Tired of listening to Mariah and Paige talk? Tune in this week, and you’ll hear from some new voices. George is here from English, and Nicole is here from Australia to share their experiences with transportation in their home countries and their take on transportation here in Chile. This episode might be a bit more challenging than usual because it includes new and different accents. That’s why we (as always) made you a transcript and vocabulary guide. Be sure to use them whenever you get lost!

Download the Episode 8 transcript here!

Listen to Episode 8 of "Coffee with Gringos" here or on iTunes, Spotify, Google Play, Stitcher and Soundcloud.


Paige: Welcome back. You’re listening to Coffee with Gringos, I’m Paige Sutherland.

Mariah: And I’m Mariah Wika! This week on Coffee with Gringos is a little bit different than previous episodes. Usually, you just listen to Paige and I talk. But, for the next two weeks, we’ll have two guests with us during our episodes. We’ll be with George and Nicole, two of our friends who are also our colleagues at Dynamic English. This week, we’ll be chatting about transportation.

Paige: And remember, if you get lost, go to our website online. You can find a full transcript, as well as a vocabulary guide. So, welcome George! Thanks for being here.

George: Thank you for having me!

Paige: While you’re here and new to the Dynamic podcast, introduce yourself. Where are you from, George?

George: My name’s George. I’m from England in the UK. I’ve been in Chile for 2.5 years. It’s a really long time.

Mariah: You’re a veteran!

George: Yeah, but my Spanish is terrible.

Mariah: I don’t believe that.

George: So, I’m glad this is all going to be in English.

Mariah: It is a podcast to help learn English, so we’re also happy you’re speaking in English.

George: So, I’ve been in Santiago since January this year, so that’s about six months. But before, I was living in the South in a small town, so I’ve had quite different experiences of Chile. So, I feel like I have a unique insight.

Mariah: Totally, totally. So, this week we’re talking about transportation. We’ll talk a little bit about transportation in our home countries, but also compare it to Chile, so to start with… tell us a little bit about transportation where you’re from.

George: In England, it’s relatively similar. We call the Metro, the Underground, which is infinitely more confusing than the metro system here because there are about 25 lines.

Mariah: Seriously?

George: I might be exaggerating.

Mariah: I’ve never been to London.

Paige: This is specifically in London?

George: Yeah, and you look at the map, and you’re like… they all cross over, it’s very confusing. So, I came to Santiago, and I was very pleasantly surprised that there are six lines.

Paige: How busy are the trains?! Are they like here?

George: It is vile. It’s horrible. To be honest, I always avoided traveling at that time because I’m not from London, so I was doing mainly touristy things. Probably it’s the same, but I haven’t seen it. Like, I’ve been here at 8 o’clock in the morning - it’s disgusting.

Mariah: That’s rough.

George: You know, you’re pushing old women over in order to get a space… other people, not me. And I think it’s the same in London, unfortunately… just more lines, more fighting.

Mariah: How are the buses?

George: I don’t take the bus. They’re so expensive in England… like I’m trying to think of the conversation rate, maybe like 4.000 pesos for one trip.

Mariah: That’s crazy.

Paige: Oh wow.

George: So, I would never take the bus.

Paige: Have you taken an overnight bus here?

George: Many, many times because like I said, I lived in the south, so I was often coming to Santiago to see my friends. So, I often took overnight buses. I actually think the overnight buses are are lovely in comparison. In comparison to England, they’re really nice. There’s air conditioning - if it works. There’s more space, you can move the seats. Some of the long-haul buses I’ve taken in England… there was a toilet, but it leaked. You can’t move your chair. There’s very little space in between the chairs. Terrible. I do not recommend it.

Paige: So you’re a fan?

George: I mean, I wouldn’t say I’m a fan.

Mariah: That’s a little over the top.

George: I took so many trips, so I hate it. But, I can appreciate that there are good parts.

Paige: Because here, I feel like that is very normal. If you go on a trip on a long weekend, you are taking an overnight bus. To me, where I’m from, you take a bus to New York… which is probably 3, 4 hours, and that’s long. Here, it’s like, “Oh I’m just taking an overnight 12 hour bus down South.” I’m like… they have those?! They go that far?

