In Valdivia , Chile, today it was clear , sunny and not very cold. I walked the 10 km from Valdivia to the boat in a t-shirt. So that’s good.
There has been LOTS of rain. Rupert-style rain , but a little warmer than Rupert.
It is mid-winter here, but I had to take a bus across the Andes to see snow. I also had to go to Argentina to renew my tourist permit (good for 90 more days).
Paso Tromen or Paso Mamuil Malal (depends on if you ask the Chileans or the Argentineans) is at 1200 m asl. It isn’t one of the major passes through the Andes. I had to take the secondary route because of the volcanic ash issuing from Volcan Puyehue , near Osorno. The pass to Bariloche in Argentina is closed due to ash and smoke.
The smoke plume from Puyehue was nicely visible from the boat this morning, but the winds keep it away from us. No ash at all in Valdivia, but it has traveled all the way west across the Atlantic and Indian Oceans to plague aircraft in Australia.
The dusty little town of Junin de los Andes on the east side of the Andes in Argentina is a lot dustier now. The cars have caked coatings of gray dust.
It turned out that Junin was pretty much closed. No restaurants open , but I did find a room to sleep in. I didn’t dawdle , but returned the next day on a wee -hours bus to Chile where it is warm and wet.
The road over the pass was surprisingly unpaved , but the highway style bus banged along quite nicely with only one stop for repairs. I pitied the driver and helper lying under the bus at 3500′ in the mud , slush and blowing snow. Not enough to get out and help though. There were 2 narrow wooden bridges that looked very old , the style where 2 planks are laid along the bridge at the width of the vehicle wheels. As I said this bus was a pretty high end highway bus.
The forest of huge Aurucaria trees was awesome , especially with snow. These are Monkey Puzzle trees the size of old growth Douglas Firs growing in the subalpine. Not just a few trees but a whole dark forest with clear understory.
The one unbridged stream crossing was not a deep ford , I guess because everything was frozen at a higher altitude.
The benefits of travelling in mid winter are that the hostels that are open have really good prices and the choice of beds is good. The downside is that is cold and lonely. The woodstove in the hostel in Pucon took until bedtime to warm up the room. I was the sole inhabitant.
Meredith reports that even northern Chile is still cold in the desert at night and on some days.
I am spending muchos horas studying spanish. To what end I’m not sure.
I want to hear of someone who has successfully learned another language in middle age. It sure isn’t going to happen if I keep pecking away at the keyboard like this.
I have a Spanish/English dictionary on my kindle. Also a huge e-Phrasebook. Also an e-book called Speed Up Your Spanish. Also an electronic version of 501 Verbs in Spanish.
I have a big exercise book on Spanish verbs. I have podcasts in Spanish on the ipod for when I am walking.
Most important is my arrangement with a ‘teacher’. We meet 3 mornings per week at his office in Valdivia where he is revealing a previously unknown enthusiasm for teaching. The arrangement was for an hour , but this morning we went for 2.5 hrs. He is the manger of the Valdivia Yacht Club. He speaks virtually zero English. In fact , I have met only one person so far inValdivia who has any fluency in English. This makes for a good environment for learning.
The deal with Jorge , the yacht club manager, was that I would teach him a little English and he would help with my Spanish. It turns out though that he is not so keen on learning English. It is some of the yacht club members that think he should learn some English to better deal with the small trickle of foreign sailors that seek moorage locally. However Jorge is very keen on teaching and he is a stickler. His current issue is making sure I get my genders all correct and consistent. He was stunned to learn that in English we just don’t do genders.
“But what about boats , I understand that boats , in English, are always female” Only by custom , not grammar, I replied.
That’s it from Valdivia. Barb has gone home after a great visit. Our thirtieth anniversary was yesterday. Gavin’s Birthday (22) was noted on June 10th. And Father’s Day has come and gone. Which is a real big one. Susie has finished spring term courses and will give free lattes to anyone who goes by the coffeeshop on Dunbar (haha). And now Mid-winter’s Day. Maybe tomorrow I’ll mention to the local folks (there are 5 -7 people staying on boats here for the winter) that it is the solstice and we will get some meat and potatoes for the barbecue.
” No Quejarse”
( Quejarse : to moan , groan and complain :Merriam Webster).