Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Dogs of Valpo

There are many stray dogs in Valparaíso but there are only a few that aren’t looked after.  It is very common to see water bowls chained to seats and posts for the dogs to drink out of and there are always dogs walking around with winter coats strapped to their backs.  Our neighbour often puts a meal out by her front door for any dog walking by.
We’ve introduced you to Crazy Dog.  Now we would like to introduce you to Guard Dawg.  He resides over near the Aduana building in a vacant lot.  We’re not sure what he’s guarding but I think if you rubbed his belly he’d let you take whatever you wanted.  Every time we walk past for Spanish lessons we poke our heads over the fence and say hello.  If you connected his wagging tail to a generator you would light up three apartments.  He has a house and plenty of food and water but he is obviously starved for some company.

The student protests continue and one of the librarians told us that this is an important time in Chile’s history.  Since last Thursday, at around nine o’clock each night, people clang pots and pans together as a form of protest.  It usually lasts more than ninety minutes and sometimes longer.  It always starts off with a few people somewhere and slowly builds with people moving to the streets or beeping their car horns.  They blow whistles and hit anything metal.  Children as young as ten walk around with their families “banging the drum”.  It’s almost poetic how so many people are coming together and making some noise.  The question is, are the right people hearing them?
We hear snippets of opinions, catch the residue of tear gas and translate banners but still we don’t know who is right.  There are many wealthy countries that don’t have free education.  Just as there are many countries that don’t use tear gas on a weekly basis.  The cynic would say that many people want free education simply because they don’t want to pay for their children to go to university.  The optimist sees that if all Chileans can receive a free education then Chile has a chance to strengthen itself as a country.

Indiana's play dough farm.

Assessing language fluency is a complex skill.  Numerous theories exist on how many mistakes are acceptable as even native speakers make mistakes, or the length of the student’s response because native speakers often answer with one or two words. 
Randomness is our new gauge for detecting fluency.  While walking Truce to school, the following conversation transpired.

Dad, do you know how to say, “You’re going to eat a pigeon,” in Spanish?
No, I don’t.
Tú vas a comer una paloma.

The conversation ended there.

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