Smorgasbord of topics aka I can’t keep up with what’s going here in Chile

Well, it’s been a while guys and no it’s not because I was kidnapped or too depressed to write a blog post. The simple truth is that despite being at the end of the world, I’ve been really busy.  This will be a doozy of a blog post so I hope you guys are ready.

Science Fair:

A few weeks ago, at the high school where I’m teaching English, there was a science fair. I don’t know about you guys, but it’s been ages since I last went to a science fair let alone participated. What was my topic again…Oh right, Additives, a necessary poison? Yeah, I think I liked the topics here much more despite the fact that well, it was all in Spanish so at times I had trouble understanding such as when a girl was trying to explain to me her experiment on cell creation involving coffee and onions, and also that there was no baking soda volcano.  There were lots of animal topics including the flamingo, river rat, cormorant, dolphin and king crab just to name a few. I think the most interesting and surprising topic was moss while the worst was a comparison between a can and biodiversity. Still trying to figure that one out. What did surprise me was the amount of people who showed up for the science fair, seriously like hundreds. Now I’m starting to believe Porvenir is not a ghost town

Basketball Tournament:

While the two topics I’m about to talk about might not seem related, in one way they are. Last week there was a high school girls basketball tournament which Porvenir was hosting.  Seeing as this was a chance to watch a basketball game and the fact that Porvenir’s team is decent unlike the Raptors, sorry Toronto, couldn’t help it, I decided to go watch some basketball. Once I was inside the gym where the games were being played, it made me think of FROSH week all over again. Like I said in most ways these two things aren’t alike except for the fact that just like during the first week of university, I knew the moment I walked in that I was going to lose my voice. Yup, it definitely smelled like team spirit! Unlike, my high school basketball team, I think we were called the Tornadoes, Porvenir really really really cares about their basketball team. Supporters showed up in throngs with some bringing vuvuzelas, drums and a megaphone to cheer on the team. Once the game started, so did the cheers both for Porvenir and against the other team. I can guarantee you this was not a Sens game with some people cheering hardcore while others just sitting down and watching the game as if they were at home. If think if you did that here, the supporters would literally throw you out of the gym, either you’re with us or against us. Despite the fact that the girls came in fourth, props to them, I mean four out of fifteen is not bad. I wish I understood the cheers more, again that whole Spanish thing, because in the game against the team from Araucania, I wanted to let their supporters have it. I sort of wish I could have resorted to simplistic FROSH cheering which uses the F-word multiple times to get its point across. Overall, despite losing my voice night in and night out, I absolutely had a blast. I think if the support for the team had been like this when I was in high school, maybe more people would have showed up to the games.

Penguins!, por fin (finally):

So despite not having a camera, I still went to see some king penguins. I must say that once you leave Porvenir and head towards Argentina, the route becomes slightly scenic, almost like Cape Breton, Chile style so with less trees. I also discovered that there are ibises here called bandurrias, we saw three of them. When we got to the penguin park, I immediately noticed how cold it was and how much it looked like the Canadian north or the Arctic, very little vegetation, mostly moss and lichen and the like. The only thing that made it slightly surreal was the arctic background contrasting with the gigantic waves crashing along the beach, it was like Arisaig but with no jellyfish. I doubt that I would have been able to swim without suffering from Hypothermia or worse though. Yeah, the water was that cold. Did I forget to mention that the wind was so strong I thought I was going to get wind burn. I almost forgot the penguins. There were seventeen of them and while they are part of the second largest specie of penguins, we could not get very close to them and therefore were not able to truly see how tall they actually were. During my next penguin excursion, I would like to see the magallanic penguin, this time  with a camera of course.

Bingo:

Lets get one thing straight, out of all the activities I thought I might do here, bingo was definitely not one of them. In my time here, I have had the opportunity to play three times and win three times. Wow Jeff, you’re really good at bingo! The thing is, I won three times in the same game. Let me explain something first. To me bingo is a game of chance or in some instances say at a fancy dinner party called Pan y Vino which I decided to go to, it can be a drinking game, you drink every time a number you don’t have is called. For the most part though it’s based on chance so while people may think that buying more than one card increases your chances of winning, I’m of the mentality that you buy a bingo ticket and see what happens. But Jeff that still doesn’t explain how you won three times with only one bingo ticket. Well you see,  I ended up playing the two bingo cards of the person calling the numbers. I ended up winning a little girl’s dress and 10 000 pesos which is the equivalent of 20 dollars Canadian. I won a marriage, not a literal marriage of course, it’s what they call a bottle of wine paired with this rum based drink called a Primavera. It’s called a marriage for no other reason then there are two of them.

