...except for me and my monkey! "Everything we see hides another thing. We always want to see what is hidden by what we see." -Rene Magritte

Friday, November 25, 2005

Procrastination and mental blockage, part C XXVI

Christ, I´m at that point in the semester that I really, really, really hate. Where I´m sitting in front of a computer screen with an essay half-written, and I can feel that I´ve drinken too much coffee because I´m all jittery and whenever I take my hands off the keyboard I have to constantly be scratching my nose, or smoothing my hair, or adjusting my glasses, or tapping my fingers on the desk because goddamn that Nescafé is strong. And I´m so desperate to distract myself that I start reading the May and June 2003 archives of an old high-school friend´s LiveJournal. I know it´s my own damn fault, and I should just buckle down and write the thing all ready, but it´s so easy to not do it. I just hate myself in the morning. (When it all comes together in the end, sometimes it makes a funny story...like the time at the end of last semester when I tried to pull an all-nighter to finish (well...start might be a more appropriate word) my final 15-page paper for Seminar in Early American Religion, and I went a tiny bit crazy and thought that Peggy was out in the hall, even though she had left Portland that morning, and I stumbled out all wild-eyed ´´Peggy? Peggy, where are yoooooou?´´ and before the night was over, somehow I was reading aloud to Chris Leong from Logan Bruno: Boy Baby-Sitter while wearing a black cocktail dress at four in the morning. Hee! Also, sorry, Chris.) (The paper turned out well.) But this is why when I try to write a paper in my dorm room back at school, I physically need to disconnect the ethernet cable and put it somewhere out of reach.

I had my Teología Política final today. It turned out to be a 30-question multiple choice/true-false test that we took in small groups. I was able to contribute to my group and knew the answers to some of the questions that they weren´t sure of, and likewise there were some questions about church history and theologians (and la Ilustración, whatever that was) that I would have had no clue on, so it worked out pretty well. It was 100% of our grade, but I´m confident that we did well or possibly even aced it.

I have oral exams for Modernidad y Problemas Sociales and Literature IV on Monday, December 5. Then, I´m done!

I´d like to write about Thanksgiving, but it would take too long and Nescafé is calling me. Perhaps I´ll write tomorrow, since I will certainly need to go to an internet cafe to finish this essay. Party tonight at Mariah´s friend´s house? Harry Potter tomorrow? En route to Chiloé on Sunday? Whee!

Chao for now!

Thursday, November 24, 2005

¡Feliz día de acción de gracias!

Just got the photocopies of the Lonely Planet Peru chapters on Lima, Cuzco, and Lake Titicaca--getting excited!!

Kristin, Julia and I bought bus tickets today to Puerto Montt, fourteen hours south of Valparaíso. We´re leaving late Sunday afternoon, arriving Monday morning, taking the ferry to the island of Chiloé, and hanging out there until Thursday. I have to leave Thursday evening to get back by Friday morning to sit in a room and listen to Modernidad y Problemas Sociales presentations. It´s a lata, but I can´t miss the presentations.

One for final to go this week! Then two next week. Boo!

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Game Theory on my mind

I keep thinking about this problem we analyzed in Game Theory last spring. Let me see if I can explain it (Christine, feel free to jump in in the comments): There are two players, you and some artificial intelligence entity (which could also be called God; in any case, it´s omniscent. I´ll call it God for simplicity´s sake). Each player has two options, A or B. You are the first player (you choose A or B, then God chooses A or B). For you, playing A is the ´´safest´´ option; if you play A, no matter what God does (ie regardless of whether God plays A or B), you´ll get a good payoff. Playing B is riskier: If you play B and God plays A, then you get a low payoff. But if you play B and God plays B, then you get the highest payoff of all.

