Thursday, October 21, 2010

Free Pizza, All You Can Eat Pancakes, and a Baby Car Seat

So, how do you get a free pizza from Papa John's in Chile?

The answer: Not very easily.

So I ws telling another teacher at Grant's about how awesome the Papa John's here is, and how it is exactly like from back home.  We decided to have lunch at my apartment and then exchange teaching ideas.  So here's where the adventure starts:

We arrived at 1:03.  And that's when things started to go downhill.

There are about 5 or 6 employees in the store, 1 of which is taking a phone order, and another of which is making a pizza.  The others are standing around doing nothing.  There are 2 checkstands, 1 of which is only being used, and 1 person in front of us.

The girl took about 10 minutes for her phone order, and she then took the order for the person in front of us.  Then an employee came out from the back (from a break I guess), saw us, and came over to take our order while the rest of them continued to stand around.

We placed our order at 1:14, which was a medium pizza with chicken, tomato, and bacon, along with a cinnapie and 1.5 liter soda, and we proceeded to sit down and chat to pass the time.  At about 1:30 the people in front of us got their pizza, and so I thought that we would get ours soon too.

Well, here is where I was wrong.  At 1:40 the other people finished their pizza and left.  I looked at my watch, and Tim and I decided to wait it out and not be impatient.  Then at 1:45 I went up to the counter and asked about my pizza, pointing out that the other people had already received their, eaten it, and left and that they ordered one minute before us.  They told us that the pizza was "un poco retresado" or "a little delayed".

So then at 1:55 our pizza comes out of the oven.  Keep in mind that there were only 2 other customers in the store besides us.  But that's not the end of it, as we did not have our cinnapie yet.

The cinnapie came out at 2:00.  Once we had everything, I asked to speak to the manager.  The employee went over to him, said something to him, and then came back to tell me that I wasn't getting anything for free.  I then told him that I didn't ask for anything free and asked to speak to the manager a second time.  He then came over, and I explained the entire situation to him.  His explanation was that the computer did not process our order the first time, and I told him that I always received great service before this and asked if he could do anything to make up for the long wait.  He just apoligized and said he couldn't do anything.

Tim and I left pretty annoyed, but we enjoyed our pizza despite that.  After he left, I decided that I was going to write an email to the Papa John's website about what happened.  After I sent it, I then remembered they had a libro de reclamos or complaint book at the store, so I decided to go back to write something in it.

After requesting the book and getting to write about 10 words, a woman (apparently another manager) came up to me and asked what was going on.  I began to explain the situation to her, and she told me that she heard something about it but didn't know the whole story.  So I told her what happened, and it turns out the male manager was still there.  He came over, and I called him on refusing to talk to me the first time.  His eyes turned wide and he denied it, and I simply told them both what happened, and that's the impression I got from the situation.  I also explained that I live within 5 minutes of Telepizza, Domino's, and Pizza Hut, and that I could very well eat there from now on if this is how they were going to treat me as a customer.  While the female manager talked with me a bit more, the male manager wrote out a coupon for a free pizza on a business card and gave it to me, apoligizing for the situation.

Since I started writing in the complaint book I had to finish it, but I changed the message from about how horrible the service was and how badly they responded to it to how they were actually listening to me as a customer and made the situation right. 

But that's not all.

Once I put down the book, the female manager had a piping hot cinnapie packaged up for me to take with me.  So in the end Papa John's and I made up and are on good terms.

So then this takes me to the next logical topic: all you can eat pancakes.  I got an invite on Facebook to an all you can eat pancake breakfast/flea market last Saturday morning, so I decided to check it out.  There were a good amount of gringos there and a lot of English speakers, so it was cool meeting some new people and hearing about their travel adventures.  And I enjoyed real pancakes for the first time in over 8 months.

And then my last (and least logical) topic: the baby car seat that is currently sitting in my apartment.  I woke up this morning, and on my way out the door I noticed something strange on the floor by the sofa.  When I got closer, I realized it was a baby car seat.  At first I didn't think much of it, but then as I was on my way to work I wondered why it was there.  I mean, my male roommate Cristian wouldn't need one since he's single.  And my female roommate Malu has a boyfriend, but she hasn't been pregnant since I saw her a few days ago.  So I am left with a strange feeling like I am in an unfinished Chilean version of The Hangover.

I find that the cultural differences here don't phase me anymore.  I have no problem with pushing my way through a crowded metro or bus to get out.  I am used to my personal bubble being violated in ways you would never imagine in the States.  And the man who was going comando style down the street while wearing shorts that were ripped in half on one side?  Or what about the other one who looked like he was showering in the bathroom of the SchopDog by Estacion Central, even though there were only toilets and urinals there?  I might give these things a passing thought, but they don't phase me much anymore.

