Published: May 17th 2007May 17th 2007
Woohoo, we are in South America!!!!!!!!!!!!!
- Karina: Â¿Pete, te gustar gatos? (Pete, do you like cats?)
- Pete: Si, a mi me gustar mucho gato. (Thinking: Yes, I like lots of gateau)
- Angela: Mis gatos llaman Calvin y Bee (My cats are called Calvin and Bee)
- Pete: Eh???? (Eh????)
We had already planned to book onto a week long intensive spanish course before arriving in Santiago. Our experience on our first day of finding a laundrette by performing charades with our smelly clothes made us realise we had little choice. That is, unless we were to have no control about what we were doing, where we were going and how much we were going to smell in the next 3 months.
Our teacher, Karina, had a tough job ahead of her. Fortunately half the class dropped out when they realised the sheer basicness of where we were going to have to start learning from. Luckily, that left the 2 of us with our own personal tutor for the week. Obviously, we were to make fabulous progress. By the end of the 30 hours we know how to complain to
Its ok it is just a free hug on the streets of Santiago
Pete chose the good looking girl as she looked the least likely hugger to pick his pockets!!! Big problem in Chile.
waiters, order beer and Pete knew how not
to say "I have 28 anuses" (AÃ±os being pronounced slightly differently to anos).
Our progress in Spanish was making the earth move.... literally. Halfway through one lesson we were suddenly shaking back and forth whilst sat on the 7th floor of the building. It took a few seconds to comprehend what was happening. Our tutor sat very calmly and explained that Santiago frequently experiences tremors and that they are nothing to worry about. Of course being a geography teacher Ang knew all about it and later joked that her rather concerned face was all an act.
Learnt Spanish.... now try to use it!
After spending all week learning we were itching to use our new found linguistic skills. Nos gustaria dos empanadas por favor. Asking for lunch was easy. Trying to understand questions like whether we wanted the empanades hot or whether we were eating in was very difficult with the speed at which the Chileans talk. After a few more games of Charades we were all sorted and enjoying our Chilean cornish pasties.
We are getting better and hopefully with a bit
Back to school with Karina our Spanish teacher. (Pete's geek of the week)
more studying on our own and living in a country sin Ingresa we will improve rapido.
Santiago: The Hidden City where there is never a dull moment
Santiago seems quite a mystical city because you never know what you are going to find at the end of each street. This isn't some sort of strange phenomenon it is simply because we can't see through the smog that engulfs the city. Apparently winter is even worse and, at times, the city is put on environmental alert and cars with certain numbers in their registration plates are banned from the roads on certain days.
One thing that kept us curious (though at a distance) was the Chilean passion of protesting. In the eight days we have been in Santiago we have seen 7 protests and several hundred riot police jumping out of armoured trucks and buses. People obviously think very highly of free speech and the police obviously think even higher of applying a heavy presence the moment anyone some much as flashes a banner. Fortunately none of the protests we saw resulted in violence but there have been some nasty things going on recently and
Our new staple diet
we are very aware how much of a good idea it is too keep our distance. Don't worry mum!
Making use of the excellent bus network we finally left Santiago and ventured to ValparaÃso and its beautiful views. We landed on our feet by choosing the “El Rincon Marino” to stay in and offloaded our junk and most of our valuables for a day of touring the city. Again, we were given repeat warnings from the hostel owner and shop assistants about keeping our wallets deep in our pockets so we made sure we were very aware of our surroundings and any odd-bods close by.
Valparaiso is set on a hillside and, rather than having to make legs weary, there are plenty of ascensors to take you up and down. Not sure how many centuries they have been running for but they seemed pretty well used. We had a nice walk around and visited Pablo Neruda's interesting old house set on a hillside.
Unfortunately, we hadn’t escaped the smog of Santiago and the views across the city were marred by the grey mist. Also, the vast number of overhead wires covering the city
This was a good day where you can see the mountains
The smog in Santiago is unbelievable. They have restrictions when the pollution gets too bad where certain cars are banned from driving depoending on their numberplate.
found their way into every photo we tried to take.
Despite the smog and threat of pickpockets Valaparaiso was a wonderful place to visit. We have never been to a city like it, so picturesque and full of character.
There are more photos below