Wednesday, October 29, 2008

A little culture, a little spanish, a little party

Hi ya everyone,

I wanted to show you more photos. I thought these were the best ones of the batch. No deep thoughts today.

These first two are from the Pre-Columbian museum. I had read in the travel guides that this was the best museum in Chile but I was kind of bored. I think they meant it was the best for gringos. Everything was in English and in Spanish, but I went with Nacho. Between the two of us, we could easily have handled the museum without the English. Plus, there was really nothing to talk about. No interesting concepts. Just--here's a bowl, here's a vase. I wonder if they were making a statement with their vases and bottles. And what was it? Of the art I saw, which one was thought-provoking long ago?

The first photo below is of statues that they placed at funerals. I have decided that for my own funeral (many, many years away) I want one of these instead of flowers. How cool would that be! It would scare you into be happy.

I just thought this dude was pretty striking looking. He looks real! I got in trouble at this time for taking pictures (two guards from separate rooms were telling me to not take photos). I pretended to be an ignorant gringa (cuz sometimes it's convenient). I think Nacho was slightly embarrassed.

Then, on Thursday, my Spanish teacher, Loreto, invited me out for seafood at Oceano Pacifico. It's this disneyland-like place that's filled with many rooms decorated with fish stuff--ships in bottles, ships in glass cases, tables that look like something belonging to the captain's room, figureheads, whalebones, stuffed fish of all kind, doors like those on a submarine. We were in the submarine room, thus the lights behind them.

Loreto here is with her boyfriend Osvaldo...they are both very fun people and I had a great time!

And now for the party of disfraces!

Here are all the butterflies! Caitlin, my gringa roommate, Nunu, my Polynesian dance teacher, the girl with the cool face makeup (sorry that i've forgotten her name) and me.

Halfway through, Caitlin's friend came with his band, Andu, and played right in our tiny living room. It was so fun!

And my friends from the hostal came too. Chascon, Mono, Nico and Connie. They are just so fun and look, they made an effort to dress up!

Such fun!

Que te vaya bien,
C in C

Monday, October 27, 2008


My friend Mari, who I think is an incredibly gifted writer, has inspired me to be more open and vulnerable in my writing. Perhaps this is a big mistake for me and what works for her won’t work for me but you never know unless you try, right?

So here goes. I’ve been going to church. And praying. It’s true. It started when I began to be able to make my favorite meals in my new house. I was so grateful to be tasting the food I had missed so much that I would say a quick thank you before I ate…and it just snowballed. Before I knew it I was praying ever day and going to church most Sundays.

When I’ve told people I’m going to church, they ask me, “why?" i tell them it’s because I’ve never felt more blessed, more happy, more grateful in my life than I do at this moment. I’ve never felt such a welling of emotion for this life I lead. I’ve never felt more sure that there is a God of some kind orchestrating the universe. I've never needed to say thank you so much.

But I feel quite shy to write about God, like He and I are just beginning a relationship, and it’s too new to even talk about it with anyone.

I go to a Catholic church right near my house. I like the idea that I walk to my church, take the dusty path over the canal and onto the tree-lined streets, through the park and past the swings. I like that I answer the calling of the bells signaling the beginning of Mass. I always sit in the last pew, closest to the door, so that as they take Communion, I can slip out…because I’m not really Catholic. I’m just there for…well…to say hi…to God.

The sermon is completely in Spanish, and I understand the occasional word. I like to imagine what the dude up front is talking about. Something about “loving God first” and “How do you show you love God each day?” Without the words to guide me, I’m left with half words to guess at, meanings left incomplete, questions unanswered.

I honestly like it left to my own interpretation…which probably means when I finally understand Spanish, I won’t be going to Mass. But, until then, let me just tell you about my favorite part of the whole thing.

It's the smallest detail. It's the part when you turn to your neighbors (the people next to you in the pews you have ignored and not even looked at since you arrived) and you shake their hand, smile and say “Paz” or “Peace.”

How much kinder would the world be if we always greeted people on the streets with a smile and “Paz”?

What if, instead of honking your horn as you impatiently sit in traffic, you smiled and said, “Paz.”

It sounds so simple. But I know when the lady on the metro totally cut in front of me, I didn’t feel like smiling and greeting her with love and peace.

Still, it’s a nice idea, right?

I guess today, this is how I show my love for the Big Guy Upstairs. I write about the idea of peace at the smallest level. And hope that, when the lady on the metro cuts in front of me next time, I will smile and say “Paz.”