Basically what the problem boils down to is whether or not you trust God to act in your best interests: whether you´re willing to bet the possibility of a low payoff (you play B, God plays A) against the possibility of a high payoff (you play B, God plays B). Extrapolating the consequences even further, the problem is supposed to indicate whether you believe in free will or determination. The person who believes in free will will play A, getting a decent payoff regardless of what God does (ie they don´t trust God to maximize their payoffs). The person who believes in determination will play B, because they trust that God will also play B, giving them a high payoff.

With me? The reason this has been on my mind is that it´s a pretty good model for the Pedro Montt vs. Errázuriz bus dilemma.

See, there are two buses I can take to get into Valparaíso from Viña del Mar: the Pedro Montt buses, and the Errázuriz buses. The Errázuriz buses always follow the same route and drop me off about a block and a half from the university. That´s a decent payoff; it´s a quick walk. The Pedro Montt buses, approaching Valparaíso, follow two distinct routes: they either get on the overpass and stop at the corner of Pedro Montt, about three or four blocks from the university, or they stay on the main street and stop right at the door of the U. In other words: a crappy payoff (especially when I have classes in Gimpert, I end up having to walk about seven blocks) or the best payoff of all (a walk of a few meters). I always ask the drivers of the Pedro Montt buses to let me off at the university, and about 50% of them do. At first I thought that whether they went on the overpass or not depended on the traffic lights near the U, but more and more I´m convinced that it´s random.

In this case, the Errázuriz buses are option A: they´re safe; I get a decent payoff no matter what. The Pedro Montt buses are option B: I can get either a high payoff (driver stays on the road) or a low payoff (driver gets on the overpass and continues to Pedro Montt). The dilemma is: do I trust the driver of a Pedro Montt bus (God, in this case) to act in my best interest and drop me off by the university? And, based on my answer, should I take an Errázuriz bus or a Pedro Montt bus? What do you think? What would you do?

If you´re interested, post your thoughts in the comments section, and I´ll edit this blog later to add the solution I´ve come up with to the problem!

Monday, November 21, 2005

One down, three to go

I just got out of my final Chilean Literature exam, the first of four finals I have this week. Next up are Brazilian Identity tomorrow, Moral Social on Thursday, and Political Theology on Friday. But the major monkey on my back is this stupid (stupid because I haven´t yet done it and that´s killing me, not because the assignment itself is stupid) four-pager for CIEE. It was due an embarrassingly long time ago, but I was really sick, and then I was sort of sick but had to run all over freaking Viña seeing a specialist about eighteen billion times, and then we were travelling, and by that time it was so late that I didn´t even want to think about it because it made me feel guilty.

I think I´ll write it tonight.

But more than that, I´m updating to pass on a link to this McSweeneys article: Models of Conflict in Literature, Which I Think Justify Beeping My Horn While Driving, Even if My Girlfriend Does Not. I laughed out loud!

Friday, November 18, 2005

Oh, the joys of Chilean university life

We only have Political Theology once a week. Next week is both the last class and the day of the oral exam, which will be the only evaluative activity we´ll have completed for that course. My entire grade rests on my performance during this test. So, I get to class today.

Cancelled.

What better day to cancel class than the week before the final? Fantastic.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Michelle Bachelet = least Chilean name ever?

Recently, walking around downtown Viña del Mar and taking the micro between Viña and Valparaíso reminds me of that old Onion article: ´´It was the eighth subscription card that convinced me´´ written by a guy who only decided to subscribe to Sports Illustrated after the eighth card fell out of his magazine. Anymore, any grassy area or spare wall has been covered, no, plastered with posters and graffiti bearing the names and faces of Chile´s presidential candidates. Just around the Plaza de Viña area, the Puente Libertad, and Avenida Española, there are literally hundreds of 3x4 foot placards with headshots of the presidential and senatorial candidates. But the thing about these photos is that they have all the finesse and professional technique of my second-grade LifeTouch school portrait, in which the photographer snapped the picture just as I blinked, meaning that two months later my parents received several 5x7s and wallet-sized shots of an adorable, pink-headbanded little girl who appeared to be fast asleep. I mean, I´m pretty sure that the background behind Jaquín Lavín´s head is the same one we used in sixth grade at Roosevelt Middle School.

