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Here is the second part of a friendly chat between Steve and Jill in which they talk about Jill’s trip to Central America.
Steve: Hi, Jill.
Jill: Hi, again.
Steve: Where have you been recently that’s been interesting?
Jill: For the better part of April, I was traveling throughout Central America.
There are seven countries; I think we spoke about that before and I went to five of them.
Steve: Now, Jill, you know, I think of the sort of backpacker, you know, wearing the same shirts and underwear for six months, trekking around India, eating, you know, off the floor of a truck, whatever and then I think of you; not the same.
Steve: Not the same. So, how did you fare in Latin America? Because I know you went into the bush and you were in somewhat rough places. How was it?
Jill: It was great. It was so, so great. I’m sure there were times that I was maybe not so happy. Looking back, I have nothing but fond memories. But, we did break it up a bit.
We started in Costa Rica and the first four nights we stayed in a very nice, luxurious, beachfront boutique resort, so that was beautiful and we ended in Belize where we also stayed in a nice hotel on the beach. So, that’s kind of my style; more my style. Chris, you know, he kind of likes the backpacking around which I don’t mind either, so we had a bit of both. We spent about maybe two weeks or just under two weeks backpacking around and staying in a lot of places for one night or two nights. So, just moving around a lot, taking a lot of buses, you know, getting up in the middle of the night to catch a bus, stuff like that. That was all fine, actually; I didn’t even mind that.
Steve: But I gather you had an encounter with some of the local wildlife of the small variety.
Jill: Yeah. Yeah, in Costa Rica I got stung by a scorpion which wasn’t a pleasant experience. It felt like a bad bee sting. It wasn’t extremely painful but it was just gross to see this big bug crawling.
Steve: How big was it?
Jill: Well, to me, I thought it was about a foot long but, of course, Chris said, you know, no. It was really I think it was about two to three inches, so it wasn’t huge but much bigger than what we’re used to seeing here in Vancouver. They are just not particularly attractive looking creatures and the fact that it had stung me and all the rest didn’t make me too thrilled.
Steve: You didn’t like it?
Jill: No, it was a little scary, but it was all okay and by that night the mark was gone, nothing hurt and it was fine.
Steve: How about the food down there? How did you like to food?
Jill: The local food was fine. It consisted of a lot of chicken cooked in a variety of ways: barbequed, grilled, fried, you know, all different ways and rice and often beans and sometimes it was quite tasty and other times it was quite bland, it just depended. You know, some restaurants were better than others.
Jill: But, we didn’t eat a lot of that, you know. You travel nowadays and there’s just everywhere has pizza.
That’s just everywhere, even in small little villages, so we had pizza probably four times. We were pretty sick of pizza actually by the end, to say. And we had, you know when we were on the coast there was always lots of seafood, so we would have lots of seafood.
Steve: Now, how do they make the seafood?
Jill: We got things that are very similar to here; you know, snapper or just grilled.
Steve: Do they fry it in a frying pan?
Jill: A variety of ways. You could get it a variety of ways. It was almost always very good, actually.
Steve: Oh, okay and was it expensive?
Jill: Belize was really expensive; it was the most expensive. It was very expensive.
In fact, a lot of things were more expensive than in Canada.
Steve: But how do the locals
Jill: I don’t know. I had a talk with some of them and I said how because their income is obviously not as high as ours and they just said they just, you know, they just make do; they get by.
Steve: How about language? You speak a few words of Spanish; I guess you used it occasionally. Did you mostly have to communicate in Spanish or in English?
In Costa Rica, especially at the first resort we stayed, everybody spoke English really well, actually. That wasn’t a problem.
In Nicaragua and Honduras there was were some people who knew a little bit of English, but more often than not, we communicated primarily in Spanish. Chris’s Spanish is quite decent and at least we can understand most of the time if people slow down. Some people just won’t slow down for you. That happened the odd time. Most people were very gracious, but sometimes they just wouldn’t or, you know, just like with English or any language, there are people who speak the language better than other people. You know, they enunciate more clearly; they speak with less of an accent or whatever. So, sometimes people were real easy to understand and other people we just couldn’t understand no matter what; we just couldn’t.
