Oh man, how on earth does this thing work?

Hey hey ladys and lads visiting my page! I don't mean to alarm you but I am a bit of a technical meatsack, hence my ugly colour choice and most likely confusing layout. I apologise but have no real intention of improving. Sorry.

If you were still under the impression that this page was an insight into the life and times of my travels in Chile, that I have to sadly dash your dreams of a hilarious tale of my incompetence- I'm back in NZ baby! However, seeing as I've had such a great response to my blog and since my theripist thinks it's a good way for me to share my thoughts (joke), I am going to continue this blog, most likely in a random fashion, with tales of day to day hilarious misunderstandings, annoyances, and general thoughts from out of the blue.

Enjoy, or don't, its your call.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Letters to Beth- A solo journey to Pucòn.

So apparently- in a fairly deranged state I might add- I started writing Bethany Pawson a letter once while I was on a bus on the way to Pucòn, in Chile, around the date of early September. Here-in lies the letter, plus any elaborations/ interesting details I had forgotten to add at the time.

Oh. Em. Gee.

Bethic, I had to write a special edition letter to you, stating the hilariously awkward events preceeding my even leaving my home city on the way to my Pucòn minibreak.

After having a sweet convo with my favourite local Entel (phone company) man, I jumped on a random bus into the city. Now heres Chile for you, the local city buses don't take you directly to the intercity bus station, infact they don't even take you to the street its on, they take you to a one way back road about 2 streets over. Awkwardly enough, I didn't even know where this street was, I'd never been there before but was keen to give it a shot. So here I am, bussing along, minding my own, when suddenly I wildly panic and think that I've over shot my mark and am waay past the termy drop off. So all of a dither I flap my hands at the bus driver and get off the bus, only to find myself in a dodgy area lacking in people but full of crumbiling plaster bungalows and a sea of beige apartment buildings.

I loiter, looking like a damn fool, for approx 3 minutes, while trying to figure out which way I should go,- maybe that beige building looks familiar, have I seen that crumbling bungalow before?? Eventually- after realising, no, that wasn't where I needed to be, I spied a man wheeling a trolley suitcase down the road and took off after him in a direction that I hoped would lead me to the land of milk and honey, or in anycase, the bus station. Keep in mind I had only a half hour until the last bus of the day left, and I had no idea of how far I was from the station. While I speed-walked, I entertained a fantasy about what I would do if I missed my bus. I decided there was no way I was to go home with egg on my face and a story of "I couldn't find the bus station and therefore am not going away for the weekend", so in the event of the worst case scenario coming true, I was to find a hostel in Concepciòn, and hole up there for the weekend. "yes" I thought to myself "Who would know? I'll buy a postcard with a picture of Pucòn on it, no one will know I haven't actually been..."

After a good 7 minutes of light jogging, I decided to go in for the kill and summoned all my courage, (and all my Spanish), and blurted out to a passing stranger "DISCULPE!, eeeer, es esta Callao? Nessecita el bus terminal por favor!" The woman looked shocked, I wasn't sure if it was due to my obvious lack of orientaion, or my poor spanish, or my sweaty brow, but it was clear that within seconds she had taken this poor wretch on as her own, and I was as good as in with a personal guide. She lead me on to some other street, and as we walked we talked, it even turned out that she knew enough English to ask me my name and where I was from, too which I was hesitant in replying to, least she got the idea all New Zealanders had such poor internal GPS situations as I do. She got me onto another bus, and then gave the driver instructions on when to release me from the bus, while strictly stating that in no way was I to get off earlier than the stop I was destined for. She then bid me farewell, and I could only stammer a classic "Gracias" at her kindess.

I finally reached my bus, and here you would think it was time to relax no? Well Beth, you couldn't be more wrong. Firstly some old guy, who was pretending (?) not to understand my Spanish, was sitting in my seat and wouldn't get out, so I had to go and sit somewhere else. For the remainder of that 4 hour leg I had to play hot potatoe everytime a new person got on the bus and claimed their rightful seat, while everyone else on the bus stared at me in contempt, the foolish gringa who doesn't sit in her allocated seat.

