Jul 7, 2013

First impressions of Chile and South America

Its my fifth day in Santiago, Chile. The start of my South American adventure. Truth be told theres's been a weird energy from the start as I negotiate through the language barrier and the existential danger that comes with this region of the world. Most of it is a creation of the mind and one I hope to overcome.

There is a considerable lack of English but I'm encouraged by running mates who have been on this journey months longer than me who have grasped the language just by immersion and some cursory training. With the right mindset and focus I hope to do the same. I have no choice really as it has a direct effect on my quality of life. The other issue is "Dread", there are constant tales of muggings and petty theft. Some of it from experience though the majority of it is hype. Its like incessant talk of weather, its a real concern and factors into your movements but you wish you could move on to more interesting topics. Makes you appreciate how comfortable it is at home and how good we have it in Australia.

One of my comforts has been to rediscover some of the mojo I had for the European trip. I enjoy finding subcultures when I visit places, I find it connects me to the place and its people. It allows me to imagine growing up there. It also solves the language and danger problem as being around your kin alleviates so much tension. I found a Jazz Bar in Santa Isabel that was standing room only. The fact the bouncer couldn't understand me seemed to work in my favor, he spent most of the night shoo-ing people away but he inexplicably let me in. The night featured Cristián Cuturrufo, Chile's most acclaimed jazzman.

I found a compromise for communicating with locals and one I'll be adopting till I master the language. Instead of reaching an impasse after asking "Habla Inglés" and inevitably getting a "no". My second gambit is to insist I speak in terrible Spanglish whilst they continue talking Spanish.

Today I'll be playing Baloncesto with locals via Couchsurfing and watching Lucha Libre Wrestling, both things I did in Europe. Being in a new place isn't easy but thats part of the fun. On my weaker days Íve got 'Reh Dogg' as the Soundtrack to my life but of course days are better when I'm focused on sunnier things. That's the plan.

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