Week 2: Valparaiso & Spanish Classes

The sleep situation is fairly grim here. I haven’t really slept in 3 days (not that that’s unusual for me).  Sharing a dorm with Cian from Laois, the amazing Portuguese Pedro and Susie who has just arrived.  Cian’s snoring is so outrageous it’s impressive. He gets away with it because he is absolutely hilarious and a legend. He even gets away with slagging my hairy legs. He was shocked at the state of them and described me as a ‘rugged beast’ which I will take as a complement!!

Cian, Ester, Milko and Pedro

Myself, Nenny (our German pal), Joe and Susie did a really cool Grafitti Walking Tour with a chap called Ed. This place is famous with Artists all over the world and there is some seriously impressive street art wherever you turn. We lost two soldiers during the tour; Susie and Joe so myself and Nenny treated ourselves to the cities best Empanadas afterwards (Casa de la Empanada Portena)  and bought gigantic bottles of Chillian wine!Probably the best thing I’ve eaten since arriving! Empanadas are absolutely everyone and the cheapest food option.

Susie looking really impressed with the artwork
One of the many hills in Valparaiso
View from the top of the funicular

Disaster struck fairly early on in the trip when I lost my debit card. From speaking to other travelers most people bring at least 3 cards with them. I thought one would suffice considering how careful I am with my belongings! I did however bring 2 panic whistles, 2 first aid kits, tooth brush covers and a sleeping bag liner for a sleeping bag I don’t own !(priorities). I  ended up leaving the debit card in the supermarket but didn’t cop it until 2 days later. Amazingly when I went down to the supermarket it had been handed in. Pedro played a blinder and did all the translating for me. I was blessed as I was down to my last peso! I continue to live up to my woeful track record with finances! Úna quick on the mark got a credit card couriered to Santiago! (he’s currently en route so fingers crossed he arrives asap). To celebrate the finding of the card we decided to all hit the tiles. It soon escalated with my  new found love for Pisco Sours. I ended up hijacking the stage for a compulsory performance of ‘Your So Vain’. The Chilean’s went with it and even through my a few  off key backing cords. This was followed by an Irish dancing session to some traditional Chilean music. Quite the spectacle!

The next day I was up at the crack of dawn (as per, due to Storm Cian).  I hired Pedro for some private Spanish lessons.  Although he was a good prof It was decided that professional help was needed. I decided to sign up for a weeks lessons. I love Valparaiso so much I would happily stay for weeks. My other roomie Ester is from Barcelona and doesn’t really speak English. It’s so funny we spend so much time together and she generally just laughs at my Spanish attempts but we get on great.  It’s all hands on deck with the Spanish attempts. I’m desperate to learn. The french is creeping in more and more and obviously the couple focal! It didn’t realise how essential it was to speak Spanish here hardly anyone has English.

Myself and Prof Pedro

Myself and Susie had a fab 3 days together and I’m so glad our trips coincided.  Susie is coming to the end of her 6 months of travelling and gave me so many tips. We spent our time eating, laughing and pottering between the numerous wine bars. We couldn’t’ have been luckier with our hostel friends. We even managed to squeeze in a lowpro video which was professionally produced by Cian and Pedro ( my in house low pro advisers).

Myself and Susie sitting on a piano stairs

I ended up getting severely lost in the city having dropped Nenny to to the bus stop. They call it a small San Franciso the hills are endless. It was scorching. I had decided to let Pedro mind all of my money and phone (post debit card disaster). I had no idea where we lived and obviously couldn’t remember the name of the hostel. I ended up stuck in the middle of a  large protest. I was so dehydrated and hungry I ended up having a   ‘brief ‘ nap on a bench, probably not the wisest idea in a fairly dodgy lane!  Anyway hours later I scrambled home, nothing a few Cervazas didn’t cure. Lesson learned always bring dolla bills and know where you live!

Getting lost in the markets

With Cian and Susie gone another gang of Irish arrived so the party continued. We drank ginormous bottles of red wine ($3/bottle). We went out for some Pisco and live trumpet music absolutely amazing!

A dog that followed us for 3 hours on our Graffiti Tour
A Man just randomly doing a puppet show in his garden

I took a 2 hour bus to explore Isla Negre a small coastal town nearby. Apparently there is some famous poet called Neruda that everyone’s mad about and he build a house here which is pretty cool. I just chilled on the rocks and watched the insanely big waves and read my book I am Pilgrim (thanks for the recommendation Cillian).

Isla Negre: The waves are so insane here your not allowed swim

Full of optimism for my Spanish lessons I even wore some makeup and got dressed up  (backpacker standard).  I arrived, and soon realized I was the only student in the beginner class.  First lesson was extremely full on.  As most of you know I have a tendencies to have a little shut eye during meetings and classes. My first day was no exception. I fell asleep as Julie (my teacher) was writing on the board we are in this teeny room and it’s 3 hour straight of Spanish. She laughed about it and taught me know to say I’m nackered ‘Yo Tengo mucha cansado’. Classes are at 9am-12.15 for 5 days costing 118,00$ peso. I have to reign it on the vino tinto the night before and I genuinely think it would be a form of torture to endure Julie’s Spanish class hungover. It’s great that i’m getting 1 on 1 tuition but it’s fairly heavy stuff.

Just another 4 lessons to go…………..

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