English Workshops:

I’ve done two English workshops so far and all I can say is that it’s been a blast. Imagine that, Chilean students wanting to learn English. I know, I know, sounds pretty farfetched. It’s also got me thinking, why is it that I can motivate a few students to learn English through the use of games while for others they wouldn’t even blink if I brought a circus into class? During the two English workshops, we’ve played What Time is it Mr. Wolf, a fun way to learn how to tell time, Duck, Duck,Goose, a class favorite, Red Light, Green Light, Yellow Light, a great way to learn colors and the function of the traffic lights, and Simon Says also a class favorite. While I may not be a hit with all the students, there will always be those few students who had the opportunity to participate in my workshops and had fun learning English. Now to think about what to do for the next one.

Ping Pong Tournament: Canada vs Chile:

It finally happened! I entered a ping-pong tournament, and while I didn’t win, I definitely showed Chile that Canada’s got game, fourth out of nine isn’t half bad. I must say I’m still slightly disappointed considering my brother probably could have wiped the floor with the competition. There were no loopers and the smashes people did lacked any real power or spin. Despite that, I think the fact that I managed to get fourth place is still an accomplishment since it allowed me to show the Chilean players that power and aggression aren’t everything as I sent back their smashes over and over and used my lull strategy effectively. If I’ve learned anything by participating in this tournament, it is that my positioning and my movement is horrible and so is my technique and that despite all this, I still gave the Chilean challengers a run for their money. You win this round Chile but Canada will be back.

Running 10 k against the wind, good idea or bad idea:

I’m still not sure if it was a good idea, I mean the longest I have ever ran was 5k and this was with little or no wind. Despite that, I decided to do it. At first, it looked like the worst decision of my life, I was barely out the gate and already I found myself in last place and gassing. I told myself that the only thing that matters is finishing strong. With that in mind I kept going. It got worse once I got near the seaside, the wind was so strong that I felt like I wasn’t advancing and that in fact the wind was pushing me back. To make matters worse, my eyes were watering and I had trouble swallowing. Despite all that, I managed to complete the race and while in everyone else’s eyes I cam ein last, I in fact came in third last since there were two other people ahead of me that turned around before completing the course. However, that’s not important, my goal was to test the limits of my endurance and my asthma and think I showed by completing this race that my only limitations are the ones I set myself. It was also great to see the crowd cheering me on as I crossed the finish line. I was even given props by a Chilean army guy. Mind you this in no way means that I’m going to do a half marathon or a marathon next. Maybe in the near future, but I will definitely need to train for that.

Upcoming Karate Workshop:

Despite the fact that my Spanish isn’t the greatest, I’ve decided based on all the interest this workshop is generating to go forward with it. I still need to think about what I want to teach them, I don’t want to teach them only white belt stuff, I want to mix in self-defense, break-falls, maybe a kata and of course blocks and kicks.

Dancing Cueca, Chile’s National Dance, and becoming an instant dancing star in Porvenir:

I would definitely have to say that I was born with two left feet and therefore I tend to struggle with any formal or organized dance. Take swing dancing for example. Despite this, I decided I was going to learn how to dance Cueca and also that was I was going to dance for an hour straight last night. I’ve been taking Cueca lessons for a month and a half now and while I’ve gotten the routine mostly down pat except for some technical elements, I still feel I’m lacking the most important element which is to be able to mimic the nuptial dance of the rooster and the chicken. Just like with swing dancing, my dancing comes out very mechanical and definitely does not reflect the spirit of the dance. However, for one night, last night in fact, that all changed. I don’t know if it was the fact that I was able to borrow a poncho and sort of find my inner huaso, the Chilean cowboy, but I felt really comfortable dancing Cueca. When the dancing which was taking place in the same gym they had the basketball tournament was over, I got a standing ovation from the crowd and also had an extensive photo taking session. If people of Porvenir didn’t know about me before, they do now. I felt like I was on Dancing with the Stars Chile edition. There’s one thing that has been bothering me and while it’s not a big thing, I would still like to share it. Last night, a lot of people  told me I did Chile proud with my dancing. However, whenever I receive a complement like that especially since I’m not Chilean, I always have to ask myself if a statement like that actually means something like ‘ Your dancing was good, for a foreigner’. If so, so be it, I guess it’s better than being told you’ve disgraced Chile with your dancing.

Heading to Argentina:

On a final note, I’m heading to Argentina for three days so don’t expect any blog posts at least until I get back.

Thanks guys for sticking with me, I know my consistency has been a bit lacking lately.

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