Tuesday, 12 August 2008
Sunday, 27 July 2008
··In the town of Vallenar there was an English Camp x2··
After roughing it for a week in overpriced SP de Atacama, we were ecstatic to find a loving family-run hostel with daily cleaning services, delicious meals and even toilet paper awaiting us in Vallenar. Before even beginning Winter Camp we were whisked away to the coast town of Huasco in a minibus with the hostel family of 10 we´d never seen before. They wanted to give us a taste of the Atacama region, so we got to dig into a medley of octopus, squid, mussels, scallops and other miscellaneous crustaceons.
Monday morning we were awakened by a most unexpected sound. For the first time in 5 years it was raining in Vallenar. Despite the fact that when it rains in Northern Chile no one seems to go on with their day, 17 eager English campers trooped in to be dubbed their English camp names. To our dismay no one chose Jebediah or Lashonda from the list, however we did end up with a Jennifer, Keith, Martin, David, John and Harry.
··We listen and speak and write in English everyday,
We compete for victory in games we love to play··
The point of camp was to immerse the kids in English. The ministry provided a suggested schedule resembling a school day, but we took the liberty to modify it, making it more of a camp experience. We were perfectly matched with out team leader from the Ministry, Petra, who was all for revisions and added even more energy to the team.
··We-e-e-e learn and sing and play x2··
The theme of the week was Olympics, with Liza and Steph leading team Canada and Vianna and Kelsey leading team Australia. It didn´t take long for us to spread our excitement, getting them painted up and pumped up. While Steph and Liza taught them traditional Canadian red and white cheers, Vianna and Kelsey took it to a whole new level. The ongoing personal battle of meat-eaters versus vegetarians soon became patriotic. Having a troop of Spanish students chant ¨blue and yellow, veggies eat jello... MEAT MEAT MEAT¨would never lose its entertainment value.
··We are countries from far and near in the Olympic games,
The strongest country, the greatest country, will soon bring home the flame··
Each day began with an icebreaker such as Darling if you Love Me, Two truths and a lie or Octopus. One moment that deserves special mention is the time that Martin, a favourite camper of ours, split his pants while playing Steal the Bacon. To fully understand the hilarity of this picture an oversized Napolean Dynamite who splits his pants and then walks over chanting ¨We´re Canada we´re red and white, me rompí mis pantalones¨(I split my pants). He never could remember the whole cheer.
Vianna and Martin at the stock market game
··We-e-e-e learn and sing and play x2··
Each team also had a week long project to create an identity for their country. We saw a lot of their artistic talent and enjoyed the team bonding time. Afternoon program included camp wide games such as the Stock Market game, cookie baking, sports competitions (frisbee was a huge hit), and a photo scavenger hunt. For us the most amazing part of camp was not only to watch their English improve but also to watch high schoolers totally come out of their shell and gain confidence in interaction with us and each other. An apathetic, cooler-than-school student on Tuesday could be found running up and down the aisle of the bus draped in a Canadian flag cheering in English on Thursday. The bonding between the 23 die-hard students could be seen in their hugs and tears at our Saturday departure. The only complaint was that the 9 hour days, 6 day week was too short. We agree.
The group on a field trip to the coast
-Maria Constanza (Vianna), Makarena (Kelsey) and Valentina (Liza)
(Since they had English names we adopted Spanish ones for the week)
Wednesday, 23 July 2008
A 7am departure from Coquimbo took us to one of the world´s most famous observatories, Tololo. Kelsey´s school was incredibly generous in organising a day at the observatory, followed by an amazing lunch in Vicuña, part of the Elqui Valley. The telescopes were pretty cool but it was the astounding view of the Andes that made the winding roads and dizzying altitude worthwhile. That evening we braved our first overnight semi-cama bus. The fifteen hours into the desert seemed daunting but with the help of Spanish Titanic, a plethora of snacks, and a wonderful guide Jorge (that´s the name we gave him anyway), the trip was surprisingly tolerable.
We arrived in the gringo gathering point of Chile, San Pedro de Atacama and found a place to stay. Per usual we lost no time looking for as many excursions as possible. Our first day we strapped some sandboards to our backs and biked out into the abyss of sand in search of the perfect dune. After following a river bank to a dead end for a while, we finally stumbled upon Death Valley. The cavernous winding roads were worth every wrong turn. It didn´t take long for our 5 hours to go by as we picked up the new sport, marvelled at the view and played some Euchre atop the dune, of course. More than a week later we are all still finding sand...
4am came rather quickly on our second morning as we piled on layers, mitts and hats to head to the Tatio Geysers. After a 2 hour washboard bus-ride, it was amazing to see boiling water shoot from the geysers and freeze instantly in the -12º air. We felt a little bit like cattle as we were coralled about amongst hundreds of tourists to feeding time. By the time we reached the hot springs we had no problem stripping down and jumping in. Climate fluctuations in the desert really are unique. When we were re-herded into the van with some Lion King - singing French tourists we joined them with the English version of In the Jungle. Our next stop was a hamlet that probably shouldn´t be labelled on a map, but the llama shish-kabobs were worth it. Liza was busy taking pictures of the animals while Kelsey and Vianna ate them.
Over lunch we took a look at a map and realized we were a stone´s throw from Bolivia, so why not go? Within 24 hours we had planned and executed a lovely breakfast in Bolivia. The ice-covered lagoons and picturesque hot springs were lovely but it´s the passport stamps we´ll always remember. We have successfully renewed our 90 day tourist visas in Chile. We may or may not be home on August 21st... just joking. Our morning in Bolivia was topped off with a beautiful sunset in Moon Valley. San Pedro was amazing but the tourists and prices made us long for the ¨real¨Chile again.