A wrong stop and a taxi later, I get on my connecting bus to Pucòn, where I put on some music to help wile away the hours before I reach my destination. A slow, haunting tune comes through my headphones, and the opening strains of "The deliverence song" from the Prince of Eygpt grace my ears. I'm not sure if you have seen the film, but it has a fantastic soundtrack, and I for one get very into my music...anyway, I found myself growing weepy at the saddening situation of Moses' mother, the fact that she had to give away her child like that, "wow" I thought as my eyes quietly filled with tears "I feel like now I can understand a mothers pain, to give up your child like that, why it would be awful!" I mangaged to keep my hormonal emotion under wraps, and thought I was away laughing, when suddenly "When you Believe" (from the same soundtrack), bursts through my buds, and I'm again swept away in an emotional river of tears as I think of the joy that the Isrelites must have felt at their long awaited freedom. When destination was reached, I slunk off the bus, still feeling quite ashamed at my hysterical outbursts of heartful emotion. I headed for the hostel I had booked, only to find that there was no way into this Fort Knox style wooden lodge. I fumed and despared at the gate, desperately trying to ring the number that Hostelbookers had given me for contacting this hostel. After about 5 minutes of standing awkwardly on a dusty sidestreet, an old man came up to me, said the equalvalent of "need help?" in Spanish, and then reached through the gate to open it, kiddie-lock style from the other side. I don't know if he had often seen other travellers struggle with the maximum security like fortress, or if he was just taking pity on a poor blonde girl who was obviously at her wits end, but it was a final kindness that Iwas truely grateful for.

Anyway Bethy, I must be off, I've made some English speaking buddies so I'm going to go and make my 80 cent pasta and talk to them about the pros and cons of South America. Can't wait to come home and tell you more about my trip!


Ainsley xo

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Bring back the Buns of Steel- special edition Ainsley pep talk on the experience of getting your A into G for summer.

I lie..

I never had Buns of Steel. Nor a Will of Steel for that matter. I DO have a cooking bowl that is made of steel, or some similar metallic material, which I have to say has been far too overused in the most recent of times.

BUT! (I've got one of those since being in Chile, the carbalicious diet is a sure way to plump up your cheeks) I did use to have a will for keeping in some sort of shape, as the positive metal and physical benifits always seemed to outweigh the negative. I used to get out there most days, busting a sweat in my leggings and oversized top, living the dream as a POWER WALKER, maybe even hitting up a wee Bums Tums and Thighs class at the local gym. Girls, I'm sure its not only me who thinks to herself around late September every year..."This is the year (inset name here), this is the year. You are gunna get out onto that beach, wearing a sly size 0, and everyones eyes are going to be at risk of being poked out by your rock hard abs.''

Why then, is it soooo hard to force myself back out there into the exercising world, after a short but devestating decent into a carb/refined sugur hell? Well I decided that I was time to MAN UP! And face up to this situation once and for all. Im not necessarily going to be melting all your faces off with my oiled up 6 pack any time soon, but i'm not going to lose this war with the $300 paso-for-6 bread buns from the store down the road either.

I've been back on the walking track every day for a week now, every morning I set out around 9.30 with the babies in pram, huffing and puffing as I walk on tiptoe, pushing them up the face of Mt Everest/the hill I live on. Its been sunny and I like to get emotional to the tunes on my iPod, Im not ashamed to sing outloud (I was however ashamed when a bloke started laughing to my version of ''under the sea''). So far im out there for about 30 mins each day, and even though it doesn't sound like much time, and even though its only been a week, I can already feel the difference emotionally and see the difference physically. I don't feel as nervous about leaving the kitchen for long periods of time like I used to (joke), and I don't beat myself up when I just can't resist that occasional bar of chocolate that makes its way into my shopping basket. I actually have noticed the cellulite that has NEVER graced my thighs before until this very year has certainly reduced to a less conspicuous level, which I am all but sacraficing a lamb with thankfulness about.

I guess what I am trying to say ladies, men, inbetweeners (do I KNOW any??..Lady G), is that if you too are feeling the post-winter downing on your bods is getting you down, don't let it. Get out there for a walk, or bust out the pilates DVD, dust of the gym membership card. Start small, and work your way up to it. It honestly makes you feel great, you know it does, and its just that intial step thats the hardest.

