This week I moved up the road to ConCon (about 20 minutes north of Vina). More functional than beautiful, ConCon is a quiet town. There is a famous empanada restaurant (which of course I frequented twice), innumerable other restaurants, gas stations and a few cafes. One in particular (Café Glace) encouraged me to indulge in a bit of tiramisu and café con leche after a long day. (picture below)
Would you believe I have long days here? Ah, but you know me so well that this shouldn’t surprise you. Without the daily school schedule, I felt I needed to impose a bit of structure. So I set myself some tasks for this trip to Chile.
First, there is Spanish learning. My intent was (is) to practice reading, writing, listening and speaking each day. But I have realized, despite my best efforts, that I simply cannot replicate three hours each day of listening to and speaking Spanish (which I had by going to school). I have Listening to the News in Slow Spanish (really great resource). I have Duolingo. I have Dorothy Richmond’s books on Verb Tenses and Pronouns and Prepositions. I have a goal to speak with one person each day (which I’ve mostly accomplished).
Yet, when I want to speak with someone, sometimes I feel I’ve regressed. It’s been mildly frustrating. Then remind myself that I’m in Chile, that many Spanish-speaking people don’t understand Chilenos, and I feel better about myself. 😉 I’ve also had some great conversations with my Uber drivers. As everywhere, you never know whom you are going to meet and they have provided some of my best practice with Spanish.
Second, there is the Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) course, which I’m taking online. There is weekly reading, a quiz, discussion question and then tasks. This is more intense than I’d originally thought! This week, the task was to create a lesson plan for kinesthetic learners and to ensure we focused on one particular grammar point. And we’re only in the second week! (I actually really like the challenge)
Oh, and then add my “distractions” to that list. There are the friendliest cats and puppy staying with me. I found that I could only work in the living room if I was willing to have a cat on my lap. J How could I resist them? They are love personified.
I also happen to adore walking and running along the coast. It still takes my breath away that the Pacific Ocean crashing onto the rocks – all the way from ConCon to Valparaiso – can be as stunningly gorgeous as it is. I actually took the #302 bus, which follows the coast almost the entire way, just to enjoy the view. (pictures below)
One last note on ConCon: the house is advertised as “blocks from the beach”. Well, that is absolutely correct. But take a look at what “blocks from the beach” actually means – those are two DIFFERENT sets of steps. Want to talk about a leg workout!
On Saturday, I traveled to Santiago to meet up with friends I had met through the Spanish school. Maria is from the UK, and Sebastian is from Reunion Island (in the Indian Ocean). They are both English teachers, and are planning to stay in Chile for a while. So I was keen to catch up with them.
She has a job offer, but is waiting on the visa paperwork before she can begin working. He is still searching, as the job market appears significantly to favor native English speakers over non-Native English speakers (his native language is French). They had much advice on accessing the expat network, language schools to apply to, places to avoid, etc. We had a lovely evening drinking wine (of course!), eating some amazing food (he can seriously cook) and just chatting.
On Sunday, we climbed a nearby hill. Advertised as “easy” and “everyone” does it, none of us were expecting much of a workout despite the “1.5 hours to the top” description. It was supposed to have some of the best views of Santiago (which it did, despite the fog).
Oh. My. Goodness. They aren’t kidding. We basically went straight uphill for 90 minutes. I wasn’t sure my glutes could handle it. But you know what WAS awesome? My five finger shoes. Such the perfect thing for hill climbing so steep we were practically rock climbing, with so much sand, rocks and uncertain footing that many a climber slipped and fell (repeatedly). My shoes were simply stellar. They caused many a jealous comment, as I self-assuredly found my footing with each step. I think I may have even created a few converts. 😉
It was quite the day, a perfect outing. Then I headed to the bus station for my overnight trip to Valdivia. A city 600 miles south of Santiago, I was heading straight into autumn (it still felt like late summer in Vina and Santiago). I couldn’t wait to see what was next.