jueves, marzo 30, 2006


That's what they call them.

But they come from cactus and taste nothing like fish.

miércoles, marzo 29, 2006


I was a bit relieved not to be performing monkey for the advanced classes tonight. I didn't have the energy. Tonight, I had the beginners.

Beginner classes at this institute are full of cops. About a year ago, many English institutes in Santiago placed a bid to teach the police/military. These guys need to learn English because they are preparing to go to Haiti as part of a UN peacekeeping mission. The institute where I teach won the bid. This all sounds very glam.

It's not.

It's not because I have cops like Mark in my class. Real name - Marco. But he thinks that if I call him by an English name, he will feel the I'm-in-an-English-class vibe just that much more. He calls me Teachita - basically Spanglish way to be affectionate with a teacher. Other teachers sometimes hear him say that in the hall and ask me how I can let him call me that. It makes me laugh. This guy makes me laugh. One class he insisted that the phrase "to shed flesh" was another way to say "to lose weight." Argued it for about 10 minutes straight. The next day he brought in a textbook written by Chileans pretending to speak English with same definition.

Today I had him in a class where we were talking about businesses. I had these guys role-play trading with China. I overheard Mark saying he was going to deal strawberries.

Before giving it two second's thought I blurt out rather informatively, "Ya deal drugs!"

The class went hushed. Did she just say a cop was gonna deal drugs?

I started to giggle and everyone giggled along with me. Mark asked me something I can't remember about this. I cackled. Then I apologized. Luckily he is an easygoing guy. And with the things he says to me on a daily basis, I really ought to be putting together a case for sexual harassment. Still, I did feel a bit bad. I can see it doesn't sound like much of anything in writing... but really, it was the same tone I use to correct my ma's English. I never do that nicely.

martes, marzo 28, 2006


I teach conversational English every night for 4 hours. 5:30-9:30PM. If I ever have a similar work schedule ever again, I hope some supernatural power is nice enough to strike me down. It would be just fine if my day started late. But when you have morning classes starting at 8:30AM and a large gap in between and you don't do naps? You must be on crack.

Anyway, with these conversation classes... at the advanced levels they leave the class up to the teacher's creativity. Meaning, you have no textbook, no programmed agenda, no nothing! I love it! I just do readings. I take an article from CNN.com I may have been too sleepy to get to during the day. I take in a book review. When I'm really down, I read Edgar Allen Poe's Raven poem with them. Maybe I do this last one a bit too much. I am teaching the Raven sometimes as often as once a week! I get a kick out of fantasizing I am just like Christopher Walken reading said poem with his students in the Dead Zone.

Today I think I went a bit too far. I had them read and analyze Black Diamond Bay by Bob Dylan. I am really getting into Dylan's narrative songs. Anything with a story. I am interested in this, so my class will be obliged discuss it with me! They liked it well enough for the first 45 minutes. Then I had another class with the same group and tried to continue with the same topic. The woman, the Greek, the hotel under molten lava. How can you not be interested?? Needless to say it was overkill. For them. I still enjoyed my class. And damn it if I didn't resent changing the topic when I saw they had had enough!

viernes, marzo 24, 2006

Espalda mojada no more!

It took them a good few months to process, but I now have a big fat Chilean Work Visa. It's nice, takes up a good page worth of space, and makes my passport cooler than ever. I'm almost tempted to post a photo of it, but putting pictures of your passport on the internet does not seem like the smartest thing to do. So I will refrain. Just believe me when I say it's neat. My title is Doña LNR, not Señora or Señorita. I wonder why that is.

I also only have just one Visa page left. I will have to purchase extra pages at the embassy. US passports are idiotically thin. This passport was supposed to last me until 2009!

lunes, marzo 20, 2006


If I can listen to classic American rock for 1 week straight, I can survive a move back to America. That's what I figure. 2 days of Bob Dylan and Neil Young and this is the state I'm in:

This is cause for concern.

sábado, marzo 11, 2006

Chile's first female president inaugurated today.

It took two rounds of voting, but she did it. Yay, Michelle Bachelet!

Campaigns were madness. I have never seen so much paper. Candidates' pictures were everywhere. Here's a street in Vina del Mar. This Lavin guy also had a 12ft tall cutout of himself walking out of the Andes Mountains in a town on the outskirts of Santiago. Unfortunately, I never got a picture of it. But trust me, the campaigning was something to see. No public space was safe from candidates' faces - buses, trees, sides of buildings, telephone poles...

And in Valparaiso. That red banner makes a funny side story. That is Chile's use-a-condom campaign. They're using the A-OK sign to encourage use of protection. Now nobody can make that hand gesture without getting a chuckle.

The list of candidates. Hey Ma, one of your people running for president - a Communist Jew! Can you spot him?

Although I have nothing to do with any of this, I am proud to be here. Proud to be in a country led by someone these people expect a lot from in the coming years. Proud, and perhaps a bit envious.

Se siente, se siente, Michelle es presidente!

viernes, marzo 10, 2006

More house photos.

Tasha, wondering what the hell I am up to.

Doggy house and grape vines through kitchen door.


Kitchen window.

Living room.

The frogs that stare at my bedroom door.


Some girl.

jueves, marzo 09, 2006

Places to go, people to see.

Just had an excellent dinner with Tom's parents. They are so nice. Even offered to pay for me because I've helped Tom with some stuff since he's been here. I think I've kind of adopted him as a little brother at times. He's the same age as Jason. Poor Jason. I am subconsciously longing to replace him with someone who is not a million miles away! Anyway, seems like Tom and his parents had a great time travelling through the south. Tom came back raving about Patagonia, which really makes me want to go. I think I will need at least 3 years here to see what I want to see (especially on my income as an English teacher!). Current wishlist for a vacation goes a little something like this:

1. Easter Island
2. Chile's Patagonia
3. Atacama Desert
4. Paraguay (Asuncion, rainforest)
5. Peru (Lima, Machu Picchu)
6. Bolivia
7. Uruguay
8. Argentina (Mendoza, Buenos Aires)

I really don't feel like waking up to teach my class tomorrow. 2 hours with a bus driver. Beginner English. I taught him the alphabet and numbers recently. I hate beginner classes in the morning. They are draining! Excellent Spanish practice though. How does the bus driver pay English lessons? Good question. Get this - his father is a wealthy man who owns a construction company in Australia. The father sent him money to study English so that he could pass IELTS and qualify for a job as a foreman with the construction company in a year. Dude's got a long way to go. Hope he makes it. He is a very sweet guy.

Have I mentioned how much I love people here? Well I do. Not a day goes by when someone doesn't make me smile about something. I don't think I've ever been in a country so full of such pleasant people. If only I could get a real job - meaning real work hours and an actual income where I could save some - dang it, I'd just stay!

My house.

I really should take more photos of this place. It captures the eye in this indescribably hippy/kitsch/stylized/off-beat sort of way. For now, it's pretty comfortable. And my housemates are great. More pictures soon!