Thursday, February 10, 2011

The difference between "tu" and "vos"

In the countries Argentina and Uruguay the people use the "vos" form to address "you" whereas in Chile they use "tu." They also say things like "playsha" instead of "playa" when talking about the beach. Along with y's their double ll's turn into sh's. The difference between the two dialects is one that took me some adjusting to get to when I first arrived in Montevideo, Uruguay on February 1st. That though, is one of the few things that I have had to adjust to on this February trip.

Let us rewind to January: I began my journey in Chiloé, which I previously wrote about. After I parted ways with Tatiana and her family I stayed a couple extra days to spend time with my friend Jeff who had also been studying in Valparaiso. Him and I were in passing, he was headed south to patagonia while I was headed back up north to Valparaíso. Why didn't I go to Patagonia?...great question. It was out of my budget in reality and I decided I would spend more of my resources on 2 countries that I had no idea about in February. Plus the money I saved from not going to Patagonia is allowing me to stand at the northern most edge of Argentina and gaze down at the tremendous power of the worlds largest set of waterfalls. I have been told that from the Argentine side you feel the falls, whereas from the Brazilean side you can only see them. I can't wait to feel one of the few wonders of our world and marvel at God's beautiful creation. Less than a week until then.
Jeff and I split only a few days after meeting up. At this point my plan had been to do something I knew my family and some of my friends would disapprove of: travel alone. I want to assure you all that I believe this was one of my best decisions in the past few months. Not once did I feel unsafe or lost. It is not as scary as it seems, and as someone who knows the country, the costumes, and the language, it was safe. Fun fact: Chile is the safest country in Latin America to travel alone! And I know my Nan is saying, "still....I wish she wouldn't have done that."

But let me break down the following weeks for you. You get in a bus, which takes you to your new hostel, where you meet all these new people and do whatever the heck you all want to do together. Therefore you are never REALLY alone, then you do it all over again. I left Chiloe and went to Puerto Varas where you can see 2 volcanos from across the lake. I stayed there for 3 days getting my reigns on being alone. I met a few Chileans from Santiago and a german girl. That night we made nachos and drank white wine out of a melon. Nommmmm. The night after I met this beautiful couple from Colorado who had been together for 6 years. They had this plan to visit a new country every year if they were able to take the time off work and had the money to do so. How beautiful is that? Keeps you on your toes, right? We went salsa dancing across the street from our hostel where I made a poor attempt to hit on a guy who had served me coffee earlier that day.

Leaving Puerto Varas I headed an hour or so north to Puerto Octay where there isn't really much. I stayed in the country side for 4 days in a beautiful cabin like hostel. It rained the majority of the time I was there so this was my relaxation|adjusting period. I mostly stayed in the hostel reading and watching some TV on my computer. I felt really alienated at this hostel because the people there were mainly older and were from some german speaking country. All I heard for 4 days was German. Its really frustrating to come to a country and learn its native language and then not be able to understand anyone in the hostel where you are staying. But then I sound like a pretentious north american, "If you come to our country you better know the damn language." One great thing about Puerto Octay was that I met an English girl from Wales named Katy. Her and I took a bus ride to Aguas Calientes and did a 2 hour hike where we could look over a valley filled with some lakes. It was such a nice day because I am a feign for hiking and I hadn't done one since I got to Chile. And it is really my only form of exercise, along with dancing to Reggaetone...Haha. Katy and I split up with the plan of meeting up in a week or so in Pichilemu, the surf capital of Chile.
From Puerto Octay I went to Valdivia, home of the Kuntsmann Brewery, one of my favorite drafts in Chile. Here I stayed in a hostel for only 2 nights, and on my second night I met up with a couchsurfer. In Valdivia I had my first experience with Couchsurfing. For those who don't know what it is, it is a community of travelers who allow other travelers to come into their home and sleep on their couch or in an extra room for free. Others are as simple as getting a coffee or drink with someone. It is a great way to learn culture and a little bit more about yourself. It definitely takes you out of your comfort zone at first, but manifests into an unforgettable experience. So I met up with Lydia who I had contacted before getting to Valdivia. I went and got drinks with a few of her friends. She told me there wasn't space for me to stay with her because she was hosting a Canadian couple, but her friend Igor, who I met at the bar offered me a room with he and his mom for the next few days. I do my best to avoid staying with men, and I always contact women. But the Chilean culture is so based in family that I was more than happy to stay with Igor and his mother. She fed me more than I needed and treated me as a part of the family. I stayed in Valdivia 3 days longer than I had planned. I fell in love with my couchsurfing buddies, los Valdivianos. We played UNO and drank pisco. One day Fredy and I went to Niebla to check out the fort resses built long ago because Valdivia was such a key location for the military in the past decades. I probably ate 12 emanadas filled with cheese and crab. yummm. We went to the Kuntsmann Brewery where I sampled, not a few, but all 9 of the types of Kuntsmann brews.
We even went to Igor's cabin one night. A group of 10 or so of us. We had an asado, played Jenga, more UNO, talked chilean, drank, etc. etc. This city was the highlight of my trip. I could have stayed there all of January. There, they were constantly correcting my spanish which really got on my nerves, but I think it was there that my spanish improved so much that when I returned to Viña de Mar my host mom was delighted with how much my castellano had improved. Leaving them was very bitter sweet and they are still trying to convince me to come down before my program starts and Fredy heads to Germany. Unfortunately I don't have the time. But I will return to them before I leave Chile, that I am sure of.

