October 25, 2011: Guacamole spackle

Up and at ’em early for class again. Chatted with a singer-friend of V.’s over breakfast, and then galloped down the hill to study more Spanish. (I’ve discovered that if it’s before 8:30am, everything I’m doing is a horrible idea and I don’t wanna do it and why, but as soon as it’s 9:30am, I pop back into normal-cheery mode. This is why I am not allowed to make important decisions in the mornings.)

In class, we wrote a page about un evento importante in our lives, in order to practice more with all those fancy past tenses. I wrote about El Nacimiento De Mi Sobrina, the birth of my lovely wee niece (because I’m a big ol’ softy sometimes).

I had a hot dog for lunch, to my great surprise: I went to a sandwicheria and ordered their special, which looked like a bread roll covered in green and white goop, but turned out to be a hot dog cunningly spackled over with sliced tomatoes and a mountain of guacamole. Read More

October 24, 2011: Estudié español, estudiaba español

My first day of Spanish school today. It’s a 20-minute walk from my lodging; V. had marked the route on a map for me, and I managed to navigate there without getting lost. (Actually, I ended up knocking at the Chilean Navy Commander’s building, but the kind uniformed guards pointed me in the right direction. Since my school was right across the street, I’d call that a win.)

The school is divided into classes of 1-6 people, dependent on level. My class currently has four other students, all from Germany or Switzerland. We worked on the distinction between the preterite and imperfect tenses, and also began to poke at the past perfect. It was an odd combination of “oh yes, I’ve learnt this a million times before” and “WHAT IS HAPPENING NOTHING MAKES SENSE.”

After lessons, I went to lunch with the others in my class, which was wonderful. Immediately upon leaving the school-building, we switched over from Spanish to a strange mixture of Spanish, English, and German. Read More

October 23, 2011: If I make it three months without making a “chilly in Chile” joke, it’ll be a miracle

Chile is demographically a very Christian country. As such, this Sunday morning is filled with church bells, as well as dogs’ responses to aforementioned bells. A stately “dong, dong” followed by choruses of less-stately howls: “owowowow!”

Very chilly here today. I spent some time setting up this brand-new shiny blog, with my feet tucked under the laptop for the added warmth. In the afternoon, V. asked if I’d like to come along to El Centro with her — certainly, anything to get warmed up! We stopped at a bakery which had many unfamiliar (but appealing) foodstuffs; next time, I shall have to pick a pastry at random and try it out. We also visited an open-air market, which had everything from a tiny jungle of potted plants to Spanish translations of popular English books. Read More

October 22, 2011: Caminar sin intención

I slept for a full 15 hours; I didn’t know such things were possible (at least not since my teenagehood). My room has curtains which make it dark as night when closed; I think I shall leave them open tonight so that I may actually wake at a decent hour tomorrow. Once I finally arose, I went to shower. The shower here is a fickle creature: it took five minutes to show any sign of warmth, and then it was scalding, and then it went back to chill and wouldn’t budge until I relocated the showerhead. When I emerged, V. was bustling in the kitchen making breakfast: hard bread-biscuits, jam, marmalade, scrambled eggs, strawberries, and tea.

View from the sun-porch.

After breakfast, I checked emails and then read in the sun-porch for a while. Read More

October 21, 2011: Arriving in Chile. Planes, buses, and telephones, oh my!

By the time I had finally managed to fall asleep in my airplane chair, they flipped the lights on again and started feeding us breakfast. At last, the novelty of the airline food re-wore off, and I poked dejectedly at the strange albino-potato-with-tomato-goo-and-pale-bacon meal that was our breakfast’s centerpiece. Then, my first glance of Chile: imposing mountains, hard brown earth, and towns where 95% of the roofs were red and the other 5% had sports-courts painted atop them. With more customs forms in hand and feeling rather woozy from the added sleep deprivation, I wobbled down to buy my tourist visa (U.S. citizens pay a reciprocity fee upon arrival, instead of needing to file for a visa beforehand), and then waited in a Neverending Line of Neverendingness for customs, grabbed my bag, and was free.

Step One: find money. Inquire en español at several money-exchange desks, and be directed instead to an ATM. Press buttons futilely on the ATM until I find a menu option for “extranjeros” (foreigners). Attempt to withdraw 200.000 Chilean pesos. Argue with the ATM machine: I know I do have that much money in my account, so don’t you give me any sass! The ATM machine wins. Settle for withdrawing a slightly smaller amount. Secrete it in many different pockets around my person. Read More