A journey “to the snow” and an occupied school
This isn’t the long promised post about my host family – I want to include pictures with that one, to put faces to names, but my host mother, Gloria, never wants me to take her picture because she’s never ready, or so she says. Because she works so much, she usually comes home very late and always has a lot of things on her to do list then, and so she is always flustered and thinks she won’t look respectable in the photos!
But yeah, this isn’t that post. I just wanted to share quickly what I did yesterday and upload some more photos that I took the past week! So yesterday, the group went on an IFSA-Butler organized trip a la nieve (ir a la nieve is how Chileans refer to going skiing in the resorts near Santiago). We met in front of the Teatro de la Universidad de Chile by the Baquedano metro station and left around 9 in the morning. It was about an hour and a half drive to Farellones, the ski resort that was our goal. The drive there was simply amazing. And at times rather frightening. Amazing because, as you can see in the pictures, the view of the mountains is incredible, especially the closer you get. Frightening because – and I tried to take pictures of this – the road consisted of a bunch of curves (40 of them!) up the mountain, with railings only in some places. But the view more than made up for this fact. Once we got there, we were able to rent skis and ski boots (paid for by IFSA-Butler, which we always appreciate). IFSA-Butler had also paid for a ski class, but they told the few of us that had skied before that it was very, very basic, and that while we could still participate, we might find it very boring. Needless to say, we didn’t. But when we went off to ski by ourselves, we were disappointed to find that Farellones was actually a beginner ski resort, whose big brother Colorado, a proper ski resort with many more runs, was further up the mountain. There were only two lifts in Farellones – although at first we were told that there was only one – and four runs, of which we only knew three at the beginning. These runs were definitely for beginners and while it was fun, they got boring quickly. Only just before lunch did we find out that there was actually a fourth one higher up the mountain, which proved to be a bit more challenging. But speaking about lunch, the workers at a restaurant near the ski runs were nice enough to microwave our lunches for us, something that would probably never happen in the USA! All the employees in general were very nice. After lunch we skied some more. The view from the top of the fourth run, which I ended up skiing seven times, was simply astounding. Also, I forgot to mention this, but it was a perfect day. There was nary a cloud in the sky, so the mountains stood out crisply against the blue sky, and it wasn’t actually all that cold. I don’t actually have any pictures from the top of the mountains themselves unfortunately because I, being the silly, forgetful person I am, forgot my camera in the bus. At 4 we gathered together, returned our ski equipment and got back on the bus to return to Santiago. The view from the ride down was just as beautiful as on the way there.
Also, another quick story related to my previous post. Alli, a student on the program with me who lives in the same direction that I do, and I walked back to our respective houses together from where the bus had dropped us off. On the way, we passed a collegio en toma. The following pictures are of that collegio. I had passed the same collegio on Friday and had seen students collected money and milling around the building (and earlier in the week I had seen Carabineros in riot gear standing outside the same collegio), but I somehow never made the connection until I actually saw the en toma written on the gate this Saturday. This past week, collegios all over Santiago had been in toma, and on Thursday collegio students declared a paro nacional, or a national strike. In support, numerous facultades of the Universidad de Chile also struck (the Facultad de Letras had been in paro practically the whole week), although for students at the Universidad Católica, it was a day like any other. There were 14 separate marches made up of high school students through the various comunas of Santiago . Emol.com, one of the largest Chilean on-line news sources, live blogged the event, which I read between my two classes that day. For the first few hours everything seemed to be going peacefully (even though the students again had not been given permission to march) but toward the end, unfortunately, some people began to throw rocks and the carabineros began to shoot water and release tear gas (or that happened first … it’s never really clear which happens first in these situations, with each side saying something different).