Saturday, March 01, 2008

Hola de Santiago

After months of planning and preparation I've finally arrived in Chile. My LAN flight was relatively uneventful - not a ton of leg room, but I was able to watch four movies and I sat next to a very nice lady, although the couple in front of me was stinky (literally) and made out quite a bit - those of you who know how I feel about PDA must know how much this got to me. My favorite part of the flight was when they informed us that not only are cell phones expressly forbidden, but so are remote control cars... I arrived in Santiago at about 6:30 am and, after 30 minutes standing outside my hostel waiting to be let in, was able to get a nap in before meeting the other people in my group. I was secretly hoping the people wouldn't be cool because I have to leave them all in a week (most people are teaching here in Santiago) but by and large everyone is fantastic. We've mostly been wandering around near the hostel but tomorrow I think we'll brave public transportation. Speaking of, the hostel is quaint and in a good location but leaves a few things to be desired; namely, a bit more space, any sort of air circulation, and another shower (there is one for 20 people, and it takes 10 minutes to drain...) Surprisingly it's not nearly as bad as it probably sounds and we're all quite good-humored about it.

In other news, Santiago is great. Within five minutes of arriving I was coughing, presumably from the smog, but either it's worse by the airport or I adjusted quickly because it hasn't bothered me since. Also, if you walk around outside for awhile you gather a film of dirt on your feet and any exposed skin, but it's no worse than New York. There are markets and street vendors everywhere, as well as a surplus of the most well-fed and well-behaved feral dogs I've found anywhere in the world. It's been about 85 degrees so I've had the chance to air my summer dress collection. Not too humid and I'm not bothered by the heat. In fact, I haven't been bothered by anything - I feel quite zen so far! The food is all I wanted it to be - amazing produce, fantastic wine, and deliciously tender meats. I had an incredible piece of salmon last night and everyone else's food (which of course I tried) was equally good. I was going to cook tonight but the supermarket was closed, so we'll have to venture back out to eat, which trust me will be a pleasure. (I love sidewalk eating.) We have a group meal tomorrow provided by the organization, so we'll meet the other people who are teaching in different organizations. Also, it turns out that even though no one else from my group will be at my campus in Viña del Mar, but other TIPS (teaching intern practicum students - aka us) teachers will be there from two other organizations. I'll meet them at training this week and have high hopes that they will be just as cool as the people in my group.

It turns out I was misguided when I was told Chile was on east coast time. It's actually 5 hours ahead of Seattle, so two hours ahead of what I was anticipating. It was confusing for about five minutes and then I had a head-slapping moment. So, keep that in mind if and when you call! I do have a cell phone but for some reason it isn't working so I have to take it back tomorrow. Once it's functional I'll share the number. It's free for me if you call, so get a good international plan!

I think that's all I have for now. Stay tuned! I hope all is well back home.