Santa Lucia and Plaza de Armas

by CameronM Mon, March 20 2006 23:13

After a morning learning dramas and chatting about going door-to-door, we headed off to the centre of Santiago. First stop was Santa Lucia, the hill downtown that has great views over the city. Next we hit the nearby craft markets for some retail therapy. I had already been to both these locations, so it was not exactly exciting, but I was able to buy a few patches to add to my collection, which was great.

From the market we headed towards Plaza de Armas, stopping for an Empanada, which was described as a kind of meat pie, with an olive in the middle. I don't know if we stopped at a particularly bad place, but it was terrible. There as hardly any filling and it was all but tasteless. Basically it felt like you were eating cooked pastry and not much else. Sadly the fries, which came about 10 minutes later were no better.

Steven, from language class had made an interesting observation from his travels in latin America. Basically he said that no matter what sort of place you go to, be it 5 star or budget, you will never get what you want when you need it. For instance, he ordered fish and chips and the fish came out 10 minutes before the chips. When you ask for ice to go with your drink, you can almost guarantee that you have finished the drink before it arrives. This truth seems to be repeated countless times around Chile.

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Church in Spanish

by Admin Sun, March 19 2006 23:10

The adventure team consists of myself, Luke and Rachel, an Australian couple, Jennifer a Canadian and two Dutch girls Bernedette and Lisa. Our leaders are Yerko and Corine. Yerko is Chilean and Corine, his wife is also Dutch.

All of us, except Corine and Yerko, are bunking down at the Santiago OM office for most of the week, when we will be training up for trips out into various parts of Chile. The schedule is pretty intense, with a mixture of Church and village visits and enough 'Adventure' things to keep us busy.

The office is located in a pretty slummy downtown area, not at all like Las Condes or Providencia. In fact Lisa and Bernadette had to promise not to walk alone after dark, as they have stayed here by themselves for the last four months.

The building is an old house, with several out-buildings. Ouside and accessed via the courtyard, there is a room with ensuite where the two girls sleep and further back a large room (that used to be a storage shed) where Luke and Rachel sleep.

Upstairs in the main building there are a few training rooms (one occupied by Jennifer), a computer room and a bathroom. Downstairs there is a kitchen, toilet, large room that was once the dining and lounge room and my little library, which is just off the front entry.

Today we headed of to church, which lasted for three hours, a common event in Chile. As it was all in Spanish, it is not too interesting, although I found it easy to sing the songs as the words are about 4 times slower than they speak, which is great.

After church we headed back to the office for lunch and some practical evangalism teaching. We did a few dramas, one where I get to be God, which of course is nice, since last time I was Satan.

We follow the Chilean example and eat our main meal at lunch, usually consisting of a cooked meal and bread. We eat outside under the shade of the trees in the courtyard, as it is nice and cool. At night we eat 'onces' which is like an early supper, consisting of cold meat, bread and cookies.

As a rough plan here is what we are going to be doing for the coming week.

Tuesday-Wednesday: Travel to Valparaiso for an overnight stay, surfing lessons and handing out tracts.
Thursday: Go to a local boys home to perform some dramas and entertain the kiddies.
Friday: Door-to-door in a poor area of Santiago, with a Spanish speaker and a questionaire about religion.

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Chile Adventure Team

by CameronM Sat, March 18 2006 23:08

I had tried to ask my host family about the location of the large shopping mall called Alto Las Condes and I discovered it was not too far away, so I decided to try my luck on the bus (this time I took a map).

The three storey mall is massive and the shops were a little more expencive than I expected, although I did find a store, aptly named Jumbo, which was like a big K-Mart.

By the time I got home it was time to go to meet the OM team. Luckily I was able to communicate to my host family that I was leaving and after taking some photos and promising to email them a copy, I got a lift to the OM office.

After a short briefing, we headed out for dinner in Los Leones, Providencia, the same streets I have been on for the past two weeks, so it was like going to school again.

After returning home and chatting for a while, I discovered that the light in my new abode (the office library) did not work, so I had to try and get my gear out using a bit of ambient light from the main office area. Yes, well what do you expect, after all it is called the Chile Adventure Team!

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by CameronM Fri, March 17 2006 23:06

Well my last day of classes finally came and went and I must say that after two weeks I think I know less Spanish than I started with.

After class, we headed out on an excursion to the central commercial area of Santiago. I had been there before, but it was better than heading home, so I tagged along. We had dinner at one of the restaurants in Mercado Central, which appears to be a large eatery, with about a dozen restaurants.

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Las Adobes de Argomedo

by CameronM Thu, March 16 2006 23:01

After class today I headed home for a quick siesta before heading out with some classmates to a restaurant called Las Adobes de Argomedo for a dinner & show combo. The place was a little touristy and therefore pricey, however for about $25 you got a decent meal and a show that lasted about 2 hours.

The show consisted of traditional Chilean dances and songs, with the performers wearing traditional dress from a number of regions thoughout Chile.

The dances certainly had a Spanish flavour to them and you could be forgiven for thinking you were watching a fiesta in Madrid. Even the custumes resembled those of Spain or Portugal.

