Back in Buenos Aires: tango, beautiful architecture, and an unreal amount of walking.

Hola familia y amigos! There are Christmas decorations everywhere in Santiago and it’s very confusing to me because it’s at least 80 degrees every day. I definitely miss the colder weather, especially when I’m walking or running. But on the bright side, I have my first Christmas tree ever! Our family put up holiday decorations and lights and a tree and all that jazz, so I finally get my Christmas experience.

Two weeks ago, Jordin and I went to Buenos Aires, Argentina, with three friends, and it was AWESOME. Many of you may remember that I lived in Buenos Aires for 5 weeks during my public health study abroad semester in the spring of 2015, and I absolutely loved it then and fell even more in love with the city this time around. We went with our friend Adam, who is a junior at Tufts, and two of his friends who are also studying abroad in Santiago this semester. All three of them had finished their classes and exams for the semester, and topped off their abroad experiences by doing some last-minute traveling. But because none of them had been to Argentina before, I was the planner and the guide of the trip. I usually like doing this, but this meant I was constantly taking out my map, making me look like the ultimate tourist. But that’s okay! We spent our 4 full days walking everywhere (an obvious activity with me as the guide, but thankfully our friends also love to walk). We had a marvelous time and I wish we could do it all over again.

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Jordin and I arrived on Saturday evening (December 3rd), a day before our Tufts friends arrived, and we settled in before a long day of walking on Sunday. It also gave us some time to adjust to the Argentinian accent before our friends came – they pronounce the “ll” and “y” sound like “sh”, so the phrase “Yo me llamo Rachael” is pronounced “Sho me shamo Rachael”. This is so so different that most Spanish dialects – it’s hard to decide whether the Argentinian or Chilean dialect is harder to understand! But the city of Buenos Aires is unbelievably different than Santiago, especially in the architecture – it is incredibly European because of all the European immigration in the last century or so, especially from Italy and Spain. It’s also much more humid than Santiago, and you can’t see the Andes mountains like you can there. For someone who likes to explore by walking and seeing, Buenos Aires is definitely the city for this – just being surrounded by so many beautiful buildings is enough of an experience of the city without even doing anything. The buildings are generally much taller than they are in Santiago, and thus it feels like a much bigger city. Santiago feels like it focuses more on the nature/outdoorsy aspects of the country, as it lies between the Andes Mountains, there are many national parks within a few hours of the city, and it’s easy to get outside Santiago and go to the coast for the beaches. If you know me, you know that I love both walking everywhere AND national IMG_7426.jpgparks, so both of these cities work for me. But the vibrant culture in Buenos Aires is almost palpable, and the architecture is more incredible with every turn. Needless to say, I was ecstatic to return and would highly recommend this city to anyone who wants to travel to Latin America!

We all stayed in an apartment building two blocks away from El Obelisco (The Obelisk), which looks like the Washington Monument, which is a very central area of the city. On Sunday morning, we walked to the area of Recoleta, where there is a big artisan crafts fair every weekend. When I lived here in 2015, I probably went to this fair five or six times – it’s awesome. There are vendors with all sorts of crafts, like paintings, jewelry, tons of mate (the most popular non-alcoholic drink in Argentina, and popular throughout Latin America – a type of tea that people drink all the time out of a special cup, which is usually a hollowed-out gourd) cups and their accompanying metal straws (“bombilla”), and other unique crafts. One vendor, who was in his 70s or 80s and has been selling his crafts at the fair for over 30 years, creates figurines of various types of jobs made of metal forks and spoons. They were all incredible! Jordin bought one of a chemist, which includes test tubes and all. Later in the afternoon, we went to the Casa Rosada (“The Pink House”), which is where the President IMG_7111.JPGof Argentina works (but does not live). It’s a gorgeous building on the outside and the inside – on the weekends they give free tours, and because our tour was in Argentinian Spanish, neither of us ended up understanding much of it. But just being inside the building was enough – each room is enormous and filled with gold (photo below) . We learned that the house is pink because it was painted with a mixture of chalk and blood…if so, that’s a LOT of blood. After our tour, we walked just one block to another popular street fair in the neighborhood of San Telmo, and this fair goes on for about 10 blocks. We were told that while the crafts fair in Recoleta is more geared toward tourists, this one attracts more locals (though there were still plenty of tourists). I love to buy art as remembrances of places I’ve traveled, so I bought an awesome painting of the city that was painted with COFFEE – super unique and very reasonably priced. IMG_7094.JPGJust as I remembered, throughout the streets of the San Telmo street fair, there are people selling all sorts of food – fresh squeezed orange juice (which is everyone in both Buenos Aires and Santiago), various meat things, and of course, vegan food! We bought delicious veggie burgers, made of lentils, chickpeas, and arvejas (I described these in my last post – they’re a mix between lentils and split peas), only to pass by three other vendors soon after with even more options.