In any case, it is exciting to be here in Chile as the country gears up for the presidential elections on December 11, especially considering that this president will only be the third since the end of the dictatorship--the democratic tradition, formerly a point of pride for Chileans who looked down on their neighboring ´´banana republics,´´ was suspended between 1973 and 1990. Pinochet, or at least, the shadow of Pinochet, is still very much a public figure and is frequently in the news. (Also, as a side note, Chileans pronounce the ´´t´´ at the end of his name--something like Pee-no-shet. Just FYI.)

There are four presidential candidates, representing the entire spectrum from the communists to the ultra-right. From left to right, they are:

1. Tomás Hirsch, the Junto PODEMOS candidate, from the Communist Party. He´s a little like the Ralph Nader of the 2000 US election, or the Dennis Kucinich of the 2004 Democratic primaries: he´s not a viable candidate and he knows that, so he can say whatever the hell he wants without having to back it up. (I´m not criticizing him for that, though. Remember I voted for Kucinich in the primaries.)

2. Michelle Bachelet, from the Concertación, an alliance of center-left parties that has been governing since the end of the dictatorship. She herself is from the Socialist Party, I believe, but the Concertación encompasses everyone from the Socialists to the Christian Democrats. If elected, Bachelet would be Chile´s first woman president. It was widely accepted that she was going to win, but recently she dropped about 6 points in the polls, so now it looks like the election will probably go to a segunda vuelta (second round) between her and...

3. Sebastián Piñera, from the Renovación Nacional (National Renewal), the center-right alliance. Piñera´s a little like the Chilean Bill Gates: he owns one of the major airlines, one of the major newspapers, one of the major TV channels, and a ton of land. He´s one of the richest people in South America. However, that didn´t stop him from calling himself a ´´small-business owner´´ in the debate last night, upon which Hirsch quickly called bullshit. He is charismatic and intelligent, though, and most of the Chileans I know with whom I talk about politics are voting for him.

4. Jaquín Lavín, from the far-right UDI, or Unión Democrática Independiente (Independent Democratic Union). Lavín is a very conservative Catholic (he´s a member of Opus Dei) and according to Ambar has some sort of link to the dictatorship and Pinochet. My host father Carlos is very conservative and I think he might be voting for Lavín.

Last night was the second presidential debate. The candidates were asked questions by journalists from the four major TV networks about the ongoing maritime conflict between Perú and Chile; Perú´s ex-president/dictator Alberto Fujimori, who was extradited from Perú years ago but recently showed up in Chile; the role of moral values and religion in the country; gay marriage and adoption rights for gay couples; small and medium-sized businesses; the indigenous populations; delincuency; and other issues like that. Based solely on what the candidates had to say, I would have voted for Hirsch. He impressed me with his firm stance in support of gay marriage and adoption of children by gay couples, as well as his fearlessness in pointing out the ridiculousness of some of the postures of the other candidates--for instance, Piñera calling himself a small-business owner and Bachelet´s habit of talking around the questions rather than answering them. (For example, while I don´t like Lavín ´´God says marriage is between one man and one woman´´ and Piñera´s ´´absolutely no gay marriage, but maybe civil unions´´ stance is only slightly better, at least they answered the question. Bachelet just talked for a minute about gay marriage wasn´t in her agenda for Chile.) Then, during his closing statement at the end of the debate, Hirsch held up a sheet of paper on which he had written DERECHOS HUMANOS (human rights) and said something like, ´´What a pity you didn´t ask Lavín what he thinks about human rights,´´ clearly referencing the atrocities commited against human rights by Pinochet´s regime.

