Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Dias 6.5, siete y ocho. 

It was a wrench to leave Hotel Genross, but as Brian reminded me "you can check out but you can't leave" como el hotel de California...

Not the best of check in experiences, the "departamento" (Chilean for apartment) was not partiularly clean.  Not messy, but dusty and neglected.  El papa was in the hospital and had been before Christmas, so his wife, Carmen was with him.  That left the 22 year old daughter and the slightly crippled and mostly deaf aunt in the apartment.  The bedroom was shabby, and would have been okay till I saw the bathroom, kitchen and fridge. Uhm, no way.

Mold, dirt, mildew, a nice, clean, but smelly (as in forgotten in the washer for awhile) towel.  Luckily, the school was upset about the condition and found me another place right away.  I'm convinced all of this was engineered by my personal trainer, however, since the new casa is a mile away, while the other was 4 blocks.  Thanks, Coach!

But me nueva familia is a mother (Juliana, who is a wonderful cook), Nancy (a civil servant by day, law student by night) and Judith (I just met her for a moment last night) is wonderful.  They laugh all the time, are constantly talking to me, and if they get the dazed and confused look, begin again and try other words. I finally figured out that part of what they were telling me is that there is another student, named Mary, from Germany, who lives here too.  She works in a day care for underprivileged kids, is here to learn Spanish the hard way, and never sleeps.  Easy to do when you're 19 or 20.

Besides that, Mama is  a clean freak, and she dusts and cleans every day mostly since Nancy has terrible allergies.

The neighborhood is okay, and really, the walk's not bad.  I've discovered a fresh fruit stand, a place to get empanadas for lunch, and a store that makes its own sweatshirts (it was cold this AM, and foggy).  You'll all be happy to know I'm sporting the embroidered logo of an exclusive Catholic girls school.  Found a chocolateria, a couple of bars, several expensive clothes stores, a shoe store with the highest heels I've ever seen, and a gazillion other things I don't recognize the names of yet.

To continue, dia siete (7) was moving.  Dia ocho, I had to go to the mall buy toallas (towels).  It's about 1.5 miles from the school and 1.5 miles from home.  It's crazy busy there, but there are lots of expensive name brands (Columbia, Puma, Tommy Hilfiger, North Face, Zara Adidas, Nike,), not to mention McDonalds, Burger King, Subway and another that I can't remember. McDonalds has 2 stores, one for ice cream and ice cream/coffee drinks, and the other for the usual fare.  I understand from talking to the Chileans, no one was particularly fond of their burgers till they added avocado.  Yup, the Chileans like it for breakfast instead of butter, for lunch in big portions in sandwiches, and for dinner in salads, and that's just fine with me.  

So there I was en el mall (el moll) and going down the escalator from Ripley's department store when the lights went out. (Believe it or not!)  Luckily, the ceiling is glass, so there was light, but it was a nightmare getting out with all the crowds leaving at en el mismo tiempo. That also meant no "collectivo" taxis so I had to hoof it home, and it was warm,  guessing low 80's.  Not to bad for most people, but the ozone layer above Chile is very thin and the sun is very hot, and it's possible to burn badly in a very short time, so being in the sun is a bit uncomfortable.  I'm wearing SPF 50 all the time.

As a reward, after slogging home, I got a wonderful meal, typical of Chile, from the south and the Mapuche Indians. 

In Chile there are two kinds of corn, one to grind and one to eat as a veggie.  This had the ground type in it, with a bit of meat, potatoes, green peppers, onions, spinach and I don't know what else.  It was really tasty.

I also had a pleasant surprise in school... We had homework (tarea) last night and were supposed to write about a famous person. We'd already done Hilary Clinton and the Green Bay quarterback and a rapper named CRO (from Germany), so I went hunting on the web.  Bingo! First website had the ubiquitous Kim Kardashian. But,  IT'S a MIRACLE!  No one in Chile knows who she is! I've reached the place of my dreams...  

La Escuela ECELA

The school is small, and located in a house near the ocean (and Starbucks!)  For the newbie, barely speakers of Spanish, we get 1 hr and 40 minutes of vocabulary lessons first thing.  There are only 2 of us in the class, the other being Larissa a smallish quiet, polite girl from Germany.

After a 20 minute break, we move on to Conversation, and add another girl from Los Estados Unidos, Trisha, who goes to Purdue and lives in Wisconsin.  I'm going to attempt to work on a description of her Spanish:   She's a week ahead of Larrisa and me and is learning the past tense now.  As with many 20 year olds these day, her favorite word is "like" and I think she's translated that into "pero" (but).  So what' we get is a random sampling of verbs in 2 tenses, peppered with "peros", and a few English words for good measure, all delivered with the nasal twang of Green Bay.  It's entertaining for la profesora y yo to listen.    

Conversation is fun, la profesora is probably 30 or 31, like most of the teachers, has been to the US and just lets the conversation wander.  We can go from el Papa de Kim, Bruce Jenner,  un jugador (sportsman), with a botoxed face, to los ojos de Antonio Banderas, and the difference between Naturalizer shoes here in Chile and those in the US.  (Cool and young vs. granny shoes).  Did you know that the name for those lovely trout lips sported by Melanie Griffith (wife of Antonio) is "labios rellenos"?  

We're lucky to get an hour and 20 minutes for lunch, and have been to several of the local "sandwish" places.  The other thing Chileans like is bread, and all the rolls for the sandwiches are enormous, the SMALL personal one is 4 inches across.  I'm a fan of the empanada, who doesn't like pie crust filled with cheese and or/meat?  

After almuerzo comes one on one tutoring for another hour and 40 minutes.  Suffice it to say that by the time I'm done, I'm wrung out.  Thank goodness the teacher is good and patient.  She asks me questions which I attempt to understand, then I mangle an answer, she corrects it, gives me the proper verb/noun/pronoun, and I try again.  Fun!

I know it's only been a couple of days, but my ear's starting to tune in to the words, and once in a while I can get the gist of things.

I'm off to study some more.  Hasta la vista!


  1. What an adventure! I think you are settling in. You blog is so much fun to read and I feel like I am relearning Spanish all over again. Love the description of Melanie's lips

  2. Looking forward to many more days and would love a recipe or two......