Monday, April 27, 2009

Despedida de los Intercambios (Goodbye Exchange Student Get-Together)

Last weekend all the exchange students in my district reunited for the last time in Los Angeles. While most of us are leaving in the middle of June/early July, our friend Taylor McCurdy is leaving on May 8th. He lives in Connecticut and starts a job as a backpacking instructor in Montana on June 1st, so he is going back earlier to spend time with his family and friends.We all arrived on Friday night and had once (pronounced "own-say") at a Rotarian's house. They had the most delicious nut pastries---it was like candied nut pastry wow it was fabulous.

The next day we got up really early and left Los Angeles at 8 AM to go to Lota, a town 2 hours away. There, we toured an old coal mine, "El Chiflón del Diablo", that stretches underneath the ocean. The mine went out of commission in the late seventies, but old miners give tours still.

We rode a rusty cage-like elevator down into the mine and walked the passageways. It was really interesting to see how the miners worked and just how dangerous it was.

<--Emil getting into the cage elevator and a tour guide.

We put on the actual equipment they used to use in the mine--the hard hats and the headlamps imported from Germany in the 1950s. They also had really cool telephones in the mines that were installed in the 1930s that still worked and were the only way to communicate with the outside world from inside the mine.

<--Taylor, Kasey, me, Nizhoni, Emil, Margaux, and Johanna with our authentic mining gear

After we toured the mine, we went to a beautiful park called Parque de Isidora.
An English couple moved to the city and the wife (whose name was Isidora) loved plants so much that she built a beautiful garden/park overlooking the ocean. They had converted their old house into a museum where we could see the old tools they used in the mines in the early 1900s and some other period artifacts.

<-- Listening to our tour guide was dressed in authentic dress.

<--View of the ocean from the park

That night we all ate dinner together at a barbecue restaurant. They brought out bowls piled high with meat and boiled potatoes in the center of the table and we served ourselves all the meat we wanted. After we finished eating dinner, the Rotarians gave us a decorative copper plate with our name and home Rotary district on it and a huge Chilean flag.

<--The whole table! Exchange students and Rotarians <-- Left side, front to back: Margaux (CT), Nizhoni (CA), Tyler (AZ), Emil (Denmark) Right side, front to back: Emily (NY), Kasey (AZ), Taylor (CT), Lee (ME)

As is custom in Chile, we all got up and said a few sentences about our exchange and what we have learned and experienced. My friend Tyler stood up and gave a very moving speech about how love is universal and distances don't matter. At the end, half the people in the room were tearing up.

Later that night we all got together in Emily's house as one last hurrah. Taylor took out his guitar and we sang along and talked for hours. Lee and I had to leave early (at 4 AM) because we were staying in a house far away and needed to call to get picked up but the rest of them stayed up until 8 AM talking and eating.

No comments: