04 June 2008

An American in Chile, o en otras palabras, una gringrita

First of all, I feel I should apologize for my last post, which was a complete Debbie Downer.  I wrote the post at the end of a very long and frustrating day--not a good idea.  But it must have been my rock-bottom day, because I am now officially LOVING Chile.  I've had several great experiences already, and I have grand plans for many more.

My reasons for loving Chile are many:  The food--I have yet to having something that is "American," or something I haven't liked.  The Chilenos themselves--ridiculously nice and very interested in American culture.  They have a great way of questioning certain American practices without being rude or insulting.  And as long as you TRY to talk Spanish, they are happy with you.  The lifestyle--late to rise (vs. American standards; here, a common time to leave for work is 9 a.m.), late to bed, and enjoying everything.  There is no great rush to get anywhere, and eating is a social event, not just a time to fill your belly.  All in all, the people are easy going and happy with life. 

I could go on and on and on, but that's not the point of this post.  The point is, my friends, I am definitely an American.  A few events have pointed this out to me:

Utilities are sacred here.  Turning on a light is an event, and you only do so when it's absolutely necessary.  And god forbid that you should forget to turn one out.  Chisto mio!  But utilities are conserved out of a great love for the environment; rather, they are conserved because they cost almost 3x as much as in the U.S.  Needless to say, Chileans are conservative with the goods.  That doesn't really bother me, but this does:  cold and short showers.  I think showering has become my least favorite time of day.  Also, 5 people share 1 bathroom, so time in the bathroom is also a hot commodity.  I've decided that my return to the states in August will be celebrated by locking myself in the bathroom and taking a LONG, HOT shower.  Very long, very warm.  

Chileans don't have to have an end goal when walking out the door.  They just like to walk.  Don't get me wrong, that's a great thing.  I've been on several treks already where the only point was to see the "cerros" (hills) in Valparaíso.  The part that bothers me is that they are THREE HOUR WALKS.  I'm sorry, the American in me needs a goal.  Are we going to see some gorgeous site outside?  Are we going to dinner?  Are we going to meet someone?  During the most recent three hour "walk," I found these questions racing through my head.  And Jonathan, my guide, merely wanted to take me on a walk to show me the city at night.  I tried my hardest to push my pushy American thoughts aside, but they kept creeping up again.  So I did the next best thing--I recognized the thoughts for what they are and tried to concentrate on just enjoying the moment.  And once I did that, I truly enjoyed our walk.  However, next time Jonathan asks if I want to go on a walk, I'm going to ask where we're going and why.  Forgive me, I was born in the EEUU. 

All in all, I think I'm starting to blend in better.  Minus the whole people-staring-at-me-on-the-bus thing.  Although I must say that everyone is very polite, and no one yells out "gringa, gringa!" (another very American stereotype of Latino men).  But I'm almost getting used to the staring.  It's a bit difficult for we Americans to understand, because many different types of people live in our country.  We may stare at someone because he/she is wearing odd clothing, or because they have a green mohawk.  But for the most part, we're taught that it's rude to stare at someone because of they way they look.  In Chile, starting is totally acceptable if you are literally the ONLY person with blonde hair and green eyes on a Metro train of 200 people.  They don't mean to be rude, they're just intrigued, I guess.  

I realize that these posts are very fragmented and have no real depth.  My goal over the next week is to find a more centered-route for this blog...sort of a unified purpose.  Or maybe I'll just embrace the Chileno in me and just walk along.  

Hasta luego, mis vidas.  

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hey Katie! Just wanted to let you know that I'm thinking of you and keeping up with your blog. I'm so excited for you and know you're going to enjoy this amazing experience!
And somehow I have a feeling you might have a hard time leaving Chili!

Keep us posted!

PS: I'm going to be very jealous of your Spanish speaking ability ;) Jose would be so proud!