Our friends arrived on Sunday night, and on Monday morning we set out for a day of walking around the city to some of my favorite places. The first stop was El Ateneo Grand Splendid, a bookstore which was originally a theater in the early 1900s, then a cinema in the late 1920s. It’s an unbelievable building – I could spend all day there. In the last few years, it was rated as the second most beautiful bookshop in the world (rated by both The Guardian and BBC). The stage is now a bookstore! (Look at the picture below…and then keep looking because you KNOW you want to visit.) We then walked to Recoleta (where the crafts fair is on the weekends) to walk through a famous cemetery, which is the oldest public cemetery in Buenos Areas in which many notable Argentinians are buried, including Eva (Evita) Perón. This is no ordinary cemetery – it’s full of mausoleums and statues (almost every grave), with all sorts of architectural styles. It’s laid out like a grid, and you can walk through each section like you would walk city block, and each walkway is lined with trees.

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 After the cemetery, we walked a short distance to the Floralis Generica, the official name of a giant steel flower sculpture that is surrounded by a fountain in the middle of a park. This flower opens up during the day and closes at night, just like many real flowers do, and it came to Buenos Aires in 2002. This flower is about 75 feet high, and when it is fully open, the petals span about 100 feet IMG_7169.JPGwide, and when closed, about 50 feet wide. I hadn’t gone when I was here before, so it was awesome to see it for the first time. The flower wasn’t fully open when we went, even at midday. Here is a cool video I found that shows the process of it opening and closing!

 

 

On Monday night, we went to a percussion concert called La Bomba del Tiempo, which I went to when I was here before and absolutely loved. It’s a group of 15-20 musicians on one stage, all playing different types of percussion instruments. Every few songs, the conductor switches places with someone in the band, and the type of songs change with each new conductor. They all looked like they were having so much fun (some of the conductors danced like crazy during it), and it’s just a really cool atmosphere and an experience very different from a typical concert. We also all tried the popular Argentinian drink, Fernet-Cola. Fernet is an alcohol that is extremely bitter and strong, so when it’s mixed with coke/pepsi, those are two things put together that I don’t like – needless to say, I did not drink much of it, but it’s always good to try something new.

On Tuesday, we spent the morning walking through the streets with a couple of attractions in mind, but mostly just wandering. We walked to the Casa Rosada so our friends could see it (from the outside), then to Café Tortoni, which is the oldest café in South America. It was built in 1858, and lots of famous people have visited, including a particular nasty woman whom I admire so much (photo below). We also came upon some little bookstores and each bought a few books, especially because they were reasonably priced and the books in Santiago tend to be pretty expensive. I bought a book of the 20 most famous Pablo Neruda poems (he was a famous Chilean poet – I studied some of his works in my Spanish classes at Wesleyan), as well as The Wizard of Oz in Spanish, called “El Mago de Oz”. I really need to be reading and watching TV in Spanish to learn more vocabulary.IMG_7238.JPG