Mariah: Right, the concept of distance is really different.

George: Well, imagine, in England, I so, like I said, I lived in Leeds, but I’m originally from the South...which for me was a world away - maybe four hours. And I was like, oh I can’t visit my family because they’re so far away. I’m sorry, I don’t have time this weekend! And now, I think, six hours on the bus - it’s fine!

Mariah: It’s nothing!

George: Because Chile is so long and thin.

Mariah: I know, I know. I purposefully didn’t go to university four hours away because it sounded so dramatically far away from my family, and I chose a college an hour and a half from home, and I was like… even this feels like a lot.

George: And now you’re in Chile on the other side of the world!

Paige: Doing weekend trips to Pucon!

Mariah: Pucon...yeah I did do that.

Paige: Here, what I’ve appreciated so much about their public transit, especially the metro, is how efficient it is. I will see the train, I’ll be on the stairs, I’ll miss it, and by the time I get to the platform, there’s another one waiting for me.

Mariah: They arrive really quickly.

Paige: It is amazing how efficient they are. In my city, in Boston, if you miss the train… you’re not getting one for like 15, 20 minutes.

George: WHAT?

Mariah: That happens in Chicago too.

Paige: People will run to the train because it’s like… I will be late for work if I miss that train.

Mariah: I mean it makes a difference! Like in Chicago, sometimes you have to wait seven to fifteen minutes, but that matters when you’re trying to get to work, right? And so when you miss a train and you have to wait twelve minutes, you’ve missed your 9:00 meeting, you know?

Paige: What’s crazy though too is they do not mess around… if you are anywhere near the door when it shuts, you’re going to get hurt.

Mariah: You better run.

Paige: I’ve just seen it shut on people’s limbs, their arms, their backpack. They shut when they are shutting.

Mariah: Okay, so here’s a question: If you think about Santiago’s transportation system, if you were president of Chile for a week, how would you change the transportation system? You can use your imagination - think big.

George: You know, I would love to have some sort of way to measure a minimum space…

Mariah: A space bubble?

George: Yeah, please.

Mariah: Your personal space bubble.

George: Just because there have been body parts in relation to my own body where they shouldn’t be, so I don’t know. I’m trying to be diplomatic about it.

Paige: I have anxiety sometimes when I… I get on the train here, so I’m in Las Condes, so you know, it’s very empty, and I put myself right in the back corner because I’m like, “This is the most space, I love it!” And then all of a sudden everyone comes in and then I’m like, “My stop is next… how am I going to get through everyone to get off this train?!” You’re like, “Permeso!” And everyone’s like, “Que?”

Mariah: It’s always an adventure.

Paige: It’s fighting through the forest.

George: I feel exactly the same. And especially in England, I used to… so if I was on the train, and I knew I had to get off at the next stop, there’s like a subtle language you can use where you, I don’t know, ruffle your coat or get your bag and put it on your lap, and the person sitting next to you will be like, “Oh, this person is about to get off!” In the Metro, that does not work. So, I’ll be picking up my bag, you know. Hey! I’m about to get off. And those signals are missed completely. No one’s catching on to my subtle signals.

Paige: So now, we’re here with Nicole! Thanks for joining us.

Mariah: Welcome! We’re happy to have you here.

Nicole: Hi! Thanks for having me.

Paige: And just for our listeners, since you’re obviously new to the show. Just introduce yourself a little bit. Where are you from? How long have you been in Chile?

Nicole: Hi! Thank you for having me here. I’m from Melbourne, Australia. I’ve been in Chile for about ten months now.

Mariah: Awesome! Almost a year!

Nicole: Yes, getting there.

Mariah: That’s exciting. Cool. And today’s theme is transportation. That’s what we’re chatting about. So, can you tell us a little bit about transportation where you’re from?

Nicole: Sure! Uh, in Melbourne, there are about three different forms of public transport. We have buses and trains, but we also have trams, which is a cross between a bus and a train, if you like. It runs on tracks in the middle of the road and is powered by electricity above.

