I have arrived safe and sound in Rio after a 24 whirlwind tour of Santiago, Chile!
Despite all my travels, particularly to developing countries, I don’t think I’ve ever felt so much culture shock as I have here! The comprehension of English in both Chile and Brazil has definitely added some barriers to the ease of getting arround, with me feeling more embarassed that I don’t have the words to communication with everyone in their language!!
In Chile I was able to use the few words I knew in Spanish and then a mix of French and English to get around (French seemed to be understood if it was said with a Spanish accent!!).
I enjoyed a 5 hour walking-tour of Santiago with a fantastic new company, Spicy Chile – offering free tours of the city with a wide knowledge of local and national history! It was quite a personal tour of 2 (a lovely man name Tim, on business here from Zimbawe) and we were led around by the entusiastic and friendly Pablo, a Chilean actor who takes walking tours when he’s out of work!! After studying Latin America through my university studies, it was refreshing to hear the stories I’d learnt first hand from a Chilean, and also see so many things I’d learnt about (eg, Pinochet dictatorship) Santiago is very European, and has a lovely ‘bohemian district’ full of cafes, art and theatre. I hope to spend more time in Chile one day and truly experience the peaceful beauty of Santiago, a hazy city surrounded by snow-capped mountains!
Now in Brazil, I unfortunately haven’t seen much except my hotel room (sleeping off some jet-lag!) but was able to get to a shopping centre this morning to get a few things before heading to the Congress! My favourite phrase has definitely become ‘voce fala ingles’ – do you speak English – which is too often replied with ‘nao’ – or no! I will definitely need to read up on my phrasebook and practice with the local Brazilians that will be present at the congress! Everything is beautifully green, the air is muggy and Cristo Redentor looms watchfully over the city – I look forward to exploring it in a week or so!
Heading off to the site of the congress now, and may not have acess to internet until Friday! So until then, Tchau! I look forward to filling you in on the first few days of what I’m sure will be an amazing adventure!