In the afternoon, we took a bus to La Boca, the most colorful neighborhood in Buenos Aires. Even though we took a bus at 2:30pm, there was a ton of traffic, so it took us an hour to get there (this is interesting comparison for the bus ride back, which took 15 minutes). It’s called La Boca because it is located at the “mouth” of the city (“boca” = mouth), near its old port. The tourist destination in La Boca is called Caminito, but we wandered around for 25 minutes looking for that before we found it. I’m actually really glad we got the chance to do that, because most tourists think of La Boca as just those few colorful blocks, while actually, most of the neighborhood is fairly poor. Once we got to Caminito, we saw the beautiful colored walls, shops, and of course, tango in the street – La Boca is known for this.

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On Tuesday night, Jordin, Adam, and I headed out to a tango class that was only a few blocks away. Jordin and I both have many years of dance experience: he was on the Tufts Ballroom team for four years and knows how to tango (but not the Argentinian tango), and I danced every semester in college as well, but not competitively and not ballroom. The class we attended had five men and five women in total, which made it easy to partner up, and the teacher was fantastic at giving individual help as well as directing the class as a whole. Adam and I were the only beginners there, and even though the teacher had most people switch partners every few songs (which is very helpful), by the end, she had Adam and I stay together since we were at such a significantly lower level than everyone else…and we still had a blast. After the class, we met up with our other two friends (they didn’t go to the tango class) and then met up with a friend of Adam’s who is from Buenos Aires. We all went out to get gelato at a popular chain called Freddo, which is all over Buenos Aires. Because of the Italian influence in the city, gelato is extremely popular, and of course they have a handful of vegan flavors (sorbets). Then we went to a bar for a few hours where everyone except me ordered a fernet-cola, and I tried another unique drink on the sweeter side. A few sips of fernet at the concert was enough to sustain me for the entire week.

On Wednesday, our last full day in Buenos Aires, we walked to the Jewish neighborhood of Buenos Aires, called Once/Barracas. The streets were packed with people selling various  types of goods, which made it hard to walk at times. We went into a bunch of stores selling Jewish objects, and the storeowners gave us the names and locations other places to check out. We wandered into a Jewish bakery (so many bagels), a kosher sushi restaurant, a store selling various Jewish cultural items (including cards that said “Feliz Januca”), and more. We also saw a Jewish synagogue from the outside, where we were not allowed to take any pictures. The synagogues in Buenos Aires (and in Santiago, as I’ve heard) are strictly protected and they won’t hesitate to almost interrogate people who want to enter, as they are constantly worried about violent acts. We also saw the outside of a JCC (Jewish Community Center), where the wall was covered in many names of people who were killed when the JCC was bombed in the 1990s. Additionally, almost every doorway in this neighborhood had a mezuzah, which was really cool to see. In the afternoon, we went to the neighborhood of Palermo Soho, which is a very upscale neighborhood with many exceedingly expensive stores that are fun to look at from the outside, but not fun once you look at your wallet. From there, Jordin and I went to visit my incredible host mom, Marta
, from when I lived in Buenos Aires in March/April of 2015. Marta is 83 years old, just as spunky, and she is looking better than ever. I was so happy to see her and return to my old apartment and just talk (she asked us about Trump, no surprise). I’m so happy that Jordin got to meet her as well – she is just the CUTEST lady. Reunited with my incredible host mom from March-April 2015 - la mujer más linda y mejor cocinera en Argentina!.jpg

After visiting with Marta, Jordin and I returned to Palermo Soho to go out to a nice final dinner with our friends. We picked the restaurant earlier in the day, and first they told us that they were having an event that night so we could only sit outside, but after we told them we wanted to sit outside and if we could make a reservation at 8, they said we could sit anywhere, since the event won’t be arriving until later – this was them laughing in our faces because 8pm is VERY early to eat in Argentina. We actually didn’t get our food until 9:15, which we think is because the cooks just didn’t have the food ready because it was so early. But no matter – we splurged on a bottle of Argentinian Malbec, which is made in Mendoza (the main wine country area of Argentina), and we talked about  more differences between Chile and the United States, and the different ways in which one of the countries is ahead of the other – here are a few:

  • Chilean culture is more of a machismo culture than the U.S., as it’s more normalized here (even though no one can doubt that it is also normalized in the U.S.)
  • Chile has a National Women’s Service in their constitution that crafts bills about women’s rights – awesome. While I believe and hope that the U.S. will have this someday, we’re much farther behind in this aspect.

