Sunday, November 9, 2014

Funny how memories come back....

Having dinner with friends Greg Pinks and Deb Campbell last night, and Greg asked if I had seen the newest reply to my quake post, here. I had not, so I came back to this blog and sure enough -- Chris Goodell, a hydraulic engineer from the U.S., experienced the 2010 Chilean earthquake very much like the kids and I did.

Here is Chris' story:

And here are others:

In February 2015 it will be five years since that quake. Some things you just never, ever forget.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Chilean travel film -News - Chile - This is Chile

Yes, it's been a while since I've been here... But I just found this great video, and had to share it.

This is Chile. Hope you can visit it, sometime.....

Exclusive interview with the Saint behind the Chile travel film-News - Chile - This is Chile

Thursday, May 6, 2010

The Last Post, 2

As I was saying, there's lots I'll miss about my time in Chile, including (and again, in no particular order)....

Avenida Suecia: This was the street we lived on and as I've mentioned earlier, it was full of gorgeous buildings, one more beautiful than the other. More pics below

Spending time with Fernando: That's my younger brother, and although he lives in Toronto and we do visit quite a bit up here in Canada, the kids and I spent four weeks with him in Chile and it was great. He took us places we wouldn't have gone to, such as the before-mentioned soccer game, and also El Cajon de Maipo (pics below). He and I also reminisced about our childhood in Chile, got caught up with our respective lives, and became much closer than before. 

Taking the metro: I've also mentioned this before, but, it's worth repeating, as Santiago's metro really is something special, a thing of beauty.

The people we met, the friends we made: We didn't meet hundreds of people, maybe more like a dozen, but they were all warm, sincere, lovely. I don't have photos for all of them, like the lady who drove Nick and Carmen to school, Ana Maria Munoz; or Luz Maria Lamas, the woman whose apartment I rented. However, their images are imprinted in my mind and I will always remember them.

And finally, I will miss posting on this blog. According to general blog stats, Suzanne's Chilean Sabbatical got a few hundred hits over the past three months, so, to everyone and anyone who took the time to see what I was up to -- thank you very much, y adios amigos!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The Last Post, 1

Hey everyone, so I've come to the end of my sabbatical -- my "gran aventura."

It still feels strange being back in Canada, but it also feels really, really right.

Anyway, as this is my last post on this particular blog, I wanted to write about some of the things I will really miss about Chile, and my sabbatical. And here they are, in no particular order:

Santiago: is a lovely, interesting, incredibly vibrant city. Just like in some parts of Europe, there are people sitting in outdoor cafes, dining out, shopping, taking the metro, and just... walking around, enjoying themselves, at all hours. Not like in.... Guelph, or Toronto, where you can shoot a cannon down University Avenue at 9 p.m. 'cause there's no one around.

Here are a few more pics:

Americo: Okay, so, there was one latin guy I did like, and he is the Chilean singer Americo. I must confess, it was not love at first sight, or sound. I kept hearing his songs on the radio and then saw him perform on TV. I still didn't like him, or his music. Slowly, however, his songs -- played everywhere -- started getting under my skin and I found myself singing along. I ended up bringing 3 CDs of his music with me to Canada.

Here are links to a couple of his biggest hits:
Te vas (You're leaving):
El embrujo (I'm bewitched):

Chilean ice cream: is the absolute best. If you know me well, you know I actually don't like ice cream that much (prefering dangerous pastries instead). However, South American ice cream is fluffy, creamy-dreamy, heavenly. And the selection of flavours... incredible!

I have more things that I will definitely miss about Chile, but will have to post later as right now, I've gotta go! More soon.....

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Oh Caaaanada...!

Overnight flights always seem like a good idea. You board a plane, go to sleep, and when you wake up, you're there!

But it's not like that. Instead, the smells, lights, noise and uncomfortable seating keep you wide awake, often all night, so you arrive completely exhausted.... which is how we were yesterday morning, when touching down at Lester B. Pearson International Airport after our all-nighter from Santiago.

