Alicia’s Travel Diary

Saturday, 09 Mar 2019

Location: Punta Arenas, Chile

MapWe checked out of our hotel and we went to one more winery for a tour before our drive back to Santiago. Viña Estampa’s main building looked modern and sleek with vividly painted old wine barrels dotting the entrance. There were 6 of us on the tour and the guide, quite impressively, went back and forth between Spanish and English the entire time. The tour concluded with a tasting where we drank, ate, and chatted with our guide. It was nice to get the chance to have a conversation with someone who spoke fluent English, instead of my fumbling Spanish.

We made it back to Santiago and checked into our flight to Punta Arenas. Thankfully it was a short flight, 3 hours, and we had an easy time grabbing a cab to our hotel where we’d only be at for one night before we were picked up the next morning by the shuttle to Torres del Paine national park.

On the plane I had a bit of a moment, we had been doing lots of traveling and I had been the one dealing with not only the planning and logistics of the trip, but also was the main point of communication since most people spoke very little if any English. My brain was exhausted and the thought of navigating another new city was suddenly daunting. It has been only a week of me struggling to communicate and I thought of all the people in the U.S. who struggle like this for years trying to learn a new culture, new customs and a new language. People take it for granted, the act of simply getting a cab or going out to dinner or asking someone a question. Each of these things require mental gymnastics when you have to do them in a foreign language. I could write an essay on the importance of learning a foreign language and I have deep regrets that I didn’t work harder at learning Spanish when I had the chance. If you aren’t making sure your kids are learning a foreign language you are doing them a disservice. Sure English gets you pretty far in many places, but not all. Also, they may just be that lifeline in a storm for someone else who doesn’t speak English and is relived to encounter someone who literally “speaks their language”.