Friday, October 19, 2012

today is the day

today i found miel flavored rice cakes in the kitchen pantry. i celebrated.

later today i walked into the hostel and saw 2 carabineros (Chilean police officers) and i was positive one was reaching for the gun strapped to his waist band, ready to shoot me dead. turns out they do routine checks here because the previous owner had a nice little pot plantation in the back garden.

yesterday i got to kiss my friend goodbye (don't get too excited, its only Chilean culture) while we were both bouldering. he scampered right up to where i was and gave the little chao peck that i love so much.

tuesday i ate the bruised part of an apple and maintained 1 english and 2 spanish conversations simultaneously on facebook chat.

monday i drank real coffee with César and a protest letter to the 'man' at PUCV. they are trying to tear down my rock wall and bouldering room; not on my watch. 

Don Juan Pavéz,
Estoy escribiendo esa carta sobre la información que PUCV va a terminar no sólo la clase de escalar pero destruirá la sala completamente.  El deporte de escalar no es sólo un deporte pero también es educación y crecimiento personal.  Cuando llegué a Chile, con la vergüenza de mi español y las dificultades de una vida nueva en un otro país, la sala de escalar fue mi salvación y mi clase más importante para aprender el idioma.  Es probable que yo no hubiera tenido buenos amigos chilenos si la clase de escalar no existía.  Los planes para la construcción del muro nuevo en Sausalito no son buenos por dos razones, la pared en general tiene un ángulo mal para escalar y también, la ubicación estará lejos de la Casa Central.  Si, se me permite hablar por los estudiantes del intercambio, la sala de escalar es más importante a la educación y nuestra experiencia y fue más beneficial que una nueva entrada al gimnasio.
Por favor, piense en las relaciones interculturales que formarán en esta clase,
Rachael Wetzel (ISA Fall 1, 2012)

sunday i painted my body, and other people's bodies to dance around in the streets to 1.000 tambores/drums and got interviewed and was on national Chilean television. 

saturday i went to a slackline festival with my gals Rachel and Roz and we met up with our pal Nico. Chilean slackers are the best, they do belly-flops onto the line and can do flips and such. 

later on saturday, i realized that i can skinny slack a little bit. but let me tell you, slackyoga is out of the question for me. more abs needed. 

if you think life is boring, it may just be that you are boring. 

(i hope you do too)

Saturday, October 13, 2012

A Scottish Halloween

I wrote this baby while listening to a string quartet play music from the nightmare before christmas. perfect. this is my holcad article for next week! i love halloween :)

It's that time of year again where leaves litter the sidewalk, candy flows like a river, horror movies take over cable networks, jack-o-lanterns light up every stoop, amusement parks turn into torturous adventures, superstitions run wild and skimpy outfits are socially acceptable for one evening. It's Halloween: a holiday that has been Americanized and over-commercialized, essentially forgoing the main reason of celebration. As Halloween is my favorite holiday, I was nervous I would miss out on the the usual American rigamarole.  Fortunately, Halloween is a major part of the Scottish culture, with the original "All Hallows Eve" celebrations tracing back to the Celtic Scots. Little did I know before studying abroad that I would be celebrating Halloween in the very country where the tradition originated! Robert Burns, my favorite Scottish poet, even wrote a poem about the Holiday which can be found here on the BBC website:

Scottish folk tend to reflect on the more ritualistic aspects of Halloween in their nation, even though these celebrations root from dark histories. According to some scholars, All Hallows' Eve initially incorporated traditions from pagan harvest festivals and those which honored the dead. Particularly the Celtic Samhainn, originating from the Irish, Scottish and Manx peoples, taking place from October 31-November 1, which marked the end of the harvest and the beginning of the "darker half" of the year. Bonfires, called samhnagan in Scotland at the time, were largely part of this festival where corpses of live stock were burned in the flames as part of a cleansing ritual. In modern Scotland,  it's still customary in some areas to set a place for the dead at the Samhainn feast, telling tales of ancestors on that night. The tradition of wearing costumes and masks is also traced back to the Samhainn, where Scottish men wore masked or blackened faces and white clothing in order to impersonate the dead. Turnips, instead of pumpkins, were carved and lighted with candles as another form of warding off evil spirits. In the 19th century, children in Scotland and Ireland started going door to door "guising" in costume, carrying turnip lanterns in an attempt to receive food or coins for their song and dance. The Irish and Scottish immigration to America at this time started to influence the American tradition of trick-or-treating which is still carried out today. In modern Scotland, it's not uncommon for young adults to galavant around town in costume through the whole year.  Each week, various places in town host "fancy dress" parties.  If I didn't know that "fancy dress" meant costume, I'd show up at these parties wearing, well, a fancy dress. 

