Monthly Archives: September 2013

Dame la palta, po!

(To my Chilean friends: I am aware that the “po” is almost never written. It is simply added to the end of words as a “p.” This is so that non-Chilean speaking readers understand.)

Hola, amigos!

We are now just about at the end of September, and with it, the end of las fiestas patrias de Chile. I listened to a lot of cumbia and cueca. As I indicated in my last blog post, the Chile study abroad alums of my university gathered for a little carrete. Muy piola (meaning nice, cozy, laidback).

A truly beautiful thing. Prepping palta for the party.

A truly beautiful thing. Prepping palta for the party.

Palta, salt, and a little bit of lemon juice. This disappeared at the carrete.

Palta, salt, and a little bit of lemon juice. This disappeared at the carrete.

My friend C. is actually half Chilean, and she knows how to make pebre just by taste. It was fantastic.

My friend C. is actually half Chilean, and she knows how to make pebre just by taste. It was fantastic.

Someone brought pisco, and we had enough lemons and powdered sugar to make pisco sours. Not too strong, not too sweet- juuuust right.

Someone brought pisco, and we had enough lemons and powdered sugar to make pisco sours. Not too strong, not too sweet- juuuust right.

AND we had completos. This is mine. Without mayonesa. Because I'm mañosa (picky) like that.

AND we had completos. This is mine. Without mayonesa. Because I’m mañosa (picky) like that.

We also had alfajores, those delicious little manjar-filled bites of heaven, and imitation terremotos. Terremotos are a very Chilean drink, consisting of pipeño, which is fermented white wine, and pineapple ice cream. They are typically extremely strong, hence the name “earthquake.” Ours had none of the original ingredients and were not nearly as strong, but we definitely get an A for effort. The only thing that was missing was the chicha.

I love these gatherings for a number of reasons, the main one being that people who have not had this experience are only willing to listen for so long until they check out or get bored. If you haven’t been abroad, or if you haven’t been to this country, you eventually don’t feel like hearing about it anymore. Which is perfectly fine! But we never get tired of talking about it. I especially don’t (hence this blog, obviously). So when we have the opportunity to get together and revel in our experiences with people who also don’t get sick of talking about it, we have to take advantage of it.

Chile has infiltrated my life in a number of little ways that I’m just realizing now, a whole year later after my first long-term stay. I drink a lot of agua de hierbas (herbal teas) after meals and before bed. I’ve mostly switched from coffee to tea in the mornings. I cannot drink it without sugar, but I never add milk. I am far more tolerant of smoking than I ever was. I talk constantly about the weather. I have a tendency to run about five minutes behind schedule (and I am making a concerted effort to fix that, because my world just does not work that way). I am way less tolerant of cold than I was before. That’s a problem, considering that I spend winter in the Midwest. It was 68 the other day. 68 guys, not a cloud in the sky, with a nice breeze. I wore jeans, a cardigan, and a light scarf. There were other people walking around in shorts and t-shirts. And I looked at them and thought that they must be freezing.

This is apparently what happens when you are deprived of central heating for months. Warm is no longer warm enough. But I know how to dress for when it’s 45 in the morning and 75 at midday, which coincidentally was the weather here all last week!

Actually though, this fall has been fabulous so far. Lots of sun, nice warm temps but not hot enough to make you sweat. Nice and cool at night. The leaves haven’t turned quite yet, but we’ve had a few chilly mornings where I really wanted something cinnamon-y to eat. Just wait until I get back into the kitchen over fall break, guys. It’s going to be an explosion of apples and pumpkin and cinnamon and nutmeg and probably oats and streusel of some sort. Gah. Can’t wait! I missed this entire season last year, and I intend to make the most of it before we once again plunge into winter.

I have two stories about palta (avocado, just in case you forgot) to share with you:

First, I sat down near one of the dining hall chefs at lunch the other day. I was just eating my lunch, reading stuff on my phone, and suddenly she asks if I’d like half of an avocado. She was going to split it with another chef, but she decided she didn’t want her half anymore. I pretty much jumped out of my seat and hugged her. It was wonderful. I’m telling you, angels exist!

Never gets old.

Never gets old.

And then, my friend had an avocado that was going bad that, despite her fervent love of the magical green fruit, she wasn’t going to be able to eat. So we brought it along to the dining hall with us, and I prepped it with toast, as always. That’s more palta than I had in the entire five months between my Chile stays. I was a happy cabra (in Chilean, another word for girl) after those meals.

Those are my palta stories. Only people who crave palta like I do and had it almost every day for the better part of a year (i.e., other Chile study abroad students) will understand what joyous occasions these meals were, and how much my belief in the goodwill of human beings has been strengthened.

Besos,

Gaby

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¡VIVA CHILE! Chilean Independence Day 2013

¡Feliz día de independencia!

