I don’t mean to brag, really, but this is my blog, and.

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And the other weekend I had dates with girls and I went to a beer festival that is huge that is called Oktoberfest and I attended a fancy outdoor wedding with Colombian doctors in a beautiful part of Chile (I got to wear an ironed shirt (which I ironed myself (took like 45 minutes (but I wasn’t in a hurry (because my job schedule really isn’t all that taxing (i’m an ESL teacher, after all)))). I had a lovely date too, I could also point out whilst I’m shamelessly bragging, and I stayed up really late until the time my dad often wakes up the morning and I also went to a halloween party that could have been confused with a coming-of-age party out of an American teen film, if you replace the stereo-typed, hyper-stupid and debauched American teenagers with well-mannered Chilean ones. Dance it out, fire it up, but please: keep it classy.
Can Do.
Halloween Party

Howdy happy Halloween ya'll, from La Reina, Santiago (yeah that's a pool)


The halloween party was indeed quite the party. It was at a house of the parents of some university friends of the younger brother of my date. So it was my date and I and two of her friends swashbuckling with a bunch of fresh-faced 18-22 year olds. It was cool though. People were impressed with my costume. One girl actual complimented me for a good 60 seconds, and luckily she eventually stopped, as the confused, I-don’t-know-what-you-are-saying-because-I’m-foreign face had been chiseled into my expression by this point. But it did make me feel pretty good. I dressed as the Chilean soccer player Humberto “Chupete” Suazo. His nickname Chupete means pacifier. I have an official Chile jersey, and I had a pacifier and soccer gear. It was fun. My date was an Amazonian.
Excuse to wear a short leopard-skin skirt? You bettabelieveit.
The party was strictly outside in the backyard of this sweet property perched on a hill overlooking the entire city. Parents most certainly were out of town, but although there were 100 or so people and plenty of adult beverage and big fire, people were respectful. There was a DJ and lots of dancing, even though it was pretty cold at 4am. Maybe 48 degrees, which really sucks when you’re dressed as a soccer player.
So, yeahh… that was cool.

Oktoberfest
Onto the beer. Some other teachers and I hopped on crappy bus for a 34 minute trip outside of Santiago to Malloco, Chile, to check out Oktoberfest 2011. It was pretty impressive. There was a fair part with rides, which we duly ignored, and dozens of beer stalls. My friend Brett is quite knowledgeable about beer and beer-making, which came in particularly handy because a lot of beers there were actually pretty terrible. My buddy Drew and I bought this coupon book that had some deals on beer mugs, so when we got there we were trying to find the booths with the cheap beer mugs. Anyway, he gave up and just bought a mug full of beer at a random stall while I patiently held out for my discount mug. Long story short, his beer was laughably bad. I called it Pool Water and got a lot of laughs at his expense, doubly so when we realized later that the logo on his mug was actually a sticker. Good choice leaving that stupid thing by the dumpster as we left Drew!

Drew and Alejandra


Later we felt really america-centric & elitist when we all decided that the best beer there was the only one made by an American dude, a white guy from St. Louis. Now this is tasty beer, we agreed. Although there were a few other good ones. Of course distinguishing taste and quality tends to get hazy when you’re into hour 3 or so. Gotta do your duty though.

Wedding
One day I was chatting on facebook with my Australian buddy Leon, and he asks me if I want to go to a wedding with a Chilean next weekend. Sure, I say. Duh. I saw him a couple days later over a game of cards. “Where is this wedding we’re going to, mate?” I ask. “You’re going to the wedding, mate. I have to work,” says he. Hehe. SO this is going to be interesting. But the whole thing went swimmingly, as you may have surmised from the thoroughly vain theme of this post. I met the young lady for lunch a few days before the wedding in order to get to know each other. She’s 24 and about to finish her studies to be an oral doctor. The wedding took place in an area called Cajon de Maipo, and it’s very popular for its natural beauty. It was lovely. You could hear the water and it was really peaceful. And the mountains were there handy for backdrop.

