Thursday, February 10, 2011

Get Your Groove On

Feeling the earth shake when you're alone on the 7th floor of an apartment building is not ideal, especially when Chile had a devastating 8.8 earthquake almost one year ago - February 27, 2010.  This was not originally the type of "groove" I intended to write about, but it SCARED THE CRAP OUT OF ME so I decided to share. 

In Chile "temblores" or small earthquakes are a common occurrence.  When I lived here 5 years ago there were about 2 per month and after one woke me up in the middle of the night they started to terrify me because nobody knew when it would be a bad one. 

Luckily this afternoon’s earthquake wasn’t damaging.  I was sitting down to write when I felt the building move and jumped to stand underneath the doorway.  I started screaaaming for my host sister and host mom – both of whom were gone.  And the shaking continued.  It was at least 20 seconds – but my hands were shaking for about 5 minutes after.  Although it scares me – this is normal to Chileans.  And life has returned to normal…cars are still honking, buses are still swerving through traffic, and I am still hungry. J

For me, hunger strikes early and it strikes often.  The other day I went to an asado (barbeque). I’m now accustomed to showing up at 11 PM and waiting until about 1 AM to start grilling.  At first this killed me because I thought there would be a giant half cow awaiting me on a platter (sorry for you vegetarians – I’m a carnivore).  Instead there is a big group of people sitting, talking, and enjoying a Piscola (Chilean liquor with Coke) while somebody grills sausages and passes them around like appetizers.

Hanging around the asado

Choripan - Chorizo and bread

My friend Michi thought there was something wrong with me since I was sticking to tea… looks like I’m known as a partier no matter what continent I’m on.

Michi and me at the asado

One tea drinker amongst the Pisco crew

Speaking of which – I died of laughter when my host sister and her friends showed me their drinking game “Tomanji.”  Tomar means to drink, and they basically mixed it with the game “Jumanji.”

Despite the fun, I stuck to my 3 drink max (a promise I made to my friends that I wouldn’t over-imbibe while traveling).  Look how responsible I’ve become!

Juan and me after "Tomanji"

After Tomanji we left for the club at 2 AM and got home about 5 AM.  (Side note: hunger struck again and I killed two empanadas before going to bed – no wonder I gained so much weight last time I was here). 

Below is a snapshot of some different nightlife – although the hours of “carrete” might not change, the type of dancing and music varies quite a bit.

La Cueca is a traditional Chilean dance that is done with a handkerchief in hand.  The man and woman never touch but I think it’s a very playful interaction.  It’s almost like he’s chasing after her and she’s being coy.  I don’t think coy has ever been my strong suit – so maybe I have something to learn from la Cueca and Chilean women. :)

Last but not least, I went to the Feria de Artesania yesterday.  It’s like a flea market – and it was in a woodsy part of the city.  Suddenly the sun disappeared and thunder and lightning broke out.  I seemed to be the only one who thought the tall metal poles and trees were an issue?!  I started walking out of the Feria and it started pouring rain and then all of a sudden everybody else started freaking out and trying to hide under trees or flee (haha…flee the flea market).  Maybe it’s my Seattle roots – but the rain seemed like the lesser of the two evils in my mind.

La Feria de Artesania
So there we have it – during my stay in Chile we’ve had a thunder storm, the power has gone out (in 9 of 15 regions of the country for about an hour), and we’ve had an earthquake.
Although I don’t appreciate the natural disasters (okay…they’re not disasters but they’re also not pleasant), I understand it’s a part of life here. Much like the late night parties.  It’s a way of life and even when I’m tired and ready to go home I remind myself that if I go to sleep it’s one less experience that I’ll have.
Too frequently in Seattle I go through the motions or routine without thinking or feeling. This journey is about stepping outside my comfort zone – being alert, keeping my senses alive and soaking up everything around me.  It’s about “feeling” my life, and not just letting it pass me by.
So I'll leave you with this thought – without any drastic changes, what can you do in your life to experience more?  To “coast” less?  To feel and think and experience your life rather than let it pass you by?


  1. Just heard the news about the earthquake and thought about you. Good to know you're safe. Take care out there! =)


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