Tuesday, 25 June 2013

I eat snow

The long weekend passed quickly - with a lot of being outside. We've had awesome weather for the past couple of days. Sure, it is cold (by my standards) - probably four to seven degrees during the day. Without wind it is pretty 'warm' and if you sit directly in the sun and are in a sheltered spot, it is certainly much warmer.

I'm addicted to running the route from the hostel and up the road to Cerro Otto. It's the closest 'peak' to town and the winding road is peaceful with only a few cars, especially when compared to the roads in town and the road along the lake (a barely-there strip of dirt for the pavement). 

It was either after class on Thursday or on Friday afternoon  (no recuerdo - I don't remember) that I ran into the poorer part of town. Like in SA, the poorer parts make up the biggest part of the town. It's all dirt roads there and plenty of hills, which make for good running. Maybe it was Thursday after class... With Thurs and Friday being public holidays we had the Friday off but got additional exercises to do.

On Friday I went walking with Grisel, a new friend from the hostel. She lives in Buenos Aires and is sporty - field hockey, rowing, some running and a bunch of other sports like surfing and skiing when opportunity presents. She came here to ski but the slopes have not yet been opened. On this walk we saw a bit of town and then walked down the road along the lake, looping up to join a parallel road to return to the hostel.

On Saturday morning I slept in, dozing until about 10am. I could easily have slept longer but what a waste of a beautiful day that would have been. And beautiful it was!

Grisel and I caught the bus to Cirquito Chico, which is a scenic loop of road. It's about 19km West of town - still part of Bariloche - the town stretches out along the lake. Our plan was to hire bikes to cycle the loop (about 26km) but the bike place was closed! So, we went walking instead. 

with Grisel
There's a spot on the map, off the main tar-road loop, called Colonia Suisse. I was expecting a lodge / hotel kind of thing but it was instead a really simple house-type building. It's a small restaurant - probably only breakfast and lunch - or just lunch. It's on this other pretty lake and the view from the restaurant is probably pretty good. 

We went back to the road and a bit further along to a campsite on the lake. It is closed now in winter but what an awesome spot it is. We sat on some steps overlooking the pebble beach, enjoyed the scenery and had a picnic of tea (mate for Grisel and a berry-something for me) and some munchies. Very little wind, a bit of sun - perfect picnic recipe. 

The beach and lovely lake view.

Grisel, soaking up the sun.

And then we walked back to the bus stop (but one two kilometres close to town) to return to town. We figure that we covered around 15km.

Our timing was perfect - we got back to town just as it got completely dark. In town the fiesta was happening. I didn't see any schedule for the fiesta so I really don't know what went on over the weekend aside from bands playing music at night - VERY late and until the wee hours of morning. We saw a bit of the 'Snow Queen' pagent - the contestants walking the ramp. 

The whole purpose of this festival is to celebrate the ski season and the opening of the slopes - except that the slopes haven't been opened yet. 

Town (the two main roads) were quite happening on Sat evening. More and more tourists are descending. It's going to get really busy from next weekend, I think. So shops were open and there was a good vibe. We were looking for these ski boot protector things for Grisel and she helped me to find a yarn store. Oh golly! what a gold mine this place is. So many lovely yarns that are totally different to what I can get at home. I bought a skein of a lovely multicoloured, uneven-strand yarn and I have already whipped it up into a nice, warm beanie. Just to finish it off with a decorative flower. My skein was around 190g and cost about R100. Not bad. I'll use half of this to complete the beanie. I'm definitely heading back to this shop!

Sunday morning I crawled out of bed around 09h30. Again, a stunning day and not one to be wasted in bed! While I sleep very well anywhere, I'm sleeping extra very well. Whether tired from class, trying to think-understand-translate-speak Spanish, long runs, outside cold, snug inside, still dark at 8am... Regardless, mornings are challenging!

I went off on a one hour run, again to the road leading up Cerro Otto. As I was joining Grisel and Simone for a walk, I made it a quick one-hour run. From the hostel my only option is uphill to get to the quiet and winding mountain road. Takes me around 12 minutes to get to the road and then I gave myself until 35 minutes to see how far I could get up the road. At 33 minutes I was on a bend - a scenic curve that looks down on the main part of town. I gave myself a few minutes to enjoy and then I blasted home, getting back a minute or two before my hour was up.

And then we went walking and must have been out for a good 90-mins... or a bit more. Another girl, Tanya, met us at the 5km mark (lake road bus route - it has kilometer-ish markers). The chilly, fresh air is quite invigorating.

There are a number of yarn bombed trees around the main part of town. This snowman looks very recent.
I ran Cerro Otto again yesterday, running higher up the road. There's no ice on this dirt road at the moment, which is brilliant. Less slipping and sliding. And, I dare say that it was warm yesterday. Maybe 7C? I took off my run jacket - wearing only my thermal long sleeve (and long tights - not thermal, normal). And, also took off the Buff from around my neck. Very warm! Hahahaha.

There are patches of snow on the road side on the Cerro Otto road - higher up. I like to eat snow especially as I don't always take water with me. I looked online to find the reasons why one shouldn't eat snow. I've always heard you shouldn't - which doesn't make sense - like you shouldn't eat icecream. 

If you're hypothermic and thirsty it isn't a good idea because eating snow will make you even colder and the amount of water you get from it vs energy expended by your body to melt it isn't worth it. In this situation eating snow can kill you. Other reasons... debris/contaminants in the snow from the atmosphere and the ground (and people/animals - don't eat yellow snow!). Since the former is not applicable to me (I'm just out running) and I'm not concerned about the latter (this isn't city snow), I'll keep eating a small scoop here and there to wet my mouth - it's not for hydration. 

As for Spanish lessons...
The American girl didn't come yesterday as her grandfather is really ill and she was looking at flights to get home. He passed away this morning - she'll be flying out to be with her family. So, it is just me in the class. This week I'll be having two hours of private lessons per day - instead of the four-hour group lessons. I'm a bit disappointed because I like the group lessons and I have planned to be at lessons for four hours a day, not two... 

It seems like there are more students coming in next week (main tourist season starting). I'm finding the one-on-one quite intensive and estoy muy cansado (I'm very tired) afterwards. Doesn't feel as much fun (not that lessons have really been any fun) and I'm missing out on the opportunity to learn from the mistakes of others - not just my own, of which there are many! I hope that I'll be back to four hours per day from next week.

I'm sure that I must be progressing but it doesn't feel like it. My vocab is growing and my written Espanol has improved but my speaking still sucks. *sigh* I try a bit here and there but feel sooooo slow! I'm trying to drop in more words here and there when I speak (English) to reinforce the vocabulary. I really need to watch more tv, which I've barely done. My teacher recommends Nat Geo or History Channel as the Spanish is good and clear and easier to listen to (not too fast).

My understanding is improving but I struggle when people speak fast and not clearly. When I speak to people here who do not speak much English or English as a second language, I speak more slowly and clearly to them and I don't use 'fancy' words. When I don't understand someone I ask them to speak more slowly and instead they try other words and they speak more and more and more! I don't need more. I need the same original words just said slowly. I like to think I'm getting the hang of the Buenos Aires 'sho' use but it still catches me out often when a word I do know is said differently to what I know it as. For example 'kay-e' ('kay' like kayak and 'e' like elephant) vs. kush-e ('ush' like crush) for calle (road).

Then again I'm only on lesson 6...

Already 14h00 - time to get ready to go run. Ciao.