sábado, junio 24, 2006

Happy memories.

I just got pictures of Quintay - a beach that I travelled to with my housemates. Thanks, Nick! This first one may come as a shock. Certainly did first time I saw it. I'm not sure I've ever seen me this happy! Taken in a little seaside restaurant after a great meal with a very sweet waitress.

My housemates, walking with their dogs. Well, you can barely see the dogs but believe me they are there. I like how this photo came out. You may call me retarded for not asking them to turn around and say cheese but sometimes you just don't want to bother people, ya know?

I obviously hate bothering people.

My dream home. Can you imagine? Anyone visiting would have to cross that rickety bridge. The perfect hideaway.

A fisherman that caught my eye. Hard to believe I lived in such a gorgeous country. Before my flight took off for NY, I promised myself I'd go back one day. Soon, I hope.

domingo, junio 18, 2006

Happy Father's Day!

This marks a momentous occasion. It is probably the first time I've been home for Father's Day in over 4 years. Yes, that is a very long time. And I'm still doing cards over the internet! I'm retarded.

My dad is great. I mean, who else grew up with trilobite fossils in their garage? He's a biology teacher. When my brother and I were little, we used to bring home shiny, interesting rocks. My dad would tell us what was quartz, rose quartz, limestone... One time we nabbed a huge rock from the woods near the public pool. It was larger than both our heads put together so we smashed it on the street and took home a few of the pieces. My dad never knew how we could find something like that just walking around the block - the rock had lots of shiny silvery specs called mica. It isn't valuable or anything. But it sure was exciting to know my dad thought the rock was unique. Thank you, Dad, for making NJ less boring and for having one of the best DVD collections I have ever seen!

My father, the man who jumps for joy when bread goes moldy (this means he can bring it to class!). This is not the best picture of us, but it is unfortunately the only one I have on this computer. My brother looks a bit ticked-off. This was taken at the airport, the one and only time I came to visit from Singapore.

Happy Father's Day!

viernes, junio 16, 2006


I have lots to say but I really want to go play basketball. It's nice out - boiling hot and sunny. I'm in NJ. There is not much to say about NJ. It's a boring state where people live and raise kids. Lots of people write songs about it. I could never figure out why. I take lots of walks here. There's nothing much else to do seeing as I live in the middle of nowhere. The nearest place of business is a supermarket and that's a 40 minute walk.

Some pictures:

I don't know what bird hatched this but it was probably a robin. There are robins everywhere.

This is the beginning of a patch of forest near a main road. When I was little my dad used to stop the car here so we could pick tigerlillies. Unfortunately, there are none now. I think they bloom in August. The 'no hunting' sign is up because lots of deer live in these woods and crazy Americans like to shoot stuff.

Blue jay in a pine tree. Futher up this road is my old elementary school.

I like to think it died of boredom. Poor thing.

Time to shoot some hoops!

jueves, junio 01, 2006

Read and learn. I hope this never happens to anyone.

I ran out of the house this morning to cash my last paycheck. I got to the bank, waited online, got the cash, and started to walk down the street looking for a place to eat lunch. All of a sudden, a woman taps me on the shoulder. She is talking to a fat, tan man in a light brown leather jacket. She asks me to help the man. He’s from the countryside and doesn’t know how to read. She’d be happy to help him but doesn’t have the time. He explained the rest. His father sent him to Santiago from Rapel (the boondocks) to collect on a lottery ticket. On a piece of paper, he had the address of some lawyer his father had sent him to so that he could get the money. You can get more money at once if you go through a lawyer, he says. I answer, yes, it works the same in the US. It’s only a block away, so I agree to take him. I’ve had to ask for directions countless times since I got to Santiago. It’s not uncommon for people to go out of their way to walk you somewhere. I didn’t think twice about it.

