Today marks exactly two months since I stepped off a plane in Santiago. It’s been a while since I’ve updated my blog, so there’s definitely a lot of ground to cover, but I’ll go for some of the most recent events.
There was a rather powerful earthquake in Chile just a week and a half ago. In Santiago there really wasn’t much damage, but people here definitely felt it. The magnitude was 8.3, and the epicenter was about 145 miles away from the city. (Just think, the earthquake that hit Nepal in April this year was a 7.8 and killed over 9,000 people. The 8.3 earthquake here only resulted in less than 20 casualties. I definitely trust the way Chile is prepared for these natural disasters, especially in the structure of its tall buildings!) The scariest thought to me about a powerful earthquake is the following tsunami. The wave wouldn’t reach inland this far, but it wasn’t that long ago that I was visiting coastal town and saw signs posted for “Tsunami Hazard Zone” all over the place. You can never predict when these things will happen!
So Wednesday night around 8pm on the 16th, the terremoto was felt in Santiago. I had other expat friends telling me their harrowing stories of being in tall buildings, watching things fall off the walls, hearing glasses shatter, etc. My story, however, was quite different. I was walking very quickly down the street with my roommate because we knew we were late to a language exchange we were about to attend for the first time. Her phone buzzed and she saw a message from a friend asking if she was ok after the earthquake. Continuing our pace, she brought my attention to the message, and we found out that there had just been an earthquake only moments earlier. “What? Right now??” were the questions I was asking. Neither of us felt a thing!
Even later that evening as she and I took a taxi home, she told me the radio was talking about another strong replica (aftershock) happening at that moment. Of course, we were in the car moving down the street, so again, we felt nothing. As we marveled at the events of that night at the Irish pub where the language exchange was supposed to be happening (but didn’t, due to the earthquake), people were in disbelief that I didn’t feel a thing. My roommate would poke fun at me because I was in Santiago for the big one, and totally missed my first earthquake! I also felt rather guilty when people started sending me messages of concern wanting to know if I was ok. I didn’t even experience a moment of fear, but rather, was totally oblivious until after the fact!
That being said, I have felt several replicas. There were a couple nights in a row I was woken up in the middle of the night due to my bed shaking. In one of my classes the following Monday the students and I stood under the door frame as we waited for the ceiling fixtures to stop shaking (that one lasted a couple minutes!). So now, after feeling my first earthquakes and knowing I lived through the big one, I have found that they more intrigue me than scare me. Again, I haven’t felt that many and I’m not usually up very high off the ground, but it’s fascinating to feel the sensation and realize the earth is moving.
Terremotos. Why not enjoy the drink after the event? Here is one I had in Valparaiso:
The main ingredients are pipeño (a sweet fermented white wine) and pineapple ice cream, making it a very sweet drink and easy to drink quickly. If you do, your legs may feel wobbly…hence the name: terremoto. Homemade ones are the best!
Just two days after the earthquake was Chile’s Independence Day: Dieciocho. I managed to spend the entire day with Chileans, all thanks to my roommate! Maria Jose (Cote) has been SO nice and welcoming! She took a foreigner into her home and has been kind enough to invite me to things with her friends and family. All the while I am practicing my Spanish (and she has been really patient with that too!).
This is the first picture we got together, on Dieciocho:)
On the 18th I went with her to her tio’s house for a barbecue. Can I just tell you how much I enjoyed homemade traditional foods? Empanadas de pino, asado, borgoña (I loved this drink), choripan…her family was so generous! I tried my best to communicate when possible, but it is still extremely difficult for me, and because of this, rather uncomfortable. When we were leaving, her grandma asked me which fonda we were going to (not if we were going to one), and I responded with “sí!” causing her whole family to have a hearty laugh.
One of the most interesting things I’ve realized at this point and have shared with my roommate is that I can, for the most part, understand her Spanish, but get someone new in the conversation and I’m lost. This causes me to have to look at her when someone else asks me something, and she will relay the information again to me in her own words (still in Spanish, mind you). Even so, it’s still progress from about a month ago! She’s told me she has noticed improvement too, so that gives me hope! I many times feel like a child with my speech in Spanish, structuring sentences in the same way, repeating my rather narrow vocabulary, and saying most things with a questioning intonation as I’m not sure if my words are correct. I am anxious to press forward from here!
I have much more to say and many pictures to share, but I am out of time for now! I’ll just quickly say I climbed a rather large hill yesterday and had NO idea what I was in for!! Here are some pics from the climb.
So gorgeous, and amazing weather for it, but there were times I thought I was about to die! Many times the view up looked like this:
It gets exhausting after a while! Not to mention, you have to climb down the same way. I loved the workout, but it made me realize I’m very much out of shape! I also slipped and fell a couple times. The group I was with pictured above were all Chileans. They were very generous and kind, one of them even grabbing my hand as I stepped down rocks to make sure I didn’t fall anymore. We had a good laugh about it though, and I learned some more terms in Spanish! For example, now I have “recuerdos” on my hand, which I learned also means “souvenirs”…a very scratched up hand! Ouch! “No quiero algo más recuerdos.” “Sí, es suficiente,” my new friend replied.
In other news, tomorrow morning I will be getting on a plane again and visiting Peru! I’m sure I’ll have much to share once I return!