That was the gang of us. A young Colombian couple, Rocio and I, and another co-worker at the hospital and her husband. They were super friendly with me, and it was a good, challenging project in the art of communication. Ship-shape, shipshape!
The bride was a school friend of Rocio’s, so that was the connection there. We didn’t know many people, which was just as well for me. The families were quite religious and had a dry wedding. We were served champagne glasses with ginger ale as well as fruit concoctions and soda. But the dinner was incredible. We were served hand and foot. Amazing steak fillets for main course, entertaining live music and dessert buffet. Snazz-y! Rocio admitted herself to have a sweet tooth, and she had a crepe, dulce de leche, cake and about 3 other types of dessert. I had a mango custard something-or-other.

"Did he say four day weekend?"


Finally, how did I squeeze all this into a weekend, you might be axing yourself. Jesup isn’t Superman!(?), so how’s he done it? you probably thought to yourself.
Four-day weekend, rest assured.

bus ride.

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It feels like ages ago back when I crossed Chile’s border on the 8 hour journey from Santiago to Mendoza, Argentina, the world capital of Malbec. Malbec is a delicious type of red wine. I went on a couple wine tours. It was really neat, although I didn’t know what the guides were talking about approximately 93.9% of the time. It sure was pretty though.

Unfortunately I don’t have any pictures of Mendoza or vineyards or wine or anything like that, but we can use this as an excuse to swiftly move to the topic of the actual journey from A to B. I was looking forward to the actual trip as much as anything to be honest, because you get to go through the Andes Mountains. Once you get close to the border, you begin this long and steady ascent, which leads you around curve after curve after curve. Sitting in the front row on the top floor of the bus gives you about a million beautiful views. Take a peek.

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(m)ayhem

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click image for news article

So this one stopped before it started. But that didn’t keep me from getting owned by teargas myself, forcing me to walk to a further subway line to get home.

Another cool part so far today was that there was a meeting today at my work about us not getting paid on time and insurance not getting paid into and whatnot. (For example, tomorrow we’re supposed to receive 40% of our check for last month’s efforts, while the remaining 60% shall be handed out sometime mid-month.) Anyway, the new CEO guy came to chat to us teachers about what’s going on and what to do. He was over 30 minutes late due to the student protest situation outside. Then he told us more or less to not rebel and bash the company and tell students about the problems, because he’s working diligently to find an investor to help get the company out of its dire financial situation. Then some hyper-pro-union teachers countered with a fervent speech, something about wanting financial transparency and a lot else that I couldn’t understand (all of this good stuff was in spanish, mind). It did get a bit firey, which was interesting. A bunch of teachers applauded the angry union teacher, while others didn’t. Then another teacher stood up and said we gotta decide if we’re for him or against him. “You either stay here, support the board and shut up, or you get out of here~!” she said, according to my sloppy and over-simplified English translation.
I applauded with them this time.
It’s time to teach the children.

Whoa, no lights!

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It happened last Saturday night, so I’m a bit late here. Claudia and I were walking down a major avenue in Santiago at 8:30PM, on our way to the the subway where we were headed to a movie theater. As it was Saturday evening and the weather was perfect, there were a lot of people about. As I looked at some peculiar chain restaurant, I was shocked to see that all its lights went out in flash, along with a dozen or so other buildings. I had about one second to process this strange occurrence, because one second later every single light in every building and street lamp suddenly went out as well. There was this really weird and funny collective murmur of surprise among our fellow pedestrians. Claudia and I chuckled.

The main stoplights were still in order, so there wasn’t mayhem among the traffic. Buses were cruising along per usual. But lucky thing the outage happened when it did; five or ten minutes later and we would have been among the thousands who needed to be evacuated from the subways, which were probably eerily dark.

