Many of you might recall the nightmare I had upon my first departure from Chile at the airport. Neither my University in the US, or I knew that I needed to register with the PDI in Talca within 30 days. See the resulting adventure here: Hugo me dijo que Chile dijera, “Por favor Lisa, no se vaya”. Renewing my student Visa also was more complex than I had hoped, but certainly made much more simple by the assistance I got from Laura Paris in the UGA Office of International Education, the UCMaule campus International Affairs Office, and the Gobernación Provincia de Talca.
I had to finally ditch the taxi travel as it was becoming too expensive. However, getting around Talca, particularly Downtown (El Cento) with no bus schedules or maps available to you is no easy chore. This was my first time (well actually this was the second day of my first time) for riding the Talca micro buses solo.
So my student Visa expires on September 9th, and I was told to submit a renewal no sooner than July 1st. Well, I’ve lived here for almost a year and my friends have been lovely about helping me out when I have to deal with government agencies in Chile. But, I don’t like bothering people and felt it was time for me to go “solo dolo”. So my officemate José is such a sweetheart and made me a handwritten map in my notebook so I would know how to get to the correct office in downtown Talca, Maule. I also shared the map with the bus drive when I boarded the micro so that we were all on the same page. Ha ha :p
Well, the day was kinda gray and gloomy as it had been raining much of that week. The micro is the name of the little buses that travels around the city of Talca and for my purposes downtown. On this particular day, a woman got on the bus and started passing out these little chocolate candy bars boasting they contained almonds; despite the picture, there wasn’t a single almond in that candy bar when I ate it two days later. Also, the chocolate wasn’t very tasty either. Nevertheless, initially I was thinking to myself how lovely someone is passing out free chocolates on this rainy Wednesday. It must be to cheer up everyone’s day. In short order, the woman who was passing out the candies stood next to me expecting payment. I was a little annoyed because I didn’t see her asking anyone else for payment and didn’t want to be treated like the “sucker” foreigner. I had the 100 pesos (about 20 cents) but it was a matter of principle (or so I thought). Noticing my annoyance and effort to find my coin purse the bus driver paid the woman and smiled as me indicating that I didn’t need to worry about it. I assured him I hand the money and offered to repay him; but he wouldn’t accept it to which I said, “Gracias” with a smile.
I arrived at my stop and the bus driver gave me notice that was where I wanted to go. So I started walking toward my destination and am always impressed by some of the Graffiti art I see in the city. Above are a few pictures that I took. It’s also sobering to see remnants of the big 2010 earthquake that devastated parts of Talca, Maule and the surrounding province areas. There are plenty of new edifices going up around the city, but still many areas particularly in El Centro still show signs of the damage to buildings during the big quake.
Even, the government office I arrived at had been only partially repaired and also had some nice Graffiti artwork on its exterior.
Yay!! I got my temporary student Visa renewal document while my application is being processed in Santiago. I didn’t realize until my committee member who lives in Chile told me that it’s difficult to get a student Visa to chile and particularly one for as long as I had, (un año) one year. I appreciate the fact that the Director and all of his folks in the office are happy to see me return and support my staying for another year as their guest Visiting Scholar. I so love those folks at UCMaule. 🙂
So you know this story will not end without some type of adventure, because well it’s me. So, when I left the government building I went the wrong direction and ended up on some street where I had no idea where I was. I continued to walk a bit and the more I walked the more unfamiliar the neighborhoods appear. So what did I don? Ain’t now shame in my game. I was a Girl Scout growing up and turned right back around and traced my steps back to the government office where I processed my Visa. I then realized that I had literally turned left at the corner when I should have turned right. But, now worries. It allowed me to get this precious photo below of a loving young woman patiently strolling with an elderly women possibly a relative, on the streets of El Centro.
So that takes to to something I wanted to mention I’ve noticed in Chile, Talca in particular, and that is how much respect and reverence people seem to have for the elderly here in this country. As I was riding the micro and looking out the window I would see instances of what appeared to be middle-aged children assisting their parents who were using walkers and canes. I also saw how young people would willingly give up their sets for senior citizens who were standing, because the bus was full of passengers. I couldn’t remember the last time I saw something like that on a public bus in the US. Most of the time people just keep to themselves on the bus in America in fear of making eye-contact with someone who might harass you. I know there is a special blessing for those individuals who are respectful and honorable toward the elderly. If the Lord is willing and the “creek don’t rise” one day that elderly person will be you and I. Just something to think about. Enjoy your day and/or evening.
As per usual, chau chau! 🙂