Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Where to begin?

I'm happy. I'll start with that. The last two weeks have been a whirlwind, a mix of late nights, awkward looks, treacherous hikes, and painful classrooms. Attempting to take every moment in for what it is and not consider what it isn't, this trip has so far been more than I could have imagined. Talking with counterpart Colin last night as to how to summarize the events of the previous days: Connecticut to New York City to Bogota to Santiago to finally Iquique, it's just beyond the realm of possibilities. However, sharing an inside joke an outside joke or a disturbingly awful pumpkin ice cream joke will still at least allow me to keep track of this year's adventure that we set out to achieve something. Whether be it peace of mind, the allure of the open road, the beauty of a drunken tumble down a sand dune, or pure and simple freedom, I can not say, nor may I be able to when all is said and done. And off we go. Too many points of no return have been crossed and I could not be more satisfied and impressed with myself and my fellow travelers for doing so.

Prior to becoming a bloggist, I decided to yahoo search the bag out of insightful travel quotes to reveal my inner author. Check it out, I'm legit, I'll inundate you with Mark Twain and Confucius. No, that can't be me. If someone even finds the effort within their basement twilight hours to read this, prepare to be not disappointed by me. Jesus, look at that gem I dropped right there. Anyways, I'll give you what I've got. Drunk bloggings will never look or feel so good. Nor will Southern Americans females, or as the Cheyennese say "them woms". Showing up last thursday, expectations were high. Toothless wonders offering jewel encrusted denim on the streets of Bogota got things started off proper. A city to behold. Surrounded by massive cliffs on three sides, the city spreads and like all ciudades, has its good and its bad. We didn't hit the posh areas where our future brides awaited, but we got a real look and I enjoyed the way the numerous threats from security and information about the city's dangers were quickly washed away with an absurdly sweet bottle of coca cola. Little to our knowledge, our third traveling companion Bree has been taken out of her airport bathroom stall she was starting to flood with vomit from the previous night's activities by colombian police. Not exactly the best way to start a journey or the people I'd choose to share it with. Spanglish opened the door to allow her womanly ways to start an improptu english class with the officials eventually allowing her to go to our terminal with some hydration salts and a pat on the ass. No, that's not true.

Hello, Santiago. Goodbye sense of sight, respiratory system, and liver. Our hostel awaited the 80 volunteers hailing mainly from the US. First impressions are book covers. It's amazing what a week can do. A climb up the impressive and spiritual Saint Cristobal Mountain upon sunset whose beauty mirrored the Christ the Redeemer of Brazil only in Virgin Mary form. Ricardo, the troubled uncle and his two sherpa nephews led the way up slopes lined with Peligroso, and I have my Rainbows to thank for their tenacity as we endured this two hour ascent up cliff after boulder cliff after forest hook up interruption after an eventual summit. Pope John Paul II said mass here and for very good reason. With the Andes on your left, the stone altar and entire city of Santiago ahead and below and a sunset on your right, all your missing is a massive statue of Mary. And there she is behind me. So, as all nights begin, a few beers were in order upon return and that led to citywide latenight exploration. And god are we good at dancing. Wait, me grabbing your waste and moving sideways is not a dance in this country? Some salsa needs to be acquired and fast before the molestation charges hit. The next seven days can be summarized as such:

Drug induced hostel receptionists asking if they can be Mr. Burns
Hoo-doggys galore
Stammering former english teachers attempting to provide insight on classroom management
3 mile runs through the smog-ridden streets. hike the pants boys and girls.
do i remember packing my bags?
the finest bus ride of my life.

Seriously, I don't know what to say. We took the best out of Santiago we could with the seven days we were given. A moment wasn't spared and a lunch lady wasn't left without a box of strawberries...or pepperoni pizza. Our volunteers are amazing. They share a willingness to get out and help in whatever way they can. Again, I was reminded why I take these chances, jump on a random bus, and talk to that shady homeless guy. People never cease to amaze.

And to conclude, Iquique. Wow. Beyond the geographical contrast of towering sand hills to my right and perfect blue waves riding into our shores a few miles west, I'm the midst of a natural disaster nightmare. A rainfall brings our mudslide demise and an earthquake leads to nothing more than a city-wide tsunami. God's on our side. Juan, the community leader and possible mob boss led our way to family birthday party then governor's office then to seaside hotel. It was miraculous, the week-long hangover telling us it cant be real, but somehow here we are. The last two days we dazzled local news reporters and spent time deciding with our teachers how to force english words down the Chilean throats. Colegio Republica de Croacia, named for the zero Croatians residing in or founding the school, promises cement blocks and a loving fanbase of students. Expectations have been set extremely low by cooperating teachers and locals, so when I lead this band of rebellious impoverished youths down the city streets to spend our classes playing futsol on the beach's sand, I'm not expecting much criticism. I honestly wish I could have written less and spent more time with my new familia or conquering sleep depravation, but that's the minimal gist of our travels thus far. Until next time.

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