Saturday, March 29, 2014

Fabulous Fulbright Functions

Hello, everyone! I just returned from 3 days in Santiago. Fulbright Chile always hosts new Fulbright Scholars and Students after they've settled in for about a month. The Scholars gathered on Thursday morning to present their projects and take questions.

After the presentations, which were over around lunchtime, I went to lunch with Alex (another English teacher), Jim (doing very interesting research on the effects of new infrastructure on society) and MJ (an expert in academic writing and supporting multilingual scholars). MJ and I corresponded quite a bit while she was settling in in Santiago, and I met her a couple of weeks ago in Viña. I also have a link to her blog on my page, so you can check out what she's doing. She was kind enough to host me two nights, as Fulbright only paid for one night of my stay.
View from my bedroom at MJ's:
We had a nice wine and cheese event Thursday night, then Friday we all went to the just re-opened PreColumbian Art Museum, which was wonderful! Sadly, the batteries in my camera didn't hold their charge, so no pictures there. After a delicious lunch with everyone, including Fulbright staff, the people who have helped us so much here, MJ and I went to Los Dominicos, a great artisan center. Take a look at the Wikipedia entry for some details of the history of the place:
I bought an alpaca/cotton shawl for 19,000 CLP, or about 35 dollars. I had wanted something to keep in my office, because I'm always cold there. (Well, I'm pretty much always cold here in general).
It was nice to see the sun, and enjoy some warmth in Santiago-It is warmer in Santiago than Viña, at least for now. When winter is here, it will be the reverse, warmer here (but not warm ) than in Santiago.
The church:

MJ admiring some antique wooden stirrups:

I have to take Joel here, he'd love the cats:
When we were ready to leave, it was a little after 6 p.m. so we both had our first taste of the legendary rush hour crowds on the Santiago metro. While there are no employees who help pack people into the trains, as I've heard happens in Tokyo, the passengers themselves were more than willing to pack themselves. Oh, and it was hot, because few of the cars have AC. Getting off was the really difficult thing, as you have to push and squeeze your way out before the doors close, and people either can't, or won't move out of the way.
Back at MJ's place, after a yummy salmon dinner (I'd brought the fish from home) I slept well, then took the bus back to Viña this morning. All in all, a nice break from all the planning, teaching and grading I've been doing.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Valpo Art

As promised, here is some of the lovely art that makes Valparaíso so distinctive.
Interesting locomotion:

'Kiltro' is what Chileans call a mixed breed dog. (Kiltro was also a popular martial arts movie here from 2006). 'Aguarda' does not mean guard, it means to await, expect or watch for. So this dog is on the look out for the CIA:
 A giant quail, pigeon...well, a bird of some kind!
 Right along the tracks for the Metro. Behind the wall is water, and you can see the top of a pilot boat:

I'll try to get a better shot of this last one later. You can see this sculpture from the metro, near Valpo. These cars are hanging from giant clothes pins.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

A fine dia in Valparaíso

After listening to some of "Whada ya know" on NPR this morning (Feldman was in Washington, right across from Peoria) we headed out to Valparaíso for a little ascensor riding. First we tried Ascensor Artillera, but it appeared to have been shut down for quite a while, as there were vines growing over it. At least we were escorted there by a friendly dog, who went with us all the way from the Metro over to the ascensor, a distance of about 12 blocks.
 So we backtracked to Ascensor Cordillera, which we took up, thinking we could walk up the hill and take Ascensor San Agustin back down. But we were stopped by a carabinero, who told us it was a bad idea for tourists to go up that hill. He let us know that people had things grabbed from around their necks: purses, cameras, etc. He directed us to a little museum which we went to instead.

The museum was a house built for Thomas Cochrane, 10th Earl of Dundonald who was really quite an interesting man. Horatio Hornblower, and Master and Commander were both based on his life and exploits.
"The Museo del Mar Lord Cochrane was built in 1842 for the dashing Scottish naval hero Lord Thomas Cochrane (who set up Chile's navy), but was never occupied by him. The building, a tile-roofed, colonial-style house above Plaza Sotomayor, held Chile's first astronomical observatory."


