Thursday, April 21, 2011

Of one month of travels;

I've been away from Seattle for one month now. I arrived in Chile on the 21st of March. I've seen only a small section of this country, but from what I've seen so far I love it. I've gotten to know Valdivia pretty well by now. I've walked through El Centro many times, and now that I have my bike I've been able to see some of the farther parts of the city.

Full moon rise from outside my window       From Chile W4

Lots of rain today left a field on campus flooded.  From Chile W4

There are still lots of new things for me in Chile. Just because I've been here a month doesn't mean that I've seen it all. I've learned a lot about Chilean culture and been able to use some slang here and there, but I still run across things that will stump me. My Spanish is improving everyday, but I'll run across people that try to ask me something and I can't even pick out a single word they have said. Everyone says Chilean Spanish is the worst, and I would agree. Everything is slurred together with very little annunciation. Luckily when people see that I'm a foreigner they speak a bit more precise. Usually I don't even have to get a word out before people know that I'm a gringo. Many people will just look at me and ask where I'm from. I guess I don't look that Chilean.

A fern from the botanical garden.   From Chile W4

Images and names scratched into the hill near Niebla.  From Chile W4

So far I've been to Santiago's bus terminal, Valpo and Vina, Valdivia, and Chiloe`. There are still more travels coming up. I till have 3 months before the program ends to travel around the south and then I'm going towards Uruguay and Buenos Aires.

 Old Spanish fort in Niebla.   From Chile W4
The Valdivian sea lions.   From Chile W4

I still need to ski on a volcano, and visit a monkey puzzle tree forest. I haven't done any hiking yet, but I've done some mountain biking. My tolerance for mayonnaise is going up. I'll have a bit on a hotdog, but I'm not slathering it on everything like many Chileans do. I'm happy that I love bread. There is so much bead to eat down here in Chile. My breakfasts and dinners are mainly bread. Thats the way they do it in Chile.

Street dogs  From Chile W4

The fish market after it closes down.  From Chile W4

There are plenty of things to miss in the States. My Chilean family and the street dogs don't quite replace my real family and dogs. I always want to pet the street dogs, but I know they are all infested with fleas. Cheddar cheese doesn't exist in Chile. I've been told the the McDonalds in Valdivia has a gross American type cheese for its burgers, but I'll save that for when I start feeling homesick. I do miss American breakfast foods. Luckily last week we had a gringo pancake party. Nothing beats a night of pancakes with manjar, choripan, and cervezas. It is difficult to watch my favorite American shows since Hulu doesn't support Chile, but Chilean TV loves the Simpsons. The voices don't fit my American ideas of the characters, but it is still entertaining.

I've been to a few pool houses now.    From Chile W4

Looking down at one of the beaches in Niebla.   From Chile W4

I try not to spend all of my time with the gringos down here. When we go out we'll usually have a few Chileans in our group. I've been going to the photography and salsa classes at the university to meet Chileans. I've also been volunteering with the American Corner program on campus where I give Chileans practice with English and show them a bit of American culture. In general the Chileans are all very nice. They are usually interested in hearing a gringo butcher his way through the Spanish language. I've been doing a lot of that. It can be hard explaining some things in Spanish when I don't have a huge vocabulary.

There are wood stacks all around residential areas because most homes and ovens are heated with wood fires.  From Chile W4

I small tourist boat cruising around Isla Teja.  From Chile W4

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