I’ve been trying to write something everyday.  And I have.  It’s just that what I wrote yesterday concerned the photochemistry of anthraquinones and so I thought best not to share it here.

We’re all still adapting to the new city. From an American point of view, Santiago and Buenos Aires seem similar:  they’re in the south, they speak Spanish…there you go, that’s about as far as the average American has considered things (this is not to criticize Americans, very few people I’ve encountered on the planet consider things very deeply that are outside their daily experience (for example, tell an Argentine or Chilean that you’re from the United States and they’ll want to discuss New York City with you and even then they mean Manhattan).  Which is a big reason my employer sends their students abroad.)

Of course, the idea that Santiago and Buenos Aires are similar, much less the same, is obvious bunk.  One is dry and next to the mountains.  One is humid and flat as the pampas that start outside the city.  Their inhabitants average characteristics are as different as the cities’ geography.  While they both speak Spanish, they do so differently.  It’s a much greater difference than a north/south dialect difference in the USA.  My Spanish isn’t good enough to nail it down completely but it seems to me more like the difference in English in Scotland and the USA.  An American in Edinburgh can be understood and understand most of what they hear.  But some things going both ways escape easy deduction.

Anyway, the students and myself, to some extent, expect that after a month in South America we should be acclimated and know how things work.  In many ways we do.  But in some other very important ways, we’re starting from scratch here.  The students are doing orientation and taking a “Contemporary Chilean Experience” class just as they did in Buenos Aires.  But there are many subtle, and a couple of not so subtle, differences and some students have chafed.

Those students have learned the valuable lesson that telling a Chilean, “But that isn’t how we did it in Argentina,” is a poor method for persuasion.  Saying this in English does not help.

But it’s all little quibbles at this point.  Three days in and there have been no disasters and, it seems to me, this is the time with the most potential for trouble.  The students have to adjust to a new homestay family, learn their way around, figure out money.  We’ve had some minor issues: student got lost on the way to the city tour; student got ripped off in a money exchange; student was served a crappy dinner but these are issues that are just going to happen anytime people travel.  Or even stay home.

The city tour was excellent.  It was very fast.  I was thinking of giving a blow by blow but I’ll save the spots we visited for their own posts when I return, which I will to most of them.  All I could tell you now is “This is La Moneda.”  Hopefully, in the future, I can tell you, “This is La Moneda.  And there is a great empanada stand just to the northwest.”

To adapt myself, I’ve been looking for patterns.  Behaviors of Santiago on which I can hang my hat, so to speak.  And I believe I’ve found my first:  at 7:45am each morning since we’ve been here, an older gent walks his dog down Roman Diaz.  I can see him from my balcony as I watch the sunrise over the Andes (which I will do any morning I can, wow).  There is another old gent living down the street who takes his dog into his fenced in yard each morning at the same time.

These dogs do not like each other.

The two dogs are both stronger than their owners and go at each other ferociously.  I’m pretty sure this would be a one day event were it not for the fence.

At that point, I know it’s time to get ready for work.



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