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A Fun but Useless RTW Journal Watch me RTW in 2 days less than the maximum period I can leave NZ with my loan remaining interest free without spraining my ankle/losing all possessions/becoming a Hungarian farmer's wife. NZ - TX - Chile - Bolivia - Colombia etc

Becoming a Chileana

CHILE | Wednesday, 15 June 2011 | Views [1112]


I've been here for 5 or so days now, and so far am super enjoying it. One of my very good friends from Texas, Katie, moved to Santiago a year ago after graduating from college, and has spent the last year working in tourism and is therefore the best person ever to show me Santiago. I'm living with her at her homestay mom's house who has become my new Chilean mom, Yuli. She is the nicest person ever, and despite my faltering Spanish, we've managed to discuss topics like baby switching at hospitals, sexual innuendo, earthquake fault lines and a million other things I wouldn't have thought possible considering our language barriers. She's lovely and I'm very lucky I get the chance to stay with Katie and therefore meet her! They live in Providencia, a nice suburb in Santiago which is right next to Bellavista, a trendy area where there are lots of bars and artsy stuff and have already had a a little taste of Chilean nightlife, arrive home at 7am on my second night here!

Arriving in South America was v exciting - I had an overnight flight from Bogota to Santiago and as I sat looking out the window, on one side with an almost full bright orange moon and on the other side, lightning storms in the distance with little settlements of light popping up in the dark below, and the interactive system map informing me which city I was passing by up in the air, cities I've been reading about in Lonely Planets and online for almost a year now, I was so excited I almost burst. I arrived in Santiago at 4.45am and by this point was super tired and totally not ready for Spanish attack. Katie had booked a shuttle for me, although I had a minor heart attack that the taxi driver showed no knowledge whatsoever of my destination, despite incredibly detailed instructions in Spanish that Katie had sent to me and that I had printed out. When I arrived, there was a man sleeping outside the apartment complex, which apparently has never happened before, so that was also a nice welcome to Santiago at dark! Providencia is a super nice, safe area though so I haven't had any other scares since. This is my Chilean home;

I've signed up for some lessons at a local Spanish school and although my first 24 hours in Chile/my time in Bogota Airport and arriving at Santiago Airport made me freak out about my lack of Spanish, I'm starting to get more in the Spanish mindset. I understand quite a lot of what is being said, but am struggling with saying anything back which is super frustrating for someone used to blabbing on and on and on! Luckily, Katie has heaps of Chilean friends who speak English and make me feel very dumb about my lack of bilingualness, so I am still meeting people and having fun! Hopefully the ability to hold a conversation with Spanish will move on quickly - I'm already a lot more confident than I was a couple of days ago so things can only get better!

Katie used to work for the Santiago Pub Crawl, and on Saturday we went to go meet some of her friends. While I realise a pub crawl is not the most sophisticated or cultural of all things to do when in a foreign city, I had lots of fun and heard popular Chilean songs in the last club we went to, so thats got to count for a little bit in terms of getting to know Chilean society! I think the photo below is a great indicator of why pub crawls are so judged, but was still definitely a fun night! (fyi: I innocently expected to take a nice photo with this girl. I was NOT expecting what you see in the photo, as I'm sure my expression makes clear)

Apart from suggestive photos taken at Pub Crawls, I've been to Pablo Nuerra's house. Pablo Nuerra is a very important figure in Chile, a poet and a diplomat who has 3 houses around Chile all based on ship themes. His houses are built to resemble ships and have lots of furniture/decor with the nautical theme. Apparently his house in Isla Negra is even more amazing, but I enjoyed the Santiago one.

I had my first Spanish lesson at Esceula Bellavista yesterday, which was basic but good, as the entire thing is conducted in Spanish, and the more Spanish conversation I'm around, the better it helps me! I don't have my next one until Thursday, as today I spent the day walking around markets with Meg, Helen and Bea. Our main goal of the day: purchasing long hippy skirts suitable for long distance bus rides in Bolivia, where the lack of bus toilets means one needs to crouch by the road...thus skirts to protect one's modesty are definitely in need!

Us modelling potential Bolivia bus skirts in one of the market shops we visited.

Meg is a high school friend from New Zealand who has been living in Chile for almost 2 years now, with her Chilean boyfriend Pablo...who she met in New Zealand when he was on exchange. She speaks Spanish immpecably, which is great for Bea, Helen and I and its great to have another friend who is a Santiago local! We had a fun day wandering around the markets and eating seafood - my first meal out in Chile, as I've been eating at Katie's homestay mothers, who makes great food.

Fun things I've learned during my time in Chile:

- Even though Chile is currently going through a heatwave despite it being winter, DO NOT tell people 'Soy muy caliente', as I have done multiple times in the last few days. It has a double meaning in Chile, as I discovered to my horror when Katie informed me that these last few days I've been informing Chileans 'I am very horny'. Always good to know

- In fact, all words in Chile seem to have double meanings relating to sex. I went to Katie's friend's place for lunch the other day and as everyone gabbed on in Spanish and I tried to follow the conversation by picking up on key words I realised they were using a word I'd learnt last night at dinner to describe cake - 'keke'. A 15 minute discussion about keke happened and I thought smugly to myself ahhh they're discussing cake, how nice! No...in Chile 'keke' also means 'bottom'. Not such an innocent discussion. I've also learnt multiple slang words for penis and along the way have found out the words for sexy/hot (rico), player/creeper (jobe - spelling could be totally wrong fyi) and 'Hey Sexy, How are you doing?'. Cultural and sophisticated - that's all me.

Chilean Spanish is very different from classic Spanish with heaps of slang and idioms that other Spanish speakers don't know, and Chileans tend to drop off letters and speak very quickly so fingers crossed maybe Spanish will get even easier to understand the further I go!

Tomorrow - vas a la Valpo con mis amigas (Meg, Helen, Bea and Katie) and on Monday I head off to San Pedro to meet Helen and Bea in Northern Chile before we attack the SALT FLATS OF BOLIVIA!! I look forward to wearing our skirts on Bolivan buses and all the adventures that are to follow.

Tags: bolivian buses, chile, santiago, spanish



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