Mariah: Cool!

Paige: And is it efficient? Does it come frequently? It doesn’t break down often?

Nicole: Ahhh, that’s a very funny question! Yes, they sometimes come frequently. A lot of the time they come really full of people, so you can’t get on. Uh, they do have technical issues where they have to stop running. Most frequently, there are accidents involving cars, which hold up the running of the trams.

Mariah: Ah, that makes sense. So, what would you say, based on your perception, is the most popular form of public transportation in Melbourne? Or, are cars most popular?

Nicole: Cars are pretty popular, but there are also bicycles! Bicycles are a really popular form of transport. Other than that, I would say the trams and trains, both. Buses are probably the least popular because they don’t run very frequently. In Melbourne, you can wait 20 minutes or longer, even have an hour, for a bus to arrive.

Paige: So obviously you’re used to trams, was it a shock at all with the metro here?

Nicole: Yeah, the metro here was pretty surprising. It’s taken some time to get used. I’m still not sure they I’m used to it!

Paige: Me either.

Mariah: What’s most surprising about it? Is it the number of people? Is it the system itself?

Nicole: I think the system itself is really quite good. It’s very fast and efficient. I’m really impressed with the time between trains. You don’t have to wait long at all. Yeah, for me, it is the sheer volume of people in the train at one time.

Paige: The best is definitely morning rush hour and afternoon rush hour.

Mariah: Ahhhh sarcasm!

Nicole: Yes.

Mariah: Although, one of my closest friends, she lived in Mexico City for a year, and she told me that we haven’t seen anything yet and that Mexico City at rush hour is far, far more crowded than Santiago at rush hour.

Paige: I’ve heard a similar thing. I had a friend that lived in Shanghai.

Nicole: Oh, I would believe that…

Paige: And he said that this is very mild compared to how packed it is.

Mariah: Can you imagine?

Paige: So, I guess it’s all relative. We talked with George a little bit about overnight buses. They’re so popular here. Have you taken one since you’ve been in Chile?

Nicole: Yes! I’ve taken a couple of overnight buses, and they’re pretty good! Pretty comfortable. I’ve been pretty happy with the overnight buses. I think they’re a really good form of transport.

Mariah: Yeah, yeah, I think they’re fantastic. Do you have anything comparable in Australia?

Nicole: We don’t have those. They’re not very common. We do have some, but they’re not common at all. People prefer to fly, drive, or take the train.

Mariah: Okay. How about low-cost airlines? Because I know that… I think that airfare in Chile… I’ve found it to be relatively expensive, unless you find a deal. And then, sometimes there are excellent deals, and you can fly somewhere really affordably. But, what do you all think? And how about in Australia - do they have low-cost airlines? What’s the price of airfare?

Nicole: Yes! They do have a number of budget or low-cost airlines, and they have deals from time to time, so you can get some super cheap flights and with carry-on luggage instead of check-in luggage. The way they work is they charge little fees for extra things that you add on. So, yeah, if you can pack light and make use of a deal, then you can get a really cheap flight. It’s pretty great.

Paige: I think what’s difficult here is there aren’t as many options, there are only a few airlines where you can go to Brazil or you can go to Peru and Colombia. And so, the prices are really high. It’s definitely not like Europe, where, “Oh, I can just hop on a flight to a neighboring country, and it’ll cost me 50 dollars!”

Mariah: 30 Euros!

Paige: Where in the US, I could fly across the country for 300 dollars.

Nicole: Right, yeah.

Paige: But here, if you fly even to Brazil, it’s pretty expensive to fly to any neighboring country.

Mariah: I’ve found that too. I’ve found that too. Yeah, absolutely.

Paige: So, I think that’s why overnight buses…

Mariah: a spectacular option!

Nicole: That’s why I haven’t actually from memory, I don’t think I’ve made use of any domestic flights since I’ve been here. I’ve always done overnight buses OR even daytime buses because then I get to see the landscape as I’m traveling to where I’m going.

