Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Downtown Santiago needs an English Library

Downtown Santiago really needs an English library. I have books to donate, but no one to donate them to. (I definitely want to be able to have access to them after loaning them.) The National Library will accept them, but only in the regular section, not in the part where you can take the books home, préstamo a domicilio. :( I've thought about donating a book in English to publimetro, but I doubt they would lend it. I have this idea it would disappear. But I should stop being so pajera and try it out and find out. I would donate most of my books in English if I thought people would eventually be able to check them out. So I'm going to donate The DaVinci Code and see if they actually make it available for checking out and take it from there. Meanwhile I have quite the stack of books.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Group post. Travel story: Bena, Minnesota

Okay, so this is a work-travel story. Perhaps we could call it a business trip. hahahahaha. So, one of the summers I was working road construction in Northern Minnesota, I was assigned as a flagger on Hwy 2. During this job, I spent a couple days in Bena, Minnesota. (Check out this link that shows their median incomes. I was blown away when I read this. I shouldn't be surprised I spose, but I was. All I can say is I hope they hunt and gather for food.) I was flagging like 16-hour days which could be a little dull, but this town was a great place to flag. It's 70% Native American, so it´s a totally different culture nestled within Northern Minnesota. (It's on the Leech Lake Indian Reservation.)

I spent one whole day standing in the middle of town, stopping people and letting them go through when it was clear. Across the street was the gas station/mini market. At like 9am, somebody from the rez's brown buick broke down right in front of me. They spent the ENTIRE DAY trying to fix it. Something like 4
different people tried to figure out how to get it running. They left the car, came back, left the car, came back. Watching them sort of eased the long moments of boredom that I often experienced. At the end of the day, they ended up pushing the car across the highway and down a little road. I thought about how I would have handled the situation so differently in my town. And it never occurred to me at like 9am when the car broke down that it was going to be a day-long project. It was nice to have a little entertainment during the day and to see a slower-paced way of living.

Working on the Leech Lake Rez sparked my curiousity about the Native Americans living in and close to my home town. However, I moved to Chile soon after that. I'm thinking of perhaps taking some Ojibwe language classes when I move back, just to learn a bit more about their culture.

Check Kyle's post for a list of links to more travel stories.

God does not play dice with the universe...

he lets us do that.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Why I came and why we will leave... (a belated response to the group post)

So I'm a bit behind on the group post, hehehe. When everyone posted, I was on vacation in Iquique (the sports capital of Chile, believe it or not).

At the age of 12 I got the travel bug, and I decided I was going to see the whole freaking world. One way to start seeing the world was to be an AFS student for a year. I decided to do this as a gap year before college. At 17, I was fed up with my little town and the snow and cold and tameness of it all, and decided to move my travels up a year or two and go for 6 months rather than a year. (I later regretted not choosing to stay the whole year.) I knew I would miss my friends, but I really wanted to travel. My heart was set on living in Puerto Rico for a semester where they couldn't possibly place me in a home far from the beach. Apparently I wasn't the only one who decided to go to the Reggaeton capital of the world, because by the time I applied, there weren't enough spots left in the program. All the families had been taken. :( So back to the drawing board. Brazil called my attention, but I wanted to learn Spanish and be somewhere warm and near the beach. That year there was a Chilean AFS student in my high school who I was friends with. She urged me to go to Chile telling me about Chilean carretes and how fun it is there, etc. So I gave up my dream of a year-round summer and chose to come to Chile, and I was off. It was a great time.

I came back to Chile for a month my sophomore year of college and visited my host fam. and traveled around Chile. My host father pointed out a masters program at the University he works at; it was a good program and inexpensive. I bore that in mind and came back in 2004 to do the program. After a year living in Valpo I met my husband. I finished school last year and we are currently waiting for me to be eligible to apply for permanencia definitiva so as to apply for V's immigrant visa to the US of A. We've got a while yet. Meanwhile, I'm teaching English.

Why we will leave: I want to go back to the States so V has a chance to live abroad, and get to know my country. I can't wait to travel vicariously through him and see my town, state and country through his eyes. Reverse cultural shock can be quite enriching! I also am excited to live near my family again for a while and watch my nephew and niece grow up and be a part of my family's lives again, beyond Skype. We are planning on installing ourselves in Minnesota, but you never know. Perhaps someday we'll move back to Chile. Or to Europe or Indonesia. Who knows?

I'm not against living in Chile, but I'm not a huge fan of Santiago. I like smaller towns and cities. I've liked living here however, I don't know how I'd feel if I knew I would be living here forever and ever.

To read the everyone else's posts, go to Kyle's post on the matter.