3/21/10: Puerto Natales, Chile to El Calafate, Argentina
Did you want to hear about our bus ride from Puerto Natales to El Calafate? The ride that we took at 7am after getting in bed at 1am the prior night before? How the bus was stifling hot and I arrived an 8 out of 10 on the grumpy mood scale? How I then demanded that we not leave the hostel for at least 24 hours so I could recuperate from the late nights/early mornings/lack of naps? You don’t want to hear about it, right? Ok then, let’s move on.
The cheek kiss
In Argentina and Chile, everybody does the cheek kiss as a greeting. Just one side though, not like those crazy Europeans and the triple “muah muah muah” (left, right, left again). But we’ve never had to use this greeting – I think because the locals think we have some contagious disease. But today I was introduced to Giro, who happened to be working the shift at the front desk when I needed to ask him a question. I had a question about laundry, but after we exchanged holas he very formally introduced himself and asked my name. Then he leaned over the desk that was in between us with his right cheek angled toward me. I was confused. Was there something on his face that I needed to wipe off? Was he looking for something that was slight in front of him, up high, and to the left? What was going on? About 1.3 seconds past the threshold of doing nothing that made it awkward, I realized that he was proffering me his cheek for the cheek kiss greeting. So I belatedly leaned in and kissed his right cheek (it was very smooth). It later occurred to me that most people don’t actually put their lips on the cheek when they do the cheek kiss, they kind of just bump cheeks and air kiss. Whoops.
The stray dogs in El Calafate, where we arrived today, are extremely hospitable. We had to leave our hostel briefly to go to the grocery store, and when we left the store there was a friendly white mutt with floppy ears sitting outside waiting for us. He assessed us and our groceries (mmm, chicken!) and escorted us to the hostel door. I would have invited him in, but I don’t know what our hostel’s policy is on fleas.
Most Argentinian and Chilean hostels include breakfast in the price of your room, er, bed. At all of our Argentinian hostels thus far, breakfast has been: bread, more bread, butter, jam, dulce de leche, instant coffee and more bread. Usually self-serve. But at our last hostel in Puerto Natales, not only did they set the table with adorable red-flowered teacups and matching plates, BUT they also included the following: yogurt, cereal, bagel-like thing (just like a bagel but with no hole), small chocolate chip cookies (I don’t get it either, but I didn’t complain) and juice. Then they even did your dishes for you. I would have stayed there forever, but we had to move on.
Spanish, or lack thereof
I’m really proud of Kevin, who is really quite unembarrassed by saying things in Spanish, even if he has no clue how to actually say it or even what’s he’s saying. As for me? I’m perpetually worried that I sound awful and am saying things wrong. But we have learned a few extremely vital phrases, and they are:
“Cuanto cuesta?” How much is it?
“Para llevar.” To go, as in taking food to go. We’ve used this one a lot. It’s weird because in Argentina, the double “l” is pronounced “sh” instead of “y,” like it is in Chile. Why do they do this to us?
“Donde esta…?” Where is…? This is usually followed by
“Cajero automatica.” ATM.
And the biggest secret of all – they don’t say “adios” here. They say “ciao!”
Picture of the Day: I don’t think Kevin gave the rainbow we saw yesterday the proper spotlight, so here’s another picture of it.