I’m calling the following images ‘illustrations’ rather than photos due to their graininess and modest function. Nevertheless, enjoi.
Sautéed zucchini, onion, garlic. Tomato sauce, lentils, wheat roll.
Cold and cloudy.
We’ve been experiencing the 60s all day today and yesterday, and –gasp– the 50s during the night!
Things are supposed to resume to normal “niceness” (as one of my friends put it) as soon as tomorrow afternoon, but know that we’ve had to reach to the back of our closets and dresser drawers for long sleeves, jackets and jumpers.
So, alas, this evening I rocked a sweater over my collar and tie for my first adult English class. I was nervous as hell, but it was fine. I had just 5 students in a cozy little classroom. The students are quite motivated, as they need English for their careers. It seems that the adult classes are quite structured, and I was following along with the book closely, implementing the generic audio CD sidekick as instructed. The students, though, seemed to appreciate my enthusiasm, and I was grateful for their willing participation.
Not much to report outside of that. The new Minnesotan roommate Susan is to move in at the weekend. Soon after I’ll be on the wrong half of my mid-twenties, but I will have some of my wonderful, loving family members visiting and hopefully taking me out for dinner next week. Can’t wait to see you Lila, Rishi, Naveen, and Mom!
After three days of training at my new place of employment, I took advantage of my day off on Thursday to explore some more unique parts of Santiago. Namely the General Cemetery of Santiago. A guy from training recommended me, and I figured I’d check it out. It was a hot afternoon, and I spent at least 90 minutes wandering aimlessly around this dizzyingly grand city of a cemetery. When I say city, I mean it. There are literally streets, street signs, “neighborhoods” so to speak, and you can even buy a Coke and some crackers from vendors loitering around some of the larger intersections. Back in 2009 I actually went to a funeral with my host family, and I wrote about the cemetery experience that day. Basically the cemeteries are very different here. The caskets are often stacked above ground. The whole presentation of it all is just so different. It evokes.
It was interesting just how different certain parts of the cemetery were from other parts. Obviously some burials were very costly while others not so much. Notice the latters in the following photograph, which men use to hoist the casket into its position within the edifice.
Apparently there are many famous Chileans buried here, but I did not bother to find out who or where they were located. After walking around by myself here for over an hour, my exuberance waned. Stacks of the dead are just a bit more intrusive on the psyche than the underground variety we have in the states. Some areas are quite beautiful though. There were many gardeners about and a lot of flowers. All along the streets outside the cemetery are huge flower vendors. And across the street for blocks there are gravestone makers and that. Oh yeah, the metro station is called Cementarios. You might suspect that would hurt property values a tad.
I did a lot of walking on Thursday, and after hazarding through a huge fruit, vegetable and meat market in a not-so-tidy area of the city, I met a few friends at an infamous bar called La Piojera. This dingy place is famous for its beverage called El Terremoto, or the Earthquake. They basically scoop some crappy pineapple ice cream in a plastic beer cup and over it they pour some crappy white wine. Then you get a straw to kind of stir the ice cream about. The Terremoto is actually quite drinkable, especially when the ice cream has mixed in to form a thick liquid. Anyway, upon walking up the next morning, I realized that two Terremotos was one too many. I also woke up to the story of the real Terremoto in Japan. A nasty headache and too many damn terremotos. To add to this misfortune, I received a message from a Chilean girl I went out with that night, telling me that a friend of hers from high school was killed in the night.. hit by a car while riding her bike. The funeral was yesterday, so I’m pretty sure she spent some time at the cemetery as well. Ominous.
No doubt it’s time to abstain from cemeteries and earthquakes. I’ll have English class and early nights instead, please and thank you.
Speaking of lesser evils, I had my first English class today. They told me about it on Friday. They said, “Jesup, you have a class tomorrow morning. Teenagers. From 10am – 1pm.” I said, “Okay.” I was up really late planning, and I was up really early planning, and I was sleeping anxiously. But it went really well. I have 8 students from ages 12-16. Their Spanish is basic, but they can say quite a few things. They all seem to want to be there, and we had fun getting to know each other. One of the girls produced from her backpack the official Justin Bieber biography (First Step 2 Forever (lol)) in English. She told me the book was a gift from her mom. “We have Bieber fever,” she explained.
Saturday mornings are going to be extra entertaining this year.
New teacher induction week was Monday, Tuesday & Wednesday at Instituto Norteamericano, and it went well. Each day we had different types of lectures that consisted of administrative information, teaching methodologies, and general ways to be an effective educator of the English language. While dense at times, the activities were interactive. There are about 15 other new teachers, and I got to meet and chat with most of them over the past three days. We also got to meet many of the staff that we will be interacting with in the coming months. Finally, the induction week helped to give me an understanding of the institute’s teaching philosophy and goals, as well as give me teaching ideas and strategies which will improve my confidence once I am in the classroom.
