Monday, February 14, 2011

A Family Visit, Switching Over My Visa, and Reuniting with Friends

My dad arrived for a visit last Monday, and he stayed until Saturday night.  It was really good to have him here so that he could see what life is like here, and I think it put him at ease seeing that I am well established.

We took things at a relaxed pace but got to see a good amount during his visit: Cerro San Cristobal, the downtown area, meeting my bosses/coworkers/one of my students, La Vega and the fish market, Valpo and Viña, a walking tour of Santiago, and a tour of the Andes mountains.

During his visit I almost lost my cell phone.  It had fallen out of my pocket while we were on the TransVIP shuttle service to his hotel, and I only realized it about 45 minutes after we arrived.  The hotel staff helped me to call my number, and not only did the TransVIP driver pick up, but he promised to deliver it to the hotel within an hour.  Sure enough when we came back from going out for the afternoon my cell phone was waiting for me in the reception.  I don´t think that getting your cell phone back in a situation like that is the norm at all, and I was really lucky and grateful for the honest people that got me my phone back.

When we went to Valpo, we were offered a full day tour in English for a decent price so we went for it.  I was telling our guide Mario about The Amazing Race and how much my dad and I like it, and it turns out he was on it!  He drives a van around to give tours usually, but people on the race came up to him telling him they needed someone that speaks English and that drives a taxi.  He offered his van to take multiple teams, but they said they could only take a taxi.  One of the teams (from what he described it was a father/daughter team so I think it was Gary and Mallory) offered him money for him to get them a taxi and drive, and so he gave the money to one of his taxi driver friends to lend it to him.  And so he was a taxi driver on the show.

His English was perfect (as he had lived in Australia for 12 years), and he gave us a lot of interesting details about Valpo and Viña that I didn´t know before.  Valparaiso is actually short for va al paradiso (or go to the paradise in English), and it was the location of the first newspaper El Mercurio in South America.  We went on one of the elevators that goes straight up and down, and to get to it you go through a cave that has water running through it.  There was a lot more interesting information, but due to the perils of putting off blogging for so long I forget the details.

While my dad was on a tour of the Andes, I took care of my visa.  I didn´t allow enough time on my first attempt as I had to get my dad on a walking tour and my number wasn´t called in time (I arrived at 8:15 to 70 people in front of me with the office opening officially at 8:30).  So the following day I decided to get there at 7:45 that way I´d be right near the front of the line.  Well, this time there were about 100 people in front of me despite getting there half an hour earlier.  Luckily one of my friends from work came in a few minutes later, and we spent our entire wait catching up since we hadn´t seen each other since December.  I got my temporary residency visa stamped into my passport, and then I made my way to the International Police to get an updated card on file there, and then they took another horrible picture of me to put on my updated ID card that I can pick up after my trip.

One of my friends Chris also had a birthday last week, and so we got together to celebrate.  There were a few of us from the program, a few friends we had made along the way, and a few boyfriends/girlfriends, and it was a great time.  Since not everyone spoke English we spoke in Spanish most of the time, and it was cool that we were all able to converse in Spanish and understand each other.  It's also hard to believe that an entire year has gone by since we met each other and arrived in Chile.

And any post of mine would not be complete without some pictures of the food I´ve eaten lately, so enjoy!

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