Reflections On One Month in Chile
What A Difference 30 Days Makes
Along with yesterday being the autumnal equinox, it also marked one month in Chile for Joel and me. After a bit of craziness the first couple of weeks as we found a permanent place to live, got Joel registered for school and learned our way around, we’ve settled into a normal, if different, life here. When I mentioned to Joel that today marks one month and one day he said that it was weird because it seemed like much longer, which I said indicated that we were in a nice, normal pattern just like in Peoria.
I’ve covered many of the differences in previous posts and I won’t repeat them here, you can go back and read them if you haven’t already. I guess I’ll try and come up with some new stuff on how things are the same and different. Here goes.
One of my disappointments so far is that my Spanish has not yet improved as much as I would have liked. Obviously there’s still time and this is the first week where I’ve felt I really knew Joel’s schedule and when he was getting out of class each day. So perhaps now I can revisit the possibility of taking some intense one on one conversational classes so I can feel more comfortable in everyday situations.
That said, I have been able to make my way and run errands as necessary, including going with Joel to buy him fútbol cleats and shin guards. The Spanish I do have along with some key phrases in Spanish (along the lines of slower please and pardon my bad Spanish) have allowed me to understand and make myself understood enough to get by. But I want to do more than get by, I’d like to feel at least somewhat comfortable in basic conversations, even though the Chileans are notorious for their, shall we say, distinctive and unique form of Spanish.
Food & Cooking
I’ve already discussed this at some length, so suffice it to say that while we’re enjoying all the fresh fruits & vegetables, the kitchen dimensions & tools have some limitations and the supermarkets have some differences (it’s really hard to find Parmesan cheese, really) that are keeping our meals, well, maybe simpler than usual. Not that we always eat fancy, but lack of cookbooks combined with these other factors have kept me from even trying to branch out much. It’s not really a complaint; we’ve been eating lots of yummy food and drinking lots of wine (hey, we’re in Chile), but one wonders what it will be like over the next few months. Will I eventually expand my repertoire despite the limitations, or will we give up and just starting eating out more (ha!)?
Speaking of this, I need to finish up and run out and get some bread that we will use as a challah substitute as I won’t be baking bread while we’re here probably.
Well obviously they don’t use dollars, but the more interesting phenomenon in living in a foreign country is how you gradual shift from doing the math to convert everything to dollars to just figuring out whether things are a good deal or not. Right now I’m somewhere in between, I’ll still often do conversions but am also getting a sense of what different amounts mean and being able to compare items from one location to another (i.e. different markets). I suspect by the end of month two any conversions will purely be done for fun, not because I’m trying to figure out how much something is.
Important Avocado Answer From Wednesday
On Wednesday, I believe on Facebook, I left a math problem that no one even tried to answer. I’m very disappointed in all of you. I stated that we paid about $1,000-1,200 Chilean pesos for a kilo of avocado and you were supposed to figure out how much that would convert to in U.S. $/pound. Right now, the conversion rate is about 560 pesos/dollar, and a kilo is about 2.2 pounds. So that works out to about 500 pesos/pound, or .89 cents U.S. Not bad.
Speaking of money, I need to get some out of the bank when I’m out getting bread. Thanks Charles Schwab for ATM fee-free checking accounts. W00t!