My Life in Viña del Mar, Part 7: Where I Go Back to School & Ride in a Collectivo
Well we’ve been here almost three months now (really, already?) so I figured it was about time I show my face at Cecile’s place of employment, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Valparaíso (PUCV for short), Viña del Mar campus. I had actually planned to go much earlier, but what with settling in, fires, trips to other places, parents visiting and Joel being occasionally sick, it just hadn’t happened. But today it did, and I even helped! (I think.)
But First, A Collectivo
I also had not ridden in a collectivo yet; for more details on this process, see Cecile’s blog post on the matter. Going up was easy, I went with Cecile and she took care of everything. Plus we had the back seat to ourselves, the car was newer, and the driver wasn’t crazy. About as good a first experience as one could hope for. So after a few minutes we were at Cecile’s home away from home away from home.
PUCV is on a hill and Cecile’s department is on the 7th floor, thus there are some lovely views. The day had dawned clear and foggy (yes, that’s a thing it can do) which provided for a couple of nice pictures, herewith:
It wasn’t all just fun and games and pictures, though. Cecile put me to work. She had me read an excerpt from one of my blog entries to her students, who are studying to become English teachers. We started with a general discussion, with them asking me any questions they wanted, and me stumbling to answer them. I’ve got great answers now, but they asked some tricky ones then.
OK, here’s one: “What do you like about Chilean culture?” Later I realized the tricky part of that is the word “culture”. I don’t want to make judgements positive or negative about another country’s culture, but in retrospect something we discussed apropos of another question struck me as something I like about Chilean culture. Actually I think this is more the culture everyplace in the world but the United States, and this is that meals are a time to be enjoyed and spent with family and friends and not rushed. This is made most evident in restaurants, in the particular aspect of paying. If you go to a restaurant here and don’t ask for the bill (la cuenta), you’ll never get it. They don’t bring you the bill and then say “pay when you’re ready,” the assumption is you’ll let your waiter/waitress know when you’re done and ready to pay. It’s a nice thing that is symptomatic of a more laid back, or at least less rushed, way of approaching life. So if you read reviews of restaurants down here and see someone complaining that they had to ask for the bill (they exist, I’ve read them), the fault is with the reviewer.
Anyway, that was a bit of an aside. But it was nice getting a chance to talk with Cecile’s students; they had some good questions that really made me think about our time here and that part was fun. Then came the test. No, really. It was a listening test, and that’s why I read part of a blog entry. She had a little quiz for them to fill out to see if they were understanding what I was saying.
After Class: Animals!
After class we went back to her office, chatted with some of her colleagues, and then I decided I would come home as she had lots of grading to do and was then heading to Santiago to do some Fulbright work this afternoon and tomorrow. So she walked me to the collectivo stop, but there were dogs along the way that had to have their pictures taken. I can show you the pictures, but I can’t say anything about them because Cecile is planning her own post on the campus dogs of PUCV. So enjoy a couple of cute dog pictures (sorry the cat picture didn’t come out).
And then we went to the collectivo stop and I had to ride by myself all the way home like a real boy. Which I did without problems, but had a more authentic experience with swerving, jackrabbit starts (and stops) and wicked turns. It was fun.
Hope I get a chance to go back to campus and/or chat more with her students and colleagues, it was a good time and a nice morning.