laura," they boisterously reply. "How are you today?" "Fine, thank you, and youuuu?" they echo, dragging out the "you" for extra flair. Antonia O. passes through the middle of the circle with six trays of math manipulatives precariously balanced in her shaky arms. She pauses, wavers, and...CRASH!...they tumble to the ground--trays, blocks, rods, and all.

9:52AM: The class has finished helping Antonia O. pick up the fallen manipulatives. I send six students carrying one tray each to the second grade teacher next-door. They really ought to invest in a set per class.

9:54AM: I finally "begin" my class.

Let it suffice to say, teaching at Saint George is never dull.

Posted by lhamman1 12:37 Archived in Chile Comments (0)

Si vas para Chile...

200 years of celebration!

24 °C

After "aguantando" (surviving) a frigid Chilean winter that proved to be the coldest three months of my life, I have a new appreciation for centralized heating--which we don't have--and large electric space heaters--which pumped meager whiffs of hot air onto my face as I shivered to sleep. During skype dates, I sensed confusion from family and friends as they gazed upon my indoor attire: winter jacket, hat, scarf, and the occasional pair of gloves. I truly believe we have the coldest apartment in Santiago. But, as I said, the winter has finally been put to rest and spring is shining its gloriously sunny face on our days in Chile. And just in time for "fiestas patrias" or Chilean Independence Day!

Well, technically Chile didn't gain independence from Spain until 1818, but that's no reason to stop the celebration--and celebrate we did! Chile brought on the festivities full force this year as they rejoiced in 200 years of freedom from tyranny...though the focus tended to be more on empanadas and cueca than on political freedom, but I wasn't complaining. To get the month started off right, Saint George hosted "Dia de la Chilenidad," or "Chilean Day," yet another reason to envy the hippie-minded students who do more celebrating than studying. The first unit (Kindergarten-4th grade) held a massive dance-a-thon with no less than 800 students between the ages of 5 and 10 performing typical Chilean dances. My particular favorite was the second grade rendition of Easter Island dances (sau-sau, upa-upa) with the boys wielding long wooden sticks that pounded the floor--and their tiny chests--as they grunted along with the music while the girls swayed back and forth in flowing grass skirts and coconut bras. Classy.

Second Graders Performing Traditional Easter Island Dances



The third unit (high school) was even more entertaining, as Saint George threw them a "fonda," the typical Chilean outdoor festival. Students nibbled on empanadas and choripanes (similar to a bratworst), danced the cueca, and, I kid you not, rode a mechanical bull. I've said it before and I'll say it again, Saint George is a very special place.

My Attempt at Dancing the Cueca with a 5th Grade Student

After school the next day, we headed to the beach for a teacher retreat with the Saint George faculty. The retreat center was in El Quisco, a small beach town with incredible rocky-ocean views. There, we relaxed, learned about the soon-to-be sainted Brother Andres, and caught up with colleagues. That night, we sipped pisco sours around a blazing bonfire, shared a few laughs, and even roasted a few marshmallows; that is, I roasted a few marshmallows and everyone marveled at the level of my gringo-ness. I just never could pass up a good roasted marshmallow!

Bonfire Fun



On Friday morning, I rushed home to see my former college roommate Julie McElroy who was visiting for the fiestas patrias. We wasted no time in reacquainting ourselves and then began a whirlwind tour of the city and its surroundings. Highlights included a visit to La Chascona--Pablo Neruda's Santiago home named after his mistress's untamed hair--a wine tour at Concha y Toro, a Notre Dame game watch, and trip up and down the snowy slopes of Valle Nevado.

La Chascona

Concha y Toro

ND game watch


Valle Nevado

During the week, I was busy with spiritual formation sessions at Saint George but rushed home everyday to spend time with Julie, which always involved eating large quantities of delicious, greasy foods (see photo of chorrillana). We even squeezed in a visit to Los Adobes de Argomeda, a restaurant which specializes in Chilean barbecues and live dance performances. The specialty of the evening was, unsurprisingly, the cueca, which was performed in every version possible--southside, seaside, and even clownside.




On Wednesday, Saint George held a bicentennial mass, complete with traditional dancers in costume and extremely talented musicians (did I mention I was in the choir?). Afterward, we shared a delightful abundance of typical Chilean fare: empanadas de pino, mote con huesillo, bread with pebre, steak, humitas, and more. Top it off with a plateful of fruit under a chocolate fountain and let it suffice to say that I was one happy gringa. Once school was out, the real celebration of fiestas patrias began. That evening, Julie and I joined some of my Chilean friends for a salsa lesson at Maestra Vida. We learned a few moves, stepped on a few toes, and had a great time.