In Scotland, they mainly focus on the days surrounding All Hallows' Eve and the night itself.  This year Halloween is on a Wednesday and Stirling University is hosting its own party in Envy, the on-campus night club. The children in the town of Stirling also have the opportunity to go out "guising" on this night. One event I'll be exploring happens from the 29-31 where the town of Stirling is hosting "ghost walks" around the city.  The website for the event describes that the walk will consist of "a guided tour of Stirling's historic Old Town, led by actors in the guise of the spooks themselves, mixing drama, comedy and storytelling [with] Jock Rankin (the Happy Hangman), Blind Alick Lyon (the original Manic Street Preacher), the amorous Auld Staney Breeks, [and] the mysterious and deadly Green Lady." One of the most traditional celebrations takes place in Perthshire at the Crannog Centre on Halloween; The Spooks & Sacrifice, Celtic Samhainn Festival includes a ritualistic torch procession, ceremonial bonfire sacrifices, storytelling, apple dookin', and pumpkin carving.

On the whole, Halloween in Scotland will be slightly different from an American version.  Of course I'll still marathon Hocus Pocus, Nightmare Before Christmas and Halloweentown, but my main focus will be reminiscing on the dark origins of All Hallows Eve by attending the ghost walk and telling scary stories around a bonfire.  Instead of worrying about werewolves, I'll be scared that Nessie is lurking in my campus' loch. This year I'm determined to show off my Poison Ivy "fancy dress" and I couldn't be more excited to do so in the country where the tradition originated.

this is halloween, everybody make a scream
love, hill

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Temblores y Testimonies

This is all I've got folks, 
Rach <3

artist of the day: friend of a friend

So I have a friend named Scott. The video below is of a guy who is not named Scott. Scott left a convincing message on our ISA facebook wall about how we should watch thisvideoofafriend, well... just read it:

This is my best friend, and he's in this singer song writer concurso. Anyways, watch (and if willing) like his video. And then if you're extra daring, share the video. Really appreciate it. 

Anyway, I like Scott, seeing that I called him my friend just a few sentences earlier, and come on, he threatened me, "extra daring" well folks, that's me! Here is what I know about the artist of the day... 

His name: Brian McMaster. 
He is friends with Scott.
He plays the guitar.
Sometimes he wears hats.
He likes to sing at either 4:00 in the morning or the afternoon.
I think he likes surfing, maybe just a little bit. 
He is a good guitar player with a passionate voice that has a good blend of lilting high notes and the correct amount of grit and rawness. 
I think we have the same guitar. 

Thank goodness for true musicians. No more synthetic pop lamentation of materialism, crude language, corruption, no self respect and assimilating behavior; lets bring it back to the roots my friends, take a nod to Joplin, Baez or Dylan, be your own musician. 

Brian McMaster everyone, 

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

song of the day

Song of the day: Feel The Love by Rudimental

Welcome to the UK. Where dubstep, house and techo music are king. Get down with the funky beats. Go to your favorite pre-club pub and chill. And then go dance your arse off. Or sit in your rooming drinking a cup of tea and having your own personal rage...because I do that also. This song is one of my favorites from the club scene. Enjoy!


Sunday, October 7, 2012

a poem and a song

where we need to be

A dry red wine and no change in time
Crooked necks and no regrets
Mate te and clothes from yesterday
Dusty stones, two different homes
A field of corn, a child born
Primitive land and weathered hands
Trees in a line, scarce road signs
A glimpse of sunshine, lost sense of time
Feet asleep from a bus ticket cheap
Hand crafted fair, tourists whom stair
A mountain stretch, but here’s the catch
We are who we are when we travel far

go forth and love, 

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

We don't need no education... what a lie for this generation

So Pinochet started a revolt in the education system in Chile when he decided to flood the streets with military force, some dead bodies and a whole lot of hatred. 

I know what you are thinking, ANOTHER post about education, let alone Chilean education. And now Pinochet? This girl posts about Pinochet almost as much as that Bourdain guy... But hey, this is my life right now and if Chile has taught me anything (which is the understatement of the century because Chile has taught me everything) it is that education is not just a stagnant building you attended as a child; education is alive and changing and thriving and being shut down and attacked and destroyed. THAT is why I am writing about education, again. 