The exhibit that we saw was a series of photos of plankton and other tiny sea creatures. And yes, there were stunning views:

Next, we decided to head over to Ascensor El Peral, which I'd been up last weekend with MJ. You can see it here, in the distance, under the building with the green roof (that's Museo de Bellas Artes):
So we got one more picture in at Lord Cochrane's place, then it was down the stairs next to Ascensor Cordillera (or, Ascensor Gato, as we saw at least 5 cats on the way up:

Joel was pretty fashed by then (one of my favorite British terms) thus the next stop was something to eat. Joel was also a bit tired, as you can see, although he perked up later.
We then went back down to the metro via the Ascensor Concepción. This one cost 300 pesos, or about 60 cents, but all the others were only 100 pesos. I think it best to end here, and put up some of the mural art in another post. Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Long time no post

Yes, it was a busy weekend as I anticipated in my last post, and fun too! We started it on Friday with a lovely meal with Katherina and her husband Carlos, and their two adorable children. They live in Upper Recreo, at 34 Volcan San Jose. If you google map the address, then rotate back to the left and click once,  you can see Emily, the family dog peering at the camera from the patio above the garage. Joel was very taken with her. Well, so were Steve and I!

After onces, or tea, (we came around 4:30, so it wasn't dinner) Katherina walked us back down from her section of town to ours. It is a bit over 3 kilometers, and we wound through some interesting neighborhoods, down steep streets and several passages with stairs, until we reached Alvarez (or Alvares, depending on the street sign). Katherina took a bus back up Agua Santa and we continued on home.
Some murals on Alvarez:

A little more to catch up. Last Thursday Steve and I walked Joel to school then headed over to Portalas only 2 stops  away from us on the Metro. It was early enough to watch the small fishing boats get winched up onto the dock, put on trailers and towed onto land with a small pick-up truck. 
We bought a salmon, and saw the biggest calamari steaks ever! If you go to Steve's blog, he's got the really good pictures, but here are a few from me:
My fabulous husband:
  I love these boats. They are actually quite small. The first picture shows two with contrasting ladies on them.

 Winching up a boat, with sea lions in the foreground:

Friday, March 14, 2014

Photos to warm us up

It is getting cooler here. Yesterday and today, it has been cloudy with temps in the upper 40s at night, and low to mid 60s during the day. So when I walk Joel to school in the morning, its in the low 50s. Not bad, I know, but with no central heating, things inside stay chilly all the time.

So I thought I'd take a minute this morning to post some warm weather pictures from last Sunday when we went for a stroll to the little beach near the famous flower clock. Hoping this weekend will be clear and warmer!

Do you ever get the feeling someone is watching you?
Yum, sandwich, cigarros and beer!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Days of Wine and Avocados

Yes, after a hard day's work, I get to come home to a glass of delicious Chilean wine, and avocado in some form or another. A kilo of palta as it is known here, is less than 2 dollars so we have it almost everyday. If it is here, it is featured in at least one meal a day, if not more. Joel is particularly happy with living in the land of palta, as he has let us know he could eat it at every meal. We don't know when the season will be over, or what we'll do when it is over...maybe the greenish tinge in our skin will fade.

Today 7 out of 19 students came to class. Only one emailed in a reason for missing, and another sent word with a fellow student. When I mentioned this low number to Millaray, my office mate, she said this isn't unusual at all.

I'm struggling some with trying to figure out what I need to do. I did get a syllabus, which I think I mentioned in another post I was happy with-interesting unit topics with which to structure our learning around. The issue is, I was not told about an important language exam that some of my students will take at the end of the semester, not what they learned last year, or really very many specifics about what grammar we are supposed to review or learn. This sounds like I'm complaining, but I'm not-I'm just trying to explain some differences between here and at home. People are very giving of their time, and have been very helpful when I ask questions, but I have to figure out what to ask. Things will work themselves out, I just want to make sure I'm covering what I need to.

Those of you who know me can tell which is my desk:

It looks like I will be having a busy weekend-my colleague Katerina has invited us to dinner tomorrow (Friday), then Saturday is market day, as well as a visit with MJ, another Fulbrighter who is in Santiago and is coming to Viña for the weekend. 

