We’re here in our new home!
Our new landlady’s name is Carmen. She stocked the kitchen with dishes and pots and pans, and then she went one step further and left some of Concepcion’s best chocolates (I’m eating one right now) for us (Hugo Roggendorf) in our fully-furnished apartment. Today she brought us some jam made from fruit grown in her own yard, which is a few doors down! Our place is small, but very sufficient. One bedroom, a kitchen, a bathroom, and a living area. We have a gate, staffed by a nice man named Julio, and outer and inner doors, so we’re quite safe.
Concepcion is a bustling university town, about 229,000 people in the city proper. So far, we’ve had rain, rain, rain. But we’ve braved it to get some shopping done and to go have dinner this evening. Bill will go to the University tomorrow (and I’ll tag along) to officially meet his colleagues, although one of them, Lillian, picked us up at the airport yesterday. Having someone meet us was a BIG blessing because we had been awake for a full 33 hours by the time we arrived at the airport in Concepcion, and I doubt very much we would have been able to navigate even a taxi at that point (we slept for 13 hours last night).
After Lillian and Carmen got us settled in our apartment, Lillian’s youngest daughter, Laura, gave us a walking tour of the downtown area and tried to help me get a SIM card for the flip phone I brought for making local calls (unfortunately the phone was locked and the SIM card wouldn’t work!).
The most obvious adjustment for me will be the language. I took French in high school and was never very good at that, even after three years of studying and a four-month stay in Paris. Spanish is completely new to me; I fear I’ll never get past hello and goodbye, but I’ve been trying to memorize vocabulary at the very least.
This morning Bill decided he was going to speak to me in Spanish while we were getting ready to go out shopping. It didn’t go well.
Bill: Hoy es el dia final de Julio.
Cami: Today is Julio’s last day? I just met him.
Bill: No. Listen again. Hoy es el dia final de Julio.
Cami: I heard you the first time. But why didn’t any one tell us that he would be leaving? Why bother even introducing him to us?
Bill: Cami, okay, listen. Enero, Febrero, Marzo, Abril, Mayo, Junio, Julio… Hoy es el dia final de Julio. Get it?
Cami: (Finally understanding!). Oh… Today is the last day of July!! I’m so glad Julio isn’t leaving. I was looking forward to getting to know him.
You can imagine how worried Bill is to leave me alone in the city while he’s in meetings at the university. Fortunately, I’m not new to traveling in places where I’m a foreigner and don’t speak the language. And I’m amazing at charades and pictionary, so I’ll get by.
Wish me luck.