Lindsey Chapman's Travel Blog

A Week of Three “Firsts”
July 9, 2010, 5:07 pm
Filed under: Chile | Tags: , , , , , ,

1.  This week I started working at Colegio Anakena. My first day on the job I was greeted by a sad little girl wearing a puffy down jacket lying on the floor of the classroom, bawling her eyes out. All four of her limbs were spread out, and she had her baggie of crackers still in hand.  She was one of the most adorable four year old girls with the biggest brown eyes I’d ever seen.  As the tia started the lesson for the day, the crying didn’t subside for one moment as she was so sad to part from her mom. The tia asked me to take the sobbing niña outside to try to calm her down. I held her tightly in my arms, rocking her back and forth while whispering  “Está bien, está bien, ssshhh.” We returned to the classroom after about ten minutes where she gradually quieted down and became comfortable. I will never forget the look she gave me during the tia’s next lesson. Her eyes said, “Thank you for loving me.” From then on she has referred to me as “Tia mia.” Precious.

2.  I experienced my first Chilean World Cup win last Wednesday. They beat Honduras one to nil. I thought people in the States were obnoxious when it came to rooting for their home teams, however, I humbly concede that Chilean celebrations far exceed any celebration of a sporting event I have ever witnessed or heard of in the States. It is not even in the same ball park. The festivities commence the night before the game and increasingly anarchy and chaos ensue, resulting in tear gas, water cannons, flares and mass destruction. I was awoken several times to honking horns, beating drums, yelling and clapping. In my sleepy haze, I thought a high school band decided to hold their practice on my head board. Work and school is either canceled or dismissed temporarily. Immediately following the game, the streets below my apartment filled with crazed fans, pooling in from every bar, house and establishment that housed a television. The crowds swelled so much that the roads had to be closed. Riot police lined the sidewalks to prevent looting and violent mob mentality.  However, the crazed celebrations simply cannot be effectively controlled and violence was sure to ensue. Eventually the riot police resorted to specially equipped vehicles that released tear gas and sprayed 50 meter streams of water.  Loco, right?

3.  What Chileans refer to as hills, I refer to as mountains. This week I ran up my first mountain, Cerro San Cristobal, which stands at 880 meters above sea level. The elevation kicked my butt, coming from an elevation of 240 meters in the planes of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, but I’ve never been on  a run with a better view. It is so amazing to look out onto a big beautiful city with the enormous snow covered Andes in the background. Photographs do nothing for something so spectacular.


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