After two nine hour flights and a six hour stop off in Atlanta we arrived in Santiago at 7.30am. We then made our way to the hostel where we would stay the following night. As much as we needed sleep we were all too desperate to find our bearing within Santiago. We dumped our bags and headed straight out. It wasnt too long before we found somewhere to exchange money and although we were ripped off with a terrible exchange rate, we were happy just to finally have our pesos. We looked about Santiago and had lunch in the tourist district (our last menu with english as well as spanish). We bought Chilean phones for 9000 pesos (ten pounds) as our British phones didnt work. We went out for tea that night with Project Trust contacts in Santiago to a typical chilean restaurant. This is where the meat eaters get steak and the vegetarians get chicken. It was very good and we got our first taste of pisco, the traditional chilean drink, which I cant think of any way of decsribing excpet from very strong.
The following day the 10 Santiago volunteers were picked up by their families and the Valparaiso boys were sent off on the bus to meet their hosts also. We had the whole day in Santiago so we had a look around and even braved the metro. We found this castle on a hill surrounded by a park and explored that. Our Spanish was too limited to find out what it actually was. We then went back to the hostel and waited to be picked up by the taxi. We arrived at the bus station in plenty of time after a rather eventful journey in the taxi. This is largely due to our taxi drivers attempt to fit 4 girls and 8 suitcases into his small car. My rucksack was sticking out the passenger window and Kirstys door did not seem to be closed properly. I was quite scared of her door flying open any minute. Anyway we got there in the end and I slept all the way to Lautaro.
When we arrived there was no one there to warn us, however project trust had warned us to be patience as Chileans run on a "mañana mañana" timesale (basically meaning I´ll do it later). After waiting 40 minutes in the freezing cold rain a taxi driver came up to us. He picked up our luggage and started to take it to his car. We then tried to explain to him that we were waiting for someone but he spoke no English and we speak no Spanish. We then decided to its best to call out host who also speaks no English. We hand the phone to the taxi driver and after a few minutes of uncomprehendable conversation he motions us to his taxi. After standing in the cold for so long we decde it is probably better just to go with him. So he takes us in his taxi literally round the corner, where he drops us off at a restaurant. The door is locked so we have to knock to get in. Once we are in we face a dark room with one other customer in the corner who doesnt even notice our arrival. A lovely old man greets us and makes us a cup of tea. He laughs when i ask for "leche" (milk) with my tea. The taxi man then leaves and makes the most of us desperate gringas by charging us 2000 pesos. We have no spanish or energy to argue. Not exactly sure why we are here we try to communicate with the man using sign languaage. We are still clueless when this woman turns up called margott. She is the resaurant owners wife and also the local english teacher. She was thought we were getting dropped off in Temuco (a nearby big town) so was waiting there untill she received the phone call from us and the taxi driver.
Margotte greets us with a big hug and kiss and loves calling us "her babies". She then takes us to Temuco where we go to the police station to get our visas validated. The chief police person tells me I am a very beautiful woman which was a bit strange. We then go to the town halls to get our Chilean id cards. After waiting 30 minutes we discover that the police man spelt Kirstys name, "Kristy" so she has to go back to the police staion to sort that out with the driver. Meanwhile I get my files sorted and finger prints taken. We then go outside to wait for the Kirsty, who doesnt turn up for ages. The driver then goes past us and informs us that Kirsty went to meet us. We run back inside to find Kirsty waiting there. Poor thing had been taken to three different buildings looking for us, unable to speak much Spanish. We eventually sort everything out and head back to Lautaro. We´re so kanckered we sleep the whole way.
We are then taken to meet our host family. We drive through a rather run down part of town, sightly nervous of what awaits us. We then arrive, the inside of the house is beautiful. Absolutely immaculate and very nicely decorated. We get fed well, a plate of beef, salad and potatoes, with tinned apples for desert. Not what I am used to but I was very nice. We then went to our bedroom, which I am sharing with Kirsty and slept for several hours. We were woken by Ruth for tea. This consists of bread and cheese and some cake. We meet the dad of the family who very much appreciated the bottle of whiskey from home and couldnt stop looking at it. As well as the daughter lily, who is sports crazy apparently and we have already been invited to join her at her boxing class! All of this was established with sigh language and bits of Spanish. In total there is, the mum(ruth), the dad, the daugher(lily), the grandmother(alissa), the other grandmother, Kirsty and me. The family has been so welcoming so far and have been trying already to help us learn Spanish. After tea we went upstairs and unpacked, then straight to bed.
This morning we woke at about 8 o´clock and had a shower. Its so cold here especially in the morning and i have to wear a fleece constantly. I am going to need to go buy some more suitable clothes soon, as is Kirsty.We then got picked up at 10 and taken to see the pronciple ofeducation in the whole area. He told us we would spend 4 days a week at a local primary school and on a friday only (for our own security) we would go to the school in the country. I dont know why it is safe only on a friday but we will soon find out. We then went to the primary school we would be helping in and met alot of the staff. They were all so lovely and welcoming. It will take me a while to get used to the noise in the staff room, they all seem very passionate. We then walked home and had lunch, which was beef salad and potatoes again, think I´ll be used to itsoon if this pattern continues.
So thats all thats happened so far. Sorry for the actual essay, hope i didnt bore you and hopefully I´ll update it again soon.
ps you´ll be glad to know i havent lost anything important yet.