A year ago today (yeah, I’m doing that again), I was in Maule, running around from ramada to ramada trying chicha, eating way too many empanadas and cabritas, and dancing more cumbia than most gringas have ever danced.

Today, I ran around between my dorm and classes and meetings. I have played cumbia at every possible moment, I have liked basically every single Chile-related thing on Facebook (and it’s a lot, considering a significant portion of my network is connected to Chile), and later tonight all of the Chile alums will be gathering to celebrate las fiestas patrias. We’re gonna have pan and palta and pebre and alfajores and an asado. It remains to be seen if we will have access to Chilean wine or pisco (the cheap stuff sells for $30 a bottle here. Que triste.). With more time and equipment I would have made empanadas, but alas, we will make do.

En celebración, I have attached a few of my highlight blog posts for those of you interested in reliving the Chilean experience or learning more about it. You know, in case you didn’t catch it the first time or any other time I’ve gotten nostalgic (hint: that’s all the time).

Gaby, hijita, ¿pancito? ¿Tecito?

Consultas que tengo (Questions I have)

Chilean Independence Day

Al Sur (To the South)

What I’ve Learned about Chileans Thus Far

Things I’ve Learned About Chile/Chileans, Part 2

How to Tell a Foreigner from a Chilean

¡Viva Chile!

Salud,

La Gaby

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Moments

Hi friends!

It’s been about three weeks since I last posted. That could actually be a lot worse. How are all of you? I hope you’re well. Life is moving along as normal here on campus. I’ve been here for more than a month now. I am living in a single room and am full in the swing of being an RA.

I LOVE IT. It was absolutely the right decision for me. My girls are wonderful and open and sweet. The freshmen aren’t afraid to ask for help when they need it, and the upperclasswomen are fabulously helpful and welcoming. The other hall staff are fantastic. It’s just a great team.

We took a bonding trip to the beach before move-ins started. Nicest lake beach I've ever been to.

We took a bonding trip to the beach before move-ins started. Nicest lake beach I’ve ever been to.

Crafting to decorate my section. This was a project.

Crafting to decorate my section. This was a project.

Doing all the RA stuff constantly throws me back to my own freshman year. I look back on all of the things- like saying goodbye to my parents, getting homesick, having my first exams, taking the swim test- and I think, wow. I did all of that. And got through it. And now I’m here.

I remember how much older my RA looked to me my freshman year, and then I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror during Freshman Move-In, and I thought, oh man. I AM that old now. And I wear a badge and go on rounds and everything. My freshman RA is visiting me next weekend, and that will really be crazy!

I made mostly vegan banana muffins. In my dorm's kitchen!

I made mostly vegan banana muffins. In my dorm’s kitchen!

As I go around doing the typical first semester things, like the first football game and hearing the marching band at 9 AM on game day, I remember how much I missed all of this. Remember, a year ago, I was not here! I was in Chile! A whole year ago. But time isn’t flying the same way that it did there. That’s probably not how it will seem in about a month when we go on fall break, but right now, things seem to be moving along at a normal pace. Not too slow, but not too fast either.

From a late-evening walk.

From a late-evening walk.

And from another one.

And from another one.

And one of my most favorite sunsets ever.

And one of my most favorite sunsets ever.

In the midst of RA life and being a student, I’m also applying to jobs. Yes, that is really happening. The plan is to have a full-time job by the time I graduate. I bought a suit last week, and I wore it to a career fair, and I networked with recruiters and submitted resumes. It’s a pleasant surprise when you put together your resume and realize that you actually have a lot more experience than you thought, and it’s comforting to know that those recruiters you’re trying to impress were in the same boat you were only about a year ago. To me, that means that hey, I can do this. I can get a job. I have skills and can make an impact in a business. The key is proving it.

A few trees here and there are slowly changing color. But on career fair day, it was about 1000 degrees and humid.

A few trees here and there are slowly changing color. But on career fair day, it was about 1000 degrees and humid.

The “real world” is fast approaching, whether we like it or not. When do you feel like an adult? Is it when you pay your own bills? When you’re the one who has to call the plumber or have insurance or get a loan? Because there are totally people my age who are doing all of those things, and have kids and work full-time. My attitude towards adulthood: other people are doing it and I can too! Seriously. Other people go out on their own with far less education, resources, and support than I have and do just fine. There’s no reason that I can’t do it too.

I still want to be everywhere- here, Milwaukee, and Chile- all at once. For this reason I’m considering jobs that would allow me to travel between all of these wonderful places and all of the awesome people there. I have a feeling that the constant pull towards other places/not wanting to leave anywhere, ever, will never go away. But there has to be a way. Right?

A perfect, clear day for remembrance of another perfect, clear day.

A perfect, clear day for remembrance of another perfect, clear day 12 years ago.

That’s all for now! Stay tuned…

Much love,

Gaby

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