I received a number of sms message this morning from friends and family and just as warm "Feliz compleanos" greetings from the peeps here at breakfast. A lovely warm start to this cold morning.
It only starts to get light after 8am so the sun isn't shining very strong when I walk to the Spanish school, which is only two blocks across and one block down from the hostel. As the people walk on the snow it compacts to make very slippery ice. Quite exciting and novel for me. Trail shoes do pretty ok. I'd love some with ice spikes!
I'm now two days into Spanish lessons and feeling quite overwhelmed. My teacher, Sasha, speaks nothing but Spanish to us - I probably understand about 40% of what she says; I get the gist of the next 40% and there's a goo 20% where I haven't got a clue. If we ask what a word is, she does tell us in English.
There are two other women in the class with me. A lass from Arizona who is probably at a similar level to me; and a lass from Rome, who is definitely above both of us.
I'm enjoying the vibe in the hostel. Last night I was up quite late (most are up way later than me) and enjoy being surrounded by all the Spanish. There are a few who speak pretty good English but they're good and they don't speak much English to me and are very willing to help to explain words and to correct my sorry attempts. I seem to get it so much better in my head than when I try to spit out the words.
Well, two days down and 3.5 weeks to go... A chap here reassured me this afternoon that it will start to click after a week or so.
Yesterday after class another teacher, Javier, took us on a mini tour of the town. It drizzled the whole day yesterday with snow coming into the mix in the afternoon. Our tour was very cold and very wet and very windy but at least I now know where to get an electronic bus ticket, which I need to do before the weekend, and also he recommended a supermarcado (supermarket).
There's a fiesta on this weekend, which is a long weekend. It's in the town square - only a few blocks from the hostel. It's a public holiday on Thursday so they get Friday too. It seems there will be concerts and things. That will be fun to check out.
The silver lining to my lost-in-the-language compleanos day was that the morning dawned crystal clear with a big blue sky and shining sun. I took advantage to head out for a birthday run - the same area as I was on Sunday afternoon. This time I took the road up and down. What fun!
There was probably around 30cm of snow - or a bit more - on the upper parts of the road. I didn't go all the way to the top - just to a lower-down ski station (children's ski area?) where I met the two St Bernards on Sunday. And then I turned around and ran back. I saw a few runners out there and also three guys on what I assume are cross-country skis. I ran past them going up the road ;)
It will take me a while to get used to running on this snowy-icy surface. Definitely can't lose focus for even a second or I'll go flying for sure. I enjoy running on the snow, which 'squeaks' under my shoes rather than the slipper ice, compacted by cars. I also learned today not to run too close to the trees. With the sun out the snow was melting so chunks come off the trees - some just missed my head!
|Feliz compleanos! 37 today! And what a beautiful afternoon. This road was all dirt two days ago. Warmer out than on Sunday (less wind) so sweating despite the chill.|
|Looking down on Bariloche - through the branches. First snow in town for the season.|
|Arrow showing where I went to on Sunday afternoon. Didn't go all the way up there today. I couldn't have asked for a prettier birthday run ;)|
There's quite a cooking culture here in the hostel and at night (late) a number of the men take turns cooking. I can't quite figure it out but there is the guy who owns the hostel, Pablo, and his wife and little daughter, plus some of the people who work here plus a couple of other guys - perhaps friends? They all eat together late at night. Last night the one guy may delicious pizzas and most nights Pablo bakes 'pan casita' (home-made bread) for breakfast.
Things happen here late... the local disco gets going around 3am. My dorm mate (only one at the moment - Diego, he works here at the hostel) got back at 8am on Sunday morning! And people get up late too. And so they eat dinner late too. Diego must have been partying last night too because when I cam back from school a bit after 1 he was still sleeping!
To give you a quick idea of how much things cost...
- It's around R2.00 for a bread roll. Loaves of bread (like regular sandwich bread at home) are very expensive - like R40.00 a loaf. Very popular here it to buy rolls daily or to bake your own bread at home.
- Six large eggs are around R14.00.
- It's around R15.00 for a can of lentils.
- I paid about R22.00 for three bananas and two apples today. It's around R20/kilo for bananas at the supermarket.
- A litre of apple juice is similar to home at around R14.00.
- A 500g packet of fresh spinach and ricotta stuffed ravioli is around R36.00. Big Italian heritage in Argentina so pasta, especially fresh, seems popular.
Some things very similar to home - others much more expensive and others cheaper.
My other slippies are somewhere - with prices for things like rice and other odds. I've found a nice vegetable shop with a not very socially-adept fellow (a bit abrupt) that is on my way home from the Spanish school. I bought a nice red cabbage (half) and onions from him over the weekend and I got my bananas and apples there today too.
Bariloche has many stores that cater specifically for tourists, who will be hitting town in a big way in the next two weeks for ski season. TONS of chocolate stores. Also outdoor clothing (new and second hand). And artesanal beer is also a big thing here with many microbreweries around town.