When we are almost there we see a man in a tie and sweatervest approaching. From now on, I refer to these two as ‘Illiterate’ and ‘Tie.’ By this point Illiterate knew I was a foreigner. He stopped Tie just to make sure that he was heading up the right street. He shows Tie the piece of paper with the address. Illiterate wants to tell Tie the whole story. He pulls out his lottery ticket which is stuffed in an envelope along with the money his father had given him to come to the city. I tell Illiterate to put the money away. It’s not safe to be waving cash about like that. Tie tells us we shouldn’t go to the lawyer because the lawyer will charge legal fees. At this point it is all a bit too much for me. I want to go get lunch. How do I get rid of these two? I tried, but Tie tells me something along the lines of what’s a few minutes of your life just to help another person? I’ve met with so many genuinely kind people in Chile that I think to myself, yeah, ok, just finish the business and be on your way.

Illiterate wasn’t feeling well. He went to the bathroom in McDonalds while Tie and I went to a Lottery office to verify that his was the winning ticket. We had written the number on a piece of paper and told Illiterate we’d go and check for him. Sure enough, it was the same number as we saw on the board in a lottery office. We went back to the McDonalds and Illiterate said he was very sick. But his father would kill him if he didn’t get the money. Could we do it for him?

This was a lot of money we were talking about. $10,000,000 pesos was what he said he would get right away. That’s $20,000USD. But he wanted us to give him something to guarantee we wouldn’t run off with his money. Tie offers his identity card. Illiterate doesn’t think that’s enough. Tie offers him his bag. He shows he’s got his wallet inside with bills and some papers from work. They ask me to give something to but I refuse. I ask Tie to carry the lottery ticket. If I have nothing, then it doesn’t matter. Illiterate takes me off to the side to tell me that he trusts me more than Tie. He wants me to hold the ticket. Only, I have to hold it in his bag – the bag his father gave him. The bag was a little brown cotton sack with light blue flowers. As a superstition, he wanted me to put my money in the bag with the ticket. I’d put the bag with flowers inside my messenger bag. At this point I’d spent so much time with these two, I was willing to do anything to end it all. I refused at first but then said ok. I handed him the money I had just got at the bank and watched him put it in the bag. Illiterate then gave me the bag and off we went – Tie and I. Tie quickly told me he didn’t feel right leaving Illiterate alone and ran off before I could say anything. I had the paper with the address of a place to collect the money. I took a few steps and then realized this just couldn’t be. I opened up the bag inside my bag and guess what – it was stuffed with newspaper! Somehow, Illiterate had switched bags on me! I lost about $200US. I ran as fast as I could back to where I last saw the men, but they had gone.

I couldn’t find a policeman anywhere. They are all downtown, beating up and gassing student protesters. I hysterically told my story to a security guard in McDonalds. She couldn’t do anything for me except get me a glass of water and tell me to calm down. From there I ran as fast as I could to the police station – a 20 minute walk. By the time I got there I was coughing like I had bronchitis (when you run, you breathe in 3x as much pollution), shaking from the trauma of the whole thing, and shivering from the cold outside. I had run all the way with my jacket open. On top of all of this I had to tell the above story in a foreign language to a stone-faced police officer who was more interested in writing up a nice report with very sophisticated language than he was in serving justice. Other policemen had heard of this con, but never one so complex. Usually it happens in 2 minutes and the story is much simpler. I was with Tie and Illiterate for what was possibly 30+ minutes.

What a fucking elaborate con - 3 people, working together! The police think the woman who originally got my attention was also involved. From now on, if anyone talks to me out there - NO ESPANOL. Not even if you ask for the time. Got that? Nothing like this has ever happened to me before. I feel like shit. How fucking stupid can someone be?

My excellent housemate, Nick, had a cup of tea with me after I told him what happened. He told me everyone gets scammed or robbed here at least once. Even he's been through it. It was nice to hear that after the policeman I was dealing with told me – you know, this really is your fault. Of course it is. Do you really feel it necessary to tell me that?