The only place I want orange peel is in my orange flavoured cupcakes. Which I'm going to make right now. Better make tomorrows walk a long one.

Big loves xxxx

Thursday, September 23, 2010

3 months later....an update.

Well well, I thought I had actually posted a couple more blogs, but as it turns out, I had unfortunately not been pressing the correct button and they got sent into some kind of cyberspace blackhole instead.

So as it has been literally months since my last post, I guess I will just write about highlights etc. In an effort to continue something that I started...so here goes

Early July, I headed up again to Las Trancas, this time with a bunch of the other expats who work at the school, and we rented a cabana and drank/went snowboarding for a few days. This time the place was waaaaay packed out, far different to my original visit. But still awesome. Snowboarding was an interesting experience, and not least because of my average/poor skills when it comes to shredding up the slopes. Throughout the days I heard many a ''no pueeeedo, no pueeedo!(I can't!!)'' coming from childen being forced down the mountain by ambitious parents, and many a time I though ''im friggin with you kid!''. After a particualy awkward event transpired (a small boy child and I collided when I decided to take the 'scenic route') I was slightly put out, but it was nothing that a little hip flask pisco and watching other people bail couldn't sort out.

July was pretty gay here for a while, namely cos it was busting out the rain left right and centre, and anyone with kids would know that rain+kids= undesirable conditions. My days were spent walking, shopping, watching tv, and looking after the kids. My evenings were spent hanging out, pining for some decent reading material, and hanging out with friends at the local bar. Sometimes I got pretty bored, and lonely, but I guess thats life anywhere, I feel that in this time I finally understood the phrase "the grass is greener". Thats not the whole phrase but I feel that I can't help you on this one if you don't understand what I'm talking about from that wee taster there.

Early August saw me heading off to Brazil with Paulie *shout out to Paaaaulie*. Wiiiicked experience, set up in 5 star hotel, seeing how rich people live (and eat), generally just loving the sunshine and good times. I was a big fan of Brazil I have to say, but to be honest I probably didn't experience the real Brazil. Definitly one to head back to in future tho. Highlights were probably going sandboarding on huge inland dunes, and also the AMAZING breakfast spread available to us every morning. I swear to you that I would get like 5 mini crossaints, and Paulie would get 5, and I would end up eating like 7 out of the 10 all together. Thats how good it was. I actually think we spent a good chunk of time watching Antoine Dodson on Youtube, and then just repeating everything he said in our best Prrrojects accents.

Getting back for Brazil saw a change in my work hours, Im now busting the cheeky 8-12 in the am, which means I A. have to get up early(er) and B. have time in the afternoon to pursue lesuire activties (see above list).

Mid August Kimberly my host mum and Stephanie the 4 year old jetted back to NZ for work, while I, Kane and the two babies remained behind in Conce. This was really a taste of parenting for me, as much of the time I was looking after the two babies on my own, and let me tell you, bags NOT ever having twins. One memorable weekend in particular was when Kane went away for rugby, and I had the two girls alone for a night. Libby decided to get up at aroud 11pm and refused to even stop crying until about 3am, when, exhusted, she feel asleep on my stomach, and I was able to roll her off of me and let her sleep in my bed next to me. I kept jolting away panicing that I may have rolled over and crushed her with all my bread weight, but the child made it through to see daylight. Although parenting is a massive task, it does have its rewards, and there is satisfaction and joy to be found in the seemingly mundane tasks of cooking, cleaning and washing 2 little rascally babies. Seeing their personalities grow and change is also way cool.

