Last weekend, I went to downtown Rancagua with two classmates to buy an apron for Chemistry class. It's only about a ten minute collectivo ride from my house (a collectivo is like a taxi but with a set route. It costs about a dollar). It was really fun--the main street was packed, which was quite a contrast to when I went downtown today to withdraw money. My host dad says that Sundays (today) everyone sleeps and Saturdays (last week) is when everyone goes out and shops.
After we found a nice apron for me to use, we headed up to the main plaza. Rancagua is one of the oldest cities in Chile, and the site of the 1814 "Battle of Rancagua" during Chile's fight for independence. Unfortunately, the Chileans lost in Rancagua, and I'm not quite sure why it's so famous nonetheless, but the government has spent a lot of energy keeping the old parts of Rancagua nice for the historical value.
Just off the square is an old church! I remember seeing pictures of this on Wikipedia when I first found out where I was staying in Chile. However, the pictures on Wikipedia were yellow! I asked about it, and it turns out the two towers fell down in the earthquake last year so the church had to be rebuilt and they repainted it red. It's a gorgous church though, and I'd love to go inside next time I'm downtown. I've been talking with the other exchange student in my class (from Switzerland) and someday soon we'd like to go down and be tourists for the day.
Off of the plaza, there was this little shop, and we walked in intending to get drinks, but it turns out it was an empanada shop! Empanadas are pockets of bread with fillings. There are lots of different types of fillings--meat, cheese, veggies, all that good stuff. They're a traditional Chilean food, and I hadn't had one yet, so my compañeras insisted that we all get some. I got the traditional "flavor": pino, which is meat, onions, raisins, and olives. Then the fold the filling up into a thin bread, sort of, and usually deep fry them (but this one was baked, I think). All in all, it was delicious. They say that there is another shop with a bunch of different obscure varieties of empanadas (sort of like Ian's Pizza in Madison, I think, but with empanadas).
On a different note, Friday was my "one month in Chile" anniversary. It's incredible how fast it's gone. My spanish is improving tremendously, both speaking and comprehension, but I still have a long way to go. I'm really happy to be here though--I've been blessed with a great, understanding family, helpful, nice, classmates, and I've been doing so much better than I ever expected to do here. We'll see what the next four months bring, but if the first month is any representation, it looks like I'll be having a lot of fun.
I think that's all for now. I feel like my english is just falling apart--I can still speak it, but writing and typing are just horrible, so I'm sorry if it's not perfect gramatically. The hard part is that my spanish is still pretty bad so I can't really do anything! Haha.
And to wrap it up: I saw this sign in the grocery store and laughed out loud. I think the pictures are hysterical. But maybe it's just me.