My room at the B&B includes breakfast, so every morning, V. prepares a tray for me and asks what I would prefer to drink — coffee, black tea, or herbal tea. Several times now, I’ve accidentally asked for tea made from hierba de mente, or herb of the mind. What I really want is mint tea, hierba de menta, but I still enjoy the concept of mind-herb tea, and giggle gleefully whenever I catch myself making that error.
Today, I signed up for another four weeks of Spanish classes at the school I’ve been attending. It’s a genial atmosphere, and I think it will be helpful for my weakest area (listening comprehension). It also adds a nice sense of purpose to my time.
I had lunch at a randomly-selected restaurant. My strategy of “Try New Things Even if You Have No Damn Clue What They Are” paid off remarkably well this time. The choices of the day were fish, or ca-[something incomprehensible]; I ordered the ca-something, which turned out to be a tasty and filling soup. It consisted of a whole chicken leg, a potato, and a piece of pumpkin, sitting in a flavorful broth with a handful of noodles and assorted veggies. (As I left, I noted down the name from the specials board out front: a typical Chilean dish called Cazuela.)
A Chilean man and his son were lunching at the table next to mine. Near the end of the meal, we fell into conversation: the father would say something in rapid Spanish, I would look confused, the son would repeat it in easier Spanish, and I would respond clumsily. The father declared that I was quite linda, that I reminded him of his daughter, and eventually said that he would like to pay for my meal. I told him, oh no, he didn’t need to, but he insisted, and asked for my check from the proprietress. I thanked him profusely, and he said he would like to give me a regalo de flores, while his son sheepishly helped with the Spanish. Again, I said oh no no, you’re very kind, but I couldn’t possibly. We ambled out to the street and he bought me a lovely red-rose-and-pine bouquet. An odd, chivalrous exchange, but nonetheless sweet.
Bouquet in hand and well-fed, I set out to explore the hills beyond my school, a part of the city I hadn’t seen before. Initially, I had intended to follow one road up, and then to follow another road back down shortly thereafter. However, without retracing my steps, there were no routes back down — so I ended up walking to the top of the hill and following a very wiggly road called Cintura, past homemade playgrounds, buses hurtling around switchbacks, and yellow weed flowers.
Eventually, I reached a part of Cintura that didn’t feel quite safe to me, so I turned back down a long staircase, meandered hopelessly, and then happened upon the restaurant I had left a few hours before. Then, back home.
When I returned, I told V. where I’d gone, and she gasped. “That’s a dangerous area!” Whoops. Well, now I know. Now I rest, and listen to the faint, incongruous sound of a band playing “Pomp and Circumstance,” down in el centro.