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Monday, June 12, 2006

Strikes, Mines, Snow, Horses, Futbol...

I figured out a different way to get photos up but they are all funny sizes, sorry. There is also one picture missing.

I haven’t been good lately about updating mainly because I haven’t really been traveling, but there are still things going on, so here is another post with lots of random things from the last few weeks.

First of all, and update on the student strikes. After three weeks of the high schools being on strike, and two weeks of most universities being on strike, the strike is finally over. The past week I barely had any classes because everyone was on strike. Last weekend, Michelle Bachelet made the students an offer that was pretty extensive. Because the offer didn’t include everything they were asking for, they rejected the offer and decided to keep striking. Bachelet said that either way she would make those changes she had offered (which included free PSU tests for low income students, along with various other things) and that she wasn’t going to offer any more. As the week went on the protests lost steam. Finally, on Friday they called off the strike because of the diminishing lack of public support. In the end the students won a fair amount of things they were asking for. Under the military dictatorship of Pinochet, the school system was decentralized so that funding was allocated by individual municipalities rather than the state. This has caused some municipalities to have much more funding for schools while others get hardly anything. One of the demands that the students made was to centralize the system again. As far as I understand, this is what happened with that. Bachelet’s original proposal didn’t address that issue, but in the end, Bachelet has promised to form a committee to reform many of the changes that were made under Pinochet’s government. This committee will have 75 representatives and 15 of them will be student representatives. That is what I understand of it, though I’m sure there is a lot more that I don’t know. I wish I had pictures of the downtown area where there are giant banners hanging off of buildings and where the protests were but I don’t so here is just some pictures of some of the high schools and universities.
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Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
When they took over the high schools, they literally took them over and kids camped out there for two weeks and they took desks and chairs and stuck them in the fences, here is a picture of that.

As I mentioned before, the smog here has been awful. Because we are surrounded by mountains the smog is worse, and it means you can’t see the mountains even though they are really really close. It has been a dry season and the lack of rain has made the smog worse. But, it started raining this past week and the rain breaks the layer of smog and it clears up a little. The most amazing thing is when there is a clear day without rain the day after a lot or rain. For one, the rain clears the smog so you can see the mountains, and if it was raining here it means it was snowing in the mountains so all of a sudden we are surrounded by beautiful snow covered mountains that you can actually see. Here is a picture I attempted to get, though my goal is to try and get a picture sometime at sunset on a nice day because they are so beautiful then.

Some other quick things about what I have been up to.

A couple of weeks ago I went with some friends to the horse races in Santiago. When you are at the track you feel like you are in the 1920’s or something because it looks like the horse races you see in movies, unfortunately the people there were not dressed like 1920’s horse race goers. It is very anti-climatic. There is a race about every half hour, it lasts for about a minute and then it is over. We wanted to try betting a little bit just for fun but the process of betting seemed too complicated, especially in Spanish.

My program arranged a trip for us to El Teniente, which is the largest open-pit copper mine in the world, and Sewell which is the now abandoned mining town. We had to get completely dressed up in mining gear (jacket, head light helmet, boots, belt, glasses, gas mask…) I think most of it was for show, not so much for safety, it was kind of ridiculous but fun. Here is me looking ridiculous in all my gear.
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We got a tour of the mine though we didn’t get to see much, only the parts that are meant for tour groups, we even walked into what was kind of a museum underground inside the mine. We drove in the mine on a bus, walked around, saw some mixer thing, drove out. I wasn’t that impressed, I think it was just the fact that it was so geared towards tourists and we weren’t actually seeing what really goes on, also, our tour guide wasn’t very interesting. We then went to the mining town which now just has some cafeterias for the miners and a museum. It used to be a town where the miners and their families lived. The housing was divided by class and also by status (single men, married couples, children, etc.) There was a bowling alley in the town which was the first bowling alley in Chile. It is now basically a ghost town where miners come to eat and tour groups walk around. All in all, not my favorite trip but still interesting. Some pictures.
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Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

I have been watching the World Cup. I previously knew nothing about it but I am in Latin America (although Chile did not qualify) and some of my friends are soccer fanatics so I have been watching a bunch of the games and learning about how the World Cup functions and who might beat who, etc. Monday we went to an Irish pub to watch the US game and it was filled with Americans speaking English which was very weird.


At 11:08 PM, June 15, 2006, Blogger Becca said...

sometimes the miscellaneous stuff posts are really the most interesting. i've been doing some miscellanesous stuff too but after i posted the first bunch of it i lost the steam for posting. so props to you for the post! muwah!


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