So back to Pinochet, in the late 70s and early 80s education in Chile was dramatically reformed in the ways of laws, prices, scholarships and loans. Allende (previous ELECTED president) was trying to create an equality in the social classes and the education system. Pinochet with the help of the Chicago Boys, further divided the rich from the poor and the 17 year dictatorship is now responsible for the division in the school system and lack of publicly funded education. Pinochet's education system has never been dismantled. 

Here come the student riots, and who can blame them? The teachers in public schools are not great, students are forced to work in dark classrooms in buildings that don't have heat, using out of date books, that is to say if they attend school at all. In the Education Medias (high school) a popular form of protest is not to attend school because then the schools do not receive money because public schools are run on attendance basis. That means, no funding for electricity, building rent and most importantly, teacher's salary. 

So where is the government? How can they just sit by and let all these teachers not get paid, and the students not getting their education? (Education Media is required by law) Well, the government sees it like this:

 "what the student's are doing is anti-democratic" 
"free education is not fair, just or a viable solution"
"education is a privilege, not a right" 

All of these quotes were pulled from the documentary, Fault Lines: Chile Rising. The interviews given by the students in this video are such an inspiration to the shift in education and quite frankly, make the government look, well, unintelligent. 
Take for example, Camila Vallejo, the leader of the Chilean student movement. What Camila has done for this country is astonishing and just goes to show that in the case of education, don't ever let schooling interfere with your education. 
This post is just highlighting a few key points to the ongoing battle of education in Chile. 

Also, I must add that I am watching the debates from the States and well... education is also a hot topic. Hmm... maybe I will blog about that some time, but not now. 

All I know is, I cannot wait to be a teacher. Time for change.


Tuesday, October 2, 2012

how to be a proper american in great britain

these are rules to live by in the UK (mainly Scotland obvi)
i wish i would've known some of this stuff before i got here, but it's all about the cultural experience right?


1. always have the right amount of change for the bus fare. if you're paying with a 5 pound note, you need to remember you'll look like a complete yank (north american)

2. always know what you want to order when you're at the pub. don't ask questions. confidently say "pint of strongbow, please." also, never be too specific when ordering a drink, if you say "pint of strongbow cider," they'll know you're American. It happened to me twice.

3. never call the "american" college, college. college in the UK is high school (more specifically England) and university (or uni for short) is their "college."

4. football is football. played with your feet. don't EVER call it soccer. american football is our football.

5. the weekends are meant to be spent indoors with flatmates and friends from uni. all of the locals & older folk go out to the pubs on the weekend, not the students. if you're a boy, FNF (friday night fifa) is spent indoors video-gaming for hours...some UFC might be involved and if you're a girl, you might be lucky enough to get invited (there might be some slight sarcasm in the last remark). tuesdays, wednesdays, thursdays and the occasional monday are spent either at the pub or club. always pub first, club last. dusk tuesdays, fubar thursdays. cape, budda, or sportsters beforehand and if you're daring a local pub or a "hipster" bar.

6. slang tips: rubbish bin, not trash/garbage can, lift=elevator or car ride, way out=exit, round ours=come over to our flat, flat=apartment, cheers=thanks, pounds=dollars, quid=dollars, pants=underwear, trousers=pants, jumper=hoodie, joggies=sweats, pub=bar, grub/nosh=food, munchies/nibbles=snacks, fair enough=okay, oy=oh man, aye=yes, bevvy=drink, knackered=tired, fit=cool/awesome, gingin=gross, brilliant=wonderful, mum=mom, da/pa=dad, chat=talk, quality=great/excellent, toasties=grilled cheese sandwiches, fancy dress=costumes

7. don't make eye contact with strangers for longer than 1 second. they will automatically assume you are into them or want to talk to them. you'll get hit on by creepy men. (this is more for my lady friends)

8. when you go out, normal clothes is not acceptable. you must wear the shortest skirt you own, a belly shirt, and heels that will most likely kill you on the cobblestone roads. and if it's 40 degrees outside, you can still go without a jacket. completely acceptable. also make sure your hair looks like you just went through a wind tunnel.

9. if you talk really loud and obnoxiously, people will think you're stupid. and also american. keep your voice level down, and try no to say "like" or use a valley girl voice. you WILL be judged.

10. refrain from telling anyone you're in a sorority.

11. look good every day. there is no such thing as yoga pants or sweat pants in class, unless you are an athlete and have a sport practice to attend. jeans and hoodies are also considered sloppy dress.

