¿Cachai, po?

March 14, 2017

Lesson number one of travelling in South America; the vocabulary you've learnt from the age of 13 and 14 in school does not always set you up very well for Chile. Stepping off the plane and asking a member of staff "necesito coger mi equipaje antes de mi vuelo de conexión" may seem pretty harmless (and would be  in Spain!) but my first spoken sentence in South America happened to translate as "do I need to fuck my bags before my connecting flight or not?"........ Off to a good start. Even the very simple, how are you is a little hard to deduce when you first arrive- ¿cómo estás? becomes a jumbled ¿comesstttaiiii po? ¿Cachai? No, I don't get po either..

It's taken a few weeks for me to see that the stereotype about the South American concept of time is most definitely true. It takes 40 minutes of queuing at the very least to buy a beer and a pack of biscuits in the local supermarket. If you have a bus to catch, it's most likely that it will turn up 40 minutes late and getting everyone on and seated is an ordeal of at least half an hour. Prepare yourself for a lot of Reggaeton (think Enrique with more rap and less clothing) on the journey and on a daily basis in general . Piel Roja seems to be the extent to the nightlife scene here in Coyhaique, since El Club (seriously..) closed down before we arrived; and can only be described as a haven of dreaded Reggaeton, along with lethal piscolas- which I now know to go easy on. The bartenders here tend to go for a half and half measurement with spirits and mixers here!

 Despite monsoon-like weather, which left us all and the contents of our bags soaked through for the rest of the trip, visiting the San Rafael glaciers has got to have been one of the highlights so far. We took a terrifyingly small and feeble boat out from the docks to the camping site, once our guide had decided the wind was just within the safety mark for the boat to not capsize! We took a hike through the forest, which, despite the location, felt more like a tropical jungle, up to the viewing point to admire the glaciers on the lake.
 Despite the unusual nightlife and the supermarket with no aisles, the unbelievably friendly, hospitable people, peaceful cafés on every corner and snippets of graffiti and flowers on the streets, all overlooked by the surrounding mountains, make Coyhaique a beautiful little town. I've loved the experience so far of living as a local with my host family, even if I do stick out like a sore thumb with my pale skin and the fact that I do not know one word to Gasolina by Daddy Yankee.

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