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Old 04-22-2010, 04:13 PM   #81
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Arepas, the bottom of the corn bread barrel.

Ha
Our usual family get-together menu: tequeños, yellow arepas, fried cheese, black beans, baked plantain, scrambled eggs “perico”, diced chicken, shredded beef, beer. Ain’t nothing better...
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Old 04-22-2010, 04:14 PM   #82
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There has not yet been a generation of socio-political stability in any country.

Great point! And lest we forget, even Mexico came within 0.2% of electing Chavez-like Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador. I was in Morelia, Mexico at that time (2006). My Spanish professor had a conference in a city about a 6 hour drive away the weekend of the vote. He was so concerned about the future of his country and his business if Obrador won, that he drove on Saturday night back to Morelia, cast his vote in the morning, and then drove back to his conference, an extra 12 hours driving. How many Americans would do that to cast a single vote?

What is ironic is that Colombia has a deep history of democracy and appears to have really turned the corner on reenergizing its institutions although it is still too early to tell. The post-Uribe era, say the next 6 years, will really tell.

Re: Arepas

These are the lazy man's bread! They make everything from "pizzas" to buscuits here with them. Food in Colombia is basic and does not have a lot of spices (most foreigners seemed surprised at this). This is another area (cuisine) where Mexico is really superior.

There are restaurants here in Medellin that do actually have superior foreign food, something that is rare in most developing countries that I have visited. I have had some of the best Italian in my life at two different restaurants here in the last couple of weeks -- I was genuinely surprised. I have tried Mexican here (one of my favorite cuisines) but it was not that great.

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Old 04-22-2010, 04:16 PM   #83
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Kramer, I was kinda hoping you´d show up and give us your outlook. Great.

I´m in Quito, Ecuador now. Here are some observations so far:

Ecuador impressions
Thanks for the pointer, Onward. I made a comment on your thread.

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Old 04-22-2010, 04:20 PM   #84
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kevink wrote: Thanks Kramer for sharing your thoughts. I always learn so much from you and have the greatest admiration for the way you travel: frugally, intelligently, with keen interest in and respect for the cultures in which you immerse yourself. You're the ideal ambassador - and "canary in the coalmine" - for the rest of us. Much appreciated.
Thanks for your kind words, Kevin. I also thoroughly enjoy reading your posts and hope we can meet up in the Ajijic area someday.

Re: Canary in the coalmine

I feel like the King's official food taster. It is the best job in the world until something goes wrong

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Old 04-22-2010, 08:08 PM   #85
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Our usual family get-together menu: tequeños, yellow arepas, fried cheese, black beans, baked plantain, scrambled eggs “perico”, diced chicken, shredded beef, beer. Ain’t nothing better...
I am definitely with you on the shredded beef.

Ha
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Old 04-23-2010, 06:10 PM   #86
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I feel like the King's official food taster.
Can I be the King?
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Old 04-23-2010, 11:17 PM   #87
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Well, Kramer and Onward,

As well-traveled trekkers of Latin America, where would you suggest for an extended stay to learn Spanish with minimal personal risk? One has to start somewhere.

Gracias amigos.

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Old 04-24-2010, 08:20 AM   #88
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I'm not Kramer or Onward, but did spend a super six weeks in Bariloche a couple of years ago. Bariloche is a beautiful small city, with strong Swiss and Italian influences. Great restaurants, coffee shops, and chocolatiers.


We went in November, their spring, and low season. Bariloche is a ski resort, and popular in the summer for hiking, but the springs are nice and rates low. We rented a perfectly fine 1bdrm apartment a couple of miles out of town for $500/mo. It was across the street from a grocery store and the bus stopped right in front.
The photos on their website indicate that they have upgraded some, so I imagine prices are up too. Here is the link: Complejo Villa Leufu - Patagonia - ARGENTINA
The Spanish school we attended was just great. Learn Spanish in Patagonia Argentina

If you go, don't miss the Cruce de Lagos.
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Old 04-24-2010, 09:24 AM   #89
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where would you suggest for an extended stay to learn Spanish with minimal personal risk? One has to start somewhere.
How about Los Angeles?

