¡Tía, tía!

March 23, 2017

The marble caves of Puerto Tranquilo- where we were all told to look for the dog shaped rock!
Today marks my third week in Chile and I can say with pride that I now don't get lost every time I leave the house and I am finally starting to look less like a tourist. Walking around in circles with google maps under my nose wasn't doing me any favours, in case the ripped jeans and the backpack weren't bad enough..

 I've started teaching at a local primary school, which has proved again how loving and friendly the people here are. We, the volunteers, were all warned about how excited the children in the primary schools would be to meet us; but I still can't quite believe the reaction as I awkwardly introduced myself in front of the three classes throughout the week. They've been very forgiving for my struggling to understand their various questions; one of which turned out to be "in England, do you have to take your shoes off before you go into the house?" and another "is it true you have buses with two floors?".. Similarly to drunk Chileans in the smoking area of Piel Roja, at the mention of Alexis Sanchéz, they were all cheering and asking me questions about Arsenal that made me immediately regret bringing it up.
Despite the staring in the playground and the confused mutterings as a gringo walked through the school doors, I immediately felt welcome as the children called me "tía" (auntie), asked me for pictures at the end of class and for my signature in their exercise books before kissing me on the cheek as they left to go home.

My host family have been equally welcoming; evenings spent drinking wine, eating seconds and thirds of Chilean desserts and chatting with my host parents have been one of my favourite experiences so far. My fantasy of returning to the UK having lost a few pounds has been well and truly crushed, since discovering that Chileans have 4 meals a day instead of 3!

 Seeing the marble caves and the incredible San Rafael glaciers at the start of the trip has sent me into a restless frenzy of planning more trips; as pretty as Coyhaique is, it's proving quite difficult to sit quietly through English lessons and sip coffee in cafés when in the same country are some of the wonders of the natural world; Easter Island, the Atacama Desert and the vibrant city of Valparaíso in the North and the magnificent Torres del Paine national park in the South! I'm determined to make something of this weekend and of these coming months in general; I doubt I'll find myself in South America again so as of this weekend, I am taking every opportunity I can to travel. Chile is one of, if not the safest, country in South America for hitchhiking- so tomorrow morning I'll be stepping out of the classroom, sticking my walking boots on and my thumb out.

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