Yesterday we had a mock election in my Moral Social class, and Bachelet won with 50% of the vote, just barely enough to not have to go to a segunda vuelta. Out of 28 people in the class, she got 14 votes, Piñera got 7, Lavín got 4, Hirsch got 2, and one person voted null. I guess we´ll have to wait until December 12 to see for sure, but I wouldn´t be surprised if the results of the actual election follow the same breakdown.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Show me round your snow-peaked mountains way down south, take me to your daddy´s farm

Our trip last weekend to Pucón, eleven hours south of Valparaíso, was pretty much la raja (the shit). It was our last group trip and the last significant amount of time we could all be together, since our required CIEE class ended last week. The fact that the program´s wrapping up lent the trip a certain sense of nostalgia and closeness, even though everyone will be here for at least another month.

We arrived in Pucón Friday mornig after spending Thursday night on the south-bound bus. Everyone was pretty tired and run-down feeling, but we perked up when we saw our accomodation: luxerious cabins in a gorgeous park-like landscape, with a perfect view of the smoking, snow-covered Volcán Villarica, the most active volcano in South America. Julia, Kristin, Mariah, and Carla and I had our own cabin, with two bathrooms (one with a jacuzzi), a kitchen, a fireplace (which we probably wouldn´t even have been allowed to use, but whatever), a dining area, a master bedroom, two bedrooms, and a living room with huge picture windows through which we could see the volcano. Really, I could have lived there.

After breakfast in the clubhouse we all got back on the bus and headed to Currerehue, a Mapuche community about half an hour away. The Mapuche are Chile´s largest indigenous population, and most of them live in the south of Chile, particularly in the Lake District (the IX Region, I think, from about Temuco to Puerto Montt). We talked for awhile with a young Mapuche woman who was weaving tapestries in a shop, then toured the small museum/cultural center. Later a group of Mapuche women, children, and youth talked to us and showed us some traditional dances. They said that after dancing around the circle, they were going to start plucking us from the audience to dance with them--being put on the spot like that is exactly the kind of thing I hate, and the whole while I was thinking, ´´Don´t pick me don´t pick me don´t pick me.´´ Unfortunately, Kristin was the first person they pulled out to dance with them, but she gave a valient performance.

The highlight was lunch. We ate some delicious bread that one of the older Mapuche women had cooked under the ashes of the central fire in the cultural center, a greens and quinoa soup, sopaipillas (sweet, fried squash dough), and nut bread...it was wonderful! I sat next to two of the Mapuche boys, who were about second-grade age, and we talked a little bit.

After returning to the cabins, we had the rest of the evening free. We all walked to the center of town to the tourism agency that was running the excursions we could choose from the next day, then split up. Carla and I decided that we didn´t really want to cook dinner that night in our kitchen, so we ended up going out with Jessie, Katherine, Jennie, and Sarah to a Mexican fusion restaurant called El Bosque. I had a wonderful, fresh burrito and a surprisingly strong pisco sour, then a disappointingly tiny, dry, and expensive slice of cheesecake. In any case, we had some great conversation and laughed a lot, and it was fun hanging out with the four girls, since we don´t really spend that much time with them.

The next day, Saturday, we had free, and most people decided to hike up Volcán Villarica, an all-day excursion leaving at 7 in the morning. While it sounded like an adventure, I didn´t want to do anything very strenuous, since by the time we left for Pucón I had just finished the antibiotic treatment for my tonsilitis and I didn´t want to push myself. Plus, call me lazy, but I didn´t want to get up that early on our little vacation. Carla and I decided to go whitewater rafting down the lower Trancura river, which turned out to be an adventure in and of itself. The rafting trip didn´t leave until 3 in the afternoon, so we slept in (I got up around 11:30), then spent the late morning and early afternoon eating breakfast, talking, and watching a deliciously trashy Canadian teen TV series called Instant Star, about this fifteen-year-old girl Jude who´s a rockstar. I´ll probably never get the stupid song she sings out of my head, but it was a very agreeable way to spend the morning. Around 1:30 we headed back to the center of Pucón to do a little shopping (or window-shopping, at least) and to meet our group.

