Tuesday, 27 September 2011

August and September

Dear all dearest ones!

It is time for a fairly lengthy update for you all as I believe that the last time I made contact was in August.

Chile has gone from mid-winter (with snowy and icy Andes) to summer (with not so snowy and icy Andes) in a flash, from August, when waking up every day to a fairly harsh frost, to today, when it is almost warm enough to sleep outside. Nevertheless, Chile still has one or two surprises. One night, I awoke in my room to the sound of shaking, discarding the idea that a particularly enthusiastic couple could be performing some sort of non-Catholic ritual to each other only when my bed too started shaking. After several seconds of shaking I decided that this must be two fairly enthusiastic tectonic plates fighting: my first earthquake (apparently a 5.5 on the Richter scale.)

Just after sending my last e-mail I managed to catch the Santiago flu. It was a horrible one and it lasted for around ten days until it decided to “jog on” and when it did, it left me with a fairly severe ear infection which was not ideal either. The family was lovely and looked after me with sympathy; one evening when I was suffering particularly, two of my Chilean siblings said that they were going out to get me a cocktail. My ears pricked up, I sat up, but to my disappointed the cocktail was ibuprofen, paracetamol, antibiotics for my ear infection and freshly squeezed fruit juice. Not the cocktail of scotch, honey and lemon which is what most people would recommend.

From then it was business as usual continuing life at both the school and at university. The first time I wrote, I think I may have hugely underestimated the work load that La Católica expects us to do. Every week involves about 100 pages minimum of reading academic articles, writing reports on them and occasionally, as happened this weekend, an e-mail saying that we should write an essay with a deadline two days after the e-mail was sent. The amount of work really is extreme and the workload about three times as much as in Birmingham. Nevertheless, I’m stilling managing to keep my head above water even if the water is lapping around my neck!

The school is still going well; I have been praised, worshiped and admired by both staff and pupils but luckily, as you can see, I am learning the art of modesty! The school has been on its Spring break for the past two weeks which has given me a bit of time to do some travelling.

I started off with Valparaíso and went with a small group of friends but as usual whilst travelling, managed to meet loads of happy people, including an alcohol-induced happy Chilean stranger who decided to attach himself to a group of us for an evening: very kind but very strange.

The next trip was also to the coast, a place called Maitencillo for Chilean Independence Day. I was lucky to be invited by a friend of Sophie’s called Rafa and eight of his Chilean friends. It was an incredible weekend of barbeque, pisco and parties and was particularly good for my (what sounded like) Spanish, all be it very Chilean. ¿Cachái wéon po?

Last weekend was the university trip to Mendoza. Mendoza really is a beautiful little in town in Argentina set on the other side of the Andes (as are the Falklands, but they do not belong to Argentina!) and everyone who went experienced true Argentinean lifestyle which involves: eating your body weight in steak which still moos; turning up for any appointment or meeting at least an hour and a half late and drinking a few vintage bottles of Malbec before breakfast! Fun times. I also went paragliding there (see pictures) and managed not to fall out of the sky, always a relief.

Well, that’s all for now folks! I should think about going to bed. Hope everyone’s well, please update me with your news as per usual!

Love to all!