Who Knew Hell Was So Close to the Andes Moutains?

March 30, 2007

I tried not to, but I’ve hated Santiago from the moment I got off the airport shuttle. My housing accommodations are horrible. When the driver dropped me off at some sort of boarding house that was older and creakier than the joints of Moses I was sure that he had made some sort of mistake. My room faces a busy street and the noise from the street is so loud I have to play my ipod and plug my ears with cotton around my earbuds just to get to sleep. Please keep in mind that I lived next to Howard Hospital for three years and had no problem falling asleep to the sounds of sirens (and a few gunshots) all night. The windows are so old that you could put your hand through the space where the window and the window frame are supposed to meet. So what does that mean when you are in the middle of the Andes Mountains and the city is on the cusp of winter (the seasons are opposite the Northern Hemisphere)? It means you freeze your ass off.

O and did I mention the fact that I was sharing one tiny, disgusting bathroom with 8 strangers, none of whom go to my school. The shower (if you could really call it that, more like a hole in the wall where water ran from and a drain in the floor) is so shallow that I had to lean out of the shower and hold on to sink in order to rinse off my back. The bathroom/shower situation is so shady that some days I just take what I call a travellers bath (a series of actions with baby wipes, face astringent, hand sanitizer, and a bottle of water). It’s amplified by the fact that everyone in the house adheres to the South American toilet paper rules. What are those? Well in South America they don’t flush toilet paper down the drain (probably clogs up the ancient or inefficient plumbing systems), so after wiping yourself one throws it in a small trash can next to the toilet. I have discovered that where you throw your toilet paper is an engrained cultural thing. The Americans and Europeans at school have had many a discussion on our dilemma when we are faced with signs that clearly say “Please do not put toilet paper in the toilet. Please use the bin”. You just don’t feel right putting soiled paper in a trash can and not flushing it away out of sight. So usually we just don’t. It’s probably wrong, but it’s just one of those things about yourself that is extremely hard to change, even times where I have intended to comply, I always forget at the last moment and the paper ends up in the toilet anyway. Culturally engrained.

Anyhow, so I don’t need to say more about the state of the bathroom with roommates who actually follow the SA toilet paper rule. My housemates are a mix of German exchange students from the local university here, and local Chileans. I hardly ever see the two Chilean guys that live here, and let me just say that Germans are not the nicest people on face of the planet…………but that’s a whole other post in itself.

………….at least there is a computer here.


One comment

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