We calmly walked the remaining 20 minutes toward my apartment, quietly pondering this strange occurrence. Of course it was much stranger for me. This has happened before I guess. Anyway, we’re walking down this huge street in the capital of this country and it’s pitch black. You really have to pay attention if you don’t want to bump into peds walking in the opposite direction. You can hear alarms near and far of banks whose alarms have been set off due to the outage. By this time Claudia is trying to find out what’s going on on her Blackberry, but the internet is down. Phone calls to family members don’t work. We start imagining just how many people have just lost electricity.  So much for seeing a movie tonight.

It turns out that the outage affected about 10 million of the 16 million people in the country, and all of the country’s residents of Santiago. We eventually made way to my apartment, and I made excellent use of the “torch light” function in my cell phone (so glad I changed the language back to English). I found candles in my roommate’s room and we ate crackers while Claudia managed to get a hold of some family who live in an area unaffected by the blackout.

After an hour and forty minutes of intrigue I heard the unmistakable humming of the refrigerator. Aaaaaaaaaand we’re back. I heard someone from an adjacent apartment building shout, “VIVA CHILE!” Hmm, I’m not sure how proud you should be about your country when an apparent “computer glitch” ruins your whole country’s Saturday night, but I guess I could be a bit more thankful for electricity, you know, when it’s working.

Power Blackout Stuns Chile

Buenos Aires

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Last weekend my girlfriend Claudia and I woke up really early Saturday morning (4:30!) and were soon off for Santiago Airport en route to Buenos Aires, Argentina. I was really stoked; it had been my goal to see Argentina’s capital ever since I returned to Chile in February this year. It was actually a long weekend for us in Chile because of it being their Independence Days (oh yeah, this holiday is plural). So unfortunately I had to miss out on the countless barbecues, dancing and irresponsible drinking habits which characterize Chile’s Fiestas Patrias. Well hey man, I did all that already, like back in ’09. It’s 2011, so bring on some more South American flavor.

It was fun in the lead-up to the trip, because I had a chance to talk with people here in Santiago about Argentina. So I found out that Argentina is pretty famous as being the home of tango music. Tango has a really interesting history, which is linked deeply with the city of Buenos Aires. It’s really lovely music as well as a saucy, sophisticated dance. There are some really cool, modern artists who add a modern feel to classic tango (as if I know what “classic tango” is; I could be talking total nonsense here–I’ve only read a few blog blurbs and Wikipedia). So you might be wise instead to forgive me my ignorance and simply see here that it is not only lovely, but diferente:

GOTAN PROJECT – Diferente from Ya Basta records on Vimeo.

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I spoke with some students of mine who recommended checking out Argentina’s pizza, steak, Malbec wine, medialunas (“half-moon” shaped croissant) and alfajores (shortbread cookies sandwiched around dulce de leche or manjar). Happily, I was able to enjoy all items on the above list.

"You peepin' my Malbec??"

I tried a couple different Malbecs while I was in BA, and the gulf in class between a cheaper bottle and a mid-priced bottle is indeed obvious. I began to appreciate the lower cost, high variety and general excellence of available wines in Chile, but that didn’t stop me from falling quickly in love with a certain Santa Julia Malbec Reserva 2009.

While the wine was a tad more expensive than over in Chile, many other things were definitely not. For example, one morning Claudia and I visited a very lovely coffee shop on a main avenue. For the equivalent of US $2.00, you could get one cafe latte and two delicious medialunas croissants (ooh, I almost forgot to add that we were also served a complementary dollop of Raspberry sherbet). Lunch at a small pizza joint was similarly fantastically cheap. For a large, multi-topping pizza, a pint of local bottled beer and a bottle of carbonated water, the check ended up at about $15.00. Delicious.