12. don't take pictures of everything you see or think is "cool". automatic tourist.

these are all the ones i can think of at the moment! happy tuesday!


Monday, October 1, 2012

anything but bored at the border.

Setting: In the aduana, the frontera (border) between Argentina and Chile.  23rd of September 2012.

Plot: Police and agriculture monitors are about to check the passengers' bags as they return to Chile from Mendoza, Argentina

Characters: Rachael (me), Meghan, various Police members

Scene 1:
Rachael: (just waking up) Where are we going?

Meghan: To check our bags I guess. The Chilean border is always more strict than Argentina's.
(Meghan runs her bag through, no problem and is slowly waiting for me)

Rachael: (to the officer) Do I put my bag here? I don't have luggage below the bus, just my backpack.

Evidence #1 me and my trusty backpack hiking through La Cordillera and Mt. Aconcagua

(Officer 1 takes bag and runs it through the scanner and the panel signals that everything in my bag is fine)
Officer1: Are you carrying any fruits, vegetables or animal products with you?

Rachael: No, I am not. No type of food what-so-ever.

Officer1: I am going to have to hand check your bag.

Rachael: (Confused because they didn't find anything) Sure.
(Officer1 proceeds to pull out all of my dirty mountain clothes, notebooks and every scrap of paper in my hiking backpack... in public, in front of everyone from the bus)

Rachael: Todo esta bien? Is everything alright?

Officer1: Si... wait here a minuet.
(As I am waiting, I see the officer take Meghan into a back room for about 15 minuets. Meghan leaves and rolls her eyes at me, but she is looking a little flustered)

Officer1: You can go in now.

Scene 2:
(I enter the room, closed door, blackened windows and see two ladies, one from SAG (Agriculture monitors) and one Carabinero from Chile)

Rachael: Hi, what can I do for you?

Officer2: Please show me your identification (takes my Chilean ID and my passport and then looks through every card, bill and piece of paper in my wallet)

Officer3: Rachael, why are you going to Chile?

Rachael: I live there, I am studying abroad in Valparaiso.

Evidence #2 Hanging out in my hometown of Valparaiso

Now reader, you must use your imagination to picture the next 10 minuets. I am being berated with interrogation questions from "Where do you live in Valparaiso" (down to the street and house number) Who I live with, what school I attend in the States, what my major is, if I plan on traveling after I graduate, what I was doing in Mendoza, which mountains I climbed, did I talk to locals while I was there, what my parents names are, who I am traveling with, how long have I known her... 

Evidence #3 here I am with Mt Aconcagua because I went to Argentina for the mountains

(Suddenly, in the middle of me answering a question about Meghan and I going to school together...)
Officer2: Have you ever smoked marijuana? Have you tried cocaine? Heroine? LSD?

Rachael:... NO.

Officer2: Are you carrying any drug paraphernalia with you across the border such as (starts listing words for drug paraphernalia that I don't understand)

Rachael: I don't know what those things are (thinking to myself, because this isn't my first language and I am not a drug dealer...)

Officer2: (in a very, very slow, monotone voice) Do...   you...   speak...   Spanish?

HOLD ON. I haven't spoken a word of English since I left the bus to go into security, even when waiting, Meghan and I were speaking Spanish. The whole interrogation was in Spanish. That question from Officer2 was uncalled for.

Rachael: (face getting red with frustration, plus I already am sun-burnt from the mountains) Of course I do and I obviously don't have any drugs or paraphernalia with me.

Evidence #4 mountain sunshine toasting our happy little faces, hence, the red face.

Officer3: It's not obvious to us.

Rachael: But you checked all of my stuff...

Officer2: We need to check it again.

Rachael: ...Okay.
(Officer2 dismantles every single thing in my backpack. Those with favorite hiking bags know that everything has its own special place and also knows that you can fit a lot of stuff in those pockets)

Officer2: (throws everything into the main pocket of my bag, and stuffs everything in there[probably because it smelled so rank]) Okay, you are good.

Rachael: ...So you didn't find anything.

Officer2: You can go now.

Rachael: (Hugging my backpack to me like a long lost friend) Chao.

So maybe it had to do with my XL Frida Kahlo tshirt, ripped leggings, wool headband and hiking socks.
Maybe we were the most sketchy looking gringas (there were a lot on our bus).
Maybe it was a routine check... awful specific for that.
Maybe we looked like Marijuanistas.
Maybe we smelled bad.

But all that matters is that we finally made it across the border to our home, safe and sound.
Oh and how could I forget: the worse the experience the better the story.