Saturday, October 16, 2010

At the pool, running on the pool deck and hanging on the lane lines is permitted!

Life has been good here. I thank God for blessing me with the host family that I was placed with… they are amazing. They remind me of my family back in the US. My papa here micro-manages EVERYTHING just like Daddy John! He also cleaned my shoes when I found out they had dog poop on them... tending to my needs just like my real Dad. My mama here is very affectionate and reads me well… just like my real mom, she hugs me whenever she can see that I might not be having the best day. As for my sister here, she is at school in another city. But, my brothers are so helpful and protective of me. I hang out with my younger brother a lot since we are around the same age. He encourages me to go with him when he goes out with his friends. It is funny though because guys are afraid of him. The other night, this guy was talking to me at a party but then he saw my brother and said goodbye. I guess the kid knew that my brother wouldn’t want him around me. My brother wants to introduce me to his friends that play rugby. He says they are very handsome. My sister in the US is also very protective of me. She makes sure she keeps guys, who are not worth my time, very far away from me.

My mom and sister back home, always told me I had broad shoulders. My sister sometimes refused to lend her shirts to me because I would stretch the shirt out in the shoulder area. I did not believe them since they seem to always notice my imperfections. Haha. But, my younger brother, Ignacio, tells me my shoulders are broad. He told his friend the other day to look at my shoulders. I think it is funny… I guess it is typical for swimmers to have broad shoulders. I have dreamt that I was back in the USA two times already. Each time I was there, I was trying to change my family’s routine. In my real home, we drink a lot of sweet tea but here we drink a lot of “Tang” (the stuff that is sort of like juice). I tried to get everyone to drink Tang instead of sweet tea. It was a weird dream because I really like sweet tea as opposed to Tang.

One day after school, my younger brother forgot his key so we waited outside for my older brother to get home. We were in the backyard and he kept shaking the berry tree. Then, I would try to catch them. He told me not to catch them in my shirt because it would stain my shirt so I didn’t. However, when we finally got inside, in the light, I saw that I had berry stains on my school shirt. Okay… maybe it was not the smartest idea. But, it was a fun time. Our lovely maid got the stains out anyways.

So I forgot to mention that it is common to mop the sidewalks here. I see people outside, all the time, mopping their sidewalks.

I was invited to a Quiencenera which is a 15th Birthday party. These parties are crazy and totally top the Sweet Sixteens back home! But, I could not go because I had to go to the district conference. However, a few days after the party… my swimming friend brought gifts back from her party. She gave me chocolate… a ring… a hair thing… a statue of a fairy… a frame… a bunch of things which I thought was very neat. She also put a condom in the goodie bag? I guess that is common here. What a surprise to me! Last Friday, I went to another Quiencenera with my brother… I will post a picture of the candy stand, sitting area and the cake!

Sometimes my brothers take me out to eat… we go to this little stand that is on the side of the street and get lomito. It is a sandwich that has a thin meat on it which is very tender and chewy. It also comes with a slice of ham and cheese. It also has egg and tomato on it but I do not get that on mine. Then you choose what type of mayonnaise you want. They have a cheese kind, onion kind, garlic kind… so many different types! I always get the cheese kind since I am not fond of the others.

So about school… the one teacher always has a powerpoint which I love because I can actually read the writing. I copy the notes and he will switch to the next slide. However, kids will complain that they did not get all the notes copied! Haha… it is funny but I think they write slow on purpose.

The other day we had a Chemistry test. The teacher has everyone get out paper then he reads off the questions. At the end of the test, you sign your name… haha, your signature like it is a piece of artwork or something. It is hard for me to understand the questions the teacher is asking so I do not like how he reads them orally. I find it funny that I watched 5/6 of the class cheat. They read the answers from their packets, make cheat sheets, or pass notes. It drives me crazy! I wish they would do their own work.

I love how some kids sit in class and chew on paper… then, they throw it up to the ceiling and t sticks! Talk about gross?! There is even paper on the ceiling from last year.

I talked to my other exchange friend here and she understands what I am going through. Sometimes I feel like I do not matter… most teachers do not care to help me or offer assistance. But, I cannot hold it against them. They do not get paid to teach me. I also thank God for my Monday teacher. I only have him on Mondays but he is one of the only teachers that shows an interest in me. I saw him the other day and he asked if my classmates were treating me right.

However, my English teacher helped me the other day. The whole class was translating this story from English to Spanish. She said hello to me and I said hi without any eye contact. I was having a BAD day. This kid called me fat (in English) and I was offended even though he was kidding. Anyways, after a few minutes of me staring at the paper, she called me to her desk. She told me I could write a story about the miners just rescued in Chile and she wanted me to write in English! She said that she was going to have my classmates translate it sometime. I thought it was very nice for her to be generous like that and help me.

Whenever I have bad days or I am feeling down, I get put in check VERY fast. For here, I see that there are people worse off than myself. There was this one guy who had a horrible limp. Every time he took a step, he had to throw himself forward to move. I admired how he kept walking and had confidence whenever people would stare. I also saw a blind lady. Then, I refuse to complain about little things. God shows me that my life is not that bad after all.

I guess in a week, there is a strike at my school. So, I get four days off of school?! That means, I have 12 more days of school until going to the Patagonia with the other exchange students… only 24 days until the trip and it is a 17 day trip where I miss 13 school days! Then, 20 days until my swim meet. My Daddy’s birthday is in 11 days! Then, 18 school days until summer vacation… I think we get out December 3.

I still cannot sleep too well. I wake up every few hours? It might be because I exercise before I go to bed. However, I did not exercise before bed and I slept the same way… so I do not know what the cause of it is? Hopefully, I will be able to sleep through the night soon.

Before school yesterday, there was an elderly man walking with a puppy trailing behind him. The puppy was adorable so we started petting it. The man kept walking?! We yelled down the street and asked if it was his puppy… he said no. So, we are keeping it! I think it is a chocolate lab? I am not sure… you’ll have to let me know after you see the pictures. I am not an expert in judging the types of dogs. We named him Coco… he is very playful. He is so tiny that he slips right through our fence. So, Papa put up a plastic cover so the puppy would stay in our yard.

Finally, I went to swim practice today. We warmed up on deck before practice. WE RAN ON THE DECK!... like jogging even though there was water all over the deck. I was scared haha. I found out that there are two different categories to swim in. The one has faster swimmers and you swim more yards. In that category, you swim 100’s instead of 50’s. I think they also are swimming 200 back at the upcoming meet. I believe the coach is having me swim in that category. Back home, you choose the events you want to swim. Here, everyone swims all the events available in their category. I guess it is better that I will be in the faster category because back home we swim 100’s. It makes me smile when we get to swim relays that are 100’s… everyone only swims a 25... I love it! I feel like a young kid again.


The picture of the toilet is what bathrooms at the clubs look like!
The other pictures are from the hostel I stayed at the other weekend.
There were two cats at the hostel.
We do not know why they had boxes in the doorway?

Strawberries are in season! The one photo is strawberries with cream.
It is very common here and I happen to enjoy it as well!
The other thing with strawberries is sort of like strawberry pie.
The crust tastes like a sugar cookie and it is very easy to prepare.
Here, they cut all their cakes like that with a circle in the middle.
The other pictures are from the 15th birthday party...
I think the cake looked amazing!

Have a GREAT weekend!

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