I know I will, so if I miss a certain detail that you would like to hear about, make sure to tell me in some form or another. Comments to the blog seem the most efficient. So here we go.
All is well here in Santiago. I am living with six other men, one of whom is my fellow Volunteersman--Jeremy Graney from Saint John’s, and the other four are men of the Manquehue oblate community. Here’s a short description of all five:
Jeremy (Jer): I forsee only good times in this next year living with Jer. He’s easy going like myself and has an adventurous soul. We both enjoy similar things and although he doesn’t really speak Spanish he has been toughing it out like a champ.
Rodrigo: One of the founders of the Manquehue movement that got started 35 years ago, Rodrigo has the aura of an Englishman cast in a Chilean mold. I say this because not only is he familiar with the British and their culture (still not sure on the”how”), but if I knew he weren’t Chilean I would swear he were McCartney’s best bud. I couldn’t envision a kinder, more down to earth man than Rodrigo, so I’m glad he is our contact and sort of guide in Chile. He took us to downtown Santiago yesterday to show us the layout and give us some background on the city and its citizens. He’s an all-around great guy.
Cristobál: A small, wiry character. Cristobál is soft-spoken but also very kind at heart. He runs the media at the school I will be working at. He’s like Igor from Ghostbusters… except smaller.
Vicente: Vicente reminds me of my friend Ted. I think it’s the way he talks and the things he says that have their own unique humor about them. One of the things I will undoubtedly remember him for is his impersonation of the movie “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.” It’s a movie I haven’t seen, but that is not too hard to picture. While choosing a movie to watch last night, Vicente fired up his air chainsaw and began to hack through imaginary bodies. It was either the moment, his impersonation of a lunatic killer, or both that turned the room into a bunch of laughs.
Nikolas: Nikolas’ appearance reminds me of the stereotypical coffee shop college snob; however, he is anything but that. He’s very outspoken, but his ego could fit in my hand.
Andrés: As he just arrived from a retreat today, and we’ve only just had lunch, I can’t say much at all except that he appears to be another kind Chilean.
We live in a normal house in Chiculeo, which is a suburb to the North of Santiago. I’m sure I’ll have a picture of it soon, but for now it will suffice to say it comfortably houses the six of us.
We haven’t been to the school yet--that is tomorrow--so I can’t say anything of the kids or the work situation, but Rodrigo has suggested that we work from the morning (8 or 9 am I assume) and return home around 7 or 8 pm. We would have one day off each week to do what we please, and weekends are free too. It sounds like we’ll be working a lot, but I have no problem with that.
The temperature right now hovers around 50 degrees Fahrenheit, but in the sun it feels quite a bit warmer because there is hardly a wind to disrupt it. Unfortunately, the whole inside of the house is in shade, so temperatures tend to be chilly. It’s nothing a sweater and shoes can’t fix, but the first day was a bit chilly adjusting.
We are currently in the Spring season, with plants and trees beginning to bloom. It really feels like a Minnesota autumn, but that idea doesn’t last long in Santiago as we can see the Andes Mountains looming on the eastern horizon. I went for my first run this morning and got a good chance to ogle at the peaks rising high above the land. I guess one of the oblates has climbed the highest peak, which is about 4500 feet and not too technical, so Rodrigo has said perhaps we would have time to do it ourselves. I’m hoping he remembers his words, but if not I’ll be sure to remind him.
Rodrigo had said with an air of apology that their food tends to be very plain compared to the Mexicans or Spaniards, but I would say he was being modest, whether he intended to or not. We’ve had two large meals, dinner and lunch, and both are worth mentioning. The main course last night was a type of hot dish made with potatoes, squash, meat, and whatever else. Great flavor and very hearty! And today for lunch we had pancakes (more of a crêpe) stuffed with spinach, chicken, and other things, topped with corn and a cream sauce. They were delicious.
I’m not sure what’s on schedule for this afternoon, but right now most of us are either napping, writing, or reading a book.
My intention is to write twice a week while I’m here, but with periods of less frequent writing when the entries get repetitive. So until next time!
P.S. I wrote this a couple days ago and a lot has happened since then, so I will be revising and adding to these thoughts shortly.