Monday, 12 August 2013

First week in Ovalle

Moving up North

On Sunday, Emily, Vivien and I took the 6 hour bus journey from Santiago to our home for the next four months, Ovalle in the Coquimbo región of Chile. We were greeted at the bus terminal by our new families. My new Chilean family is Lily (mum) and Emiliano (son, 9). Ovalle is a small(ish) place but its nestled in the countryside and yesterday it was really clear and we could see the snowcapped Andes, very impressive.

My lack of prowess in Spanish is significantly more evident now I have moved in with a family who speak zero English. At present I am like a mime artist and have adopted the technique of adding io, or a onto the end of any english word to try and convey some kind of meaning. Miscommunications have been quite problematic, I think the worst one to date at the dinner table announcing that "I am very tasty" as opposed too the food.
Life in Ovalle
First point to life in Chile is the fact that it is impossible for me to truly assimilate into life in a Chilean town, as well as my complete lack of Spanish proficiency I am taller than 90% of the population. Stray dogs are everywhere which is really sad and unfortunately the other day I witnessed one dog eat another dog alive. Needless to say I was crying more than when Mufasa dies in the Lion King. The first day I was at school what felt like an air raid siren went off at midday. No-one else flinched, apparently its normal. Further to that I´ve lived through several earthquakes apparently, not that I was aware of any.
Bieber Fever
It´s hard to imagine the true global appeal of Justin Bieber until you leave the UK. Him and One Direction are literally EVERYWHERE. I can´t find a place to buy shoes that fit but I can buy a whole range of Harry Styles memorabilia.
He sold your face
Equipped with minimal Spanish I attempted to send a letter to the UK, and after spending 1 hour queuing I finally managed. All went swimmingly until she announced it cost 17300 pesos which is essentially 25GBP. Somewhere along the line I must have asked for personal hand delivery. I told my new family about the drama and I was told, "we have an expression here in Chile, he sold your face". So essentially they saw the stupid gringoe coming and made a tidy profit. Note to family and friends, from now on email only.
Chilean School
I have been observing my clases in preperation for next week. From what I was told to expect my school seems very well behaved, however there still are some behaviours which are quite different to a British school. In one class my students were giving each other a full manicure. One of my biggest worries before coming to Chile was that I would not be able to remember the childrens names but after listening to the register and every third student is called Maria, Fernanda, or Pablo I am no longer concerned. My school seems really nice and I am excited to start teaching the classes 11-17 years old.
Dancing in Chile
On Tuesday we atended a local Zumba class which was absolutely AMAZING. The women was a proper latino chica and there was lots of shimmying and salsa steps. We also attended a dance class where we unfortunately (minus Vivien) embarrassed the UK by our shocking salsa ability. Despite that there was one reggaetón routine to SEAN PAUL, and I restored some national pride by replicating a standard night in Cogz (lufbra reference). On Saturday we had our first real experience of a Chilean club. It starts much later than the UK but was sooo much fun. My height was once again problematic though, and after a few pisco sours we found it highly amusing that I was significantly taller than the bathroom stall.
  • attending a dance class and getting down to SEAN PAUL
  • our Friday evening welcome party with our new families and teachers
  • the scenery around Ovalle
Interesting things..
  • completos (hot dogs) the unofficial food of Chile
  • the amount of times I am asked if I am related to Cindy Crawford
  • how blaze Chileans are about earthquakes
Until next time

1 comment:

  1. very amusing.keep us posted with more stories of your chilean adventures senorita & if it ever gets too cold up there close to the Andes " dont forget to chew some RED HOT CHILLI PEPPERS or listen to a few of their hit tracks to help you feel warm :)