After Valdivia I headed north to Pucon for night where I also couchsurfed. I hadn´t been out dancing since I left Valpo. We went to an awesome reggaeton club and I was pumped to dance. The next day I left early in the morning to catch my bus to Pichilemu, but I left after my host. Its crazy how trusting people can be. Rodrigo showed me how to leave the night before because he had to work really early and wouldn't be there when i got up. You´ve got to have a lot of confidence in a person to do that and I´m glad that I give off that impression.

I met up with Katy in Pichilemu where we decided that being there meant we had no choice but to do the things special to that city. I´ve been doing that in every city I suppose. We ate Paila Marina which is this soup of seafood. Its basically like you are eating the ocean. Me, not being a fan of too much seafood finished it proudly. The next day we decided surfing was priority. The weather was cloudy and we watched the big timers for about a half hour. They were hardcore and the huge waves they could ride for minutes scared me shitle ss. But we gave it a go on the kiddie waves. I couldn´t believe how hard it was. It was easier for me than Katy because I spoke spanish, haha, but the physical strength it takes to paddles against the waves and then pull your whole body up onto the board left my body aching the next day. I actually did stand up...once.

Pichi was my last stop on my January trip, and it was a great one. Afterward I headed back to Valparaiso for 2 days to repack my bags and spend time with my host family and good friends. I had to leave all my warm clothes at my host family's house and take all my summer clothes. Good thing, its been hot as balls here in Uruguay and Argentina. haha.

So the next stage of my vacations: February, Uruguay, Argentina, Susanne, vos, buses....
Traveling alone vs. traveling with someone is like
the difference between "tu" and "vos." In Argentina they use vos instead of tu when addressing a person. This was difficult for me to get used to, at first it sounded like they were saying dos, the number two. And let me throw out an example of how you know someone is from argentina or uruguay versus chile... show sha shamay...vs....yo ya yamay. Those are the pronunciations, it is literally written Yo ya llamé, and means "I already called." Can you understand my problems? Therefore my problems with the accent change are similar to my problems in changing the traveling dynamic. I was not accustomed to relying on anyone to make it somewhere on time, or deciding what we should do etc. Luckily for me, although Susanne and I are B and A personality types, we mesh well. While I had to learn patience because of her habitual tardiness, she had to deal with my obsession of being on time and my impatience when we weren't on time. The both of us were quite afraid of traveling together at first because we had not actually KNOWN each other before meeting up in Montevideo. We had only taken 2 classes together and talked to very little. The both of us are people that can really mesh well with any type of people as long as they are of buena onda. We are chameleons and it doesn't take much for us to get along with people. We are both excited about life and realize the privileges we have to be in another part of the world. We are willing to try new things and meet whoever comes are way. In the end, this it what has mattered.