On Friday afternoon we will be assigned classes. Some of us might begin next Monday, but others might not start until the coming weeks. The institute teaches young children, teens, adults, and professional adults via their employers. Many companies do not organize English classes until the end of the month, which is why teaching loads for us teachers will likely increase in the coming weeks. Either way, I’ll finally have a good idea about what I’ll be doing here (and when) on Friday afternoon. I’m looking forward to it.
In other news, we found a new roommate. Her name is Susan, and she will move in next week. She’s from Minnesota! She’s 30 years old and has just started her 2nd (and final) year at university here, where she will finish her MBA. Susan seems very friendly and relaxed. I’m so pleased to have found a midwesterner! It is a good omen.
I’m afraid there’s not much more to report. Still experimenting in the kitchen, still relishing the amazing, very affordable produce (peaches, grapefruit, blueberries, tomatoes, avocados, mmmmm). Still going on long walks and relishing the favorable weather and the greenness of the trees, grass and vegetation. Still reading and practicing Spanish and meeting the locals. Still taking my time to perfect the beat, still got love for the streets.
Okay, that last part isn’t original.
But still. I’m keeping it real.
It’s quite astonishing at first just how quiet Saturdays can be in Santiago. From dusk until dawn Monday through Friday the city’s underground transport system is busy and bustling. During the week people are working, eating/drinking out, shopping, and enjoying the parks, plazas, museums and whatever else the city has on offer. But on Saturday the city has generally hushed to a sleepy lull. Most cafes and shops are closed. I guess I’m supposed to either be sleeping all day after dancing at the club until 6am the night before, or enjoying a cozy afternoon in with the wife and kids. Whatever is supposed to be done, I spent my Saturday on a long walk, where I managed to get lost for a while. Lucky for me, it was another beautiful day, clocking in at 80 degrees under the sun.
I’m savoring the summer.
I’m going to get off topic and avoid the usual chatter about my current position to share about a new television program. I only learned today that the BBC has a new documentary series called Human Planet. I believe it’s being aired solely in the UK at the moment, but this is very exciting to me because Planet Earth is perhaps the most fascinating documentary series ever. And this one is about humans! My friend Brian Clayton graciously shared a link to an audio slideshow via facebook, which I have re-posted below. The item features some spectacular photography as well as some background into the makings of the show. It’s 7 minutes that you really must see.
I bet I could talk about how my travels abroad in many ways mirror the premise behind this show, such as the desire to learn from others, appreciate the cultural richness of our species, and pinpoint exactly what it is that makes us human. I could talk about how my first-hand experiences assist me in this learning. But I would likely overshadow the fact that my story is fundamentally about me. I try not to forget the self-interest that implicitly precedes everything else. And ironically, this is the precise reason why this show will be so great. This is about me; it is about us, we humans.
Alas, here we are, on this planet of ours. Audio slideshow: Human Planet
February was short — just 28 days this year as you may have noticed — and my first month living in Santiago is in the books. The first couple days of March have illustrated that summer time is indeed rapidly fading and a new, more business-like season is upon us.
People are back to work from their holidays and students are back in school. For the first time since my living here in 2009, I have begun to see packs of students all over the streets in their school uniforms. Also, I have been quite busy interviewing for work. It has been many a trip to the local internet cafe to print out last minute CVs and example lesson plans, but my efforts have finally paid off, and I’ve taken up an offer from the North American Institute (Norteamericano) here in Santiago. Norteamericano is a rather large institute with multiple locations, employs something like 50 teachers per year (I believe), and offers good resources and compensation. I was particularly excited about this institute because they are connected with a smaller professional prep-school. This prep-school is something like a community college, and there I will teach students who want to become translators or who are interested in working in the tourism field. It’s exciting because I can work with young students who have recently graduated high school, roughly the same age group I taught last year in Iowa. The school will acquire the work visa for me, and perhaps in two months’ time I will have all the documents to prove that I am a legal, gainfully employed resident of the Republic of Chile. Next Monday the training begins and soon enough I’ll be in real classrooms, with the idea of passing on some of that English language I so gracefully possess. Wish us luck.
This mammoth of a sandwich is apparently a Chilean staple. I was not disappointed. In fact, it was heavenly.
Wikipedia gratefully describes the Chacarero sandwich: “Chacarero is a Chilean sandwich made with thinly sliced churrasco-style steak, or lomito-style pork on a round roll with tomatoes, green beans and chili pepper.” Mine was steak with a heap of fresh green beans, chili pepper and tomato. Also notice the dips of mustard and guacamole. Woo-ha! Got you all in check.