America,  Chile,  TDM,  Travel Journal

Chile (South America): Second Impression – Puerto Montt

After fleeing Chile like thieves because their Spanish was too hard to understand, we are back after 3 weeks of youth hostels in Argentina where we spoke more English than Spanish.
Too accustomed to the deserted streets of Patagonia, finding civilization in Puerto Montt seemed a little strange to us.
Well, now it’s time to put our Spanish to the test in Chile and see the progress (or lack thereof).
JB reserves a hospedaje (guest house). Who says “guest house” says “nobody speaks English here”.
The owner is really nice but she doesn’t speak English at all. However, she seems to want to talk with us. Let’s go for it! I try to ask her which is the best city (apart from Valparaiso) to spend the new year. There follows 5 minutes of conversation where I understand almost everything she tells me. Woow it starts well! I must say that she is extremely nice, makes the effort to speak slowly and doesn’t hesitate to repeat until I understand.
If the city had more interest, I would have liked to stay here to discuss more with the owner. Direction to the bus terminal where we also manage to buy our tickets, at the time we want, and with the seats we want. 100% Spanish.
We arrive at the island of Chiloé (in Castro to be exact) and the owner of the Cabanas here also seems intrigued by our background. I start the conversation by asking him where the nearest supermarket is. He offers to drop us off there. On the way, we manage to have a real conversation about the differences between French, Spanish and Vietnamese. He thinks it’s so funny that we can learn Spanish with an application on the smartphone and also admits that Chileans speak super fast. So he makes the effort to speak slowly and explain a few new words to me and even complimented me on my Spanish (never seen before!).
The fact that I am Asian helps me a lot. People don’t expect so much from me that all I have to do is come up with a few subject-verb sentences and everyone encourages me to talk.
I’m super happy! Finally, my long hours spent with MosaLingua and the Michel Thomas method have paid off. I find that the two methods are complementary: Michel Thomas to speak correctly and formulate questions without thinking too much; and MosaLingua to learn vocabulary and understand the answer. And being in total immersion also helps: you get used to the sounds, to the speed of speech, and you learn new words quickly, on the job (listening to others speak, going to restaurants, supermarkets, reading billboards…).
When I watch Love, Glory and Beauty on Chilean television (that’s all there is to it), I can now understand several words, even whole sentences. Well, we’re still a long way from the “fluent Spanish” level but it’s a very good start.
After the trip around the world, one of my biggest dreams is to settle in Andalusia for a few months to perfect my Spanish.

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