May 2024 Newsletter

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Can you believe it’s almost summer? Well, not really if you are below the equator like me…

Thanks to those of you who joined the You Have Homework community this past month. ¡Bienvenid@s!

This month’s newsletter includes:

🍷Chilean wines

😶‍🌫️A simple embarrassment

🇨🇱Why you should consider visiting Chile

🍷How to enjoy Chilean wines

There is a very robust wine culture in Chile, more so than in Argentina – I was surprised that in Buenos Aires I would always be confronted with a wall of Malbecs, and hardly any other grape. The cepa that is somewhat distinctive to Chile is the carmenere variety. Originally harvested in France, as carménère, it made it over to the central region of Chile and thrived. 

Of course, they produce many other common wines, like merlot, sauvignon blanc, chardonnay, etc. A variety I particularly like is Late Harvest, and yes, it’s an English name. It’s a dessert wine which is not too sweet and has a smooth and somewhat thick texture.

Some notes you may find in wine descriptions are: frutilla, mora, vainilla, pimiento verde, oliva negra, ciruela, taninos suaves, taninos aterciopelados, tánica, grosella, cereza, alta acidez, limón, piña, eucalipto, pomelo rosado, regaliz, lichi, mandarina, maracuyá…

If you need help preparing your vocabulary in Spanish, check out this video podcast from Aprende facil de vinos.

😶‍🌫️ Well, that was awkward

To cut a long story short, on one of the tours I went on, one member went to eat lunch at a restaurant that we didn’t plan on going to. When we picked her back up, she said, “los extrañé,” which in my mind went back to our conversation about traveling solo, so I asked if she missed her friends on this trip. 

That was not at all what she said. She missed eating lunch with us, as in “I missed you guys.” In my defense, it’s a bit weird to miss a group of strangers for an hour. 

Anyways, you can imagine the embarrassment of not understanding two basic words. At least now I won’t make that mistake ever again!

🇨🇱 A few reasons why you should travel to and through Chile

  1. The accent and chilenismos will test your mettle with the language. The language they speak here (¿Spanish?) is a head-scratcher to native speakers from other countries. Yes, there are slang words like cachái, po, huevón, and so forth, but sometimes it feels like they speak in riddles about simple things. Through gritted teeth. Rapidly. Your vocabulary and listening comprehension will improve because your brain will be forced to pay close attention.
  2. The people are nice. A common thing I notice about people is that everyone everywhere is helpful and friendly. I haven’t been to North Korea, but I’m sure there are a few good eggs. They know how difficult it is for foreigners to understand them, so they do their best to speak slowly! How kind. So far, the friendliest people I’ve met are on Chiloé island.
  3. The land is beautiful! You have practically everything on this sliver of land, except for a tropical rainforest. Nobody’s perfect. So far I’ve only been to Santiago and some southern cities, and everywhere just seems like a major flex on everywhere else. The mountains in the south, like the Torres del Paine, are beautiful and accessible. Spend some time in Puerto Natales and see the sun rise and set over the hills and mountains in the area. The Lakes District is a calm, watery place with rustic architecture, which a new friend from a tour compared to Lapland. In certain areas of Santiago, you will sometimes walk down the street, turn a corner and see the Andes. Crazy.
  4. The wine is fantastic.

Well, I’m not quite ready to wrap up my stay in Chile yet. And it will be a great opportunity to gather more thoughts on this oddball country. And I mean that as a compliment – places that I found to be perfectly boring, with no distinguishing characteristics are typically not worth a return visit in my opinion. 

What’s a mysterious Spanish-speaking country you want to visit in the near future? Costa Rica and Guatemala are on my list, but I am not sure when I will make it!

If you haven’t already, check out my verb drill book on Amazon. Practicing using the subjunctive and the perfect preterite really helps with conversations!

Hasta luego! 


Founder, You Have Homework

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