Sunday, April 7, 2013

Concierto de Cuidad

When I first heard about a concert that would incorporate distinct musicians hidden throughout the hills, plan, and bay of Valparaiso, I had high expectations and an unrealistic idea of how well the hills would carry the music.  After all, Valparaiso's hills seem overly efficient at carrying all the unwanted noises: carretes, fights, barking dogs, unreasonably loud music, and other random sounds that wake me from my sleep or contemplate calling the cops.

The fact that the concert could not be heard clearly in its entirety did not draw from its appeal, but rather highlight the unique way in which this type of event should be appreciated.  Some friends and I chose one of the recommended overlooks, Paseo Yugoslavo, because it was centrally located in the hills yet not so close to any major bell or horn which would overpower the rest.  For the first half of the concert we stayed there, slightly disappointed as all we could hear well were the loud fog horns from docked ships, a faint snare drum coming from the hills, and a loud trumpeter projecting from Lord Cochrane's house-museum.  The overlook was packed with other "concert goers,"  who took the non-traditional concert setting as an excuse to be completely disrespectful to anyone who was actually trying to listen (and, due to the disapproving glares, there were obviously a large number of people attempting to listen).  Loud talkers, shouts advertising veggie burgers, and screaming children let wild without parents having the decency to go somewhere further removed completely covered up everything aside from the loud, deep, ship horns.

After 30 minutes of patiently trying to figure out what the real appeal was, I tried out a new spot next to Ascensor Peral where I was pleasantly surprised to hear the incorporation and echo of a few new sounds, the most interesting of which sounded like when weightlifters let the bar and weights slam to the floor.  Here, in between the extremely distracting squeals from the ascensor that continued to run through the whole concert, I could better understand how all of the instruments worked together to create one piece. When I realized that I could no longer hear the snare drum, I remembered a comment from the flyer that said, "Muevase y guiese por su oido. Pero tenga en cuenta siempre que cualquiera de las soluciones que escoja escondera otras igualmente validas". Roughly: Move around and let your ears guide you.  But keep in mind, whatever choice you make in order to gain access to a certain location or group of sounds will mean sacrificing other equally valid ones.

So I took off alone to wander off back up through Cerro Alegre, away from the screaming kids and inconsiderate adults, and discovered many more sounds that made up part of the dialogue.  A sax and flute added somewhat to the melody, but I seemed to prefer more of the abstract type of sounds that seemed to contribute best when heard in relation to others.  I would have enjoyed being able to hear the church bells better, I was told they were part of the music though I couldn't really identify them.  I continued to walk, constantly losing and gaining new sounds, and with time (and peace) really began to love the event itself and how it worked.

Next time, I hope that signs can be put up in common miradores which ask the public to respect silence and explain what was going on.  I would plan a walking route that could expose me to various sets of the sounds and instruments as I went along - perhaps somewhere along avenida Alemania might allow for better diversity over the course of the hour-long concert.

Also, I thought it was funny that when I checked facebook there were lots of people posting messages like "Whats up with all the boats?"

Friday, January 18, 2013

Fooled by the impostor cat

Remember this moment?  (You know 3:50, the one its stubbornly not starting at?)

It's happened over and over again in film... Twins, separated at birth, suddenly run into each other and *GASP*
"You're me?  I'm you? ...Is this a mirror?"

One evening this week I opened my front door to empty out a water bucket on the street and I noticed that my cat Daisy had snuck out behind me.  I called her and coaxed her back in.  She was a little resistant, as always, because going out the front of a house is an adventure seldom granted to my cats, and they usually roll around in the dirt a while before coming back in.

Anyway, as soon as she passed into the hall, I shut the front door and went back to the living room, though I noticed she had stayed in the entrance area, sniffing everything.  Cats don't sniff as much as dogs, but they do tend to check out everything around them....but usually not a familiar space.  She sniffed her way to the living room.  No sooner than my suspicions arose, they were confirmed:  an identical cat jumped back in the house from the balcony on the other side!

And there I had it-  the movie moment when my cat Daisy discovered her doppelganger!  Neither of them liked it very much, by the way.  Backs hunched, teeth baring, both cats looked ready to attack.  I drove out the double out just before they drew claws!

Daisy (horrified!)
Daisy's doppelganger - hair lifting as she realizes she's in the wrong

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Medical Labyrinth (part 2)

Continued from Part 1, explaining how I got one leg bashed in the shin and the other attacked by a ferocious dog.

So after being turned away from treatment at the Clinica Valparaiso on a holiday, I took the professional advice they gave me and "asked a neighbor" what to do.  Luckily, I have this neighbor that always seems to know EVERYTHING at the junta de vecinos (neighborhood meetings, which I love to attend).  I can't really figure out what he does, but he seems to be in the know on everything regarding emergencies (evacuations, fires, police, etc...) so of course I went to him and he contacted someone who found another consultorio that would have the shot, and they even said they were open if I could get there within the next 2 hours.
I hobbled to a colectivo and made it in time, though in the end they said they couldn't give me the shot until the next day because it was locked up in another room.  Defeated, a friend who is a colectivo driver coincidentally picked me up and drove me home, mentioning that a number of other people had been attacked in the same place as I had... so although I had missed my scheduled shot date, I was even less worried that the dog had rabies. (A dog attacking enough people to build up a reputation isn't a dog that dropped dead from disease!)