It should be pointed out that Buenos Aires is a very modern and metropolitan city. It is double the size of Santiago at 12+ million residents, and it feels as such. It is more diverse. There is simply more of everything, particularly traffic. Santiago has a main avenue that more-or-less slices the city into a northern and southern half. From this avenue a subway system runs below. This avenue is only 3 or 4 lanes each way, usually divided between a city block of urban buildings. Buenos Aires, on the other hand, has these massive avenues belching with traffic in countless neighborhoods out of reach of city centre. So basically it’s like Chicago, when the weather isn’t sucky cold.🙂 See here: they’ve even got a big, shiny, reflective art monument.

En frente de la Flor de Metal


All in all I was in BA for 2 nights and 3 days. Another day or two would have been really nice, but Claudia and I managed to see a lot of neighborhoods. We visited Belgrano, Palermo, Chinatown, La Recoleta, Puerto Madero, San Telmo, and Retiro so far as I know. We enjoyed the subway rides on the “Subte” despite the awkward occasion of people and more often children who try to land some coins off you. On a couple of occasions, for example, a child would walk down the subway isle and place these little print-off color calenders/public transportation maps in every other sitting passenger’s hand (or lap) and walk along. They deliver these cards and silently continue on, while passengers either look at them to pass the time or ignore them completely. The child then returns and mechanically collects the cards from the majority and collects the donations from those few who accept the card. It’s really kind of an odd experience the first go around, particularly because it’s quite obvious that the child has been doing this for some time. Adults also did this on trips. Claudia had to hold onto a mapbook/guide of BA for a few moments, and one dude managed to balance a package of mint-strawberry burst gum on my knee long enough to force me to contemplate buying it. Unfortunately for the mint-strawberry burst gum business, I just wasn’t quite ready for this kind of marketing. Too soon Buenos Aires, too soon.

It was fun for me to simply people-watch in the grand capital. I heard a lot about how Argentinians are so much different than Chileans–more European, more liberal, more prone to make a scene in public, and less conscious of/less vested interest in social status. As I was accompanied by a Spanish speaker, I didn’t have to do much of any speaking, but I really enjoyed the Argentinian accent and attitude. Like the Chileans, they are largely very kind, and they clearly make an effort to help you if you have a question, for example, about how the heck to get to this-here-spot on this-here-map.

Ohhhhhhhhhh, I see now


From the little I heard them speak, it is much clearer and easier to understand than Chilean. They also use “vos” as “you” which might not mean anything to you, but is a significant distinction from most of the rest of Spanish-speaking countries, which use the informal “tú” and the formal “usted.” Basically, or so it is argued by some, the flat use of “vos” for everyone levels the playing field so to speak, removing the social class and status barriers which get promoted and held up by distinguishing between tú and usted. I don’t know a lot about it, but it’s interesting to imagine what it might be like if we had one word for “you” to refer to, let’s say, moms and dads and other old people (jab jab), and another “you” for friends and enemies and vagrants. I’m imagining a society with a lot more walls man, a lot more walls. So gimme the “vos” then vos.

One of my favorite things about my trip was going to the restaurant La Cabrera in the snazzy Soho neighborhood of Palermo. This is a really cool area of town. Really nice: classic old houses, tons of great corner bars/restaurants, art, and even an outdoor market on the weekend. There was a mega-wait on this particular Sunday evening when we arrived at said restaurant at about 10:45pm.

Sauce/Side excellence


Forty-five minute wait, por lo menos, entonces we’re gonna have to kill some time. It’s gonna be worth it, or so they told me on the internet. It was worth it. Even on Sunday night, even at 11:45pm, the place is jiving. At La Cabrera, all you have to do is order some wine and order the type and size of steak you want (we ordered a large steak in some foreign measurement, 600 of something?). Then, they just give you about a million glorious sides of their choosing. Best thing ever. No tricky decisions to make, no regrets. Just mashed potatoes of course, and then artichoke, hummus, apple sauce, squash, peppers, salad, etc. I’ll just say that the rib-eye was excellent too, mmmmmm..
*yawn*
Ok then. You stay classy Buenos Aires. I’ll always keep a nice, warm place for you, riiiiiiiiight here.