And speak ALL the Spanish!
I’m in Chile!
It took about fifteen hours of active travel to get here, between the three hour Chicago-Miami flight, the eight hour Miami-Santiago flight, and the four hour bus ride from Santiago to Linares. Fun fact: I can’t sleep when I travel. As much as I would absolutely LOVE to, I can’t sleep on planes. Therefore it was a loooooong flight. I could maybe sleep ten minutes at a time, but then I’d wake up and slowly fall asleep again. This went on for eight freaking hours. I think I was so exhausted by the time we got on the bus to Linares that I actually managed to take some decent naps on the ride.
We got two meals on the plane: dinner and breakfast. The plane food was surprisingly good- which is to say, it was mediocre but satisfying. This was then followed by what Chileans call una merienda, but what Americans would call lunch: grilled cheese sandwiches and tea. The sandwich was delicious: the bread is fantastic, and the cheese was perfectly melty.
And then we got to our retreat house, where they served us a full lunch: salad, soup, pot roast with potatoes, and Jell-O for dessert. And tea. A few hours later, we had dinner: salad, spaghetti with vegetables. And tea. It’s a lot of tea. And carbs. All delicious, but oh man. The carbs.
There’s no central heating in our retreat center. Needless to say, it’s an adjustment. We hang out indoors with coats and socks and boots on all the time. To bed last night, I wore long underwear, fleece pajamas, and hiking socks. I also buried myself under all the blankets I had and slept with my sweatshirt next to me just in case. But then, my face was warm when I woke up. So I guess it worked!
They keep us pretty busy here in the program. We’ve been out twice so far to visit a school and a club for the elderly to exchange stories and practice our Spanish. The Spanish is…nuts. I feel like I’m doing okay so far. And by okay, I mean I understand 97% of what the Chileans say when they slow themselves down to what probably feels like an eternity to them. It’s going to be interesting when we get into Santiago and we’re not being babied anymore. But by then, hopefully I’ll be speaking Spanish 99.9% of the day, instead of the 95% I’m at now. I think that amount will really make a difference.
So far: I love it. The tea, the food, the cold – Ha! Not really. – the people. I’m enjoying it and trying to anticipate the arrival of the homesickness and the Spanish-English wall.
More to come, including photos!