Now that we are walking to school again, we see the same people we used to see every day last year. All our neighbors are also back from their vacations.
Even though we don't really know our neighbors, we live so close to each other that we always know what they are up to.
We know when they are toasting bread for breakfast. We hear them leaving for work, talking on their cell phones on the balcony, vacuuming, listening to music, preparing a late dinner, having a party, or playing their instruments.
Sometimes we even know when they are sleeping. The new neighbor downstairs still hasn't bought curtains for his windows and, from our balcony, we can see him lying in bed. Usually, he wears blue pajamas. But once, RJE saw him "en pelota" ---without anything on!
The Japanese man next door is always practicing his flute, never really getting better. He plays it in the morning and in the evening.
Another person who lives upstairs practices his saxaphone at ten at night. And at dinner time, there is loud music coming from across the hall, while, from the balcony, comes a strong smell of bar-b-cue or "sopa con fideos" (noodle soup made from a yellow powder that comes in a package).
The couple on the other side are from Argentina. Dad learned that the man is a "futbolista"---a professional soccer player who plays on a Chilean team.
The futbolista does look like an athlete. In the evenings, he sits on his balcony with his shirt off, showing off his tattoos and biceps. He also plays the guitar and sings when he is not listening to loud music.
At 7 o'clock in the morning, we can hear from the bus stop downstairs someone trying to sell mint-flavored gum for 100 pesos a package. The man yells, again and again, "A cien, a cien, chicle de menta, a cien!"
There's another man on the corner who sells alfajores, also "a cien." Alfajores are cookie sandwiches with delicious "dulce de leche" inside. This is a drawing that RJE did of that man:
And this is what the alfajores look like (click on the photo to learn more about alfajores):
We have nicknames for some of the people we see everyday on the way to school, like "Mr. Fancy Pants." He wears a suit and has a briefcase and walks in long strides and is always sighing.
Then there is "Mr. Bean." We gave him that name because he looks like Mr. Bean in the movie.
"The Scooter guy" goes to work on a green scooter.
"The Happy Couple" always walk arm in arm, and the woman always smiles at us.
When we get closer to school, we see some other kids also walking in, and we pass a girl who always stops to look in the mirror and put on makeup. She is "Make-up girl."
On the way home, we pass a woman sitting outside the mall at a small table with a cup for coins on it. She has a patch over one eye and holds a sign that explains why she needs money.
We always wonder how long she has been sitting there. Once, we walked by her table when she wasn't there, and RJE peeked to see how many coins the woman had collected. Not many.
When we're back in Virginia, we won't be walking to school, so we'll see no one to give nicknames to. We'll miss all the "regulars," as Mom calls the ones we've gotten used to in Chile.
Last weekend was one of my friends' birthday, and instead of having a party, she invited a few friends to go see a movie.
We saw "Hannah Montana 3-D" and afterwards went for pizza.
The birthday girl opened her gifts, and she had gifts for us, too, in a "goodie bag" each of us got. Inside the bag was the first Hannah Montana CD. We all like the songs.
More than half the people at the multiplex theater were there to see Hannah Montana, just because it was a 3-D movie. I don't think that many people like Hannah Montana.
For Easter vacation (after going to school for just two weeks!) my friend invited me to spend the long weekend at the Embalse Rapel, about two and a half hours southwest from Santiago.
Rapel is a reservoir, with cabins next to the lake. It is important for the production of electricity, but there is a drought going on in Chile now, and the water level is low.
Still, we swam most of the day in the freezing water wearing wetsuits, and we kayaked too.
It was the first time I had worn a wetsuit, and the thing I don't like about them is that they are so tight, you can hardly breathe.
My friend said that the one I had on was too big for me, and I couldn't believe her. At first, the tightness was unbearable. But when you get in the water, it feels better. The suit doesn't let any cold water in, either, and it makes you float more than usual.
Anna Karenina #22
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