Sunday, March 9, 2014

A lazy Sunday morning

So, it is after 9 a.m., and I am still lying about in bed. Steve and Joel have been up for at least an hour, but Miss Lazy Bones is enjoying the brief time I have between my bad night's sleep (a product of my aging kidneys and my over-active brain) and having to get up and DO something! Nice of the guys to let me have this time to relax.

I've spent this time productively, reading some other blogs. One is by a woman who lived in Chile for quite a long time, wrote extensively, and had a good base of readers who commented on her writings. One post I found quite interesting is her self titled rant about the perpetual student strikes. These seem to be an annual event, have a season, and have been going on for ages. One of the really good things about this post is how both expats and Chileans wrote comments. I recommend you read it, as clearly I do not have the knowledge for what I've been told by my students and colleagues will be coming soon.

Sorry that I couldn't put in an active link: for some reason, blogger wouldn't allow the hash tag character in this address!

Speaking of blogger-it is a nice, simple site for a newbie blogger like me, but has its issues. As in the above mentioned link bit. Another that bugs me, is how it is difficult to get text to wrap around pictures, and strange things happen with the size of text-which you may have noticed with some of my posts. Steve is working with wordpress, which seems to have a nicer layout. Of course,  it could just be that he has a really great writing style and knows what he's doing because he's a technology guy that make his blog enjoyable. Steve's is the other blog I've spent time with this morning. He really writes well, and you must go read his entries. I have a direct link on the left, which I've mentioned before. But if you haven't visited his blog, you should-I really liked reading his take on things!

Well, I do need to get up and get moving. In addition to wanting to go out and enjoy another bright, warm day (the gray cool will soon be upon us), I also have a lot of school work to do before tomorrow!

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Dia de las mujeres

It is actually HOT in Viña today, very surprising. Up into the 80s, which I understand is quite unusual here. So I believe I may take advantage, and go to the beach on this lovely International Woman's Day. I hope everyone out there is being nice to the women in their lives, and women, go have some fun!

Yesterday, Joel stayed out of school because we'd planed on getting his paperwork in for his cédula (identity card). But surprise! The office opened at 8, not 9, and there must have been about 300 people ahead of us. Many places (stores, government offices) have take a number system, which keeps things orderly. But there was no way I was going to wait 4 or 5 hours. Plus, I saw a sign that said they'd be open today in the morning from 9-1. So we showed up at 9, and there were 47 people ahead of Joel and I. It only took 1 hour and 50 minutes.

So here is a selection of photos of the walk that Joel and I took on Friday, instead of turning in his paper work.

 A church on the corner of Alvarez and Grove, in case you want to visit someday. Or walk down the street virtually, in street view.

A charming house across Grove street from the church-looks kind of European, doesn't it, with the hotel? I cropped the modern building to the left almost all the way out.

Our first funicular (inclined plane railroad). There are 15 or so of these in Valparaíso, which are over 100 years old. This one was much newer, down a side street between the Civil Registry office and our place. I think it was put in in the 60s. Joel said "this is NEW?" There was a nice, quiet neighborhood at the top, where we strolled around for a while, marveling at how quiet it was. Joel said he liked the quiet better. I do too.
On the way down, a nice view. Of both Joel and Viña.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Shake, rattle and roll

Before this morning, the last earthquake I felt was several years ago in the middle of the night in Peoria, when a fairly strong quake occurred in southern Illinois. I thought Steve was snoring then, and poked him until the bed stopped vibrating. There was no mistaking what woke us up at 1:37 a.m. this morning for snoring. It was a 5.3 or 5.4, depending on what website you look at. The epicenter was fairly close, only about 30 minutes from here, and it went on for about 10 seconds which got our attention, but was over before we got out of bed. Joel slept through it!

I took my camera to school today so I could get a few pictures around campus.

Here's a picture of the front gate-fairly unassuming looking place from this side.

