Chile Adventure Team

by CameronM Sat, March 18 2006 23:08

I had tried to ask my host family about the location of the large shopping mall called Alto Las Condes and I discovered it was not too far away, so I decided to try my luck on the bus (this time I took a map).

The three storey mall is massive and the shops were a little more expencive than I expected, although I did find a store, aptly named Jumbo, which was like a big K-Mart.

By the time I got home it was time to go to meet the OM team. Luckily I was able to communicate to my host family that I was leaving and after taking some photos and promising to email them a copy, I got a lift to the OM office.

After a short briefing, we headed out for dinner in Los Leones, Providencia, the same streets I have been on for the past two weeks, so it was like going to school again.

After returning home and chatting for a while, I discovered that the light in my new abode (the office library) did not work, so I had to try and get my gear out using a bit of ambient light from the main office area. Yes, well what do you expect, after all it is called the Chile Adventure Team!

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Dinner in Providencia

by CameronM Tue, March 14 2006 22:57

It was Erin's birthday today. Erin is a teacher from the USA and has been traveling around South America for a number of months undertaking Spanish classes in several countries.

We headed out to a restaurant in Providencia that served mainly Italian food before heading to Salsa lessons. Erin and I have both done Salsa before, so we partnered up and had fun trying to learn the slightly different steps taught in Santiago. I am not sure if this is unique to here, or if it is just a different style of Salsa, but it is a lot less structured that what I am used to, but still a lot of fun.

Spanish lessons are going very slowly and I doubt that I will have anything meaningful to say by the end of my time on Friday. I can say my name and ask simple questions, but that is about all. We are even finding counting a pain in the butt and feel like failing first graders.

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Rio Mapocho

by CameronM Thu, March 09 2006 22:42

After class today I headed down to the Rio Mapocho, which is the main river running through the middle of Santiago. The river isn't much to look at as the sides have been concreted in and there seems to be a vast quantity of crap flowing down it. Even the Chilean teachers say that it is dirty and that the new initiative to clean it up is well overdue.

Since I still can't say all that much to my host family, I headed back into Providencia to watch the Salsa lessons, just to get an idea of what goes on and to see if I would be outclassed (again). The lessons looked OK, although apparently the Chileans have no discovered the idea of switching dance partners, so if you don't bring your own you just dance by yourself (Mucho fun NOT).

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Santiago, Chile

by CameronM Mon, March 06 2006 22:15

I landed in Santiago and caught a taxi to the language school ready to begin my two week intensive Spanish course. Having had very little sleep in the past few days, I was not really looking forward to starting my language course. This fact was highlighted when I arrived at orientation along with half a dozen other new students and was told we had to do a test so that we could be placed in the correct class. I stared at the test paper trembling, if not visibly then certainly emotionally. As an absoute beginner I had no idea what I was reading. Up to this point in time my exposure to Spanish was limited to a few one-night-a-week classes at the local community college and I must confess, I think I only completed about 4 of the 6 classes. The only thing I can be sure of is that as the exam paper sat on the desk in front of my jet-lagged eyes, I seriously questioned what the hell I was thinking when I decided to fork out a few thousand dollars to enrol in a language school. At least I got my name correct - well at least I think I did!!!

There was either a mix-up with test scores, or my guess work had improved because I was placed in a class with a girl, who obviously had far more experience than a beginner. The pace was too fast though and I barely struggled through the first session without completely losing my mind. Luckily I was moved  into a group with another beginner, which meant that we worked at a much better pace, covering things in depth, until the teacher was happy we understood it completely.

After class I headed down the road to the main street of Providencia, the suburb of Santiago where the school was located, but I must say that as I was so tired I really wasn't feeling like trying out any of my new-found language skills. I ended up having a combo meal at Burger King, which I ordered by pointing up at the menu board and saying the number of the combo 'cinco por favor'. I handed over a note suitably large enough to cover the cost of the meal and hoped that there were no extra charges that the girl at the cash-register was trying to tell me about.

This last point is always a safe bet when you are in any country where you can read price-tags. I have survived many a check-out encounter by simply nodding and handing over an amount of money that I knew, from mentally adding up my purchases, would cover the bill.

I was to live with a Chilean family who were already hosting one student from the school so I had to wait until Stuart finished his classes before heading off. Thankfully Stuart knew the route home, because it was about a 25 minute trip on the bus to the suburb of Las Condes and I would have been very lost on my own. He also knew more Spanish than I (which was not hard), so he was able to perform the introductions at the house.

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