The next morning I lined up with everyone else at the vacunatorio of Consultorio Mena on Avenida Alemania.  The place was very clean and pretty organized.  Actually, my only complaint was that you just have to wait in line at the door to the room where they give the shots, which would normally be fine, except for that all of my fellow line-waiters couldn't seem to figure out how lines work(go figure!), and would constantly just cut to the front or bang on the door and yell at the employees.  I was nervous that by the time it would be my turn, the nurses would be cranky and rough with my shot.  Not to mention, I was again worked up thinking I'd be getting it in the stomach since I was getting the shot at a new place.

Surprisingly, the girl who attended was great.  I should have written a letter complementing her to her boss (do they do that here?).  She rescheduled all my shots, recommended when I come back in order to avoid lines, remembered my name, details, and even in which arm (yay!) I had received each previous shot without even looking at my chart.  In fact, the following two shots I didn't have to wait at all for, though during one of them another man walked right in the room while I was getting my shot and asked to sit down in there.  She, of course, said no because of patient rights for privacy, etc... and the man sat down anyway with me on the bed and insisted.  I'm used to nosy people that don't wait behind the lines at the pharmacy, but I cant believe someone would barge into another person's doctors appointment... When I put this on facebook someone commented "at least it wasn't the gynecologist's office"(...That's an understatement!)

Unfortunately, my last shot again was scheduled for a holiday, and the consultorio was going to be closed.  The day before this holiday was Mil Tambores, and I was absolutely exhausted, yet I woke up early and went to "la posta" of Hospital Van Buren thinking I might beat a rush.  To my surprise, within minutes I was called to a room on the side where my pressure was taken and they said they'd call me back in a few minutes for my shot.  The woman told me, "if I don't call your name in a while, come knock again."  Of course I asked how long "a while" was and she said within 30 minutes.  However, the place just seemed to fill up more and more, and there were moments when there was hardly standing room at all, with huge anxious crowds pushing against the doors. I assume they were all waiting for the chance to visit a family member or something after an accident on public transportation or something. Anyway, I had gotten my hopes up, and in the end, I spent most of the day waiting for my shot.
In the meantime, la posta's waiting room was a show of its own!  Multiple guys came in handcuffed and escorted, one of which screamed constantly at the top of his lungs "POR ANDAR TOMANDO, POR ANDAR TOMANDO!" Soon rumors justifying slow attention passed around that there was "only one doctor on duty to treat women and one to treat men", and once even that all of the doctors had been called out to on-site treatment.  Some people in the waiting room looked so sick and in pain, yet just sat there waiting to be called.  I understand that the hospital must manage a system of priority and urgency, and didn't question in the slightest that my rabies shot was low priority, though I pitied the people who seemed to sit helplessly as their appendix exploded.

 When I finally did get called in, it was a little confusing, but I made it to a large room with many beds, mostly filled with elderly ladies.  While not a private setting, it was not nearly as horrifying or chaotic as I had expected from rumors and my experience in the waiting room.  The nurses and doctors were nice and organized, the room clean and calm.  I got my shot and left within a few moments.  Since then, I have obviously not died of rabies, so I can only conclude that my treatment was successful and/or the dog never had rabies to begin with!

 As for the huge bump on my other leg, which 2 months later still wasn't going down, a physical therapist from work recommended I see a traumatologist.  I tried to but I wasn't having fun dealing with secretaries on the phone, so I ended up calling on a doctor friend (something which I hated doing, but I was having trouble getting appointments the normal way) who saw me right away and sent me off to get an ultrasound on my shin, and started treating my ankle which had become quite weakened from the injury as well.

Checking first at Centromed and IST, the Clinica Renaca was actually the quickest to get me in for an ultrasound, and despite the reputation, there wasn't really a price difference.  It was my first time going there, and coincidentally someone else I knew was badly injured that day so I had the chance to stop by to visit in another part of the building on my way.  The facilities and everything were nice, though my attitude turned sour at my appointment as soon as my ultrasound doctor judgingly remarked that my soccer injury happened to me because I really "should've been playing sports for girls."  Now I'm the biggest proponent there is for giving the benefit of the doubt, so I initially took this comment as a meaningless joke, though as soon as he rambled off a list of the sports adequate for females (my temper caused me to forget everything after field hockey), I was pretty sure that there was a sexist attitude behind his advice.

It turned out that there was a pocket of blood in my shin that couldn't get absorbed correctly, and I could either wait until it eventually went down or do a small surgery with high risk of infection.  Talking with my doctor friend, we decided to treat it with papain (a protein found in papaya) pills to break up and absorb the excess material, massage, and wraps during exercise.

Its been a slow recovery and I've still got a bump though its no longer quite as noticible to the naked eye.