Thursday morning started extra early as we packed our bags and drove south towards Cajon de Maipo. At this point, it seems necessary for a brief discourse about Chilean drivers. My boyfriend bought a "jeep" about a month ago but, as he still has yet to apply for his driver's license, I have been racking up the kilometers in the driver's seat. And, no, the quotation marks accentuating "jeep" are not haphazardly placed for emphasis or flair--I am, after all, a well-versed English major. On the contrary, "jeep" is so marked because it is the official Chilean word for any type of SUV, a helpful fact to know when explaining to friends why Diego's jeep wasn't quite so jeep-like.

But I digress. Back to Chilean drivers. In the states, I have always been hesitant to honk my car's horn, believing it better etiquette to wait out the stupidity of other drivers, no matter how long it takes them to notice the green light. However, in Chile, honking takes on a new meaning. It is a form of greeting, a "Hello, how are you today?" "Fine, thank you, and you?" It is an attempt at mind-reading--"You appear to be going for a run, but wouldn't you just love to hop in this taxi?" But, above all, it is a way to express your slightest irritation with lane changing, green light hesitation, or basically any movement from other vehicles. At first, the gringa in me took offense to the constant honking; now, however, I have embraced it wholeheartedly and even honked once myself! Ah, cultural experiences.

Back to Thursday. Julie and I, dressed ready for serious trekking, drove down to Cajon de Maipo where the snow-topped mountains and quick-flowing rivers had us oo-ing and ah-ing the whole way there. At one point, we were stopped by the carabineros (police) for a mandatory check and my chatterbox reputation finally proved its use--I maintained just enough conversation to keep the officer's attention away from my Visa, and the fact that I have lived in Chile for much longer than the three month limit for using a foreign license. My parents would be so proud.

Once we passed the police, the gently paved road came to an abrupt stop and we began bouncing along the narrow gravel roads up and down the mountainside. One hour later, we arrived at Monumento El Morado, a breathtaking mountain hike which, in ideal weather conditions, take the adventure-seeker to the foot of a glacier. Unfortunately, without boots or waterproof pants we were poorly prepared for deep snow, but we still managed to hike up to the panimavidas, a series of bubbling pools with a scarlet hue from the rich mineral deposits underground. The backdrop was too beautiful for words, so we had a photo shoot instead. A pair of snow angels was our final imprint on the mountainside as we slowly made our way back down the mountain and, after a quick zipline across the river, arrived back in Santiago.







On Friday, Julie, Diego, and I went to our first "fonda," which, as I mentioned previously, is a Chilean festival. Imagine state fair meets rodeo meets dance show and you have a more or less accurate picture of the glorious "fonda." Since we arrived early, we were able to partake in many of the drink samples, ranging from chicha, made from fermented grapes or apples, to navegado, a mix of red wine, oranges, and spices. At 11:00AM, the meat grillers were already hard at work and the rodeo was in full swing. The concept of the Chilean rodeo is similar to those popular in Texas, though the huasos (cowboys) of Chile wear flat-brim hats and their main event is a two-man (and two-horse) effort to corral the cow from one end of the stadium to the other and then push him up against a pad on the wall. The rodeo was somewhat intriguing but the gasps emitted by my animal-loving friend for each cow shoved against the wall made our rodeo visit a quick one.





The next event was the games tent, complete with Taca Taca (foosball) and loteria (bingo). The caller raced through mumbled Spanish numbers and I frantically plopped pieces of dried corn on what appeared to be the correct translation. A few minutes into the game, I looked over at "I don't speak Spanish" Julie's board and was surprised to see she had one space left. "Ochenta y tres" muttered the caller. "That's your number!" I told Julie and then uttered a series of sounds not translatable in either language until it became clear to the caller that my friend had won. With a prize bottle of pisco sour held snugly under her arm, Julie had officially lost her gringa right to deem herself monolingual.




After we had our fill of fonda fun, we hopped a taxi and a metro to Santiago's most cherished trashy bar, La Piojera, which is Chile's closest rendition of Notre Dame's Backer. But, instead of large plastic cups of long island ice tea, La Piojera offers the "terremoto" or earthquake and, just for fun, a smaller version known as the "replica" or aftershock. Julie, Diego, and I joined forces with some of our OLM volunteer friends and Diego's colleague, with a few random Chileans hanging around our periphery throwing black olives and shouting. Part of the wonder of La Piojera is the constant cheering which, from an onlooker, would seem to be a raging game-watch; however, a quick glance around the premises reveals neither a TV nor radio to pump up the crowd. The cheering, it seems, spawns from nothing less than pure nationalist pride...and perhaps a terremoto or two.


From there, we headed to La Moneda, the president's palace, to see Puro Energia, Puro Chile, a light and video show projected onto the front of the building. Amidst the crowd of children propped up on shoulders and towering men, it was difficult to make out the show, but the bits of flashing lights and projections that I caught were pretty impressive.


