The month of March tends to be a low key one for English teachers. Most return from some type of vacation home or trip when classes are not in session in February. Chileans tend to have their vacations in February and then are slow to start up English classes again at work, so class schedules tend to be light for the month of March.
Last year this left me struggling financially, but this year is fortunately different. I was able to anticipate the situation and find private classes with people that are reliable, and so I've started up with most of them already. In the meantime, my mornings are free. While I am not making money during that time by not having classes, it is a nice luxury of being able to sleep in a bit, take my time making breakfast, and run errands that would be more time consuming at other times of the day. It's also a nice way of getting to settle in again, do some spring (or in this case fall) cleaning, and get myself prepared for teaching a full schedule again.
Another nice thing about March is that it's a time when a lot of new English teachers come to Santiago. I was able to get in contact with some of them before they came over, and we have gotten to meet up. It's nice getting to meet a new group of people and hear their stories of traveling and what brought them to Chile. I even met two people who spent a semester in Granada, Spain! (as I did)
It's also a good time to reconnect with old friends. The past few weekends have been spent celebrating birthdays and going to barbecues, and it's nice seeing people again after the summer. Our lives have had twists and turns along the way and we've had distinct paths (despite being in Santiago), but it's nice when we can meet up and share what's been happening.
And what would Santiago be without some good old earthquakes? We've had two within the past 4 days. The first one was at about 4:30 in the morning on Friday. I was asleep in bed, and it woke me up. My bed was shaking, but not too strongly. I decided that I would only get out of bed or start to freak out if I heard things starting to fall, and luckily that didn't happen. It lasted about 20 seconds or so (by my best guess).
The second one happened at about 6:30 this evening. Ironically about an hour beforehand my clock fell off the wall and broke when a friend was over. The adhesive sticking it to the wall had worn off, and she suggested that perhaps the earthquake from earlier loosened it from the wall. So no clock in my apartment for now.
I was sitting on my bed using my computer when everything started to shake. It was much stronger than the one a few days before, and I started to get scared. I stood in the doorway and heard my kitchen cabinets rattling. There 30 to 40 seconds seemed to last an eternity, but once it was over I breathed a short sigh of relief. Then I began to prepare an emergency bag. I´m getting nervous with having had 2 earthquakes within such a short time, and they get pretty strong with me living on the 20th floor.
There are already news reports about this recent earthquake. There are no injuries or major damage reported, and luckily there was no threat of a tsunami.
Is another earthquake going to happen? This last one was a 7.2 at the epicenter, which was in Talca (about 4 hours south of Santiago). To give some perspective, the big one in 2010 was an 8.8 with the epicenter in about the same area. I don't know if another one is going to happen, and I can't spend my time worrying about it. All I can do is have an emergency bag ready and be prepared.
We'll see what the rest of March holds. Hopefully April will be more stable, both financially and geographically.