My to do list for the next 2 months before flying home:

1. Go to Fantasilandia.
2. Go to El Cajon de Maipo.
3. Complete my Christmas shopping here.
4. Save up enough money for prescription sunglasses that will not get pickpocketed this time.
5. Perfect some of my Magic decks so that I can stay competitive and possibly enter a tournament here.
6. Continue being social in different contexts to get to be more outgoing and practice my Spanish.

I'm sure that there are many more things for this list, but I'm too tired to think of them at the moment.  And pictures will be added to this post once I get around to getting the old camera my dad sent me set up on my laptop.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

A One Way Ticket Back!!!!!!!!!

So 20 minutes ago I purchased my one way ticket back to Santiago.

I had been talking with my dad about him visiting and trying to get a decent one way airfare for me and round trip airfare for him to fly together, but it wasn't working out easy to match up our flights to travel together.

I had been checking, as a fellow teacher advised me that she got her one way ticket for $450 from there.  Most of the flights I found were for $670 and up, and that was flying out of New York. 

I heard that searching for flights around midnight on Wednesday and Thursday nights are the cheapest time to get tickets, so that's exactly what I did.  I got a one way flight out of Philadelphia for $535 on February 3rd, the day after my birthday.  I'll have a layover in Fort Lauderdale and then in Bogota, but they are both reasonable times and it's worth the price I got.

It's such a relief to have this next step of my life planned.  I really feel that I've started to make a life for myself down here, and I feel excited that my dad will be coming down to see what things are like here.  The next step now is finding his flight and planning to travel to Buenos Aires for a bit, but that will have to wait for another day.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

8 Months!

Today marks 8 months since I left the States.  Looking at it on the other side of things, this also is a start of the countdown to return home for the holidays.  My flight back is on December 20th, and so that means I have two months and ten days left until then.

I am loving the warm weather since we are in spring and approaching summer.  The weather is warm and sunny, but not really warm enough that you work up a sweat.  I am realizing that I like being outside in nature more so that I realized, especially if the weather is like this.  Last weekend I brought a book and music to the park, and it was really relaxing in the sun.  I'm planning on doing the same tomorrow since it´s a holiday.

Linkin Park in Santiago (with pictures!)

So I got in from the Linkin Park concert about an hour ago.

Words to describe it: awesome, amazing, electric, I could go on and on.

So how did it all play out?

Well, Colby and I bought our tickets back in August.  The ticket told us that the festival started at 12:00, so I was telling him we should get there early to avoid the crowds.  Then Colby told me that he had a Saturday class until 11:30, and so we had to meet at the metro station at 12.  When he first told me this I freaked out a bit, worrying that we would miss part of Linkin Park performing.  But then I realized that there were a lot of other bands playing, and Linkin Park would probably be near the end of the festival.

We arrived to Club Hipico (the location of the concert) around 12:45.  One of my students told me that Club Hipico is a well-known race track in Santiago, and he seemed surprised that they would be having a concert there.  As we got into line, we saw large signs not allowing cameras or outside drinks to be brought in.  I was a bit nervous since Nick lent me his camera to use, but then I saw people with bookbags going in, and they weren't checking them thoroughly at all.  I had the camera in my side pocket, so I knew I was going to be fine, and I was right.

After we got through the checkpoints, it was huge inside.  There were 3 different stages, food tents, a shade area, a hammock area, water tanks, and some artists creating artwork on large canvases.  Here are some pictures of what the area looked like inside:

 Once we got inside, we saw the schedule of the bands.  Linkin Park was only scheduled to go on at 9:30 at night.  We asked if we were able to leave and come back in, but once you're in you're in.  So Colby and I just looked at each other and laughed.  It was not even 1:30 yet, and we still had a loooong time there before Linkin Park would be playing.

We decided to grab some food to eat, and they had a ticket currency thing going on.  Here was my lunch:

We decided we would eat at of peak times to avoid crowds later on, and we also bought more tickets in advance for later on in the day.

One thing was noticably missing from the venue: trash cans.  They had huge trash bags at about 3 random places around the perimeter of the park, which I don't think was the best of planning.  But the Chileans that planned the event had a solution to all of the trash that would result from the lack of trach cans.  And here I present, Lata (can) Girl:

For the concert there were about 30 people in white jumpsuit type things that picked up the trash.  Apparently some of them were given specific assignments as to what they were supposed to clean up.

After that, we spent our time wandering around, spending time sitting in the shade, eating again around 6 PM, and buying Linkin Park shirts.  Colby wanted to see Queens of the Stone Age, so we checked them out at 6:30.  It was pretty good music, and we went around the side and had an amazingly close view of them considering it was general admission.

