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Published: January 28th 2017
Learning to Speak Chilean
Like any region/country has it's own version of the language (ahem, hotdish vs. casserole, coke vs. pop vs. soda, you guys vs. y'all, you get the point), Chile has it's own spin on Spanish, that I am slowly picking up on. As in, a word or two every once in awhile. When someone points them out to me :P For example, instead of 'fresas' (as taught in high school Spanish 101), strawberries are 'frutillas'. The guy who sold me them gave me a weird look as he handed me the box of red fruits and said 'frutillas'. Oops. Also, the add 'po' to words here. 'Sí, po' 'no, po'. I understood a lot more once someone explained that one to me!
En el Metro
Had an awkward experience in the metro this past week. I had decided I was going to try to read the Spanish newspaper I'd been handed as I entered the metro on my way to classes in the morning. I had just pulled it out and started reading, when a young man started speaking to me as he walked off the metro. I gave him a confused look and said 'no entiendo', as he continued to speak to me from the boarding area. He then started emphatically gesturing to me, at which point I realized the entire metro train was empty. 'Ah!' I thought, as I stepped off the train like everyone else. My host mom had mentioned that occasionally, the train driver will announce to everyone to get off at the next station, and the metro will pull away empty (still not sure why), and then everyone will get back on the next train. As I got off the metro at the following station, I thanked the man who had helped me figure out what in the world was going on. At the same time I thought "how awkward. I'm standing in the metro, presumably reading a Spanish newspaper, and then telling the person who's trying to help me that I can't understand Spanish. Brilliant". Ah well, the experiences are part of learning!
Commentary on the Fires
The fires in the south of Chile are very, very bad. The president has declared a state of emergency, and thousands of acres of land have been burned. A number of homes and livelihoods have been lost, as well as an entire town that was burned to the ground this week. And there's no sign of the fires dying out. Record-high temperatures are not helping the situation either.
While there is no immediate danger from the fires themselves here in Santiago, there is a lot of smoke, and many people have been feeling the effects. I went for a run this week with a friend, and that about leveled me for the week. My throat was incredibly sore (felt worse than strep) for most of the week, and in the mornings, I had to practice swallowing motions before I could swallow water, before I could handle food. Swallowing at all remained painful. Occasionally, my chest would feel tight after walking for about five minutes. One of the days I had minor nausea symptoms. Now, all of these have subsided, but I'm still leery of trying to workout outdoors until the smoke clears. It essentially looks like it's cloudy and about to rain, but that couldn't be farther from the truth! The smoke here is MUCH worse than the smoke I drove through from the NC and TN fires over Thanksgiving, and at the time, I couldn't imagine something worse!
Con Con, Viña del Mar, and Valparaiso
On Friday, most of the students in the USAC group went on a field trip to the beach. Our day started out with a stop at the sand dunes in Con Con, which we promptly climbed to the top of. Wonderful picture moment! These dunes were a lot taller and a lot steeper than the dunes I've climbed near lake Michigan (which are also beautiful). The ripples in the sand beautifully mimicked the ripples in the water far below, and the height gave us a grand view of the city and the ocean. Running down the dunes was also a thrill. No, I didn't fall. This time.
After that, we headed to Viña del Mar for lunch. We started walking the main strip as a large group, but as small groups started randomly breaking off, I realized that I didn't know which restaurant the people I'd gotten to know had gone into. So, I stuck with the group I was now with, even though I didn't really know anyone. I got to know a couple of the girls a little better. After we ate and started to head back to the beach, we stumbled upon the people that I knew, and so I broke off to sit with them as they finished their lunch. We tried something called 'cactus beer'. It was different, but very refreshing! It some sort of light beer, but with a tangy and mildly spicy twist. I liked it! After that, we headed to Valparaiso, went up a century-old tilted elevator, and wandered around the city for a couple hours. The mural paintings are amazing, and can be found almost wherever you turn! Finally, we finished off the day with a tour of the port on a pirate boat, called 'Perla Negra'. Yep, that's right folks, I took a trip on the Black Pearl. Whoo!
Then...I got on the bus...(after almost getting myself left behind for being slow and not realizing we were changing vans that fast) and realized with horror.... I am a tomato. A very ripe tomato. Or a very thoroughly cooked lobster. Or ketchup. I'm so red I GLOW. And before you ask, yes, I did use sunscreen. Liberally. After the sand dunes. I think I can confidently say this is one of the worst burns of my life (including burns from Boundary Waters canoe trips, where I faced the reflection from the water and aluminum canoes ALL DAY). Also, sadly.... I wore a large glass necklace yesterday. I will now be wearing the outline of that necklace for the foreseeable future. #winning. Not.
Today was a low key, restful Sabbath day. No getting lost. I got home before 6:30pm. And I actually spoke some sentences in Spanish without awkward long pauses (although there were plenty of those too). Little wins though. Poco a poco. Un pocito mejor cada día. Have a great evening everyone!
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