Trip Start Oct 03, 2006
52Trip End Oct 02, 2007
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In Santiago I felt secure and free to explore the city. However, on a few occasions the locals expressed the need to keep personal belongings strapped tight to your front. A reminder that petty theft is a common practice here.
Four days ago I moved to the coastal town, Valparaiso. I have had the pleasures that the discovery of a new place brings and have overcome my first challenge of leaving one destination and arriving at another with the limited Spanish I have. One interesting observation a fellow traveller made today- just as you get to know your way around a place, you move on!
On arrival in Valparaiso I booked a week of Spanish classes to get me started, with the hope that these classes would allow me to gain confidence and grasp some basic Spanish. They have certainly been entertaining. Today was the end of the course which finished with a presentation based on our opinions of Valparaiso, followed by a bottle of wine! My class was a small one consisting of a German, Anne, and an American, Sherilyn. Both of whom were extremely nice and very patient with my Spanish.
So, my days in Valparaiso have been filled with Spanish classes, exploring the town once my classes end, and then, being a conscientious student, completing my homework in the evenings and socialising with other travellers in my hostel. I am staying in Hostel El Yoyo; a great discovery. It is in a good location and at a very reasonable price. Last night was the first night the bar in the hostel was officially opened, so needless to say it was a fairly late one for me, joining the other guests for a glass of vino, which after my attempts to scribble down a presentation in Spanish was very welcome. Ryan, our very own accomplished bar tender, prepared us all a delicious night cap.
Each evening I have returned to my hostel tired but happy. I found Valparaiso difficult to navigate as the names of streets are not always clear. I have been walking to the point of exhaustion despite the local transport (trolleys) being incredibly cheap. By walking I have made some great discoveries.
One joy of travelling is you are never sure what you will encounter from one day to the next. Yesterday I experienced my first ever earthquake tremor which was quite an experience. One can be forgiven for mistaking the shaking ceiling for something else when one's spanish class is underneath a busy hostel! But when the floor starts shaking as well another explanation is needed! I learnt tremors occur here on a regular basis, once every month. The locals just take it in their stride.
Today I awoke to torrential rain. I had been soaked through by the time I reached my Spanish class. Despite an umbrella and my water proof jacket, each coach, car, and trolley that passed sent a new wave of water my way. Seeing the amusing side of this I was able to keep on smiling and on arriving at class my host was kind enough to loan me a pair of his trousers and a pair of slippers. It was fantastic. There was me with a hot cup of tea and a nice pair of cosy slippers being taught Spanish!
During my short time travelling I have found it fascinating meeting other travellers and the locals, and through this I have picked up valuable information on places and routes around Chile. I have been advised that at this time of year it is better to travel North. It is spring here and the weather in the South is wet and miserable. Come the end of November the weather gets warmer approaching December when it is then summer in Chile. Taking this advice on board I have altered my plans to travel South. Tomorrow I will head North, to seek new places and better weather.