Oye! Our last week was jam packed with an array of experiences I don’t know where to begin. On Friday we celebrated our 5 year anniversary. Andy Collins and I have been together for 5 years…. and a day. Hard to believe it has been that much time. I remember when we met I was 19 almost 20, unsure, and reluctant to get into another relationship. The ongoing joke between us is we have been together for too long, but actually I won’t be giving up on a good thing any time soon, especially since we can travel together. To celebrate our big day we hit the town and went to a Mexican restaurant where I had a chirimoya (chirimoya is a tropical fruit that is popular here) margarita and Andy had a burrito stuffed with beef, chicken, and pork (He probably won’t order the mixed meat again… he was overloaded). Then we went to the Municipal Theatre to see a production called Tango. We listened to a piano, accordion, bass and violin play wonderful tangos and watched professional dancers. There was also a singer and master of ceremonies that sang along with some of the melodies. Before catching a micro (the local buses are called micros) home we found a bench under the stars. It is a local custom to make out in public areas… for hours! When in Rome… against Andy’s wishes we only stayed for a few minutes. J
As the saying goes time flies when you are having fun and with three weeks under our belts we are ready to start week four. Last week seemed like a normal working week. We both got used to our own schedules. Andy continued to work on projects in Valparaiso and I attended three different English classes as a visiting Gringa. This gives all the morning classes the opportunity to listen to and interact with a native English speaker. The students in the morning classes are all teenagers and in the evening I have been co-teaching a class of beginning level adults. There are only three students and in February I will become the full time teacher. I am excited for the chance to teach a class on my own, but realize there are challenges. The teacher now uses a lot of Spanish to explain the meanings of words. I prefer and am not able to use Spanish when I teach. I am anxious to see how they adjust and how well I can teach a beginner adult class.
On the downside we both have been battling bad colds. I think it is a combination of the change in climate and adjusting to the city air and all the crap that is in it. Including tons of cigarette smoke; almost everyone here smokes and most restaurants and bars allow it. I had to stay home sick one day, but we are both on the mend and don’t cough nearly as much as before.
On Friday we went to a botanical garden to do a high ropes course with the classmates from our Spanish class. We did a few zip lines from the treetops and walked across several types of hanging bridges. It was fun hanging out with our American classmates, who we have gotten to know during the past few weeks of class.
On Saturday we took it easy and then ventured out to Valparaiso to experience the cultural carnival, which presents several types of art from music to theatre, spread among the cities plazas. We walked through the streets and took a funicular, which is like an elevator that goes diagonally up a steep slope. Once above the city streets we found silence. Wanting to take advantage of the peace and quiet I found a corner table at a café. We spent at least a couple hours there journaling, sipping on helados, and listening to the street musicians passing by. The festival activities picked up in the evening and Valparaiso came alive. We roamed the city until 1am, drinking super bitter cheap beer, which is sold on the streets for a buck, and watching popular bands play on a stage at the heart of the city.
Today we took a bus to the small town of Isla Negra to see one of Pablo Neruda’s houses. Neruda, who is famous for his poetry, has three houses, but this was his favorite. He loved the sea, but could not leave land and so he built his house like a ship. The inside has very low curved ceilings and small doors. The view of the waves hitting the coast was spectacular. Heading home we missed the bus and began to wait at the bus stop. I asked Andy if he was hungry and an older gentleman turned to me and said in English, “you know what happens when men get hungry don’t you?” Not sure how to react I played along and said asked what happens. He said, “They get aggressive.” Then he explained his story and before long the three of us were standing there having a diverse conversation for at least 45 minutes! He was a local and had some very interesting opinions and used to get grumpy when he came home from work. His wife figured this out and would leave food or a beverage for him at the front door so that he would not be so “aggressive” when he had some food in his stomach. His interesting viewpoints and his willingness to share with a couple of young extranjeros was refreshing and a nice touch to our day.
We have enjoyed reading all your comments so please keep writing! We miss you all and hope all is well in the states.