Que te vaya bien (and paz),

C in C

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

American culture is...

So what is the American culture?

Recently, I had to explain Americans and our culture concerning the most universal thing--love. Yep, that's right. I was in a private Spanish class and the lesson derailed into a discussion about the dating worlds of America and Chile...and just how far apart these worlds really are.

First let's talk about America. America is all about the individual. Of course we get married and have families, but our history reveals us as proud, independent individuals. And that history shapes how we relate: how we marry or divorce or never marry at all. As a country, we thrive on taking risks, forging ahead, leading. Relationships take a backseat.

Conversely, where America emphasizes individuality, Chile emphasizes the family. They thrive on being a part of a tight-knit community. To not have family is to be lost.

So how does this translate into basic socializing and then on to dating? In Chile, when you greet someone, even someone you don't know, you kiss them on the right cheek (establishing a tight-knit feeling from the get-go). Americans use a handshake to ensure distance. Chileans express their feelings the second they feel them. We can hardly say I love you to our parents, let alone to friends and lovers. In Chile, after a month of dating, you become boyfriend/girlfriend. A month! In America, you're just beginning to get used to having someone in your personal space.

That's why I think America is a country of cats, squirming and scratching the second someone tries to hold onto us too tightly or for too long.

To Chileans who make out in parks well into their fifties, the idea of not immediately being together, not immediately forming a tight unit, is impossible.

So here’s the question: who’s right? The one who jumps blindly into love? Or the one who never jumps at all?

I know. I know. Serious question. Anyone care to answer?

Que te vaya bien,

C in C

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Full moon party and Flamenco

I'm sad. Our Chilean cat got hit by a car and died today. Last week, my neighbor I've known my entire life also died.

It always rocks me to the core when someone I know dies.

And it reminds me that life is beautiful and short, and I must do what I can to celebrate each moment from the smallest detail to the biggest events. So today, I celebrate life for them.

Here are some beautiful things I've seen recently.

Two weeks ago, my roommate took me to Estadio Espanola to watch Flamenco dancing. This girl below was incredible. She was captivating; she had IT. Just amazing.

Beautiful. Full of grace.

Then last week I was lucky enough to be invited to a private all-night dance party located in the mountains to celebrate the full moon. It was the experience of a lifetime. The dance party was being held in a clearing halfway up the mountain to Farellones. There must have been around 30 people there, all dancing under the moonlight. The place was the most beautiful scene I had witnessed in a long time. It was beautiful. Without a tripod, my night shots are kind of shaky, but I think you get the effect.

And then we stayed around the camp site till noon the next day. Look at these beautiful, happy people!

I went wandering and found a great poppy pic just waiting for me.

Here I am already getting sunburned and trying to recover from getting very little sleep...and maybe also having had a little too much Piscola. Maybe.

My roommate was teasing me mercilessly because tuve canas (okay, I admit it, I was hungover). I was absolutely incapable of forming a sentence in Spanish on the ride home, which made my communication with my Chilean roommate pretty funny. Here, I have my scarf on to keep from burning anymore--man the Chilean sun is a scorcher!

The road home. I can't believe I'm lucky enough to live here!

So, in the memory of my neighbor Agnes and my Chilean cat Petunio, do me a favor, go out and live today like it's the best day of your life. Take a risk, be happy and celebrate your life with renewed joy.

Que te vaya bien,
C in C

Thursday, October 16, 2008

I love this song (detour from Chile)

So I have tons of photos to show you but I have to make them small enough to put on the Web and since that takes time...and I have time...but I don't want to do it (haha), I've decided to let you listen to a song I love.

Recently, I downloaded Jennifer Hudson's new album from iTunes (aw, the beauty of the Internet). This the is the first video I've ever embedded, so I hope this works. Jennifer Hudson is one of my favorite singers these days. From getting voted off American Idol to winning an Oscar for her performance in Dreamgirls, she has absolutely won my devotion. What a voice! This song just gets me and I usually end up lip syncing by the end and pretending I've got her powerful voice. So, enjoy!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Saturday Night In

Perhaps it's the foggy weather that's got me in a "stay-in" mood or the fact that I knew both my roommates would be gone and I would have the house to myself (a pleasure I have enjoyed since childhood). I don't know what it is about being home alone but, sometimes, it can feel so comforting. The quiet is mine to enjoy. It is a time when I can be absolutely myself. Staying in, if done correctly, can be glorious.