Getting ready for the rafting trip, we were so naive. We were like, ´´Well, let´s wear our swimsuits under our clothes, just in case we get splashed.´´ When we arrived at the river, were we in for a surprise: we had to change into wetsuits. And, proving that Sometimes I Am Heinously Awkward, I put on my wetsuit inside-out and backwards. Then I put the special shoes we had to wear on the wrong feet. It was not my finest 30 minutes, and I think the guide thought I was something of an idiot: as he was describing the safety protocol, he looked right at me and said, ´´If you...or if anyone else...falls into the river, here´s what you do...´´I was able to redeem myself, though, by translating what he said into English for these two non-Spanish speaking German students who went with us. The rafting itself was great fun, with huge waves that completely soaked us and gorgeous scenery, which I could still sort of enjoy even without my glasses.

After getting back to the cabins and swapping stories with the triumphant volcano-summiters, we headed over to the swimming pool for a few minutes. More fun, though, was what we did when we got back to the cabin: we couldn´t let the availability of a jacuzzi go to waste, so we all five crammed into it at once! It wasn´t the most relaxing bath ever but was such a funny situation that we couldn´t stop laughing. The best part was that after we all got out, we realized that the water level--full to the top when we were all in the tub--was only about seven inches.

That night, after a delicious, program-covered dinner, Mariah and Kristin and I talked for awhile, then I headed over to Jake, Jon, and David´s cabin to join Carla and Julia at their impromptu little s´mores-roasting party. After the s´mores ran out we ended up playing a drinking game with several other people from the program. It was fun, but I drank too much (or rather, I mixed too many different kinds of alcohol, I think: beer, wine, pisco, rum, scotch, and Jager) and ended up throwing up several times. That part was not so fun. A million thanks to Julia and Carla for being such good friends and taking care of me!

The next morning, while I didn´t have a hangover (I had pretty much gotten everything out of my stomach the night before), I still felt a little queazy. The queazyness diminished pretty quickly, so I was still able to enjoy the beatiful scenery as we toured the area around Pucón. We hiked a little in some beautiful temperate rainforests, visited multiple waterfalls and lakes, and passed by cow-speckled fields...it was all beautiful, and reminded me so much of the Willamette Valley of Oregon. As we rode around, I thought about when Carla and I went to San Pedro de Atacama, in the far north of Chile. Comparing the two regions, I could hardly believe that they were in the same country: San Pedro is right at the heart of the driest desert in the world, and looks like it belongs on Tatooine, the sand planet from Star Wars. Meanwhile, Pucón was lush, green, sparkling, with waterfalls and rushing rivers. The amount of biodiversity in Chile is really remarkable. I was reading in my Rough Guide the other day that the length of Chile is equivalent to the distance between Scotland and Nigeria.

Anyways, at the end of the tour we stopped at the Termas de Pozones, some natural hot springs. The hot water felt sooo good, especially after ducking into the freezing cold river right alongside the Termas. We finished the day with an asado (barbeque or cook-out) back at the cabins, then boarded the bus to head back to Valparaíso and Viña.

The trip was a lot of fun. It´s sad to think that it was our last CIEE trip, and that, as Carla wrote on her blog, we won´t really have another chance to be with everyone again. A week from tomorrow we´re all going to be together for the cena de despedida (good-bye dinner), which will also be our Thanksgiving dinner, and the ramifications of the fact that it´s time to say good-bye are just mindboggling.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

The next two months of my life...

...which, as hard as it is to believe, is all I have left in Chile.

