Thursday, April 3, 2014

Wednesday, March 26

Today was an incredibly busy day. I woke up for school and had to pack up a change of normal clothes. I went to the first two classes, and then at like 11:30 after the second break, I went to the bathroom, changed into my normal clothes, and walked over to the mall in the center. On the way I met up with Katie H. All the exchange students in Rancagua had been called to a special meeting with Clara, the head of Rotary in Santiago. The meeting was today in San Bernardo at 3, so we had decided to all get together in the mall for lunch before taking the bus up to San Bernardo. Katie H, Sally, Pierre, Katie W and I all ate together in the food court, and then took a micro over to Terminal O’Higgins to meet up with Nigel. We got on the bus to San Bernardo and then had a major discussion. We were all thinking that this meeting was about the family changes, and so we had to get our story straight on how we were going to convince Rotary that we were changing soon (even though the other 3 of them and Pierre weren’t actually planning on changing at all). We planned our story, and then we all wondered and worried for a while about why Clara had asked each of us to bring a report card from our schools that talked about our grades, behavior, and attendance. It had been very difficult for me to get that report because I hadn’t been on the roll sheet last year so they didn’t write down my attendance or record the grades that I received. I had ended up having to bring in the tests that I had taken and that I still had, and let them sort of invent grades for me based on those test grades and on the teachers’ view of my level of work in class. I ended up with a GPA of 6,8 out of 7, which is like absurdly good (better than almost everyone else in the class) and totally not believable but whatever. The rest of the bus ride we just talked and laughed in a mix of Spanish and English because Pierre was there and he doesn’t speak English. The bus dropped us off on the side of the freeway outside San Bernardo, and we walked into the town and Sally led us with nothing more than her good intuition and we made it to the Rotary building without even taking a wrong turn. We were early, so Nigel and Pierre went around the corner to smoke (I was really shocked that they were brave enough to do that right before going to an important meeting but ok) and then we went into the Rotary building to wait for Clara to arrive. She got there around 3:20, and we went into this big conference room for the meeting. First we talked about how Monchito owes us all our monthly money (he owes it to Katie W and me from September). Then we talked about how the Rotary Club in Rancagua has flat out told us that it doesn’t want anything to do with us and that the exchange program is very low on its list of priorities. Clara was very sympathetic and horrified that we weren’t being incorporated into the program and invited to meetings and special activities. She invited us to her Rotary club in San Bernardo, and we accepted happily because I really do want to get to know Rotarians and make life long connections with them and also are able to do a presentation and share my experience in Chile. Later, we talked about school and the problems that Katie W and Sally had about changing schools. We talked about the family changes and everyone swore up and down that they were going to happen next weekend. Then we thanked Clara very much for being one of the Rotarians that actually cared about us and was going to take care of us and actually get us involved with Rotary in our last month’s here.
We walked back out to the freeway and hopped on a bus to take us back to Rancagua. On the way back we discussed what another Rotarian lady there had said to Katie W. She had literally told her in front of all of us that Katie had to start working to lose weight because she is fatter now than when she arrived and she has to go home the same way she was when she arrived. I was just appalled by how rude it was of her to even say that, let alone to say it in front of all of us and embarrass Katie like that. As soon as we got home to Rancagua, I hopped in a collectivo to the Teatro Regional, where I was meeting Sally’s dad (my future dad) for a concert. He is an ex police man, so he had tickets to the Orfeon Nacional de los Carabineros de Chile (National Police Band). We met outside, and I apologized for coming in short shorts and explained that I hadn’t had time to go to my house and change because I hadn’t wanted to arrive late to the concert. We went in and talked to a few of his policeman friends before the concert started. It was a great concert, and the band played not only classical music like Swan Lake, but also fun Latin music like La Vida es un Carnaval and Vivir mi Vida (which is my current favorite song by Marc Anthony).
When Vivir mi Vida came on I literally got so excited that I started dancing around in my seat and singing along. I think Manuel was half impressed that I knew all the words to the song and half confused as to why I was so excited. He is very calm and subdued, but I refuse to ever be anything but my crazy self who likes to have fun so he will have to get used to that. After the concert, he dropped me off at my house, and I told him how much fun I had had at the concert (I really didn’t know before how much I miss music and playing in the band) and how excited I was to move to his house and get to know his family and way of life. I walked in the door to find Nancy putting the finishing touches on the Welcome Home poster. I made myself some bread with manjar for dinner, then put on my pajamas and went to sleep around 10. I set my alarm for 1. I got up at 1:30, got dressed again and put on makeup, and then around 2, Eric, Nancy, cousin Vicente, and I left the house to drive up to the airport in Santiago. I slept on the road. We got there around 3:30, and went up to a restaurant to meet up with the rest of the families of the team who had all come to meet their kids. It was a really big deal that all the families came up from San Carlos like 6 hours just to meet their kids in the airport. It shows how important this competition really was. They are a team of poorer kids, some of which had never even been to Santiago, who devoted their entire summer to building a robot (and that’s including that they are in public school where the education system is supposed to be really bad) and then raised all the money to travel and compete is Los Angeles, CA. Around 4:15 all the families went down to wait for the kids to come out of the gate.
There were posters and Chilean flags and even a national TV camera because this was the only Chilean team that left the country to compete. It made me realize how small Chile really is if this kind of competition team is so important. Vicente and I went up the stairs to get a good vantage point for videotaping, and then we talked for like 30 minutes while we waited for the team to come out the doors.
When they finally came, there was screaming and hugs and millions of photos. Then everyone dispersed because all of the San Carlos people had to leave on their bus.

Maxi went with us to the car and we spend the whole hour and a half home talking and prodding him for every detail about the trip. He had a lot to share, and it was really cool hearing his impression of the US and the food (he went to In n Out and I’m really jealous) and the palm trees on the sides of the street. When we got home, he opened up his suitcases to give out presents (he gave me a package that my mom had given him to give to me), and then around 6:30 I went to sleep again.

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