Despite this, we were all very happy to be back at home, and no one more than Carmen, who spontaneously broke into song as we walked from the plane to Terminal 1 (Her song? "Oh Canada"... .yup, I am not kidding.)

One of the things that struck me about being back home is Canada's... bigness. Compared to Santiago's Arturo Merino Benitez Airport, Pearson is HUGE.

Once we got out on the 401 the roads, too, seemed so wide, the houses so tall, the sky so broad. Because from the ocean to the mountains Chile is only about 350 kilometres wide, everything there seems to have been made to fit those narrow parameters.

(That of course is not to say that Chile does not have its own bigness. As I've mentioned before, Chile's mountains are breathtaking... and that's another thing the kids and I noticed as we headed home from the airport -- no mountains in the GTA! Chile's oceans, too, are endless.)

But back to our return, as Peter drove us home, I felt so... relieved. We had made it back! Safely! Despite living in a huge city (a first for my kids), being immersed in a completely different language and environment, and having experienced one of the biggest earthquakes in Chile's history, we were fine.

Actually, some of us were more than fine. As Nicholas spoke on the phone with one of his friends yesterday afternoon, I overheard him say the whole experience had been "awesome."  Of my two kids, Nick was the one who enjoyed Chile the most. He loved Chilean school, asked the most questions about Chile's history and culture, made a couple of really good Chilean friends, and learned the most Spanish.

Carmen had a harder time. She found school boring, and this was mainly because she could not understand her teachers. She didn't make any close friends and compared to Nick, she probably knows about three quarters of the Spanish he does.

So, how much Spanish do Nick and Carmen know? After all, this was the main reason for our trip.

They know a lot, but are they now tri-lingual, if one counts their years of French immersion in there as well? No, they are not.

I thought that three months would be enough for them to learn a new language but I was completely wrong. Nick and Carmen can for sure carry on a simple conversation in Spanish. They also understand quite a bit, but many times cannot answer back.

I realized how hard learning Spanish was for them when Carmen was preparing a presentation for one of her classes in school, and she struggled with verb conjugations. I'd somehow forgotten that all verbs have a past, a present and a future, and this is something that takes years to learn, in any language.

So that Nick and Carmen don't lose the Spanish they did learn, I plan to continue speaking Spanish to them at home; we'll probably go back to Chile in a few years; I also want them to do a proper, school-sanctioned student exchange at some point; and for them to maybe take Spanish classes in high school and university.

That way, maybe in a few years they will be able to conjugate those Spanish verbs, and switch easily between English and Spanish, just like that flight attendant in our Air Canada plane, who not only spoke flawless English and Spanish all night (but also French.... and Portuguese!).

The way I see it now, our last three months were just a start....

Friday, April 30, 2010

La Partida....

There was this Chilean singer who wrote and sang beautiful, evocative songs about peace, poverty and social justice. His name was Victor Jara and although he was murdered on September 15, 1973, his music and songs continue to be heard not only in Chile, but around the world.

One of his most haunting is the instrumental song "La partida," or "The departure," which has been covered by artists from as far away as Scotland and France to as near as most Latin American countries (and in genres ranging from folk to... heavy metal).

Nicholas, my son, has been learning this song on the xylophone as part of music class in school. I will try to post his version in this blog later today. In the meantinme, here is Victor Jara's version:

I'm thinking of this song because today is our departure, from Chile, after three amazing months.

It's a strange feeling, to be leaving our life here. At the same time, it will be wonderful to be back at... home. Yes, although I was born here, Canada definitely is my home.

As we're packing, cleaning and wrapping up last minute details in Santiago, before our 6:30 p.m. flight tonight, I don't have much time to post.

Tomorrow, however, I will talk about all the things we all learned down here, and what we will all miss the most.