After the were done, I stayed put.  At this time it was 8:00 and Linkin Park would only start at 9:30.  After a few minutes I was able to work my way to the very front of the general area, and I stayed that way until they started playing.

The concert was true to their style: start out mysterious to get everyone interested, use a funky transtion chord progression or pattern to leave everyone wondering what song is next, and lots of audience participation.  This tour is also to help promote their album, which has only been out for a few weeks.

My shots of trying to zoom in did not turn out too well, but luckily they had huge monitors that showed them up close on each side of the stage.  I snapped a lot of my pictures, and here are just some of them:

They played a lot of songs from their new album, but they also sang a lot of their old songs too.  It was amazing to see how many people were there, as this was their first time in Santiago.  It seemed like everyone knew the words to the songs, which was interesting seeing that they don't necessarily understand what the songs are saying.

They played from 9:30 to 11, and I was left in a daze afterwards.  Colby wanted to see Incubus, so we went over to that stage right after Linkin Park finished.  We only stayed for about 30 more minutes, and then we headed out and caught a bus home.

Oh yeah, and how did I take pictures?  Well, the camera my dad sent me hasn't arrived yet, but one of my friends here from the States lent me his camera for the concert.  I feel so lucky that I have such great friends here.

This concert was such an awesome experience.  I've never been to any of their concerts so close to the release of a new album, so it was awesome hearing their new songs live so soon afterwards.  It brought back memories of seeing them in concert with close friends of mine back in California and Las Vegas,  and I just feel so lucky to have gotten to see them in concert here.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Oh, Hello October!

Sunday the 10th will be the 8 month mark of my travels.

I have found myself really busy with the teaching and preparation for my classes, but in a good way.  Maybe it's just me, but I really enjoy figuring out interesting ways to teach new concepts to students and making class entertaining but also useful for them.  I found a really interesting podcast called NPR Planet Money.  They are about 20 minutes each, and they have something to do with the economy or money.  I've created a listening guide for one podcast about the adventures of an economics professor giving his children an allowance, and I'm working on one about the history of Brazil's economy after 50 years of inflation and how it was solved with a new currency.

I now have my schedule worked out so that I have a few hours of free time a few days a week, and with that time I've been going to the store where people meet to play Magic.  Now that I have my binder of cards I find I talk to a lot more people there, and I have been trading and selling some cards.  I feel like I'm becoming more integrated there, and I have become more outgoing by striking up conversations with people even if they don't approach me first there.

It's hard for me to believe, but I will be seeing Linkin Park in concert here in Santiago in less than 48 hours.  I always thought in the back of my head that it would be cool if they came to Chile while I was here, and this time my wishful thinking came true.

To make it even better, they released a new album about 3 weeks ago, titled A Thousand Suns.  It is true to Linkin Park's style in that it pushes the limits as to defining their style of music.  The album has songs that are rough and angry to soft and inspiring.  They even have a few tracks that have a man speaking like he's giving a speech or protesting something, but it's set to music in the background.  One such track seems to me criticizing corporate America and portrays a man that is stuck in a system he knows is corrupt and immoral, but he cannot escape it without major consequences to his reputation and future career opportunities.

My favorite song off of the new album is called Iridescent.  It's about going through tough times and feeling down on yourself, and also holding on to feelings of anger and loneliness.  I know, it sounds pretty pessimistic.  But then it turns around completely, and they sing to remember how difficult and painful that was and to "let it go".  It's such a simple message, but the way that they combine it with piano, guitar, and eventually multiple voices is really inspiring.

I published the lyrics below, but they don't do the song justice.  You can hear it and see the lyrics by following this link:

When you were standing in the wake of devastation

when you were waiting on the edge of the unknown
with the cataclysm raining down, insides crying save me now
you were there and possibly alone.
Do you feel cold and lost in desperation
you build up all the failiures all you've known
remember all the sadness and frustration
and let it go, let it go.
And in the burst of light that blinded every angel
as if the sky had blown the heavens into stars
you felt the gravity of temper grace falling into empty space
no one there to catch you in there arms
Do you feel cold and lost in desperation
you build up all the failiures all you've known
remember all the sadness and frustration
and let it go, let it go.

Do you feel cold and lost in desperation
you build up all the failiures all you've known
remember all the sadness and frustration
and let it go,
let it go
let it go
let it go
let it go
Do you feel cold and lost in desperation
you build up all the failiures all you've known
remember all the sadness and frustration
and let it go, let it go.

I've been saving up for my plane ticket to come back to Santiago, and I'm really satisfied with what I have so far.  I've basically cut eating out out of my budget for the most part, and now I write out a menu on the weekend for the following week.  That way when I go food shopping I only buy what I need.  If I can keep it up I will have enough for my flight as well as money for gifts for Christmas and spending money for the time I will be back home.

That's all for now.