Two weekends ago, we went on our first camping trip here in Chile. A teacher that I work with gave me directions that were spot on. We had to hike a few miles on a dirt road before arriving at Nido de Condres, which is a piece of land that is owned by the nearby town and is used by gauchos (cowboys) for grazing, but also has campsites and trails that follow a small stream up into the hills and canyon. Moving slowly, the stream has created several natural pools, which we swam in, jumped in and found many small waterfalls and inhabitants. We cooked dinner on our new stove and slept in our new tent. During the night pobre Andy awoke with a stinging sensation on his chest and then again on is arm. A wasp had been trapped inside the tent and as a last resort to survive stung him twice. Don’t worry I came out of the incident unharmed. In the morning we awoke to a huge steer mooing outside out tent. We packed up and headed out. Along the way I stopped at a scenic spot that overlooked the stream and sprinkled a few of Matt’s ashes. As I was turning around, I realized a poem had been painted on the rock. After translating it we realized this place was a memorial for someone else as well. I thought Matt would like to experience this place… the view and the sound of the stream coming from below.
We returned to Vina to celebrate the Superbowl at our house. Sadly we didn’t get to see the commercials, but the game was an exciting one. The Chilenos that I spoke to were amazed that the Superbowl was the most watched event in the United States. I tried to say it’s because of the commercials and the half time show. It was nice to spend the evening surrounded by Gringos who have always enjoyed the Superbowl experience.
I am jealous of Andy, because he uses Spanish at work to talk to his coworker, Javier. I go to work and usually speak English. I am teaching three classes and gaining a lot of experience. Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays are pretty crazy for me. I have two English classes in the morning, then our Spanish class, and right after that my night class begins. Andy continues to work in the mornings and then meets me for lunch before we go to our Spanish class. Christina is our Spanish teacher and has been reviewing many of the rules of the language and gives us homework most nights. Living with other North Americans we don’t speak much Spanish, except when we have been drinking. Working on my Spanish has been hot and cold. I feel like I can produce it sometimes, but other times I lose my confidence and will.
Our living situation is so different from living with the host family. In general I like it. Besides the problems we have with the lack of hot water, the kitchen sink blasting water or nothing at all, or the broken refrigerator and its de-thawing freezer, it’s a decent place to live. The atmosphere is always lively. Morgan, Mara, and Nick are usually and other students have become regular visitors. Getting to know everyone has been great and now we seem like a crew. After a few nights of drinking, going to a club, playing Kings cup, and talking until 6 in the morning we have become close. We never go to bed at the same hour and always have the option of having one or two more drinks. The other night Andy and I decided to go to bed early which was about 2 am and the others went to a bar until 5am. One night we returned from a club at about 5, all hungry and craving palta (avocado). Palta is a staple food with every meal here, but this morning it was the main dish. We toasted bread and loaded on the palta while singing “me falta palta” which means “I’m missing avocado” It was quite the contradiction as we had plenty of palta.
Friday we experienced a tremor! I was laying in bed, awake, and all the sudden my room started violently shaking! It was strong at first and then it lessened. The tremor lasted 10 seconds! I jumped out of bed and ran to the kitchen screaming “Did you guys feel that! That was amazing!” Morgan was in the shower at the time and Andy brushing his teeth. That was the first real tremor I have ever felt and a reminder that the earth beneath us is constantly moving.
This past weekend was very chill. We spent Saturday at the beach in ConCon and walked the beach in Renaca as well. The beaches in these two cities are very different. In ConCon there are more families and there are fabulous seafood restaurants just off the beach. Renaca is a different world. Andy compared it to South Beach, with younger people, showers and massages on the beach and swimsuit contests happening. ConCon was more my speed. After the beach we took a bus to the market to stock up on fresh produce and we decided to get a fresh salmon filet for Valentine’s Day which was very relaxed. We caught up on sleep, studied Spanish, and prepared the salmon. Peter our friend from Michigan set the mood of our romantic dinner by playing love songs and our roommates made us take a sappy prom picture. We ended the night with a game of Kings cup.
Right now we are taking it easy in a coffee shop near our house. Andy ordered a hot chocolate and the waiter asked, “espeso o liquido” meaning thick or liquid. Not quite understanding, he went with the espeso and ended up with a cup of hot, rich, chocolate pudding in front of him. Andy liked it, but won’t likely order it again.
Taking a look at the calendar we have less than two weeks left in Vina. After February we leave for the South and then to Argentina. We are in the process of planning our trip and hope to cover some ground. Time has flown by and I realize that I have enjoyed living in Chile and learning about the culture and the people that live here.