So begins February. Susanne and I meet in the airport in Montevideo, Uruguay. We find our way to "The Green Hostal" in a part of Montevideo called Cuidad Vieja (Old City) where we unload our stuff and relax. The first person of a long line of great people I had no idea I was going to meet was Hernan. Hernan is a skinny Argentine hippy with hair just above his shoulders. He speaks English perfectly and drinks mate like an Uruguayo. Him and I had a good dynamic, both pretty competitive and both pretty dirty. Haha. He never let me win at ping pong, but he let me get close so I felt like I wasn't too much worse than him. He told me a story about how he was put in prison in the U.S. because his visa had expired. He played ping pong against this huge tattooed guy and won each time until the giant broke the ping pong table in half. When I asked how long he was in there being called a mexican and eating his food so fast that it wouldn't get taken, he said "only 10 days." Like 10 days in prison is ONLY 10 days.

The Green Hostal ended up being the coolest hostal I have ever stayed at. There were maybe 3 gringos that we met in Uruguay, the rest were Uruguayos, Argentinos, y Brazileanos. This was awesome because we were constantly speaking spanish. I got a lot of shit from the Argentinos about my Chilean accent, but it was dished out with love. We spent our time in Montevideo on the beaches, drinking mate with argentines, drinking in the hostal, playing UNO, and at carnival. We were lucky enough to be in Montevideo during there carnival, so we ended up going into the streets with liters of beer because in Uruguay its legal to drink on the streets. We watched a parade of people painted and dressed to the hills playing drums an d whatnot. Us hippies danced our asses off. Montevideo, our very first stop, may have well been the best one. We met Diego Piedrabuena (goodrock), Julia, Sol, Salome, Hernan, Juan, Wally, and many more. After Montevideo and on our way back to Chile we saw 5 or 6 of them again. I love that about traveling, companionship of travelers.

From Montevideo we went to Maldonado, a town close to the principle beach town of Uruguay, Punta del Este. It was definitely beautiful and we spent every day on the beach, but it still wasn't what we got in Montevideo. What it had that Montevideo lacked, was Chileans. A BUNCH of them. I was so excited I could use all my chilenismos and people wouldn't look at me like I was inventing words in Spanish. The Chileans were so much fun, we played UNO! My favorite game EVER. Made me nostalgic about Valdivia. We went out dancing 2 nights. The 2 nights I went out with the Chileans, Susanne stayed in. This was the beginning of her learning the ups and downs of traveling. Its always a little uncomfortable in a new hostel, b ut it so quickly becomes familiar. We had spent every day in Montevideo with our hostel mates and then we had to leave. Susanne felt bummed that we weren't still in Montevideo, or at least we weren't with that group of people. I did too, but it was something I experienced in January so I knew the groove of things, that I had to make myself comfortable in this new place. After only 2 days Susanne was back in the groove of things and we were partying with our hostel mates. Our last night in Punta del Este was an all nighter. We had to catch a bus at 6am so we decided to just stay up all night. A bunch of Uruguayos and some Chilenos and us had a bonfire on the beach. We biked to the beach at 12am, it was very cool. We mad e our way back to the hostel by 5ish so we could pack up our stuff and hop in a cab. We spent 3 hours in a bus and 1 in a boat to get to Buenos Aires.

