Monday, August 17, 2009

The Land of Dirt and Dogs

So today is my two and a half week mark in Antofagasta! My spanish has been improving rapidly and now I can manage to communicate with my host parents, the collectivos drivers, street vendors, and if I'm having a good day I can manage to make small talk with the students at my school. This is quite an accomplishment for me considering when I first arrived in this city all I could make out was mumbled spanishesque grunts when people attempted to talk to me.

I have officially started teaching at a small school that is a few blocks up the hill from my house. The neighborhood is covered in dirt, stray dogs, corner vendors, trash and graffiti... strangly enough, I find it quite charming. The kids in the school are all great, they are so shocked to see a gringa (white-girl) at their school! they are constantly walking up to me asking me questions about American celebrities, they are obsessed with Michael Jackson and one of my younger students memorized his song, 'We are the World,' and sang it for me in front of his whole class. Even though he didn't know what the words meant, he pronounced everything perfectly. I almost cried.

I am teaching 1st to 8th grade at two different schools, the one I mentioned above and another military school that is 30 minutes north of where I live. The carpool to work every morning is absolutely hillarious. I ride with 3 to 4 Chilean women who speak rapid fire, chilean espaƱol. They are really nice and I think they might be funny women because they're always making each other crack up. Sometimes I think they're laughing at my horrible attempts at communicating with them, I accidently told one of them that I wanted her when I was trying to say I liked the mountains... This has happend to me on a few occasions, but I shrug it off and keep telling myself that the frustration and embarasment is just part of the learning process.
One of my favorite parts of this city are my drives to the center with the collectivo drivers. I know 2 of them by name at this point and they think that I am absolutely insane. One, for wanting to come to Antofagsta, andTwo, because I never know where I want to go so I end up driving around aimlessly and spontaneouly yell at them to stop when I see a place that looks interesting enough to get out at. I think that I, along with the other 8 volunteers in this city, stick out like a sore thumb.

Yesterday, me and some volunteers took a break from the city and went exploring the outskirts of Antofagasta. We took drove an hour south of the city, went off roading in a toyota prius, and finally after about 4 wrong turns, found El Mano de Desierto. A huge sculpture in the middle of nowhere. Apparently it is supposed to be dereted but when we arrived, a whold bunch of people were there reconstructing the hand! it was really weird.

After we went to see the hand, we decided to drive two hours north to a ghost town. The place used to be a mining town back in the day when nitrate compounds were being mined out of the desert here, but now since they are no longer mining the compounds, the city was deserted.

We locked the keys in the car, and luckily enough there was a man at the ghost town (weird) that had the perfect tools in his car to unlock our door.
We still hadn't had enough adventuring so we went to one of Antofagasta's most prominent natural monuments 'La Portada'
The Crew! Paul, Rachel, Jamie and Katy. Paul, Rachel, Jamie and I are all teaching in Antofagasta, and Katy is from the WAY south of Chile, she came up to Antofagasta for a teaching debate that was held this past weekend.

1 comment:

  1. Clearly the lone man with the tools followed you to the ghost town with the intention of breaking into your car regardless of whether or not you asked him to.