Actually, it feels like shorter, because the semester is pretty much wrapping up. I´m definitely feeling the end-of-semester crush, as everything suddenly is due, two books to be read before a lit test on the 21st, my paper on Chilean cinema, I still haven`t done the control de lectura response that was due two weeks ago, etc. We´ve got two weeks of classes left, then two weeks or so of reading days and finals until CIEE officially ends on, I think, December 10. I don´t fly back until the 11th of January, but until today I wasn´t really able to visualize what I was going to do with that time. So today, during a pretty boring/abstract Moral de lo Social lecture, I wrote out my plans for every day after the end of classes. Every day. And then, seeing all the stuff I had planned, I got really, really excited. And not even Pullman Bus´s dark, forebody website or Buquebus´s frustrating, conflicting information about ferries between Buenos Aires and the coastal cities of Uruguay could put a damper on my excitement.

So, here are my best-case scenario plans, very subject to change:

November
25: Last day of class. Party at Mariah´s friend´s house in the evening?
26: En route to the southern Chilean island of Chiloé, hopefully with friends. Word on the street is that you have to take a bus to Puerto Montt and then ferry it over to Chiloé. People who have been there (Riana): what is there to do? What should we definitely not miss?
27: Chiloé
28: Chiloé
29: Chiloé
30: Chiloé

December
1: Return to Viña.
2: Presentation in Modernidad y Problemas Sociales
3: Study/write/day trip. I have a twenty-page paper for my Chilean literature class that I barely have time to even think about before late November/early December. Plus, there are a lot of little fishing villages around here that I´d like to check out, and Ronald´s mentioned taking a day trip to some town an hour and a half away
4: Study/write/day trip
5: Oral exam for Modernidad y Problemas Sociales
6: Study/write/day trip
7: Study/write/day trip
8: Study/write/day trip
9: PERU! Jon and I leave Viña in the morning. Viña to Santiago to Lima, then afternoon and evening in Lima.
10: Lima to Cuzco
11: Machu Piccu!
12: Cuzco. Lake Titicaca? We might hop over to Bolivia for the afternoon, if it´s at all possible
13: Morning in Cuzco, then Lima, then Santiago. We´re going to have to spend the night in Santiago, because the next day we´re leaving for...
14: EASTER ISLAND! Yes, I´m going to make it to Easter Island, the loneliest place on Earth, the belly-button of the world.. I´m so excited.
15: Easter Island
16: Easter Island
17: Easter Island
18: Easter Island
19: Easter Island
20: Easter Island to Santiago to Viña
21: Unpacking and repacking.
22: Santiago to Punta Arenas, the southernmost Chile in city to spend Christmas with my friend Juan Carlos and his family. Carla and her family will be in the area, too, and it would be fun to meet them. Plus, I´d like to spend at least a little time at Torres del Paine National Park, although I´m definitely not up for the full six-day sleeping-in-the-wilderness hiking experience. I think there´s a penguin reserve in the area, too. I love penguins.
23: Punta Arenas/Torres del Paine
24: Punta Arenas/Torres del Paine
25: CHRISTMAS! Away from home. Sob.
26: Punta Arenas/Torres del Paine
27: Punta Arenas/Torres del Paine
28: Punta Arenas/Torres del Paine
29: Punta Arenas to Santiago to Viña.
30: Chilling in Viña, spending time with the fam, unpacking and repacking, hopefully getting together with Daniela.
31: Chilling in Viña, watching the famous New Year´s fireworks display in Valparaíso.

January
1: Chilling in Viña
2: Leave Viña for Mendoza, Argentina by bus. Arrive in the afternoon.
3: Mendoza, touring a winery?
4: Leave Mendoza for Buenos Aires by bus. According to David, who´s done it, it´s about fourteen hours over the Argentine pampas and the scenary´s pretty.
5: Buenos Aires
6: Ferry across the Rio de la Plata from Buenos Aires to Montevideo, Uruguay, then a bus to Punto del Este, where I´ll spend the afternoon. I want to see the sculpture that was featured on The Amazing Race a few seasons ago: giant fingers sticking up out of the sand, representing the last thing you see of a person before they drown.
7: Montevideo
8: Ferry from Montevideo to Buenos Aires, where I´ll catch a bus back to Viña.
9: Arrive in Viña, probably in the evening.
10: Unpack and repack for the last time. I will almost certainly (okay, certainly) need to buy a new suitcase. I was all proud of myself back in July for getting everything here in one full-to-bursting suitcase with carryons, but now I realize I should have packed two suitcases half-way. Live and learn.
11: Leave Viña early in the morning for Santiago, where I´ll board a plane that, for the last time, will speed me away from this wonderful, crazy, frustrating, paradoxical, poetic country.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Drop that zero and get with the hero!

