At the Valdivia Yacht Club (Club de Yates Valdivia)

The first photo is of Jorge Bravo Rodriguez , the manager of the Valdivia Yacht Club. Most mornings he and I meet in his office , sometimes with Marc who is from Belgium, and we have a conversation in Spanish. Often about the  history , politics or culture of Chile. Ostensibly these sessions are to help me improve my Spanish skills. Often , though ,enthusiasm for the content accelerates the speech delivery and I get lost. Originally I was to help Jorge learn some English. However he is far more interested in hearing my Spanish improve than he is in learning English. Marineros come and go and club members phone or visit, so I get to hear a lot of conversation. It is difficult to be sure but I think it is good experience. Much appreciated by me.

The second photo is of the building called a ‘Quincho’ , the shape of which is based I think on a traditional Chilean building. Originally thatched with mud walls they served as a cooking area. This Quincho is the socal center of the yacht club.

The 3rd photo is of ‘Silas Crosby’ moored next to an Island Packet 37 named ‘Bly’. Interesting story about this boat. Made in the USA but purchased in Holland by the original owners. Then swapped for a piece of land in Chile. The 2nd owner , a South African/Swede/American/?? brought the boat from Europe to Uruguay , then subsequently , very quickly around the bottom end of South America to Valdivia. From where it has not moved since last January.

Richard L had sold his property and business in Leeds , UK and flew to the New World for a more rural existence. He was going to buy land , but sometime he realised that it perhaps might not be so idyllic. Instead of buying land in Chile he bought this yacht , from the same vendor. This yacht ‘Bly’ is fully outfitted for sailing anywhere in the world , and is only 6 or 7 years old. So that’s good. However the new owner , Richard, has never been on a boat in his life and is entirely uncontaminated by previous knowledge or experience of boats or sailing. This is a radical move , to purchase your first offshore boat to go sailing in southern Chile. I have loaned him a book or two and it will be great to watch how things go. We discovered that the 18 kg stainless steel anchor had a bent shaft , to about 45 degr. Needs to be straightened , and a second larger anchor obtained. The Bow Thruster doesn’t work. Porobably not really necessary on a 37′ boat , but if he is going to drag it around it might as well be working.

Good Luck , Richard!

The next 2 photos are of Richard standing in front of spring blossoms in Valdivia, and another in the computer department of a dept store in Valdivia. He is communicating  waht he feels about department stores and what he feels about computers. He made his living in IT and was a mainframe programmer for years.

The next photo of the interior of our boat was taken a couple of hours after Meredith returned from her epic South American travels. It was also my laundry day and stormy rainy weather, so a bit crowded

The next 2 photos are of paintings on the wall of the yacht club office. They are by Maurice Cloughley , who with his wife Katie cruised the oceans of the world in the 1970’s and 80’s and apparently visited Valdivia. He taught for many tears up in Canada’s Arctic. Their boat was ‘Nanook of the North’, a beautiful ~ 34′ wood yacht. I rmember reading one of his two books many years ago.

I also remembered some darker aspect to his history.

Here is a link to an article about his sentencing for child abuse crimes while working as a teacher in Canada. I think they now live in New Zealnd where he was born.

The last 4 photos are of a large framed map,also on the office wall, of the route through the Northwest Passage of the Belgian yacht ‘Williwaw’. Willi de Roos was the first to take a yacht through the NW Passage.He was solo. I remember when he came in to Vancouver and tied up in False Creek. Looks like he came to Valdivia , and I guess that was after his NWP transit.

Adrian , on Attila is waiting to leave Valdivia for a non-stop return to Panama. He’ll return in a year to head for the Antarctic , after saving some cash. However the weather is not cooperating , with a lot of strong north winds in the next week or so.

We will stay around for 2 or 3 weeks more , before heading south.

That’s it.


What’s Happening in Valdivia

Barb reports via Skype that 2 people have asked why there are no recent blog posts. Two people constitutes a wild clamorous demand for another blog post.

This is not epic. This is living in Valdivia. This is trying to learn a second language in old age without spending much money.

I could have signed up for formal lessons at $20 per hour. I could not face that kind of self-induced pressure. I’m not sure I got my money’s worth for the teaching I had in LaPaz ,Mexico(which also was not cheap).

The lessons in Valdivia would be a lot cheaper in the summer when there are more people around who want to learn Spanish. As far as I can tell right now there is one person in town , me. I am not going to spend the summer here sitting in a classroom. That is for sure.

But one day perhaps , a residential 3 month visit to Guatemala or Colombia ? Por que no ?

I have met several foreigners who are speaking near-fluent Spanish. So far everyone who I have met has done formal study for at least several months in a residential setting somewhere in Central America. Like Meredith , like Eric the Swiss guy on Compay , and Adrian the Hungarian on Attila.

See the captions on the photos for a bit of a story.

One of the most important exercises is my daily chats with Jorge , the manager of the yacht club. He is muy simpatico. He wants me to learn Spanish.

Fortunately , I will be in a Spanish speaking culture for months to come and I have my fingers crossed. It is very slow and I can see little progress , but I have been there before.

Most people don’t realise that medical students are awarded their MD degrees not because they have learned so much about being a doctor , but because they have proved their ability to learn a lot of unrelated information from books. Once they get the white coat they can then start to really learn the necessary stuff to avoid too many life threatening errors. Speed reading in the dark at 0300 hrs in a cold sweat in a corner of the emergency room in a rural hospital.

Unfortunately in learning Spanish there is a lot more straight memory work than in medicine. And the fear of a fatal error is missing.

It has been suggested that getting a Spanish speaking girlfriend is a good solution, fast learning.

No es vale de pena!

Muy malo. I might end up with Spanish , but nothing else.  Barb and I discussed it. Well, I discussed it , she laughed.

Hasta pronto.

Winter Solstice in Valdivia.

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).