The International Friendship Club here is PV offers Spanish lessons for beginners, and internediates during the snowbird season:
IFC -- International Friendship Club
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Old 04-24-2010, 09:28 AM   #90
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Keith, minimal personal risk in LA?
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Old 04-24-2010, 09:30 AM   #91
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Far out, IP. Bariloche would never have occurred to me.
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Old 04-24-2010, 12:09 PM   #92
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As well-traveled trekkers of Latin America
Well, I should be a well-traveled trekker in Latin America, but I´m not. The reason is I started my first trip to South America in Rio de Janero. I had three months to explore the contintent. After three months, I hadn´t made it out of Rio! So I wasn´t much better travelled than when I started, but boy did I have a helluva lot of fun.

I´m on my second trip to SA now, and only a week into it. One thing I can say is that Quito, Ecuador is probably not the ideal place. The reason is the safety factor.
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Old 04-24-2010, 12:10 PM   #93
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Not sure how Bariloche Spanish sounds, but Buenos Aires/Montevideo Spanish sounded like a foreign tongue to me. But I always learned Mexican Spanish. So if the thick argentine accent is heard in Bariloche, it may make it harder to communicate in Spanish if you travel in Mexico or central America later. Not 100% sure about that, but I know Mexico vs. BA/MVD, it was hard to understand.
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Old 04-24-2010, 12:25 PM   #94
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Fuego:
A Mexican will understand an Argentinian and vice versa. Compare it to a New Yorker and a Southerner speaking to each other. I lived in Costa Rica for four years, the country has tons of Spanish Schools, If you pick one in Costa Rica stay outside of San Jose.
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Old 04-24-2010, 12:41 PM   #95
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Fuego:
A Mexican will understand an Argentinian and vice versa.
I understand this, put what I'm saying is that a person who learns Argentinian Spanish even at an intermediate or advanced level may still have difficulty using those language skills in Mexico or Central America. That was at least my experience being fairly proficient in Mexican spanish, and having real difficulty conversing with Argentinians and Uruguayans. Different pronunciation, different slang, different terms for things.

And as for a new yorker understanding a deep southerner, that can still be difficult. I have seen English language speakers subtitled on tv occasionally when they have a thick accent. Sometimes they are from Britain, sometimes from the Appalachians. My DW, for example, is a fluent English speaker but didn't start learning English till age 7. She has had little exposure to Appalachian accent. She can't really understand what my mountain folk relatives are saying when we visit them due to the thickness of their accents. She has similar (but not quite as bad) difficulties understanding British English speakers.
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Old 04-24-2010, 01:03 PM   #96
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Fuego:
I getcha. I also spent time in Scotland. The English who came to visit Scotland couldn't understand the Scottish Dialect at all, to the English it was a foreign language. The Scots, on the other hand, had no problem understanding their cousins.

In any case, I strongly suggest that anyone who wants to retire in Central America, learn Spanish. I saw too many Gringos, who were too lazy to try and learn Spanish, end up getting ripped off by the "nice" local guy who could speak English.
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Old 04-24-2010, 01:43 PM   #97
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In any case, I strongly suggest that anyone who wants to retire in Central America, learn Spanish. I saw too many Gringos, who were too lazy to try and learn Spanish, end up getting ripped off by the "nice" local guy who could speak English.
Definitely agree on that! Basic spanish of the wrong dialect is way better than no spanish at all.
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Old 04-24-2010, 02:27 PM   #98
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Keith, minimal personal risk in LA?
Houston? Dallas? San Antonio? San Diego? Honolulu area?
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Old 04-25-2010, 01:56 PM   #99
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I would recommend learning the basics of Spanish in an American classroom. It is largely a waste of time to do an immersion program abroad if you can't already communicate at a basic level. There are lots of resources for learning Spanish independently in order to get a head start on an immersion program.

In terms of time abroad in a program, I would generally recommend one month. And if you cannot do two weeks, it is not worth going. Each time you go for a program, the first part of the program is spent recalling what you already knew before, so you get a lot more out of a month than two weeks, for instance (more than twice as much).

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Old 04-25-2010, 02:01 PM   #100
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Houston? Dallas? San Antonio? San Diego? Honolulu area?
Nords, believe it or not, Los Angeles has gotten so safe so fast, that almost no one understands why. Murder and crime rates have plummeted and something like 80% of homicides are solved, LAPD has dramatically improved their reputation, etc:

L.A. Consequential - Opinionator Blog - NYTimes.com

Same in San Fran (dropped 50% last year) and New York (lowest last year since detailed records began to be kept almost 50 years ago), where murder rates have dropped dramatically. See "homicides plummet inexplicably":

Homicides plummet inexplicably in S.F.

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