This is just too good to pass up. Okay, so I´m reading the Girl´s Bike Club over at Tomato Nation (love!) and Sars and Wing are talking about Vanilla Ice (page two, but you should just read the whole thing--it´s funny). I follow the link over to the IMDb and what do I see, but:

Cool as Ice (1991). ¨When a girl has a heart of stone, there's only one way to melt it. Just add Ice.

Then I read the plotline, and I practically started hyperventilating: ´´A rap oriented re-make of "Rebel Without a Cause," with heavy emphasis on the fact that rap star Vanilla Ice has assumed the James Dean role.´´

All of which leads me to the question: How did I go so long without seeing this movie??!! This has got to be the greatest display of Schadenfreude since The Baby-Sitters Club Movie.

I propose a Cool as Ice movie night when I get back. Who´s in? Amy?

Monday, November 07, 2005

Damn the Man!

Boo, the Religious Studies and English departments rearranged their courses and screwed up my plans for next semester. But after some last-minute emails to Kugler, my Religious Studies adviser, I´ve got everything figured out and just mailed my courses off to the Registrar so they can register for me tomorrow and next week. I´m pretty happy with how my schedule worked out:

Monday
RELS 223 New Testament, 11:30-12:30, Rohrbaugh
RELS 450 Seminar in Biblical Studies, 12:40-1:40, Kugler (I think this seminar is something to do with the Dead Sea Scrolls, which is Kugler´s expertise, and the social/cultural world of turn-of-the-eras Christianity and Judaism. That sort of stuff´s not my favorite part of Religious Studies--I prefer American religious history--but it should be interesting, if difficult)
SPAN 450 Theater/Poetry in Franquist Spain, 1:50-2:50, Raillard
IA 212 US Foreign Policy, M 3:00-4:30, Th 3:30-5:00

Tuesday
RELS 243 Buddhism: Theory/Culture/Practice, T Th 1:50-3:20, Cole

Wednesday
New Testament, 11:30-12:30
Seminar in Biblical Studies, 12:40-1:40
Spanish, 1:50-2:50

Thursday
Buddism, 1:50-3:20
Foreign Policy, 3:30-5:00

Friday
New Testament, 11:30-12:30
Seminar in Biblical Studies, 12:40-1:40
Spanish, 1:50-2:50

20 credits in total. The biggest casualty was Creative Non-Fiction Writing, which I wanted to take to fulfill the creative arts requirement and because it sounded interesting. I hope to take it sometime next year--I´ll have an extra slot open, since I´m bumping up New Testament, which was scheduled for Spring 2007, to this spring. I´m a little bummed that I´ll barely have time for lunch with the gang on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, and Mondays will definitely be a bitch and a half. On the other hand, Tuesdays and Thursdays will be glorious. The challenge will be to not sleep in late every day and end up wasting the free time.

I was thinking yesterday, as I struggled with a Modernidad y Problemas Sociales reading, what a pleasure it is to read in English. The last book I read in my native language was Lolita by Nabokov, over three months ago; anymore, the only English reading I do is on the internet: blogs, recaps, the Vine, etc. I know I´ll regret saying this about, oh, five months from now, but I can´t wait to have readings and to be able to go to class and discuss things in English.

Friday, November 04, 2005

The Best Laid Plans of Mice and Women, Part Two

Alternate Title: Guess Who´s Got Tonsilitis?