See you soon!
p.s. Here is some backround on Victor Jara:

And another (more rousing) version of the same song, by the Chilean folk group Inti-Illimani:

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Taking our lives in our hands.... (Part 2)

The day of the game, April 25, began with a lot of excitement and anticipation (and, yes, I confess -- some fear, on my part).

In sticking with our "stay safe" strategy, however, we planned to leave for Monumental Stadium -- about 45 minutes away -- at around 1:45 since the game was scheduled for 3:30. At around 12:30 however we began hearing crowds of fans chanting as they moved through the streets and on their way to the game, so at 1 p.m. we headed for the metro ourselves.

Our first indication this was obviously no insignificant match came at the metro station itself, where dozens of police officers were already monitoring the crowds:
When the train arrived, it was already full (uncommon for a Sunday), but we managed to squeeze in one of cars. A crowd of about a dozen young men aged from about 14 to late 20s, were chanting for Colo-Colo. They also jumped every few minutes, bouncing the metro car up and down as it moved through the tracks. I worried momentarily about what this could do to the moving train, but, the metro just moved along.

At our destination, we made our way out of the metro station and towards the stadium with hundreds of others. Lots of police, some in full riot gear, met us at every step:
After being searched at the door, we were finally in the stadium which was already half full, before 2 p.m. We then discovered this was Colo-Colo's stadium and as such, most of its seating was assigned to fans of this team (the white and black). The U de Chile (the blue and red) had been given a tiny cheering section, across from where we were:
Feeling safe, the kids donned their Colo-Colo gear:
The stadium soon filled with chanting, cheering fans, and the game began, with police first escorting the U de Chile players and the referees out onto the field:

It took a while for a team to score, but when one of Colo-Colo's star players, Argentinian Ezequiel Miralles, scored that first (and turns out, only) goal of the game, the crowd went wild(er):

Other than a lot chanting, taunting and swearing, the game's first period went without a hitch, even when Miralles was thrown out of the game, in the 38th minute of play, for apparently trying to injure a blue and red player:

Trouble actually started at the half time intermission, when fans in a section to our left, began throwing rocks at the riot police, and police responded in kind. At the time, Fernando and Nick had gone to get drinks and snacks so they got a good view of what was going on (safely, from the other side of a fence).

We learned hours later, through the news, that what had caused the minor riot was the death, a couple of hours earlier, of a Colo-Colo fan on his way to the game. The papers reported that the fan -- a 33-year-old man -- got in front of, and started taunting, one of the water-throwing trucks brought to the game (and often used to disperse rioting crowds). Apparently, the fan had slipped and fallen in front of the truck, which had then been unable to stop and had ran him over. We actually got a picture of one such truck, on our way to the stadium:

We also learned later that 19 people had been arrested during the stadium skirmish with the police.

Unable to join Carmen and me at our seats after the intermission, Fernando and Nick watched most of the score-less second period from the snack bar area. Since we'd agreed to leave 15 minutes before the game ended, Carmen and I made our way out of the stands and joined them there.

Only a handful of others were leaving at that time, but as Fernando had predicted, although the trains were running, the actual metro stations close to the stadium had shut their doors so you could not get on the subway.

As planned, we walked to a main intersection and hauled a taxi, which hesitated for a second to pick us up. I guess the driver figured if we had kids, we weren't going to trash his vehicle. Half an hour later, we were safely back at our apartment, still pumped from the excitement of the game, and happy that we'd made it home alright, after all.

Fernando, however, had a confession to make. He is actually a fan of... U de Chile!, and while the kids and I had been cheering our hearts out for the white and black, he'd been secretly clapping for the blue and red and was disappointed they'd not played better.

"Oh, the sacrifices you have to make....." he deadpanned.

Here are some more pics of the game:
Yes, there were other kids (and some women) at the game, but not many....

Carmen wearing her true colours.

Colo-Colo -- all the way!!

Also, here is some info on the two top-ranked Chilean teams:

And Universidad de Chile: