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Thursday, May 04, 2006

The Firestein Bilick Family Visits Chile

I know it has been a really long time since I have posted anything. My parents and my sister have been around on and off for the past two and a half weeks and so I have been really busy. I plan to write about the past few weeks in a few posts so keep checking back.

Sunday about two and a half weeks ago my parents and Molly were supposed to arrive in Santiago. Their connecting flight from San Francisco to Dallas was delayed and so they missed the flight to Santiago and it only goes once a day. So instead of spending Sunday in Santiago they spent the day at a hotel in the middle of nowhere by the Dallas airport doing nothing and eating at Denny’s. Finally they got on a flight and arrived in Santiago on Monday morning. It was so nice to see them and weird to be across the world in a city that I slightly know and they don’t know at all and seeing them all. Because I traveled for four weeks before coming here I packed very light and had barely brought anything with me. They brought me a whole bag of things from home. It is so nice to just have things like your favorite clothes or bags or things like that that I had been wanting. They also brought me yummy chocolate and a bag of my mom’s homemade macaroons! Having missed a whole day of activities I planned I took them out right away to walk around the downtown. We first went to the central market which is a huge fish market with lots of seafood restaurants. It is fun and has really good food but I hate walking through there because everyone hassles you to come to their restaurant and it is really annoying. We made it through all the people hassling us and found a restaurant and had a good meal. Maybe taking them out so soon was a bad idea. As we walked around the downtown my parents and Molly all started to get really tired. They had been traveling for two days and did not have the energy to be walking around. We stopped on a bench for a break and my mom fell fast asleep, everyone was cranky, so finally they all went back to the hotel to sleep for the afternoon.

Basically the whole week consisted of seeing my family at every moment I had free, then leaving them to go to class, and then meeting them again for dinner and hanging out at the hotel until late and walking home to go to bed. So I have had not a free moment to do work or anything. Tuesday I had class all day and so they spent the day on their own and even went on the buses for the first time and got to experience some of the micro culture. Wednesday, the woman who I went to the Passover seder with took my family to a neighborhood called la Victoria for a tour kind of thing. It was a really amazing place and I am going to write a separate blog post about it so keep checking back.

Wedneday night my real family met my host family. My host parents invited my parents over for dinner. I was slightly nervous about how it was going to work out but was relieved that I wouldn’t have to be a complete translator because my host dad speaks perfect English with hardly any accent because he lived in the US for 11 year including all of college and grad school. My host mom told me she doesn’t know any English (although everyone has to take it in high school) and I had been told that my host sister speaks pretty good English but had never heard her speak it. It ended up going so well. The conversation was all in English. It turns out that my host mom understands a lot of English from learning it in school and from so much English TV and movies but we sometimes had to translate for her and we had to translate when she talked. My host sister speaks pretty good English, probably about the same level that I speak Spanish. But it was easy to have a conversation because my host dad could speak to my parents. Although I knew more or less about my host family’s politics, my parents got into detail about it and also found out all about their history which is actually really interesting. So my parents and my host family have the same politics which worked out very nicely. They also had similar experiences that they could share. Like my host dad was saying that he was in the US during the 60’s and was a hippie and then my dad said that he was a hippie in the 60’s too. Anyway it all went very well and everyone liked each other a lot.

Although I have been here for a while there are so many things in the city that I haven’t done yet. One thing I had wanted to do was go to Cerro San Cristobal which is this huge hill in the middle of the city that has a giant park on it. So Thursday we spent the morning on San Cristobal. The easiest way to get to the top of the hill is you take a funicular which is this tram/elevator type thing which takes you up to the top.

When you get to the top there is a view of the city. Santiago is a very smoggy city and some days are worse than others. The city is surrounded my mountains and you can judge how smoggy it is by how clearly you can see the mountains. When we got to the top we could not see a single mountain…pretty gross.
Molly looks ridiculous but notice how there are no mountains in the background.

Then to get around the mountain you can either walk around or take a gondola. So we took the gondola around the mountain which was a lot of fun.

I plan on going back again to explore because there is so much to do on the hill, there is lots of hiking, there are really fancy pools, there is a zoo, a Japanese garden, a botanical garden, and who knows what else. I had to run to class afterwards but my parents went to see one of Pablo Neruda’s three houses, another thing that I haven’t done yet but need to do sometime soon. Thursday night I took Molly out to meet some of my friends but unfortunately a lot of people were busy so she only met two people and we had to wake up early so we didn’t stay out for long. The next day we woke up early to take a bus to Valparaiso where we spent the weekend. More on that soon.


At 3:30 PM, May 08, 2006, Blogger Becca said...

It's crazy how time flies. The other day I was thinking about there being lots of things to do and see in the city that I had yet to do/see. So I started a list, knowing I can't see everything in Australia but thinking I really didn't want to leave Melbourne having not seen things that were right at my fingertips. So I started looking through the one guidebook I brought with me to see what I hadn't done yet and realized there was a lot less than I thought. There was an entire page in the guidebook of buildings to see in Melbourne that I literally walk by on a daily basis. Pretty funny. But even so... it's so crazy that I'm only here for 6 more weeks. So see those sites Sari! (And catch up on work... hehe. I'm trying to do both simultaneously).


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