The best "stay-ins" usually involve me turning down an invitation or two to go out. This is key to the stay-in because then, not only do I actually have friends that want to hang out with me (yay!), but I am secure in the knowledge that the stay-in is truly voluntary.

So on this Saturday evening (which has become the best kind of stay-in thanks to my friends who were kind enough to invite me out and who I hope won't be deterred from inviting me again), I have read a little more in Artemis Fowl, a young adult book I bought in Spanish to boost my Spanish skills. Turns out you actually have to read it though to see any improvements to your Spanish vocabulary.

And, of course, I'm writing this blog.

Now that I think about it, the other key to a good stay-in is having already gone out a lot the previous week. This way you can justify staying in with, at the very least, an excuse about saving money...which I am.

So, below are photos from all the fun nighttime adventures I've had this past week. Enjoy!

Last Saturday night, I went to a trance party. My roommate's friend was DJing at this private party on the rooftop. They'd set up a slide projector to show videos, too. The combination of great dance music, great company and a view of half the city (which looked like the whole city to me) was spectacular. It was like something out of the movies.

Here I am being silly.

The Santiago skyline and my silohuette. Moody huh.

I took a photo of the moon for my dad--see the tiny little sliver of light next to the building.

Then on Tuesday, my roommates and I went to listen to a friend sing at a bar in Bella Vista. Definitely upscale, cozy venue.

Caitlin and Kanke--two cool chicks that I get to live with

Meeting new people and having fun. This guy I think told me he was a stripper (though translation is always questionable). He's either a stripper or a lawyer. Yeah. I think I need to learn more Spanish.

Then on Thursday, Caitlin, Mari and I went to see Carmen, the ballet playing at the Teatro Municipal. We paid $8 per ticket which just floors me. So cheap! I can't wait to go see something else there!

We were on the fourth floor I think, in the galeria seating, which meant we had to get there early to try and get the best seats available. We spent a lot of time leaning over the railing to see what was happening on stage.

Here are we, Women of Valor, as Mari calls us.

And so, there ya have it folks. Lots of good fun, and certainly more fun on the horizon.

It has been my perfect justification to say, "Let's hang out next week because this Saturday, I'm staying in."

Que te vaya bien!
C in C

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Where I've Been Lately

Lately, I've writing about my internal journey. But, of course, while my mind has been wandering inward, my body has been busy taking photos of places in and outside of Santiago. Traveling is a balance of both the internal and external journey, so, without further ado, here are photos of places I've been and people I've met. Enjoy!

First, the hare krishnas. I went on a Sunday afternoon to the countryside with my roommate and a bunch of her friends. I wasn't actually sure where I was going exactly. I was just promised lots of nice people and dancing to drums. It was both the little I was expecting and of course, so much more.

It was a brilliant day: blue sky, green grass, poppies bending in the breeze. Notice the freeway is practically empty. It has been this way every time I've left Santiago.

Dancing in front of the hare krishna altar. This was really, really fun and I only wondered for a second if it was offensive for me, a non-devotee, to be dancing away. Nobody kicked me out so I figured it was okay.
On the way to the hare krishna sanctuary.

The crew. Raza, me, Vishaka, Romi, Prema and Kanke, my roommate. Really, really nice women!

An official spirit dude tending the fire while four couples were married. Notice all the food around the fire. Beautiful!

Favorite picture of the spirit dude below.

I love this. A little old school blended with a little new school.

Don't you just want to join in and dance seeing this photo? I saw them dancing in the field to the drums, just a mother and her daughter, and I was filled with such joy.

The next week, I decided I would take a day to wander about Santiago. I ended up near Plaza Brazil and a street lined with universities. Here are the highlights:

Pretty mural/graffiti. Ever since I met a guy at the hostal who was really into graffiti, I've been noticing it everywhere.

Every time I see a horse drawn cart, it just moves me. This was the Chile I had expected.

This a cafe de piernas, or a cafe that serves tea and coffee, with the added bonus of the waitresses being pretty much naked except for underwear. They're very inconspicuous and though I'd heard about them, it took several weeks before I actually noticed them.

Near La Moneda. This is downtown Santiago. Notice all the people. It is crowded. Always. I literally end up running into people when I'm downtown. This is where you also need to watch your purse closely. The other day, I watched a guy steal the seat off a bicycle in plain sight on one of the busiest streets. He saw me staring and started yelling at me. Since I didn't want my stuff stolen either, I just hurried my stride toward the metro station. But I wished I was a Charlie's Angel so I could kick some serious butt.