Of interest to the male members of the audience were the dancers from Easter Island (Rapa Nui). These attractive and slender dancers were dressed in Hawaii-style short skirts and coconut tops (yes that's right, their tops consisted of 2 coconuts!). They also wiggled and twisted like belly dancers, which kept many a video camera's attention.

To add to the fun of the night, we crammed 5 people into a taxi and headed off, complete with bad directions, to our various homes. I had hoped to get out early so I could have the benefit of the more experienced Spanish speaker in our group. Fate, however was against me and the driver decided to leave me until last. Thankfully, I got home and when he tried to argue for more money than was agreed before the journey started, I was able to look blankly at him, with no need to act as though I didn't understand, because I really didn't.

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Anyone going Alto Las Condes?

by CameronM Wed, March 15 2006 22:59

Well I learned a few new things today. Firstly, don't hop on bus going to a new place when you don't have a map. And secondly, ALWAYS carry a map.

After class I decided to check out a few of the local shops and not being satisfied with their selection, I wanted to go to a shopping centre called Alto Las Condes. After waiting at the bus stop for a few buses to go passed while I read the signs in the window stating where they went, I thought I had a fair idea which one I needed and jumped on.

After about half an hour the familiar streets of suburban Santiago were replaced by 'shanty-towns' and the mountains appeared exceptionally close. I decided to cut my losses and when the next populated area came into view, I hopped off and crossed the road to get on a bus back into the city.

I eventually got home and was happy to see all the familiar shops and streets. Next time I will take a map or at least ask a few people where to go before embarking on such a trip.

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Dinner in Providencia

by CameronM Tue, March 14 2006 22:57

It was Erin's birthday today. Erin is a teacher from the USA and has been traveling around South America for a number of months undertaking Spanish classes in several countries.

We headed out to a restaurant in Providencia that served mainly Italian food before heading to Salsa lessons. Erin and I have both done Salsa before, so we partnered up and had fun trying to learn the slightly different steps taught in Santiago. I am not sure if this is unique to here, or if it is just a different style of Salsa, but it is a lot less structured that what I am used to, but still a lot of fun.

Spanish lessons are going very slowly and I doubt that I will have anything meaningful to say by the end of my time on Friday. I can say my name and ask simple questions, but that is about all. We are even finding counting a pain in the butt and feel like failing first graders.

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Back to the Books

by CameronM Mon, March 13 2006 22:54

Well it is non-stop in our Spanish classes, just when you think you have it all figured out, they throw some new vocab at you. Today we covered colours and clothing, so not only did you have to learn the different colours, you had to answer questions such as "what colour are those pants?".

To reinforce our lessons, Steven and I walked around the local shops and tested ourselves. I am sure the shop assistants must have thought we were about to rob the place or something.

Each Monday they start a new batch of students, so we were concerned that we may have another newby and would have to go back a few lessons. Thankfully, all the new people were better than us, so we can continue plodding on together. When asked by the new students what level we were at Steven jokingly said that we were at rock bottom, although I objected saying that at least we knew there was a language called Spanish, so we weren't completely ignorant.

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Viño del Mar

by CameronM Sun, March 12 2006 22:49

This morning we walked around a local market looking at all the goodies. The market had everything from sox to fruit, but nothing really exciting to buy.

We caught a micro (bus) to nearby Viño del Mar, which is a beachside resort town. Although not exactly lifestyles of the rich and famous, it is a little upper-class and therefore more expensive than a few humble students wanted to pay.

Luckily we were only strolling along the boardwalk and having a bite to eat so it wasn't goinf to break the bank. Steven, my classmate and an avid gambler, dragged us into the local casino, where we joked about telling people at home that we played a hand of blackjack with a $7000 bet. Sadly, that only equates to about AU$15, so hardly a Kerry Packer bet!!

We headed back to Santiago, driving through some very hilly countryside and beautiful vinyards, which I had missed since I was sleeping on the trip out.

Back in smoggy Santiago and I was already missing the clean coastal air and wondering why anyone would build a city where the mountains trap all the smog! Oh well, I guess that can't be helped now, not unless they move the Andes.

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by CameronM Sat, March 11 2006 22:45

We left Santiago and headed towards to the coast, port city of Valparaíso (Valpo for short). The journey is only 1 hour 15 minutes and on very nice buses, so I caught up on a few z's that I had missed out on the night before.

The Chilean's were swearing in their first femail president at the Congress building located in Valpo, so we were expecting a huge turn out. The Chilean's aren't obviously as keen about politics as my American friends, as there were only a few thousand people lining the streets. This meant that at least we had a good view as both the old and new presidents drove past our vantage point.

Valpo is also famous for it's 23 hills which ring the city and are a maze of streets and houses built overlooking the bay. We walked around for what seemed like hours, no doubt because my feet and legs were still tired from the long walk the night before.

It was handy to have a Spanish teacher in our group, as Chile is not the place to come if you don't at least have some Spanish language skills. We managed well and were able to get across most of what we wanted/needed.

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