Monday, August 22, 2011

First Day of Work

Today I woke up feeling like it was 3 am, but it was 7 am. I did get a good night's sleep, but I am still getting use to the time change. I slowly got ready and had a light breakfast at the hotel. The Chilean breakfast I ate this morning was more similar to a brunch than a breakfast and was far better than any complimentary hotel breakfast I've had. Served were an assortment of breads and pastries as well as fresh fruit, jams and jellies, yogurt, and cheese. Coffee, tea, orange juice, and water were also served. It was very good. I ate light because I knew when I got to work I'd get a second breakfast as a welcome to the office.

Once I arrived at the office, which is only a five minute walk from my hotel, the staff I met were really great. I spent some time with a scientist talking about the projects The Nature Conservancy works on in the Southern Andes. I also sat in on a weekly staff meeting, which was spoken entirely in Spanish! Ah! I tried really, really hard to listen to try to understand what they were saying. Occasionally, they would speak in English, but only a phrase or two. It wasn't required that I knew Spanish coming down here, but I will need to learn as much as possible so I can understand what is being said in meetings in particular as well as in printed materials. It is challenging enough learning about new work that I will be helping with let alone feeling like I have a whole new language to learn at the same time, too. I will take it in strides, so I don't get too overwhelmed! The scientist today said he admired my courage for coming without being able to speak Spanish.

I spent most of my time at the office reviewing materials and datasets. The office itself is very nice, very modern. I was on the eighth floor of the building, so I had a wonderful view of the skyline and mountains, despite the haze that surrounds the city. If it rains while I am here, I will be sure to get a clearer look at the mountains. The rain clears the haze away.

For lunch, I went to a quaint cafe near the office with three colleagues. I ordered Palta Rellena, an avocado stuffed with chicken salad. It was served with shredded lettuce and zucchini. The dressing for the sides was balsamic vinegar and oil. Very simple. I asked them about Chilean food because I wanted to learn more. Instead of talking about Chilean food they jumped ahead and told me all about how they LOVED Peruvian food. They said the big difference between the two is that Chilean food is rather simple, sometimes bland, while the other is more bold. There is an abundance of seafood here. The Pacific Ocean off the coast of Peru and Chile is the biggest fishery in the world! The Chileans prepare fish so it is prepared in its purest form, with very little seasoning. The Peruvians, however, aren't afraid to use bold seasonings. I can't wait to try both! Tonight I am going to the Bella Vista neighborhood of Santiago for dinner with a work colleague. Dinner is at 8 pm and I discovered that is early! They laughed when I told them today I usually eat at 6 pm or 7 pm. Chileans typically eat a good breakfast, a hearty lunch, and a late afternoon snack, called once, which consists of leftovers from breakfast. Breakfast lovers delight! Dinners are usually small, but I am hungry so I'll be sure to eat a lot!

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