— Hey, you know what dawned on me?
— What’s that?
— The last time I saw you, you told, you mentioned something and, I didn’t even realize it until we had already gone our separate ways. And that was that you had lived in Chile before. I didn’t even remember that. It’s like I don’t know…
— Yeah, I…
— …know if you ever told me that.
— Yeah, I lived in Chile, uh, for a year not long after college.
— Wait, what year was this?
— That was in 1992.
— Oh, man. So, did you, pretty much right after you graduated, you just decided to travel, or…
— It took me a year to save up the money and then I went travelin’. Yeah, I planned on goin’ right away. But it took me a little while and, uh, I made it.
— Did you know Spanish at the time, or….
— I thought I did.
— When I got to Chile I realized I had no idea what anybody was talking about.
— Was it because they were speaking too fast, or…
— It was because I didn’t really know Spanish.
— [laugh] Wait, how much, how much Spanish did you have before that? Did you take some in college? Or was it just from living in San Francisco and living in The Mission or something?
— Oh, I had taken Spanish since I was twelve years old. And I was, and I took it, uh, for about three years in college as well. And when I got to Chile, it was really difficult, um, uh…. However I was able to get by. And I was able to make friends.
— And I met some really nice people who were patient with the language and everything, uh…. It was a group of, uh, people who liked to, uh, um, hang out and play guitar and go dancing…
— Oh that’s good.
— …and there were a lot of, a lot of people, a lot of foreigners, like travelers, in the group. But not like tourists. But people who were kind of my age and who were living there.
— And they, uh, uh…. There were these Chilean people who, uh, basically were my friends the whole time I was there. I was only there for a year. But still I met a lot of really good people, uh, very early on. And by the time I left I spoke a lot of Spanish.
— A year, that’s a good amount of time.
— Yeah, I wouldn’t have been able to learn so much Spanish as I did in a year though if I hadn’t been in school for so long. Even though it wasn’t, uh, um, even though it wasn’t super fa-…a super fast way to learn Spanish, uh…. I mean I learned so much more a year in Chile than I did in all the school that I ever had. Uh, it still gave me a really good foundation. So when I went to, uh, Chile I was able to, uh, um, to make friends there and, uh, speak the language almost all the time. And by the time I came back I knew a lot of Spanish. That was fun, but, uh, the trip itself was the best part. The experience of, uh, living and traveling and working in Chile was something I’ll never forget. That was one of the best years of my life.
— Was that the first time that you’d done any sort of, like, y’know, traveling like that? Or had you, had you gone on a trip like this, y’know, while you were in college during summer? Or…
— I had gone on, uh, uh many trips to Mexico….
— when I was in college. Every chance I could, of course, I would go to Mexico. Ah, I love Mexico.
— Yeah, it’s…
— When I…
— …so close.
— when I was in Chile, that was the first time though that I took a trip hitchhiking. In the summer I went to the south of Chile and, uh, that was a really good time. Uh, when I first got there we had, uh, I had no idea what I was doin’. And I just thought, I’m just gonna wing it, uh…. I’m never gonna be able to get a job here and, uh…. I just, uh, went on this fantastic trip. And when I got back to the city, uh, realizing that since I wasn’t able to get a job I was probably gonna have to go home…. One of the people that I met, um, in the first week that I was there offered me a job. Or told me about a job that I later got at the school that she worked at. So I was able to live there a whole year.
— What were you doin’ there?
— I was teaching, uh, geography and literature to, uh, a lot of different aged kids, mostly around eleven and twelve.
— Oh that sounds like a great job. You actually get a chance to interact with, uh, the younger generation as well.
— Absolutely. That’s why I went there in the first place. Although goin’ salsa dancing and, uh, hanging out with my friends was, uh, was another really good part of it.
— [laugh] I can just see you out on the town salsa dancing.
— Yeah, I, uh, I was a pretty terrible salsa dancer, it’s true. But I had a lot of fun.
— Well, you know what? I guess that’s really all that matters, doesn’t it?
— That’s right. Yeah, absolutely when you go on a trip like that. That’s what you want is to learn a lot and have a really good time.