Friday night was the all too familiar and fantastic hostel BBQ. We know how this works now - a mini meal at about 6pm ensures that we aren’t raging ravenous when dinner is served around midnight. Getting amongst the delicious Chilean drop known as the ‘Pisco Sour’ we had a great night with our UK hostel buddies. We tucked into some fabulous meaty meat and the boys continued into the wee small hours playing poker.
With Saturday and Sunday reaching 29 degrees we remained pool-side for the entire weekend, only leaving to top up the food and beverages. Between swimming and sunbathing sessions Cam and I revised for our written and oral exams in our last week at school. We had covered a lot of material over the previous 4 weeks and having the exams was a good reason to push us that much further and cement what we had learnt. The verbs just kill us!
Monday night we headed to the Sterophonics concert with the Scotts’ Adam and Jen whom we had meet a month earlier at the hostel and had since returned to Snatiago. We cooked up our own BBQ and Cam felt rather proud to have mastered the unique charcoal cooking technique. The carne de vaca was cooked to perfection! With full bellies of pisco and meat we headed to the concert which was awesome. They played for a solid two hours, saving the classic ‘dakota’ for last. As we left I was interviewed by the Chilean music TV channel, reverting to English I proclaimed my excitement at “travelling from NZ to see the concert,” a slight exaggeration.
Our last week of school whizzed by, our exams were difficult but we managed to pass with flying colours. I got top of the class with 83% which was not difficult given there were 3 of us and Cam was a close second with 80%. Bonafasious from Indonesia was our fellow class mate and it just wouldn’t be right to talk of our school experience without his mention. He provided us with many many humorous occasions during our class discussions. However leading a sheltered life at the mission ensured the flow of conversation on topical issues was often brought to a stop. A lovely man but someone who impacted incredibly on our experience of learning as a whole- perhaps for the good, in-part as we now know a lot about life in a catholic mission. Over the 5 weeks when describing any given example as part of speaking practice we heard arroz (rice), pollo (chicken) and coca cola at least three times per day. No imagination involved.
Friday we had our final day of school which included a delicious shared lunch and presentation of our ‘diploma’ for completing our course. We have found our time at ICHIL to be very rewarding. At times it has been very daunting and difficult but the teachers managed to help us get through. We now feel that we have enough Spanish to get by and to at least show some respect to the locals by making an effort while travelling in their country.
We have each made posts on ICHIL’s blog that can be viewed at http://yonoseespanol.blogspot.com For those of you not familiar with Spanish; Cam writes about the comparisons between Chile and NZ in diary farming and wine, and mine is about the native flora and fauna of NZ. Cam’s suggestion of naming the blog ‘Yo no se Espanol’ (I don’t know Spanish - the first line we memorised), flew well and is now the official title. Check it out.
On Friday afternoon we left school with a mixture of sadness at leaving the people, but coupled with excitement at the prospect of travelling again. We headed home to pack up our life and have one final BBQ, yep 3 in one week.
We travel northwards to La Serena on Saturday morning. We have a rough idea of where we will head but it will be dependent on weather - as it is the beginning of the rainy season, and of course the travel fund is decreasing. Five weeks in Santiago has cut into our budget fairly steeply so we are very much looking forward travelling to the cheaper countries in less than a week. We have four months remaining in South America and during that time we hope to cover part of northern Chile, Bolivia, Peru, Argentina and Uruguay, and possibly some of Patagonia.