Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Huaso this

I have a headache.  No, it's not because I have a cold.  Nor is it because I slept terribly last night after being jolted (literally) awake at 4am by a rather large (5.9) earthquake.  It's because the same three-minute long instrumental has been blaring at school for two weeks.  You do the damn math, I am at school for 10 hours per day, 4 days per week.  According to my rough calculations (that means the flawless duo of Google and an iPhone) that means I have heard the same song well over 3,000 times.  Yeah, my head hurts, it's Wednesday, and Independence Day is on Saturday.  FML

Apparently, Independence Day is not a singular day at all down here rather it is a whole month to commemorate the day when your Criollo Great-Great-Great-Great Grandpa Don Juan the Huaso (cowboy) helped to liberate Chile of those pesky, overbearing Spaniards.  What's the best way to commemorate your national heritage?  Well of course it's by dusting off your gramps' old wardrobe and dressing little Fernando, Fernanda, Camillo and Camilla like old Don Juan the Huaso or one of his many chinas (sweethearts) that he bravely fought the Spanish conquistadores for.   Maybe little Fernando and little Camilla can pretend like they are frustratingly lusting after each other and do the national dance, La Cueca.  Wouldn't that be cute?  Sure would—once, maybe twice, hell even a third time.

Nope, that's not enough though.  Over and over again, every day in gym class, they dance to the only Cueca song that seems to exist on CD.  Yeah, it's real f*ckin awesome.  Especially when you design your school around an outdoor patio that also happens to double as the gymnasium and put up walls that are thinner than the Motel 6 where you may or may not have been mistakenly conceived.  Yup, my head hurts.  A lot.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Super Disco Breakin'

Despite nearly falling asleep in my bowl of cazuela at lunch on Saturday, (really, f*cking cazuela again?) I pulled myself together and sent my sorry-hungover-ass packing out the back gate of the farm and trudged through the mud to the colectivo (shared, fixed route taxi).  I had committed to going to a fellow volunteer’s birthday carette in Valpo and decided that despite my lack of sleep, pounding headache, not-quite-right stomach and the sheer ridiculousness of the previous night’s antics, I wasn’t going to back out.  Getting to Valpo from the farm is no easy feat despite the fact that it’s only 40 miles.  In a car, it takes roughly 45 minutes to an hour but guess who doesn’t have a car and thus has become a defacto expert in rural public transportation.  The journey from the farm in Hijuelas is of epic proportions.  It involves said slog through muddy fields to the colectivo which then takes me to La Calera (where I teach), roughly 30 minutes.  From the colectivo stop, it is several blocks on foot through a city that will likely never appear in your Lonely Planet to where I hopefully find a bus waiting (theoretically it should be that seamless but somehow, never is). 
The busses, which range from relatively peaceful and efficient with a friendly and helpful asistente (flight—errrr bus attendant), to, raging rolling disco, to, “what exactly did I do to earn such bad karma that I have ended up in the mercy of this crazy, unlicensed, overly-aggressive, whack-job of a bus driver who is surely going to a. run us off the road or b. run over the pint-size-Chinese-made-clown-mobile in front of us thus killing: the driver, Ignacio; his 4 kids (all named Ignacio and Ignacia); each kid’s respective mother (who needs marriage…or contraception); his grandparents (Francisco and Francisca); two cousins (Fernando and Fernanda) and his neighbor’s friend’s uncle—did I mention it was a two-door? 
Speaking of bus attendants I have oft wondered what exactly motivates someone to become one—I mean is it like a hierarchy thing?  Maybe it’s some kind of apprenticeship; “well young Juan, first you have to be driver’s b*tch before you too are able to safely guide this over-sized double-decker pulling-a cargo-trailer up-and-down the only highway in our ridiculously long and skinnier than Lindsay Lohan before she went to rehab country.  Now, turn up the radio, clean my windshield and polish my God-damn shifter.”
I guess I was riding out some good karma on my trip to Valparaíso because I, without knowing it, had boarded a bus of the raging-rolling-disco variety.  In reality, there was (unfortunately) no groovy disco music; rather, I was serenaded (even with my headphones on) with various renditions of some American classics.  Now, I guess I have to give some credit where credit is due, and thus I will saludar (to salute) you señor bus musician—for having the pelotas to perform in front of 40 strangers—something I will never do.  My feelings towards street musicians are universal however, that is to say, if I wanted to hear you playing guitar, and you were talented enough to have an audience that wasn’t say, 40 people stuck inside of a metal tube also known as a bus, then I would happily listen to you, perhaps, even pay to see your concert— but you aren’t, so take a seat, and practice for American Idol on your own time.