September came along to say hello, and I decided it was time to start geetting my butt out and about and around Chile, because before you know it BAM! I will be back in NZ harrassing you all in person. A couple weeks ago I headed off to Pucon, to have a uno-on-uno with nature (jokes its like backpacker town assss), but I really was riding solo. The whole journey down was a bit of a debarcle (missing buses, left at the wrong stop, old man STEALING MY SEAT!), but upon arrivle I found some English speaking amigos and latched on to them like a parasitic fish to the belly of a whale. I ended up volunteering to go white water rafting in a sweet river with glacial waters washing right off the local volcanoe. They were grade 4 rapids (from what I could gather from the Spanish speaking instructor), so I don't know what that means but I wanted to include the information, in hopes of potentially impressing some of you. It was brilliant fun, and even though the day had clouded over and it started raining, I along with eveyone else from my raft, elected to jump out at the end and go for a wee swim along. Just when I thought I would seize up and die from coldness, I walk out of the changing room and BOOM! A wee Chilean pops up with a Pisco sour, all ready and waiting for me to consume. Which I did. The rest of the weekend was choice, I went out with a bunch of the people and had drinks and pizza and card games and another persons hostel.

This weekend just past marked Chiles 200th year of Indepence, and to celebrate they did...well....nothing. Well to be fair they probably did, jsut not where I was beacuse they all went away for the long weekend. Not to be left out of the fun, my friend Duncan and I went to hunt out some fun, and ended up walking around at 11 o clock at night, eventually getting drawn in by a little old man to his wee bar, where we sat with him and drank wine and beer and chatted to old men. It was great fun, especially when I started suspected the old man of hitting on Duncan, after dressing him up in his ponco and hat, the typical outfit for the Huaso (male dance partner in the Chilean national dance). On the Sunday we headed to another friends place for a big afternoon barbeque that carried on until early the next morning. They had a small mountain of bread, a larger mountain of meat, and a ginormous jar of salt. Chileans salt everything. A friend jokingly mentioned he saw an old man salting his apple once, and the Chileans all enthused "oh yes, it is so nice!". Don't make me vom in my mouth. This party was great fun however, I love over here how appropriate and non-weird it is for everyone to dance together, I had even drunk enough wine to feel that I was somehow capable of busting out the Cueca. Apparently I had awkwardly misjudged my abilities, somehow thinking that if they could do it, surely I could too.

Annnnyway this post is way long, but that should give anyone who I haven't talked to in a while a little bit of insight into some of the things I have done in the last wee while. I hope to be doing a fair bit more travelling in the next few months, so will try to update any hilarious misunderstandings I may have on these trips.

Besos por todo xxx

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Bienvenidos amigos! Hopefully that says Welcome Friends, but you never know with my spelling.

Well what a week it has been! Actually, my week hasn't been that exciting, I just wanted a dramatic hook to get you all reading. Shameskies.

Since I last blogged (awkward phrase "blogged". It reminds me of What Nows "gunged". Except im not getting covered in slime.) I have managed to scrape together enough interesting information to write you a new installment of Cool in Chile. Last weekend I visited the Valle las Trancas, (I think), A small collection of cabanas, bars and backpackers, nestled in the towering peaks of the Andes mountain range. It was the last weekend before the high season, so the place was like a ghost town, but still very charming. There was snow on the mountain but there hadn't been enough yet to be down where I was staying, so the town trees still had their autumn finery on. All in all a very pretty picture, and sure to be a right good time further into the season. We went up for a bit of a play in the snow, and right when Im in the middle of making a snow angel, a pair of Malamutes/Huskys appeared and started running around next to us. Turns out that they do dog sledding up there, something im definitly keen on giving a go!

On the way back from the mountains, Kimberly and I pulled into a service station to get some eats and let the kids have a run around. Chileans are pretty funny when it comes to babies and cold weather. They literally swaddle their children up in great big duvets, and it took the first 2 weeks of my stay to realise that they people I had seen wandering around the streets and stores with giant bundles of blankets wern't just carrying them around for a laugh, they actually had tiny people concelled within! Needless to say, I was thrown some dirty looks for the onlookers in the petrol station when I dumped the twins on the ground in their t-shirts and trackpants. Harden up I say.

So this week I've really taken my confidence to a new level, catching the bus in and around town, going shopping by myself, etc things that you consider to be so easy at home but seem to become so much tricker when the only way you can really get across your message is with a multitude of hand gestures and the occasional "Cuanto?, Queiro...." thrown in. But its going well so far, so Im pretty pleased with myself.

