Saturday, February 27, 2010


So my mom and I are safe and together. My cousin Dana is also safe and on the other side of Santiago. We'll try to meet up with her later today. The earthquake was incredibly scary. Many of the buildings in my neighborhood are very old and suffered some serious damages. My mom is staying in a hostel where a wall collapsed and quite a bit of debris fell from the ceiling. Right now we're not sure when she will be able to fly out. I'll keep everyone updated and write more about the situation here soon.

The church across the street from my building.

My street blocked off at both ends by rubble.

The apartment is covered in dust from the street.

Only minor damage in our building.

Thanks for all of the wishes. We're feeling very shocked and very relieved to be safe and together.

Definitive Judgements: Chilean Television

Every year, for about a week in February, Chile becomes obsessed with this music festival in Viña del Mar. Everyone talks about it. It's on every television screen, every night. Proportionally, it's probably equal to the combined popularity of the Olympics and American Idol in the US (interestingly the Olympics are on and no one seems to care/watch). And from what I've seen (at least one act the last four nights) it's terrible. Allowing for the fact that I didn't grow up with these singers, the majority are just not very good at singing. And don't even get me started on the comedy acts. They may as well be speaking Lao. And yet, everyone watches like it's the most exciting television event of the year. Here's indicative conversation of how very strange this phenomenon is for me:

Me: Did he just say "like a penguin in the bed?"

My Roommate: Yes. (Like it was obvious, like everyone has known that lyric all their lives, like lovers and penguins have clear similarities.)

Unfortunately it is not just the music festival of Viña. All of Chilean television is more or less an enigma. We changed the channel after the festival programingand the current show is a bizarre hybrid of Jeopardy and strip poker.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Mom Dirt

So my job has come and gone and I am living in Santiago. I know, that's a really lame update, but it is the truth. As with many of the jobs I have had in my life, my first employment experience in Chile taught me several valuable things about what I don't want to do for work. For example, I don't want to work in other people's homes. I don't want to work with nine year old children. I don't want a job with complete personal freedom. (As in: "Here are the books. Teach.") At a certain point I realized that the dread of going to work dominated my mood even when I wasn't working. And that is not why I came to Chile. But it was a valuable experience. And it motivated me to move to Santiago, which I am really enjoying.

Generally things feel like they're going really well. I get along great with my new roommates. In fact my roommate luck in Chile thus far has been exceptionally good. I have even stayed in touch with some of the people I decided not to live with in Santiago and I'm going to a barbecue at one of their houses tonight. I had a really encouraging job interview this morning with a company that wants to put me through a whole week of training and help me straighten out my visa. And my parents are coming this weekend.

Which brings us to this:

Although my new apartment is comfortable and my room has lots of light and a private bathroom, it is an old building. This provides for even more exciting plumbing arrangements (think an inch of water on the floor first thing in the morning my first week here...) Additionally, there is some very old stubborn dirt around. Generally things are quite clean, but certain corners are a bit scary. And one of those corners is my shower. To give you an idea, I thought the shower was clean after the cursory bleach-based cleaner and sponge treatment I gave it before moving in. But yesterday while showering, I absentmindedly nudged the dark grout between the wall tiles with my finger. And it moved in one large brown chunk. This dirt is so hard, so thorough, that I thought someone had regrouted the shower using another color cement.

My parents aren't staying in my apartment (available accommodations here include sharing my twin bed and my yoga mat on the floor) but my mom and I are going to be traveling a bit (Patagonia!) after my dad leaves and it seems possible that she might need to use my shower at some point. While I can blissfully ignore gunky-grout, I have far too much pride to allow my mother to witness such filth. So after kicking off my interview-best, I spent the afternoon scrubbing the walls of my shower. As I write this my right arm aches from the exertion. It is certainly improved, but not perfect. I'll give it a bit more elbow grease tomorrow.

You can all look forward to non-computer photos, since my parents are bringing me a real camera to replace my stolen one. You can also look forward to the tale of my capturing and domesticating a penguin family (but really they'll domesticate me, teaching me to fall down with grace and the value of mating for life). And- I swear- more frequent posts.