Thursday, September 30, 2004

interesting morning

so at about 7:30 this morning i woke up. no, not for class, or on purpose. just a tremor, gently shaking me awake. craziness. not something i've felt before. no, there wasn't any damage or anything like that, it was just a little tremor, a friendly reminder that the city i live in is on the pacific rim, and has seismic activity.

Monday, September 27, 2004

woah, a week

one of those sayings i was taught when i went to peru is proving true again: the days are long, but the weeks are short. somehow, another week has gone by. every day it seems like i've nothing to do, but somehow i do things and it becomes another day. on wednesday i went and saw mala leche, a chilean movie. yay free cinema. it was really good - though i didn't understand probably half the dialogue, due to the excessive use of slang and mumbling. but that didn't really matter - i got the idea, enjoyed the movie. thursday i saw a really bad concert, but i suppose they can't all be good. friday i saw elephant, a movie directed by gus van sant (who also directed good will hunting and a number of other movies). i'd seen it already, but not on "the big screen." it's really well done, makes you want to take pictures or make movies or something. yesterday i saw a jazz concert that was pretty good, i really enjoyed the saxophone. today i saw amelie for just 100 pesos, which is, umm, 16 cents. such a good movie. i mean, i have it on dvd and all, but for 16 cents, how can you pass it up.

i was informed of two good poets this week: oliverio girondo (argentina) and mario benedetti (uruguay). what little of them i've read so far i've enjoyed, and this week i'm going to either buy some of their books or at least check them out of a library (something i've yet to do in chile, but probably should start doing. i seem to have stopped reading for the most part since i don't want to read in english and haven't found much that i want to read in spanish. there are easy solutions to this problem, i just haven't implemented them. one answer is to read the newspaper, and another is to just start trying books. hopefully i'll start reading more soon.).

there were some other things i wanted to say, but i seem to have forgotten them. if i remember, i'll write them down and add them later. for now, i'm going to edit my essay for tomorrow and go to bed.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

on dreams - the last photo is also a part of the same project about dreams. the girl in this photo is her cousin.

auto retrato (self portrait) by/of icha

Monday, September 20, 2004

fiestas patrias

once again, i hate the internet. well, not the internet, but microsoft, more specifically, msn messenger - when you click a link, it should not open in the same window as the webpage you are currently looking at. perhaps on that webpage you were filling in a field, such as writing an entry for your blog. unless you're quick draw mcgraw with the mouse, or the backspace button, odds are you will lose those 3 paragraphs you spent the last 20 minutes writing.

anyway, what i wrote already and now get to say again was mostly about this weekend. it was fiestas patrias, roughly equivalent to the 4th of july, but with hints of thanksgiving thrown in. rather than set of fireworks, chileans eat chilean foods (empanadas, shish kabobs, and above all asado - grilled meat), drink chilean drinks (wine and chicha - fermented grape or apple juice), and dance chilean dances (cueca). kids play with kites all day (i'm not sure why, but it is aparently a traditional activity) and get them stuck in trees (i would have loved to take a picture, but the park i was at is "bien popular" according to my host brother, meaning it's a bit dangerous to walk about with expensive toys - well, not dangerous, just maybe you won't get to take your toy home with you).

on saturday i went to one of the biggest parks in the city where they have a festival to celebrate the holiday. there were insane amounts of people, families barbecuing, kids running about playing, lots and lots of kite strings to dodge. the music was mostly rumba and other pop music, but there were a couple of places playing traditional chilean cuecas. after i walked around the park and saw what there was to see (mostly other people doing the same thing or sitting around talking, eating, and drinking) i went to the gran fonda guachaca. a fonda is a tent/building with tables set up for people to eat and drink at, dance floor and live music, traditionally cueca. the fonda guachaca was in an old train station that is now a cultural center. quite a cool-looking building. as to a translation of guachaca, i'm not quite sure. it has to do with the pueblo, countryside, and the common people. i was also told things like it's the opposite of cuico (upper-class, with a strong negative connotation, usually refering to people who do things to distinguish themselves from the lower class, such as talk, dress, and act differently), and that to be a real guachaca all you have to do is drink a lot. in any case, the fonda guachaca was nice, with some really good music, and some rather annoying cuecas that can somewhat be related to bad country music. oh, fusbol is also a tradition chilean game (i'm using traditional loosely here, but supposedly they have it at all the fondas), so of course i played a game (and, not that it matters, but i won - maybe that has something to do with the table in the basement at home).