The next afternoon we got a call from the ministry and our sole male team member Colin volunteered to spend the next week of English Winter Camp on the magical southern island of Chiloé. I bet he misses us. The rest of us hopped on our second overnight bus in transit to Vallenar where we will spend the remainder of our winter vacation running a camp full of wonderful English nerds.
-Vianna, Liza, Kelsey.
Friday, 4 July 2008
Me Mama Chileno, Flora
With any spare daylight hours, La Serena is a beautiful city to explore and I often run into very friendly people who are delighted to show me around. In the small downtown area, people are beginning to recognize me and sometimes even call me by name! I think this may have something to do with the newspaper article I was in:
Earlier this week I walked into a corner store to buy an egg to make banana breaked and they asked how my stomach was feeling(it had been upset the night before). A little surprised at first, it wasn´t long before I recognized the resemblance of the store contents to those of my cupboard at home and we were chatting about my family.
We recently found out about our winter camp placements which beginning two weeks from now will be two hours north of here in Vallenar. Here are some more photos of some of our weekend adventures in the area:
Thursday, 3 July 2008
As much as i seem to mock my students english, my spanish is nothing to be desired. It is improving though. When i fisrt arrived here i often told people that i was married when trying to express that i was tired. For future reference, Casada= married and Cansada= tired. I also give almost everyone a laugh when i explain that my dog here is named Sále. In fact, the dogs name is Flake, and Sále means ¨get out!¨.. which is why it would make perfect sense that they yelled ¨Sále¨everytime the dog came in the house. Smart Liza. Aside from minor confusion my communication skills are increasing and i can now speak, using selective verbs, in past and future.
Food and Friends at Kelsey´s.
Pancakes, banana bread, tuna melts, grilled cheese, microwave bacon and maple syrup made their premier appearance to the Chilean families, and were welcomed by the Canadians with expectant eyes and grumbling stomachs. All was eaten, and all were content. Papa Carlos enjoys every last drop of Maple Syrup
Tempus fugit, as my lessons remain unplanned.
Take care wherever you might be. All love from here to there.
Tuesday, 1 July 2008
Photos from Weekend excursions:
Thursday, 19 June 2008
La Serena lighthouse
As I setted in over the past few weks, although not surprised, I was shocked by the nonexistant English my family spoke. I live with an 88 year old abuela(grandmother) who is adorable and gets very excited every time I come up with spanish sentence to say to her. She generally stays in bed except for at lunch time when she gets all dressed up. I can usually hear ´much music´ blasting from her room. The other woman that I live with is a 74 year old nanny named Horte who is always cooking or baking a cake. She makes some incredible feasts. Coming from zero spanish a month ago, I am now able to communicate a little... mostly about food and activities. They are very patient with me. Some of our frequnt misunderstandings include my box of chocolate syrup ball cereal that I get every morning with hot milk, my 3L bottle of cream soda, and getting locked out of my house when I dont bring my keys.
My School, Gabriel Mistral, is an all girl´s high school. There are 9oo students in 3 buildings and I think this was the first week I managed to not get lost. The girls and staff are very kind and welcoming. Sitting in a staff room of 40 middle aged women chattering in spanish and trying to communicate with me is an experience in itself. Learning 320 spanish names is quite a challenge, but usually I´m pretty safe going with ´macerena´or ´francisca´. I have told some of my girls tht they can come home with me to meet my brother. Hope that´s okay, Dave!!
Students and ´completo´
I teach grades 9-12 from Monday to Thursday and run into my students around the city the rest of the time. Whether in a grocery store or on the beach, it is normal to hear ¨hello Miss!!¨ coming from all directions. A few days ago I was surprised by about 15 girls on my street who popped out of a hostel to sell me a completo (hot dog with tomato, avocado, cheese... you name it). It was.... edible. Most Mondays I hear of all the places my students saw me over the weekend.
Well thats all for now. Its so difficult to sum up life here in a post, but I´ll try to update this more frequently. Off for another weekend adventure! con amor (that´s me stitching together my nonexistant vocabulary... hope it made sense....),
Host Father´s 60th
As Liza described, on Saturday we got to experience the true spirit of soccer by going to the tournament final between La Serena and Universidad de Chile. The four cold Canadians huddled together to the amusement of the security guards to take in some top quality soccer and infectiously crazy ´U´ fans. Arriving back to my house FREEZING cold, Liza and I were welcomed by the warmth of empanada baking. We walked in on the preparations for Sunday at the Campo, a farm-type place on the edge of the Elqui Valley. The 50 massive empanadas made us excited for what lay ahead.
Notice the pile of meat
I have also been teaching at a lab downtown a few times a week where the eager students can come for free classes. They are a mix of the best behaved from all Coquimbo schools plus some adults so it´s a nice change from the sometimes trying school groups. I made my newspaper debut in ¨La Region¨newspaper this week after a surprise interview in Spanish and have officially experienced the word-twisting habits of journalists. Apparently Canadians have no family values. I don´t care how broken my Spanish is, I did NOT say that!
Early morning photoshoots aren´t my thing
We look forward to a weekend in the heart of the Elqui Valley and hope that Vianna will write about her crazy adventures soon, she is alive and well!Until next time,
Wednesday, 18 June 2008
Beautiful sunset at the Campo on Father´s Day.
I now await the fate of my school, and further adventure.
Hope you all are well, wherever you may be.