I also drove a car for the first time, which was both a natural and surreal experience. Natural because I like driving and the car is a Toyota and similar to the model I have at home, surreal because im doing it all on the wrong side of an unmarked road with a bunch of drivers who have a im-out-for-myself-on-these-roads mentality. Still pretty fun tho, no doubt i'll get the hang of it.

Finally as this post is getting long, Im happy to report that I had a fantastic social encounter last night with a bunch of guys and attached girls who form the St Johns Old Boys rugby team. Really nice bunch of people same age as me, most of whom are studying and have also know each other since they were in their mothers wombs. I had a fantastic night of vodka, intelligent conversation (mostly on my end) and being able to laugh and chat about normal 20-something-year-old life happenings. I have issued my name as Sam, after lenghty attempts of trying to pronounce my "strange name". I was a right hit with my tales of a non smoking dystopia Me- "and even in bars, you can't smoke". "So they have a seperate part for smokers and non smokers?"Me- "No you can't even smoke in the whole building!!" Chilean"(wide eyed and mystified)- "You're joking me, you're joking me, I don't believe you!
At a nice round hour of 2am, me and a couple of guys headed off to a local discotech, to have a bit of a jig to some reggeton, and im sorry to say that apparently I havent got the hang of it just yet. Tatish put some of the other lads under instruction to dance with me so I would improve, but sadly I dont think it was much use. Then it was home to a bun with penut butter and bed for me at the ripe old hour of 5am. Standard. Needless to say I've not done much today.

Love you all, and miss you, but not as much as I miss the delicious raspberry dougnuts from Foodtown, woke up dreaming about those things yesterday morning. Flippin gay.


Friday, May 21, 2010

The great Maccas hunt.

A few weeks earlier.......

Ainsley "I wonder what Macdonalds will taste like in Chile?"

Arthur (Ainsleys dad) "They might not have Macdonalds Ainsley".

Vera: (Ainsleys Nana) öf course they will Arthur, don't be ridiculous! (stares at Arthur in disbelief).

Well, it turns out that Macdonalds is more elusive over here than both Vera and I once believed. I tracked one down today, up in Chillán, a town close the the Andes. Yes, I went in there and in my broken Spanish accompanied with some pointing ordered a hamburger Happy Meal (just because im in a different country doesn't mean im going to shake up my usual order). Turns out that a hamburger is literally just a patty and bread, nothing else. But I was still stoked out of my mind.

On my great hunt for the Hamburger, I have also been getting up to various other things this week. Im happy to say that my spanish is improving, and I no longer feel like a major loser when I try to use it to communicate with people. The culture shock is on the pass, and I feel like its going to be up hill from here. But its not going to be hard work. I mean its going to be good. Sorry to confuse you with my foolish metephores. I have been getting to know the city, working up my confidence to do such things as go to the supermarket, take the bus and just generally live.

I have been abit sick, but am getting over it now with the help of my immune system and positive vibes (joke). Work with the kids is going great, getting into a bit of a routine as much as you can with babies, and Im loving working with Stephanie the older girl. Last night I went out and didn't get to sleep until about 2.30 this morning. Next thing I know I hear banging on my door and 'get up Ainsley, Ainsley get up, can you get up please?'. Turns out Stephs at my door and she wants to make plasticine animals. I told her that I was feeling a bit sick, and that we would do it later. She couldnt understand why I wouldn't find a 7am early morning sculpting sesh as fun as she thought.

Interesting note about Chile: Everybody, and I mean everybody, smoke like trains here. Like you go outside your house and boom! There is someone smoking. YOu walk down the street, bam! Someone with a smoke. At the bustop, kapow! Cigarette! I know what you are thinking, so what? That happens everywhere. Well, here you can also smoke inside. So when you walk into a restaraunte (bad spelling I know) like I did last night, you are assulted with smoke up your nostrils. ANd when you leave, you smell like someone has kindly taken your clothes while you weren't watching, hung them to air over a bonfire, and returned them, with you none the wiser. Yet another reason I am glad for NZ.

So in conclusion, its going well, if you pray, pray that I make some cool friends, there is a difference between having people to hang out with and actually hanging out with people. Apart from that you could also pray that I can resist the temptation of bread, cos its messing with my head (no rhyme intended).