the rest of this past week was pretty eventless. i took my first test on wednesday, in abstract algebra. i think i did well, but we'll see when i get the results. on tuesday i went to a concert of XXth century french classical music, for saxophone and piano - quite good. on thursday i went to a play that reminded me of the armory free theater at the u of i, except it wasn't free (only $1.50, but that's ∞*0) nor was it affiliated with a university. it was decent, but not amazing - this could have something to do with my inability to understand any sort of artistic use of spanish, but i think it has more to do with it being an average play trying to do above average things.

now that i've had to rewrite all this, i'm going to do some reading and get to sleep.

Sunday, September 12, 2004

a week in review

this coming week looks to be lazy. i only have one class that meets on monday and wednesday since the other universities i am studying at have a week of vacation for the fiestas patrias. in theory, i could have talked to the professor and skipped class to travel, but there's a complication: our first exam is on wednesday. so much for a week of freedom and traveling. but it's no big deal - there'll be time to travel later.

let's see, this past week . . . i went to the two large cemeteries here - the catholic one and the general one. very interesting to see the difference between the two, and how it they are different from the cemeteries i'm used to - there were a lot more mausoleums that i'm used to seeing. in the general cemetery there is also a big wall with the names of all the disappeared persons from the time of the dictatorship. today, in fact, there's a number of marches going there - historical note: army General Pinochet, along with the leaders of the navy, air force, and police, overthrew the democratically elected communist/socialist government of Salvador Allende on 9/11/1973.

on wednesday i saw underground, a pretty crazy movie. yay cheap art theaters. the movie was mostly in german, i think, but maybe i'm wrong. it was directed by a yugoslavian (well, what is now bosnia) and set in belgrade, starting during WWII and continuing. definitely worth seeing, and should be available in the u.s. at a video store.

thursday i went to the top of cerro san cristobal, a big hill in downtown santiago that is a park - there's also a zoo there. from the top, you can see all of santiago in its smoggy glory. due to said glory, i didn't take any fotos - i'll wait for a clear day and then give it a shot. the city is really quite large, but seems to fit nicely inside the basin created by the mountains. after coming down from the hill, i was sitting in a park with a friend and got to have my first experience with caribineros (chilean police - since chile doesn't follow the federalist model of government, there's only two police forces in the country, both national: caribineros, just regular police, and investigarors, who do detective-like things). the caribinero came up to us and asked us for identification - not because we were doing anything or looked suspicious, but just because. "a routine check" he said. if we refused, aparently he could take us to the police station and hold us under suspicion due to refusal to identify ourselves. crazy. needless to say, we gave him our identities and therefore had no problem. my friend seemed to think that chilean law now says you don't have to identify yourself like this, but my family says otherwise (as did the program coordinators in orientation). there was a case in the supreme court about similar situation in the us.

alright, it's a beautiful day. time to go outside.

a picture of icha she doesn't know i took - despite, or perhaps because of, being a photographer she doesn't like to be in front of the camera

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

me and some girls in the program at neruda's house

Monday, September 06, 2004

trip to isla negra

yesterday i went to isla negra with the program. it's not really an island, despite the name. got to see pablo neruda's house that he designed - he always said it was really a boat. it has small doors and there are those statues from the prows of boats all over the place. there are also bits of art from all over the world. pretty cool house. after seeing his house and hanging out on the beach for a bit we went to the little town of Curacaví were there is a little chocolate factory that makes some of the best chocolates in the world. the chocolate is made with an old artesenal recipe, and thus contains no sugar. only 20 people work in the factory and they make 40,000 chocolates a day. the chocolates contain unconventional things: cheese, lime, chile peppers, rosemary, or basil, just to name a few. they were different, obviously, but really good. unfortunately i can't bring any home since they only have a life of 30 days, even less if they contain cheese. we also visited a chichería, where they make chicha, which is fermented grape or apple juice, a sort of hard cider more or less. it is considered a traditional chilean beverage, and will be very popular in two weeks during the fiestas patrias, the equivalent of the 4th of july.

