lunes, 19 de enero de 2015

Listening test: The VIP Islands

In this week's listening comprehension test we are going to practise the multiple choice kind of task. Listen to some people talking about The Sanjuans, the VIP Islands, and choose the option a, b or c that best completes sentences 1-7. 0 is an example.

0) The San Juan islands are
a a long way away from the continent.
b easily accessible.
c near San Juan of Puerto Rico.

1) The Orca whales can be seen in the San Juan Islands
a at any time of the year.
b in the spring, summer and autumn.
c in the autumn and winter.

2) Orcas Island in the San Juans is so called because
a it was one of the names of the Mexican viceroy who discovered them.
b of the Orca whales that can be seen there.
c the Mexican viceroy came from the town of Horcasitas.

3) Robert Moran, the former mayor of Seattle, lived on Orcas because
a he had been told that he only had a short time to live.
b he wanted to retire somewhere quiet.
c he wished to escape from people who wanted his wealth.

4) Moran
a came from a privileged family.
b came from a very poor family.
c had a typically middle-class family background.

5) The most important fact of the 'Pig War' was
a that Germany played a role in the peace process.
b that new border lines were discussed.
c the low number of victims.

6) Sandy Playa says that the number of residents in the San Juans
a are mainly retired.
b has doubled in recent years.
c has increased more than 10 times.

7) Carl Burger says many famous people live in the San Juans because
a they want to escape from the public eye.
b it brings more glamour to their lives.
c they share similar interests and can work from home.

Only a short drive and ferry ride away from the North American mainland, the ancient evergreen forests, quaint farm valleys, romantic coastline and amazing wildlife of the San Juan Islands attract many visitors. From April through October, Orca whales can be seen here, but Orcas Island, the largest and most spectacular of the San Juans, did not get its name from the whales. When a Spanish expedition led by the Mexican Viceroy discovered the San Juans in the 18th century, each of the larger islands was given one of his names — `Horcasitas' was one of them.
On Orcas, lovers of the old-fashioned lifestyle can stay at Rosario Resort and Spa, which is full of antique teak and mahogany furniture and arts-and-crafts design. Part of the hotel is now a museum. It was built 100 years ago as a private residence by shipbuilder and former mayor of Seattle, Robert Moran, who moved here after being told by his doctors that he would be dead in two years. In actual fact he lived for another 38 years. In order to celebrate, he would wake his guests up at 6 in the morning with a splendid self-playing Aeolian pipe organ, which is still in operation today [sound of organ music] Moran sounds to have been a lucky man: a native New Yorker, he had arrived in Seattle as a penniless 18-year-old in 1875, before going on to build a vast fortune.
The San Juan Islands may not have that many inhabitants, but they do have a colorful history. In 1859, for example, Britain and the United States, which both had claims to the area, nearly fought `the Pig War', after an American settler shot and killed a British pig. Fortunately peace came about, after mediation by Germany’s Kaiser Wilhelm, and the pig was the only victim. More importantly  perhaps, the border between Canada (then a British colony) and the USA was subsequently re-drawn.
At the start of the 21st century, the San Juan Islands face challenges  of a different kind. Sandy Playa, who runs the beautiful timbered Spring Bay Inn on the eastern side of Orcas Island (with her husband Carl Burger) explains.
Well, I think the big change has been brought on by technology. You know, now the internet and cellphone access has enabled people to live here that would only be able to vacation here in the past. I think all probably remote areas are going through that kind of change.
When we first  moved here, there were about 2,500 people and now there’s about 5,000. But even so, that population when we first moved here was mostly made of retired people, some families, but mostly retired. And then kind of the whole dot com thing, you know, was going, just, bananas and... so lots of people were able to be consultants and live here and work from their home here and then they'd maybe have an apartment in Seattle or whatever city that they were based in.

The dot com bubble has burst, but the islands still have their fair share of famous residents. The co-founder of Microsoft, Paul Allen, owns one of them. Here in the San Juans, however, VIPs can live a quiet life, says Carl Burger:
Part of the personality, I think, of the county is that so many folks are here trying to underplay or downplay or stay below the spotlight. We have some very high-powered people who live here, either full-time or part-time, but who want to be, I was gonna say, recognized just for the people they are, rather than the personalities that they are. So there's... there are film directors here, there are authors, there are people from the technological world, there are consultants, there are politicians, but around here, they're just island residents.

1 B, 2A, 3A, 4B, 5B, 6B, 7A