While I was in Calama, wandering around waiting for the Pullman bus to come, my head and throat started to hurt a little. I had had a sick taste, getting-a-sore-throat taste in my mouth since the night before, so I wasn´t totally surprised, and I chalked the headache up to crying-based dehydration. Plus, it was a hot day and there was a ton of dust and sand in the air, none of which are good for health of the moister parts of the body. The bus came, and I got on it.

To cut a long, uncomfortable bus ride short, by the time we arrived in Valparaíso, I looked like re-fried hell, hadn´t eaten or drunk anything more than six cookies and a few sips of water in about twenty-eight hours, had a pounding headache, and could barely swallow or speak above a whisper. Marcia, our wonderful CIEE director, scheduled a doctor´s appointment for me and sent me home to rest. I pretty much never get anything worse than a cold (I´ve gotten sick in Chile way more often, and more seriously--relatively speaking--than I ever do in the US), and the last time I´ve gone to the doctor for anything other than a yearly checkup was probably when I got strep throat at age eleven or something. I´m not saying it´s a good thing, but I think I´ve picked up my dad´s stubborness about letting his body sort out its own little ups and downs, rather than using medication to regulate things. So anyways, to suck it up and go to see the doctor because I wasn´t feeling well was a biggish deal.

But I´m glad I did, because diagnosis: acute tonsilitis. They´re not going to take them out, which was the first thing I thought of (I kept remembering that scene from Roald Dahl´s extremely disturbing autobiography Boy when the doctor cuts out his tonsils with a long hook and no anesthesia), but I´m supposed to stay home and rest for the next week or so and take antibiotics. The medicine is already helping, I think, and after several weeks of running around it´ll be nice to pasarlo piola (chill, pretty much) at home this weekend. Healthy thoughts are appreciated, and I promise my next entry will be more upbeat!

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Lesson learned: I should never go on The Amazing Race

Anyone remember that episode of TAR a season or two ago when Lori and Bolo missed the last bus out of this German town and had to sleep outside the bus station and everyone thought they would surely be Philiminated, but then there was major bunching and they ended up, like, winning the next leg of the race? Yeah, that was pretty much my Tuesday morning.

We had Monday and Tuesday off for All Saint´s Day and Day of the Dead, so Carla and I decided to go to San Pedro de Atacama, about twenty-four hours to the north of Valparaíso by bus. It was a great trip, and I´ll probably write more about it later. What wasn´t so great was getting separated the morning we had to catch our bus, waiting in the wrong place (I assumed the buses would leave from the same place they arrived), and getting left behind...with all of the later Tur Buses completely booked. I was crying pretty hard by this time. Originally I thought I could get a taxi driver to speed me over to Calama, the pueblo an hour away that the buses pass through. He told me it would be twenty-five thousand pesos, about fifty dollars. I had only four thousand on me, and my debit card didn´t work in the ATM. I asked him if I could send him the money later, and he seemed to be considering it, but ultimately decided no. I enquired about Tur Buses into Calama, but they were all full and wouldn´t have arrived until an hour and a half after my Tur Bus left.

So...I hitch-hiked into Calama (it wasn´t as scary as it sounds; the people had little kids in the car!) and found a Pullman Bus into Valparaíso that was leaving in an hour. My Tur Bus ticket was useless, of course, and since it was my fault for missing the bus, they couldn´t refund it, so I lost about forty dollars in the deal. But because Pullman buses run directly to Valpo, and the Tur Buses go through Santiago, I ended up getting back at about the same time as I would have if I had just caught the original bus. And, ironically, it was cheaper to just buy a new bus ticket for twenty-two thousand than it would have been to have the taxi guy take me for twenty-five thousand.

It was a horrible situation, and for awhile I thought I was going to be stranded in San Pedro for at least a day. But you know what? After putting about thirty hours between myself and the sinking feeling and the guilt and the begging and the crying, I´m sort of proud of myself for managing myself and surviving.