Monday, May 31, 2010

Goodbye May

So I am curled up in bed as I type this and am amazed at how fast time has been going by.

Due to not having internet over the weekend at my place I didn't get to update about the will versus going to question.  I hope no one died in the suspense of the moment.  So here are the rules (according to the English book at my school):

You say "going to" when you are talking about something that you planned before you began speaking.  For example, This summer I am going to eat a lot of Kit Kats for Dan since he has none in Chile.

You say "will" when you are talking about something that you decided right at the moment you started speaking.  For example, Gosh, that last example got me thinking about Dan.  I think I will send him some Kit Kats now.

You can use either "will" or "going to" to tell about predictions of the future.  For example:

Dan is going to get some Kit Kats in the mail.  OR Dan will get some Kit Kats in the mail.

So enough of the grammar.  This past week went by quickly, as did the weekend.  I got together with Mel and Chris, two people from the program, and we did a Friday night Pizza Hut dinner.  It was good to catch up with them over what has been happening and to just laugh about all of our adventures here.  I also learned a new phrase that they (and I now too) use to describe the craziness and almost unbelievable situations we have found ourselves in: motorboat crazy.  Here was some of the Pizza Hut goodness:

My weekend also included building a nightstand sucessfully on my own, shopping for a sweater and some new shirts (there was a huge sale in Patronato), and here is what the store looked like inside:

All over the store it was exactly like this, with piles of clothing all over the place.  The prices were pretty good though, especially for good brands.  I have never really been a sweater type of guy, but I really like the one that I got.  I will have to snap a picture of me in it soon. 

Here is some more food from the weekend.  A small pot/pan of eggs with ham and some hot chocolate:

It turns out that Sunday the 30th of May was the Patriotic Day of Culturalism in Santiago.  There were parades and free entrances to musuems.  Unfortunately the lines were long no matter where I went and I was occupied with other plans so I couldn't enjoy it to the fullest, but here are a few pictures:

May was a month of transition for me.  I moved from one apartment to another, and I am also making the transition to eating more healthy and spending my money more wisely (ie less eating out and more cooking at home). 

And to end this entry here is a picture of the mountains on a clear day from outside the front door of my apartment:

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Musings about Linguistics

Over the past few days I have had some interesting experiences that relate to the linguistic dork in me.

Yesterday in class the high schoolers were learning about phrasal verbs.  Now I of course knew what these were, but I didn´t know them by that official title.  Here are some examples of phrasal verbs:

look into
turn on
calm down

So now, consider the verb get and various phrasal verbs:

get by
get off (the bus, at the metro stop)
get in
get away
get away with

And then there are phrases that are not very school appropriate that people may not know until they are explained to them like get off, get it on with someone, get high, etc.

Maybe it is just me, but it is interesting to see how the addition of one word completely changes the meaning of a sentence or phrase.  To take it one step further, some of these phrasal verbs are separable while others are inseparable.  For example:

We looked into the possibility of hiring more English teachers.


We looked the possibility of hiring more English teachers into.

But then you can say:

Write the information down in your notebook.     OR     Write down the information in your notebook.


Write the information in your notebook down.  (The semantics of the sentence completely changes in this example.)

I also had an interesting conversation with my roommate the other day.  He is taking a class in sign language now, and apparently sign language varies from country to country.  For example, in Chile they sign as if they were waving a handkerchief over their heads for the month of September, as that is something they do to celebrate Chile´s Independence Day (which is in September).  In other countries they sign September in different ways.  He told me that they had a hearing impaired visitor from Washington DC in class a few days ago, and he signed Washington DC as a place by signing the words for White House.

As for the last linguistic point, I am going to leave you hanging for a few days becuase I am evil like that.  When talking or writing about the future, when do you use will, and when do you use going to?  What is the difference and why?  Feel free to comment with your theories and ideas.  I will write the answer in a few days.  :-)  And TeachingChile people are not allowed to answer this question.  ;-)

Sunday, May 23, 2010

La Serena

After such a long period of not traveling, I finally got out of Santiago again!

My bus was supposed to leave at 11:40 at night, but it was running late.  I chatted with an older couple and a few guys in military uniforms while we waited.  The bus arrived at 12:20, and we eagerly boarded.  But then we found out that they sold 46 seats and there were only 42 seats on the bus.  Some people were throwing a fit and yelling at the driver, but most people just sat and waited.  At 1:00 another bus arrived, and it was going to La Serena also.  We all reboarded and finally headed out.

Luckily I made it in around 7:30 in the morning, as I had a tour of the Elqui Valley set up for 8:30.  I dropped off my things and grabbed some breakfast before the tour company arrived.  In the van I got acquainted with other travelers from Germany, Ireland, Australia, and England, and we chatted about our travels and exchanged travel tips.

It actually ended up being a long tour with lots of things to visit.  First we were off to the Puclaro Dam, which is very windy and well known for its windsurfing and kitesurfing opportunities.  I was glad that I brought my coat with me, as the wind was really strong.

