Watch out for sea lions

February 2, 2008

By hammersmith

Annie Roethel (’04) is wayyy far away from her usual haunts around ASU. For those of you with GPS chips embedded behind your ear, she’s at coordinates -53.166667,-70.933333. For the rest of us, we’re talking about Punta Arenas, Chile, which is literally the southernmost city on Earth.

Annie’s teaching English through March, hanging out on a nearby island that has something like a zillion penguins lying around, and learning how to do her own laundry. From yesterday’s dispatch:

And so my Chilean adventures begin…

I am at the end of my first full week here, and while it has been an exciting adventure full of embarrassing acclimation, I will try to keep this to an email full of only the most important and intimate glances into my life here thus far.

On the family: My host family (mother, father, daughter age 24 and son age 11) are wonderful. They have hosted 12 other students before me and so they have the routine down. I did my first load of laundry this morning and went to hang it out on the line outside. My host mom asked if I needed help, and not wanting to make extra work for her, I said no, and bundled up half the load to take it outside. I was working my hanging-up magic with only one arm, trying to figure out how people hold and hang laundry at the same time, I finally just resigned to placing it on the line in little wet crumpled up balls to free both hands, and then go back and actually hang and pin each article of clothing. When I looked up, my host mom was out there with the other half of the load and working at a break-neck pace, ringing out and hanging them all up before I had my first shirt done. Then, she came over to me, and in Spanish (because my family speaks no English) told me that I needed to hang them up, because they would never dry if I left them as waded up balls on top of the line. *sigh* I’m not doing my part to combat the idea of American ignorance abroad…

On the Weather: I stopped looking at weather reports my second day here. There is literally no way of knowing what the weather will be. I dress in many layers and pack more in my bag as you can walk into a store wearing a short sleeved shirt with it being warm and sunny and walk out ten minutes later in the middle of rain coming down in sheets and wind blowing sideways. There is just no way of knowing.

On the food: Chilean cuisine, thus far, on the whole, is not that exciting. Lots of meat and potatoes. Many ambiguous mayonnaise-filled dishes resembling those I would find and try to avoid at my Michigan family reunions. Manjar is their thick caramel like filling that appears in most desserts and is heavenly. And, for those of you that are acquainted with Magnum bars, or further more are acquainted with my liking for, nay, obsession with them will be happy to know that I have found them here and am able to continue my now 5 year-running love affair with these ice cream bars.

On the penguins: I found them. All 170,000 of them. I did it. It’s done. You can smell and hear the little sea-faring critters as you approach the island by boat. They waddle and fall over a lot, and I took almost enough pictures to have a picture for each and every one of them.