Saturday, Julie's last full day in Chile, we decided to head to the coast. Diego, Julie, and I piled into the "jeep" and drove to Valparaiso, famous for being one of the most important ports in South America and home to thousands of artists and musicians. We saw a bit of the military parade and then spent the day wandering up and down the cobblestone streets in the "cerros" (hills) of the city. It is often said that Valparaiso's vivid graffiti and colorful homes bring out the photographer in everyone, and we were no exception.










Late afternoon brought us to Vina, Valparaiso's ocean-side cousin. Vina is the more popular place to relax on the beach, evident from the towering apartments where santiaguinos stay on the weekends when they can get out of the city. We snapped a few shots on the beach and ate ice cream as we watched the sunset. Seeing the car's lights on--for the second time this week--gave us all a scare but, luckily, it still started. We stopped through Algorrobo on the way back for a quick "once" with Victor and Marianne and then, at last, crawled into bed.






Julie's last event in Chile was, appropriately, a barbecue. Johnnie and Felipe invited us over for some freshly grilled meat, an offer I never have been able to turn down, and we shared a few stories before driving to the airport and saying our sad farewells. But, the party doesn't stop there! Sunday night was the perfect chance to check out Yein Fonda (pronounced "Jane Fonda"), a clever name for the best live music fonda in Santiago. The entrance proudly bares a large banner with a young, blonde Jane Fonda, for which I'm sure she receives yearly copy-write funds...NOT! The event was packed and, though pricey, it was well-worth it for the chance to dance cueca for hours and rock out to typical Chilean tunes from Pentinellis, Buddy Richard, Los Tres, and Chico Trujillo. The next day, Diego and I hit up two more fondas with more live music, food, and dancing. As the last one closed up shop, I finally decided that I had reached my fonda fill...for 2010, at least.

The best thing about Chileans is that they never really are ready to let the party go and, for up to two weeks after fiestas patrias, I still heard stories of "el 18 chico," parties to use up the food left over from the Independence Day weekend, or basically an excuse to have more barbecues. And, with the city heating up more and more each week, I know that, as far as barbecues are concerned, this is only the beginning.

Posted by lhamman1 19:16 Archived in Chile Comments (4)

A Crash Course in "Talking Chilean"


"Oye!" "Oye!" "Escúchame!"

These are just a couple of the common conversation entry words used in the typical Chilean dialogue.

"Listen!" "Listen to ME!"

In the states, such outbursts would be thought of as rude or disrespectful; in Chile, it is the only way to enter into the conversation. After many overwhelming and frustrating attempts to communicate with groups of Chileans, especially groups of Chilean women, I have found an adequate metaphor to describe Chilean-style communication. Chileans talk like they drive: recklessly weaving, speeding, and breaking with occasional honks for good measure. What I interpret as brash and nerve-racking, they see as fluid and entertaining.

For example, last week I went out for drinks with some teachers from the English department at Saint George. Between sips of pisco sours and caipairiñas, teachers would literally shout to gain the group's attention, and hurriedly share an enthusiastic tale with intermittent interruptions and questions, before the group inevitably erupted into chaotic chatting and the next brave teacher raised her voice above the din. This cycle continued all evening, leaving the poor gringa (me) with little more conversation space than an affirmative head nod or whispered, "Sí." I wonder what a typical American conversation must seem like to a foreigner. After yesterday night and my previous driving experience in Santiago, I can plainly see that both my driving and conversing skills are lacking in Chilean audacity. I suppose the only solution is to buckle up and take my wheels out for a spin!

Posted by lhamman1 18:43 Archived in Chile Comments (0)

A Glimpse of World Cup Mania!

Vamos! Vamos Chilenos!


It's soccer MADNESS in Chile. On Monday, we had our 2nd world cup match and won AGAIN! The best part is that the game watches are during class time and, accordingly, all classes are suspended so that students--and teachers--get the full "cultural" experience. Two weeks ago, we watched the Chile-Honduras game at 7:30am. All the students and teachers came early, faces painted and flags waving, for the game. We cheered and screamed and kids jumped on top of desks and ran around outside the classroom and, for once, no one cared. Afterwards, the teachers gathered for cake and coffee and the students took a long recess. It was the first world cup game win in 48 years so you can imagine the excitement (Chile vs. Honduras 1-0).

Monday's game was at 10am so we had a few hours of class before madness ensued yet again! The first half was more of the same--face-painting, elaborate cheers--but no goals. During half time, the PE teacher brought out two blasting speakers and played the world cup theme songs. I jumped and danced, posing for photos with a plastic world cup trophy and spinning children around in the air. Half-time ended and we were back in the game. 75 minutes in, Mark Gonzalez scored a goal--the only of the match--and the classroom erupted in cheers. The game ended fifteen minutes later and the students (and myself) went running down the corridor, shouting and waving flags the whole way. The seniors apparently left campus on their own accord shortly thereafter to go party downtown...this would NEVER happen in the states. And that, my friends, is a glimpse of the World Cup in Chile.

Posted by lhamman1 06:11 Archived in Chile Tagged living_abroad Comments (0)

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