Some folks have asked about what I am up to while Dan is working and the kids are at
colegio from 8:30am to 4:30pm. Well, here's a glimpse of what my days often look like.
We get up around 7:15am, just before the sunrise these days. We grab some breakfast and pack lunches and head down the hill to school.
It's about a 15 minute walk to school. On Monday, Wednesday, and Friday I drop off the kids off at 8:30am and then continue down to the waterfront for about a 4 kilometers walk/run. I pass by the sea lions, watch the ships in the harbor, and listen to the waves crashing against the shore. One part of this walk takes me by some old shipwrecks. I also pass some cool public art along the way. My favorites are the clothes pins holding up cars and also the highway pillars with famous people painted on them. At least one is Pablo Neruda. I haven't figured out anyone else.
On Tuesday and Thursdays, Dan drops the kids off at school and I head to English class. I have been teaching for the last month. I have a really nice group of students, some of whom are artists who have a gallery on our hill. Another one of the students is a parent from the kids' school. Everyone would like to improve their English in order to better interact with the thousands of tourists who visit Valparaiso every year. We've had such a fun time, focusing mainly on conversational skills. Language classes are always needed and such a wonderful way to get to know folks at a deeper level.
In addition, through one of the artists from class, I have been connected to another non-profit, TAC, which is doing some great work with community and youth development. We've discussed my doing some audits of their organizational systems and some help with a leadership transition that is going on now. I am hoping I can take a look at things come August.
After class or after my walk, I usually stop by one of the grocery stores around and pick up some items. Sometimes I stop at the sprawling fruit and vegetable market - which is really amazing but I haven't tried pulling my camera out there. Here's JUMBO grocery store which is close to my walk down by the waterfront.
Then I head back to our house (up the long hill usually with a backpack full of groceries - ugh). Sometimes I head out again to have lunch with a friend or sometimes I'll fix some lunch for Dan and me. I usually try to get some laundry or other household errands done too. Today I made a salad like I'd make at home with red butter lettuce, green apples, walnuts, craisins (imported), blue cheese, a little chicken and fresh french bread and grapes on the side. The produce is pretty amazing and pretty cheap here. I bought three heads of this beautiful lettuce for $1 today at the market.
Then in the afternoon I'm off to classes. I have my mosaic class with Monica on Mondays, which I love and wish I could do everyday. And often on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday I attend my friend Cecilia's university class at the Universidad Católica of Valparaiso. She teaches advanced language and culture classes for foreign students and invited me to audit the class. I had a great time getting up to speed on recent Chilean history.
We are finishing the semester now, but recently classes have been interrupted due to large scale, national student protests. All public universities across the country have been taken over by students and classes suspended during these national protests. Its hard to know when classes will resume or how some resolution is going to be reached... We'll see.
In the late afternoon, I pick up the kids. I also stop by Maria Magdalena's newspaper stand, where she always holds a paper for me. Often, I am printing things at ValpoAlegre print shop, whether for the kids school projects or for English class or Dan's work. And then the kids and I usually stop by El Buen Gusto bakery for some hot, fresh out of the oven bread (fresh bread is coming out probably hourly...its awesome unless you're not intending on gaining weight!!!). We often grab some other item from one of the vegetable stands as well before we head up the hill.
Then its usually homework and dinner time and maybe if there's time we'll watch some Chilean soccer! In between these activities I'm am sometimes negotiating things like getting our visas squared away or other bureaucratic and often time consuming errands. I think you have to have at least one person in the family who has the time to take care of such things as they come up when you spend a year abroad.
There's a little glimpse of my typical day. Its been great for me. I walk everywhere and enjoy chatting with folks in all these places. There are some real characters and most folks are very friendly. I feel like we have become part of the community here.