Monday, June 11, 2012

a chile summer

bust of abe lincoln in the park
along avenida de andres bello.
i've been in chile for one week. in that time, i have butchered the spanish language innumerable times: telling our program liaison that i was married instead of tired; asking the grocer how to prepare a plantain instead of whether it is ripe; and repeatedly referring to hills as pigs. conversationally, i'm a mess. but it hasn't stopped me from doing what i do best: navigating public transit, finding parks and used book shops, and fraternizing with strangers. 

santiago is at the foot of the andes. fyi. for me, this came as a surprise through the airplane window. it's a large city (7 or 8 million), but it manages to feel pretty intimate. probably because my days revolve around a 2-mile path between my apartment and school and the study abroad group includes super-hospitable staff and students from the universidad de chile. 2011 brought significant student protests (primarily) regarding the post-secondary education system. the effects of those protests linger on campus and in lunchtime discussions. but my evenings have included, primarily, culinary exploration with surprise concerts/dance parties here and there. my classes have been fantastic overall. especially the comparative approaches to social justice course. socio-politically speaking, three things have stood out to me: (1) privatizing just about everything, the chilean government puts u.s. conservatives to shame; (2) chile abides by a civil code (like the french) instead of common law (like the english and us). that means rules and regulations, not court decisions, determine how the law develops. (3) the catholic church has greatly influenced, and continues to influence, social norms and laws. i look forward to getting to know the city better over the next few months.
villa grimaldi, parque por la paz
human rights tour with the study abroad crew

we spent the weekend in viña del mar and valaparaiso. it's autumn here so it's pretty cold (somewhere between la and nor cal, temperature-wise), but i relished my time with seafood and the pacific ocean. i vacationed the nights away with karaoke and dancing. paradise, indeed. i also gambled in a casino for the first time. after winning $50 in a game akin to black jack, i decided to tap out and check gambling off my bucket list. today's highlight was definitely a photo expedition in valaparaiso with study abroad friends, jen and sarah. we met a lovely gentlemen, hector, who lives in the former vacation home of bernardo o'higgins, which is located in a now-modest neighborhood in the hills.

but it's nearly one and class comes early tomorrow. so the rest of the stories will have to wait. or to be told via incriminating photos on facebook. 'til the next time, love from santiago. 

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