The start to BA(Buenos Aires) sort of sucked because I left $100 worth of really awesome gifts I bought in Punta del Este in the bus. Unretreivable (is not a word). Susanne and I stayed in a hostel 3 nights in the center of BA. It was full of Americans, Australians and maybe no Spanish speakers. The first night we explored the city with Diego, who we had met in Montevideo. We also went to a really awesome hippy bar where I tried Fernet for the first time. Fernet is known as Argentina's national liquor like Pisco is Chile's. Its flavor is a little licorice like, but unlike Jaggermeister it is thinner. You drink it with Coke, or maybe tonic water...if you're Diego. The following day we went to the cemetery Recoleta, a enormous cemetery filled with the most elaborate mausoleums. It was pretty excellent. That night we went to a tango show and learned a few steps ourselves. We paid for the show, dinner (3 courses), and an open bar. Definitely one of the highlights of BA. After leaving the hostel, and the beautiful Argentino, Martín who worked there ( D: ), we went to stay with Diego for a few days. The craziest thing happened. Diego wanted us to meet his friend Gloria who worked at this book store, so we went to the bookstore and when he introduced me to this woman I realized I had seen her in Santiago about a week and a half before right before my plane left for Montevideo. It was absurd. How could I really have met this woman in a city of 5 million, and then again in a city of a couple million more? What are the odds? Diego and I decided to go hang out with her one night while Susanne stayed in to kick some culture shock. Its really hard at first to adjust to a new language, especially when nothing is constant, like traveling. We rode on his motorcycle about 30 minutes to Gloria's house. I was in heaven. Who gets the opportunity to explore Buenos Aires at night on the back of a motorcycle? It was so unreal. And safe, don't worry folks.
Our next stop: Rosario, where we had not planned to go, but the girls we met in Montevideo told us we had to see Rosario and could stay with them. Diego also accompanied us on this trip, a mini reunion of week later. Haha. Rosario was super beautiful, its one of the few cities I've been to here in Latin America were I would consider living. Unfortunately during our stay there I was wiped out because I had some sort of a throat virus. Sol took me to the hospital to get medication. In Argentina if you go to the hospital you are seen and giving medication completely free. While you may have to wait for a while, its free. How can a 3rd world country provide people with health care while the world's super power, our grand ol' country the US, cannot? Disgusting. I was given amoxicillan (however you spell that) and some strong Ibuprofen. I spent most of my time in Rosario sleeping either on the beach, or in Julia's house.

Side note: Its taken me 4 weeks to write this blog, so now I'm back in Chile.

Las Cataratas de Iguazú: the town Puerto de Iguazú was the hottest place I think I've ever been in my life. It was also unlike anything I have EVER seen in my life. We spent over 8 hours at the park walking around to the different sets of waterfalls and riding a boat to basically just under them. I will never be able to go to a zoo again. That just blew everything out of the water. It is the largest set of waterfalls in the world and it lies on the borders of Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay. They are massive. MASSIVE. I really have no words to explain them, they couldn't justify the magnitude of their beauty. If there was any doubt in my mind that God was real before Iguazú, its vanished. I was brought to tears at one point. I walked out onto this platform that was so close to the bottom of one of the falls you couldn't see or hear anything past a certain point. All I saw was white mist and all I could hear was rushing water. I danced around in it and rejoiced that there are such beautiful things in this world full of so many hideous things. I teared up because I knew without a doubt that we are loved. I knew that I had some things in my life that needed to change. I had a spiritual experience to say the least. Please visit them. No, I haven't gone to Machu Pichu, but Iguazú was my Machu Pichu, at least for this trip to Latin America.

We spent our last 2 days in Córdoba. I spent those 2 days in my own head to be honest, reflecting on what I had just seen. The night before we left Hernan and Juan surprise us by showing up at the hostel! We had expected them 2 days earlier but they never showed, and I was certain that they were not going to make it. Apparently their motorcycle broke down 2 or 3 times on their way from BA to Córdoba. We ended up changing our tickets from overnight to the next morning in order to stay and spend time with them. It was worth it, we played UNO, foosball, ping pong, and had life discussions. We left the next morning feeling a little unfulfilled by Córdoba. We definitely didn't have enough time to get to know the city or its character.

24 hours on a bus back to Santiago. The last of our long bus ride, and definitely the most difficult. I wanted to just be in Chile already. I missed the 'po' that the add to the end of every word. I missed being called 'weon' or 'weona.' I really missed Chile. I was also ready to settle down again, start building a routine, start studying. And now here I am, with only 4 months left in my home away from home. 4 months seems so little after being here for over 6. And I know its going to go fast. I am beginning to get to know my new study abroad group. Its been a hard adjustment. I'm always reminiscing about Valparaíso, and constantly comparing my new group to my old group. Its really unfair of me. The next month or so should change dramatically. My plan for this semester was to spend time with Chileans anyway, so if that is what happens, I will have no complaining to do.

The next few months bring some of the following things:
-A return to Valdivia
-Weekends in Valparaíso
-A trip to either and/or Buenos Aires and Córdoba
-(hopefully) San Pedro de Atacama
-Buying a ticket home
-Coming home.

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