In Plaza Brazil, a man plays guitar. This is how I play guitar, looking at my fingers, sometimes resting my chin on the top. He notices no one while he plays. Flow at its best.

Artists show their wares in the Plaza de Armas. Look at the architecture in the background. I love coming here. Reminds me of Mary Poppins when they jump into the chalk drawing. Like something magical could happen here.

This blue building stood out to me so much. I decided I wanted it to fill up the photo so I turned everything else to black and white. Fun effects!

And third, to the Museo de Bellas Artes. I have the worst luck with taking photos of art. I never really know which painting or exhibit will stick with me. It's hard to figure out which one I will still be contemplating a week later. My friend Nacho and I went and of course, I did not capture the ones I liked best: photographs of people in their sixties with their eyes closed because the photographer thought our faces change with our eyes closed, photos of buildings without people and windows--the landscape of our time; photos of faces with mismatched eyes and mouths stitched on--why did they choose to sew them on instead of using glue?

What's most interesting to me about the faces below is how they looked really interesting at first glance, but that for both me and Nacho, they didn't hold our interest for more than that first glance. I was surprised that I was not more impressed. This was the exhibit I thought I would like the most. But I felt like it wasn't really saying anything.

This is an artist's rendering of the devil. It made me laugh. I especially love the levers coming out of its head.

This is Nacho being totally dwarfed by this amazing venue.

Okay, and lastly, I wanted to give you another quiz. What do you think this is?

That's all for now!

Que te vaya bien!
C in C

Sunday, October 5, 2008

What! No s in Que te vaya bien? Impossible!

I have just recently realized that I am quite the obstinate Spanish learner. I might have gotten a clue when, while listening to the Pimsleur Language Audio Tapes in the States, I was sure that Pimsleur had made several mistakes (which I later realized was of course, not true). Perhaps it was my work as an editor where I made a living seeking and correcting mistakes of others which made me doubt the validity of the Pimsleur program as well as over-fortify my sense of righteousness.

The depth of my obstinacy has been surprising (that and the fact that zapato (shoe) and zapallo (squash) are two very different words, and when ordering food, it’s best to go with the zapallo and not the zapato).

Recently I found myself challenging a Chilean about HIS language, and worse, I thought nothing of it. I kept right on arguing (he could’ve been wrong, you know) until he gave up and said, “You must be right. Let’s go with your version of Spanish.”

Yeah, not my best moment.

In fact, now that I think about it, I questioned him on several occasions throughout the evening, and while he tried to teach me how to speak Chilean Spanish, I adamantly insisted in the opposite. Here is an example of one of our conversations:

Him: It would be encontrarĂ¡s. En-con-trar-as.
Me: En-con-trar-as.
Him: No. En-con-trar-as.
Me: That’s what I said. Anyway, I remember it being the infinitive, not the future.
Him: It’s grammatically correct in the future.
Me: But that’s not how I remember it.
Him: That’s how it is.
Me: I don’t believe you.

Which parent did I inherit this fine trait from? I would really like to blame someone for this.

But now that I think about it, perhaps I can thank this lovely trait (along with so friends and family who helped me get here) for being in Chile—because when I got resistance from people about Chile or when I read anything bad about Chile, I would just decide they were wrong and merrily continue packing. (By the way, obstinacy is also how people get eaten by tigers.)

Thankfully, no tigers in Chile and instead, many people kind enough to suffer through my efforts not to learn.

On another note, I realized that a couple of weeks ago, I accidentally told my Polynesian dance teacher I liked her…as in liked her liked her if you get my drift. The thing is, I only realized it recently after a conversation about the stages of dating and the phrases of dating (me caes bien, te gusta, te guiero, te amo). The first can be said to friends and beginning romances. The rest are for romantic encounters only.

So, anyway, I told my dance teacher that I wanted to pay her the full price of the classes even though I knew I could claim a discount because…and here was the foible…I liked her…a lot. Now that I recall the scene in my head, her eyes had gotten really wide and she paused for a moment and then asked, trying to correct me, “Because you really like the class?” Where I think I made it worse by saying, “Yes, and you too.” Oops!

Do other language learners have these problems or am I the only one who manages to stumble into these awkward situations? Perhaps the difference is that I’m willing to write about it?

Okay. That’s all for now…pictures are coming, I swear!

And of course…

Que te vaya bien! (Thanks Nacho for correcting this sign off…and thanks for not leaving me in Providence during our ten minute argument where I insisted there was an s on vaya)

C in C