But behind the school, there is a lovely lagoon (lake). These next pictures were taken from the balcony on the seventh floor of my building, which is where my office is. The first is looking across to the Sausalito Stadium. Viña is a sister city to Sausalito, CA, and named the area where my campus is for that town.

The next picture down shows the new skate-board park on campus. There are also two new grass tennis courts, and a soccer field. None of these seem to be open yet.

A little cat I've seen a couple of times in the same spot, across the street from campus, where I wait for my colectivo in the afternoons. 

 And right next door, another one:

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

A beautiful day

I'm broadcasting from my comfy apartment! We have wifi now, and as Steve said "Whoo Hoo!" Not that going down to the building lobby was bad at all. This is simply more convenient, and installation was just in time for me to facetime with my sister tonight, which is nice.

Today was our third day of school (both for Joel and me). My first class on Wednesday starts at 11:45, so I walked Joel and his bags of supplies to school. Everything is up hill in the morning- We go up Von Schroeder, a short street, with a VERY steep bit at the end, which terminates in a set of stairs. Next is Agua Santa, a gradual, but decided hill. A tiny respite is had on Merced Oriente, the street where St. Paul's is located. But wait, the school is built into a hill, and the student stairs are terribly steep (4 flights). Are we there yet? Nope, next comes 3 flights of stairs to get to Joel's classroom. I went home and recovered with a cup of tea before I went to work. For a flat-lander like me, this is quite an adventure! Can't wait to go to Valparaíso this weekend, and tackle some REAL hills!

Here's Joel in his new uniform. He came out of his room on Monday (the first day of school) and announced "Even my underwear is gray."  My boy has a sense of style!

I had a nice class this morning, although I think I scared my poor students with the activity I did. I'd had them read a newspaper article last night, and when they came to class I asked them to write the answers to some questions about the article, without looking at it. Some were really worried when they couldn't do this-I did not intend to create anxiety, but this first part of my activity produced some. We went on to discussion in pairs, looking at each other's writing, and yes, referring back to the article. So everyone was happy in the end.

Back in the office, I settled in to prepare for my children's literature class, which was to start at 3:40. This class is an elective, and meets once a week, so today was the first time we were to meet. A little before 2, I got a call from school with Joel saying school was over, and he needed to be picked up, but dad wasn't answering his phone. We'd been told by my friend Paul Quick, who was a Fulbrighter here last year (and who's son went to the same school) that they never could figure out when school ended, and it seemed to change daily. Yesterday I'd gone to the office to ask when school would be out. I was told classes ended at 1:35, then lunch was over at about 2:20. Steve showed up at 2:15, and then waited until 3:45 before the students were dismissed. Seems like for some reason they had a double math class in the afternoon. So, we figured they must be having some extra classes this week, before the afternoon electives started. Wrong. Today, no lunch, and the kids got out at 1:30...

Anyway everything worked out fine. I'd dropped everything, and ran out to catch a colectivo (shared cab)  back down the hill so I could get Joel. Luckily, when I called Steve one last time, he answered. He hadn't recognized the phone number (names aren't displayed on our phones), so he didn't answer.

This has been a long post, so I'll have to tell you another time what happened with my first children's lit class!

Monday, March 3, 2014

New digs

A few posts ago, I said I wasn't going to put up pictures of what we started calling The Dump, our temporary apt. I'd hoped to be able to stay there, but it really was terrible... Well, I've changed my mind about the pictures, and thought I'd put up a few so you can see how nice our new place is.

Old kitchen:

New Kitchen. Sure, it is long and skinny, but such a difference!!

Old bathroom-I am not making this up, you could not sit on this toilet, as there was 5 inches of space between it an the bathtub... no place for one's legs! And sitting sideways was difficult, as it had a split seat.

The "rug" on the floor of the old bathroom, above.

New bathroom. Like the old place, we now have two bathrooms...but what a difference!
Steve admiring the view in the living room:

In short, we had a very busy weekend with moving, unpacking, figuring things out, getting started with school. Today was the first day of classes for both me and Joel. We are (all three of us) very tired, but happy. Joel started today very nervous, and came home very happy! I've got some great students, and even though I'm making things up as I go, I did have two good classes today (my English class meets twice on Monday.)