today i went and saw the excellent chilean film machuca which won some sort of award at cannes. now i get to write and essay about it. of to work . . .

in the window of the bar in neruda's house

tomb of pablo neruda and his third wife Matilde Urrutia

pablo neruda's head sculpted on the beach

pacific ocean at isla negra

Sunday, September 05, 2004

cordillera nevada, a few weeks ago

matahari - a picture icha took at the concert on tuesday

Friday, September 03, 2004

ah, participation

man. sometimes i hate shortcut keys. why does the backspace have to be the back button in the browser? i mean, it's nice, i use it all the time. but i just erased what i spent 20 minutes writing, and this post won't be the same as the original. so it goes.

okay, so, this week was nice, i felt like i was actually a part of something, or maybe just like i actually live in this city. tuesday i went and saw a chilean band, matahari, record an acoustic cd. their music was good, "soul," or so i was told, though i'm not sure i agree with the classification, i haven't a better one to offer. i would probably see them again if given the chance, and i will hopefully buy the cd i watched them make. that would be a nice souvenir.

umm, yesterday. i saw the best movie i've seen in a while: y las vacas vuelan. literally, "and cows fly," but more accurately "and pigs fly." it was a metafilm, that is, a movie about making a movie, which of course makes it nice and onionlike. it was directed by a (okay, hold on. i just checked using this wonderful resource of an interenet, and have to change what i was about to say) chilean and filmed in santiago. the main character, though, is from denmark (and in the movie he makes a movie, hence the confusion) and therefore i could empathize with him throughout, in his troubles with the language and his overall perspective on the city as an outsider. as the title indicates, it was also a movie about lying - for example, they lied to me and made me think it was by a danish director. the last scene of the movie is the best 5 minutes of cinema i've ever seen. i'd tell you all about it, but i don't want to ruin the surprise. i don't know if you'll be able to find the movie in the u.s., so i'll try to bring it home with that cd if i can find them. after the movie, which i saw with two girls from the program, ie gringas, we went to a meeting of miercoles po, a group of students (the name translates as "wednesday, of course") from one of the universities i'm studying at, where i got to meet a bunch of other foreign students, notably many from france, as well as chileans.

today: no classes. fun fun. went to another language partners meeting, and this time i had a language partner, named pilar, instead of a whole group of chileans to talk to. she, like all the other language partner chileans, studies english in the university, so we talked half in english, half in spanish, and for a while each of us in our nonnative tongue. all this talking in spanish is heloing, i can tell, but i still don't speak as well as i would like. conjugating verbs on the fly is rather cumbersome at times, but i suppose that's why i am here, or at least that's what i keep telling myself. later, i went and saw a play with icha (the friend i made on friday, "icha" is short for "maritza") at the spanish (as in spain) cultural center. it was a part of the IV Festival de Dramaturgia Europea Contemporánea (4th festival of contemporary european drama), a collection of a bunch of new european dramas that are being shown for free. it was called "extinción" written by a spanish playwright. good and modern - the fourth wall was completely shattered, including one part in which a row of lights sitting on the stage was turned on, illuminating the whole audience. i like the show, and understood most of it, except a few bits of rapid dialogue (or monologue) and some of the jokes. overall a good show.

ok, now i'm tired, after writing this whole thing twice. so i'm going to bed, hopefully tomorrow i'll find a good book to read (something i've been meaning to do for oh so long) and maybe take pictures of the city to show you what some things look like.

ok, goodnight. and maybe i won't delete this before i post it . . .