After that we went to the small village of Vicuña.  Up here it was warm and sunny.  We explored the Plaza de Armas (town square) as well as an ancient church.

Then we were off to a pisco factory.  Pisco is the national drink of Chile, and there is actually a pretty long and complex process to create it.  It gets heated and distilled in one of these chamber things first, and after that it is stored in a huge barrel for a few years.  After that it is placed into a smaller barrel for 6 months, which gives it its flavor.  They have different varieties of pisco.  One was called Fuego 40, which is not as wll distilled and very strong and burns your throat as it goes down.  The one that is more refined is Fuego 28 and is much smoother. 

Around 2 or so we went to a solar restaurant.  They have metal plates set up with mirrors surrounding them and use the sun´s rays in order to cook the food, like this:

There was goat on the menu, but I decided to stay on the safe side and got chicken with mashed potatos.  It also came with a salad and dessert, which was pretty good considering lunch was included in the tour price. 

I opted for flan for dessert, as the hueso de molo (I don´t recall the exact name) did not sound very appetizing.  It was peaches floating in a watery sauce with pieces of wheat at the bottom.  I tried a bit of it but am glad I went with the flan.

Afterwards we stopped at a mirador (kind of like a picture spot or viewpoint) and got some great pictures.  In the valley it was now about 75 degrees and sunny, which was a nice change from the morning.

Our last stop was the town called Pisco Elqui.  It is a quiet town with a museum dedicated to Gabriela Mistral, the only Latin American woman to have ever won a Nobel Peace Prize.  She was a poet who began teaching at the age of 15 by opening her own school.  It was also next to a post office, and both were only reopened to the public less than a year ago.

After exploring it we wandered around the town and found a cool mural, some killer views of the mountains, and a fountain with statues of children that were disturbingly missing their heads:

In the evening it was nice hanging out with people at the hostel and sharing travel stories and views on politics and traveling.  We set up a fire on the terrace which helped keep us warm.

The next morning I was off with another tour, but this time to Las Islas Damas.  The area there is known for its sea wildlife, namely penguins, sea lions, and bottlenose dolphins.  On the way there we traveled through the desert and encountered some llamas in the distance:

Once we arrived at the port, I was a bit surprised.  I knew we would be traveling in a boat, but for some reason I pictured an enclosed boat and sipping coffee or tea on our way there.  Well, here I am getting ready to board the boat:

Our ¨ship¨ was a 25 foot long motorboat.  I get a bit nervous around water, but once I got into the boat I was fine.  As we raced towards the Los Chorros Island, the waves lapped against the boat and the boat vibrated to the sound of the motor running.  It took about 45 minutes to get to the island, and we rode around it as we kept an eye out for wildlife.  We got to see sea lions, a lot of sea gulls, and even a few penguins!

Unfortunately a lot of the penguins were hiding in their nests, as the weather wasn´t the best for them that day according to the guide.

After that, we headed to the Isla Las Damas.  There we got to disembark and explore the island.  This one didn´t have any marine wildlife, but it had plenty of flora and fauna.  One of the German guys on the trip decided he was going to go swimming despite the 55 degree weather.

I walked around the island and snapped some pictures:

Then around 2:30 we headed back to the mainland and got some lunch before making our way back to La Serena.

My last day here was great too.  I went to a place called Cafe Colonia that is supposed to be famous for its American breakfasts, and I ordered a ham and cheese omlette and pancakes.  This is what I got:

The omlette is cooked til it was golden brown (which is not the way I usually eat mine), and the pancakes were super thick.  It was almost as if they were pancakes on steroids.  It wasn´t the breakfast I was expecting, but it was still cool to see how they prepared it.

After that I headed out to explore with a couple that I met the day before.  Rodrigo is from Argentina and Yuri is from Japan.  We first stopped by the fish market that was next door to our hostel.  In addition to seeing (and smelling) all types of fish, a guy let me hold a piece of a shark they caught:

Then we went to the Japanese Garden, and it was really beautiful.  It reminded me of the Japanese Garden in Huntington Gardens in Pasadena:

We walked down to the lighthouse and took some pictures along the beach there:

After getting some lunch we walked back and explored a market in the street.  Then our last stop was to the Museo Arqueológico.  It was pretty cool to see all of the pottery and artifacts from the natives of Chile, and they even had an original Moai statue from Easter Island:

I got back around 7 PM, and in all we probably walked a total of two and a half hours by the time we got back to the hostel.  The nice part is that I don´t really feel tired from all of the walking.  We snapped a picture together an exchanged information to stay in contact before I headed off to the bus station:

After catching a colectivo, I walked around the mall across the street from the bus station and got some yogurt:

The bus ride back was uneventful, and I actually found out that I can take 2 busses to get back to my place and avoid paying for a taxi.

It was a fun trip, and it felt so good to get away for a weekend.  Life is good.