Paige: Totally, well in the US, we do have buses, but they don’t have the option of being semi-cama. You can lean back maybe a tiny bit, but not like here. Here, you can actually sleep in an overnight bus! So, that is a game changer.

Mariah: Totally, totally, I completely agree. Well, thanks so much for chatting with us, we really appreciate it. And I’m sure that our audience appreciates hearing a voice other than ours. We’ll talk to you next week when we chat about food. Thanks for listening, and we’ll talk to you soon!


Previous (adjective) - before

Example: This week on Coffee with Gringos is a little bit different than previous episodes.

Chat (verb) - to have casual conversation

Example: This week, we’ll be chatting about transportation.

Unique (adjective) - special or unusual

Example: George has a unique perspective because he’s lived in the south of Chile and Santiago.

Insight (noun) - deep understanding

Example: George shared his insights on transportation in England.

Exaggerate (verb) - represent something as larger than it is

Example: George was exaggerating when he said that the metro in London has 25 lines.

Pleasantly (adverb) - in a nice or agreeable way

Example: He was presently surprised when he learned how simple the metro is in Santiago.

Rush hour (noun) - the busiest time of day for transportation, usually in the morning when people are on their work and in the evening when they’re on their way home

Example: I ride the train during morning rush hour every day, and it’s terrible!

Vile (adjective) - extremely unpleasant

Example: When the trains are completely full, it’s a vile experience.

Disgusting (adjective) - terrible and revolting

Example: During the summer, the trains are very, very hot, and it can be pretty disgusting.

Rough (adjective, slang) - difficult and unpleasant

Example: I’m sorry the train was so busy today. That’s rough!

Overnight bus (noun) - a bus that you can sleep on and travels throughout the night

Example: I took many overnight buses when I lived in the South of Chile because I was travelling to Santiago to visit my friends.

Long-haul bus (noun) - a bus that travels a far distance

Example: The long-haul buses in England aren’t as nice as the long-haul buses in Chile.

A world away (idiom) - a very long distance, or feeling like a very long distance

Example: When I went to university four hours from my family, it felt like a world away.

Make a difference (phrase) - have an impact on a person or situation

Example: A five minute delay makes a difference when you’re trying to get to work on time!

Mess around (phrasal verb) - to waste time doing something without a purpose

Example: The train conductors don’t mess around. They shut the doors to the train so quickly!

Personal space bubble (noun) - the ideal amount of space a person wants around their body

Example: George wishes he could have a bigger personal space bubble on the metro in the morning.

Subtle (adjective) - delicate and indirect

Example: I like to communicate that I’m getting off the train in subtle ways.

Ruffle (verb) - to move or disarrange

Example: In England, I ruffle my coat to communicate to people that I’d like to get off the train.

Signal (noun) - a movement, action, or sound used to communicate information

Example: There are many subtle signals to communicate that you don’t want to get off a train, but they don’t always work.

Tram (noun) - a passenger vehicle powered by electricity transmitted by overhead cables, and running on rails laid in a public road

Example: Trams are a common form of transportation in Melbourne, Australia.

Run (verb) - to function, in the context of transportation

Example: The metro runs very efficiently in Santiago.

Crowded (adjective) - very, very busy

Example: The metro in Mexico City at rush hour is extremely crowded.

You haven’t seen anything yet (idiom) - what you’ve experienced is nothing compared to what’s next

Example: According to my friend who experienced the metro in Mexico City, we haven’t seen anything yet.

Budget (adjective) - cheap, inexpensive

Example: There are several options for budget airlines in Melbourne.

Affordable (adjective) - an accessible price

Example: There are certainly budget airlines with affordable prices.

Fee (noun) - additional expense

Example: Low-cost airlines often charge additional fees.

Carry-on luggage (noun) - luggage that you carry with you on the plane

Example: Some low-cost airlines only allow one piece of carry-on luggage.

Check-in luggage (noun) - luggage that you check before going on the plane

Example: Most low-cost airlines require you to pay extra for check-in luggage.

Download the Episode 8 transcript here!