Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Earthquakes and wine, but not together

Let’s talk about the danger first.

One hour by car, ____ seconds by earthquake.
EARLY Tuesday morning, at about 1am our time, we experienced a 6.7 earthquake! It was crazy! Here I was lying down on the seventh floor of our apartment building when suddenly Pachamama (Mother Earth) decided to shake things up for over a full minute. I will say I have amazing host parents, because not 5 seconds after it had started my host mom showed up at my door to make sure I was fine. She was scared. She grabbed my hand, and we walked to the kitchen for some reason (yes the earth was still shaking) and then we saw the rest of my host family down the hallway. When everything settled down, my host dad looked at me and said: “this was a stronger temblor,” and then promptly went back to bed. (I don’t think he was very impressed with it.)
Now, there is a difference between earthquake and earthquake here. The two words are terremoto, which literally means “earth-move/shake” and then there’s temblor. Temblor is the word they use for smaller earthquakes and probably is related to “tremble.” Rachel’s family has told her that from 1.0 – 6.9 on the Richter scale is a temblor and everything bigger than that is a terremoto. (Also, when experiencing an earthquake, you must be cognizant of the almighty maremoto, or tsunami, which can accompany these disasters.)
We (Rachel, I, and all the other Chileans and gringos) are perfectly fine. The office at our university got a bit remodeled, and we got a day off of classes while they worked on it, but otherwise we’re all safe and sound.

Now, some things that have happened in the last few weeks…

April 1, 2012 – April 8, 2012 was quite a week for Rachel and me. We decided that we had been speaking way too much English (to the point that we thought it was inhibiting our Spanish) so we had a “Spanish Only” week. For the better part of seven days we only spoke to each other and everyone else in Spanish. It was hard for me. (Probably not as hard for Rachel.) But was it worth it? Definitely. We noticed that our Spanish has improved and we were thankful that our gringo friends helped us by only speaking in Spanish to us, as well.

Mama Patty- She's the best.
April 1, 2012 – April 8, 2012 was Semana Santa down here also. The dominant religion here in Chile is Catholicism so most people got Good Friday off from work/school. Thursday night, I went with my family to the beautiful beach of Maitencillo. It’s about an hour and a half north of here. We stayed in basically a beach condo for three days, soaking up the sun, playing in the COLD Pacific Ocean, and eating oh-so-many empanadas. I was very thankful for the time I spent with my family, especially with my host mom Patty. They taught me how to play some card games, hence we stayed up super late most nights. When we got back on Easter in the afternoon, Rachel came over and we had once and watched “La familia del futuro” or “Meet the Robinsons” in Spanish.
The view from our terrace at the beach condo. We were kinda close.

The following Tuesday, Rachel and I had our first test in our hard class with the other Chileans. It’s funny because our Professor was 20 minutes late to class, in typical Chilean style. He wrote nine questions on the board, and we only had to answer six of them. I have to brag on us. Prof. JJ Harting told us that we were allowed to answer in English if we wanted. We didn’t. There is a German guy who got into the class late and decided to answer in German (since, of course, our professor also speaks German) and he did better than most people in the class. We, however, did the whole thing in Spanish and we did GREAT! We only need a 4.0 out of 7.0 to pass and I was able to scrounge up a 5.2! Rachel got a 4.9. (I did have to answer one question in English, so this would account for me beating her, probably.) I will say that a lot of the Chileans we not happy with their scores. Our professor made the mistake of passing the test back at the beginning of the class. The ensuing hour was used for students to basically try to convince our teacher they deserved better grades, since opinion-based questions can’t be graded. It was interesting. Especially since we were totally fine with our grades.
All in all, we like the class a little bit more now.

William Cole. Keep the proletariat out. 
Friday, April 13, 2012, we went on the Ruta del Vino. (Wine Tour/Tasting) We had the chance to take a bus to Casablanca, a very well known valley where many different types of wine are made. We visited two vineyards: Indomita and William Cole. Indomita was huge and luxurious and had impressive wine cellars. I prefer William Cole, which was smaller but a lot more beautiful, and they pick their grapes by hand. At both vineyards we got a personal tour and the chance to taste both white and red wines! I can honestly say I don’t like wine. At one point I think I said “UGH! I just drank a forest!” which translates into “It has a nice, woody flavor,” for all you wine connoisseurs. After we returned we went out for sushi and of course, some tea.
Indomita. Very elegant. 

"UGH! I just drank a forest!"
Some of us like wine more than others.

not my photo, but this is the church
This past Sunday, Rachel and I went with our friends Hilary and Katie to misa, or Mass. There’s this wonderfully huge, beautiful, old, etc. Catholic church right next to our school, which we’ve wanted to visit for a while. Hilary and Katie also wanted to visit it, and were happy to help us poor protestants understand the Catholic rituals. We didn’t understand a lot of what went on, but it was beautiful on the inside, and worship with other believers is always great.

I think that about catches everyone up to speed on our lives (or at least mine.) We have heard about the recent outbreak of tornados in Oklahoma and the rest of the Midwest. Our prayers go out to those affected.



  1. That's a small earthquake? I don't feel like I would agree with that lol. I'm glad that your week of all Spanish paid off. Are you all going to keep doing it? The beach and vineyards look gorgeous.

    I am SO glad that you all did well on your test! You are amazing to do so well!

    I love you and miss you both!

    1. Haha well it was rather big for us, but the Chileans were mostly not phased lol. We are actually doing another week of Spanish starting today! (Though not as strict this time, it was no fun not being able to talk to family or anything lol.)

      Love and miss you too! <3

  2. Glad to hear all is well. I will make a note not to worry until I hear the news that Chile had an earthquake higher than 6.9.

  3. Oh my! 6.7 is a solid temblor! I know it's scary..but aren't they kind of cool? I never felt an earthquake until my semester in Viña! lol,

    I so enjoy reading these posts. Colin, I'm so glad you got to go to Maitencillo, that picture of you and your host momma is absolutely wonderful. I love it!