But for the most part, we communicated in Spanish and then in Belize they all speak English. English is the native language.
Steve: Oh, right you are. That’s British Honduras.
Jill: Yeah, it was a British colony.
Steve: How evident is I know you saw some of the old Native American ruins, but how evident is that culture in everyday life down there?
Jill: I would say in Guatemala where the main Mayan ruins are located it’s still very evident. Fifty percent of the population is full-blooded Mayan. That’s what they think anyway; 50 to 60 percent, so they still speak the Mayan language.
Jill: It’s their first language before Spanish.
They’ve got, you know, traditional clothing on, very dark skinned, so there it was very interesting. In the other countries there wasn’t really that element. So, Guatemala was where it seemed very, you know, native.
Steve: Right; okay. Were there any things that you identified as native food or was the food more or less the same in all the countries; the chicken with the rice and the beans?
Jill: Yeah, the food was more or less you know, even in South America it’s pretty much chicken and rice. You know, “pollo” that’s what is served. Chickens are easy to have. You know, everybody can have them. You don’t need a lot of land so I think chicken is pretty standard fare.
Steve: Alright; okay.
Were you in the ocean at all?
Jill: Oh, yes, that was wonderful.
Steve: What was the water like?
Jill: Well, in Costa Rica you could go the Caribbean or the Pacific side. We went to the Pacific side which was fantastic; huge waves, excellent surfing. I learned to surf. The water is really warm. It’s not a clear color being the Pacific; although, Hawaii is on the Pacific and is. So, it’s not like it’s great snorkeling there, but warm water, great surf and long beaches with nobody on them so it was fantastic.
Jill: In Belize that was on the Caribbean so that was spectacular water; warm and crystal clear.
They have a second biggest barrier reef there in the world there so the diving and snorkeling was amazing. We went snorkeling and we were snorkeling with sharks and dolphins.
Steve: With sharks?
Jill: Sharks. These ones were quite big but they aren’t aggressive. They swim away from you.
Steve: You believed that?
Jill: Yeah, well I tried to touch one.
Steve: Did you really?
Jill: I kept trying to get close but they just swam away.
Steve: Well that’s pretty brave of you.
Jill: Well, I was pretty far away still.
But yeah, stingrays and
Steve: But they can sting you the stingrays.
Jill: Yeah, yeah, they can but they’re pretty docile, generally, and they sort of stay back and there are moray eels and it was fantastic.
Steve: My goodness. And was there a lot of, sort of, vegetation on the ocean floor?
Jill: Well, yeah, it’s a coral reef; a barrier reef so lots of coral. In Belize they have conch, big conch shells everywhere on the ocean floor and that’s one of the main foods that they serve at the restaurants there is conch. I never knew you ate conch but I guess it’s just like another shell fish.
Jill: So, big beautiful conchs.
We would just dive down and pick up a conch and they were just everywhere. It was really amazing, yeah.
Steve: So, you were on the beach, you were in a resort, you were in the jungle, I guess.
Jill: We were in the cloud forest in Costa Rica, yeah.
Steve: in Costa Rica. You visited the Mayan ruins.
Steve: That must have been quite the trip.
Jill: It was. Actually, one interesting thing too, in Costa Rica in the cloud forest and, of course, this is a very old forest, old growth, and we were in there and we saw a couple different types of monkeys and amazing birds, quetzals, which are the national bird of Costa Rica and they are very difficult to see.
They are the most beautiful birds I’ve ever seen and we saw those. We also had one big tree collapse and take down three other trees with it in the forest just while we were standing there. We just heard this noise and looked and right in front of us, I mean not right in front of us, a bunch of big trees just fell over. I mean, it’s part of the natural cycle of things but it was quite something to see.
Steve: Sounds interesting. You know, we should say that this is going to be transcribed and the transcript will be available in the library of The Linguist which is soon to be the LingQ library so people can read and listen at the same time. And, of course, they should go to the LingQ blog which is EnglishLingQ.com.
So, thank you very much, Jill.
Jill: Thank you.