One of the defining moments of this trip is something we laughed about when taking pictures – in the U.S., people say “cheese” because of the way the mouth is shaped to form a smile. Apparently in Spanish-speaking cultures, they say “whiskeeeeey” because it forms the same shape. But we decided to just translate “cheese” into Spanish by saying “quesooooooo”, and it definitely did not work out in the same smiles, and we have the pictures to prove it.

A few more things that are important to know about Argentina:

  • Mate (the tea mentioned above) – everyone walks around with it and drinks it all day long.
  • Dulce de leche – a spread/dessert/necessary part of Argentinians’ lives that is everywhere
  • Alfajores – an Argentinian dessert created with two round cookies with a filling between then, which is usually dulce de leche. There are at least 20 different kinds of these sold at every kiosco (corner store), and people eat them for breakfast, a snack, desserts, you name it.
  • Fashion – People have told me that they think Chile is five years behind the U.S. in many different ways, especially with fashion. Sometimes, I’m walking down the street and I feel like I’ve walked into the 80s or 90s. Shirts with English slogans on them are very popular in both Chile and Argentina, and what is ESPECIALLY popular is platform shoes: people even wear sneakers and flip flops with platforms on them. This is how I know I stand out in Chile, because I don’t have any platform shoes here (yet). But the fashion in Argentina is different than in Chile – it’s definitely more European and more posh.

A few highlights from last week (in Chile):

  • At Spanglish Party last Tuesday, three different people whom I had JUST met invited me to parties in the following days, one of which I was able to attend, which was a birthday celebration with only six people. Like I’ve said before, I would never expect something like this to happen in the U.S. – people are very very welcoming toward us here.
  • I regret to inform you that the apricots on the tree on our patio are all gone, as their season has now passed – my mornings will never be the same. The last ones were sadly turned into jam. Luckily, the other day I passed by a house where I saw an apricot tree in full bloom, and I stole a few for myself while walking (if the tree hangs out over the fence, I think that’s allowed).
  • We tried a new Chilean dish called Charquicán, which is stew with lots of veggies. It had a new food called “luche”, which is a type of seaweed, but different than cochayuyo – the internet told me that in English it’s called sea lettuce.
  • The best part of my week: we were talking with our host family about the radio, and how most people don’t like hearing a recording of their own voice. After discussing our feelings about our own voices, I told them how cute Mel’s voice is, and Aly told me that she thinks I’m in love with her (“Creo que estás enamorada de tu hermana”). While of course this is true, it’s funny because when I was abroad last time, multiple friends told me the same thing. I guess it just shows how excited I am to see that little lady so soon! (And hopefully she talks to all of her friends about me the same way I talk to everyone about her.)

I can’t believe it’s already the end of December, and that we’ve been here for almost three full months. Thank you so much for following along with our adventures here. I’m sending lots of besos y abrazos from Santiago – happy holidays and Happy New Year to all!

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Steady employment (is this a thing?), apricots galore, and allllll the birthday parties.

Hello hello! Happy December (whaaaaat)! I can’t believe it’s already the holiday season – because it’s 85 degrees here, I can’t say I’m quite in the same holiday spirit. Speaking of spirit, if you want to see this post in much better formatting (especially with the pictures), please click on the title of this post and it will direct you to the site. This means that if you missed watching the videos of us dancing on the metro OR salsa dancing/dancing with our host abuela, you can only watch them by going to the site – they don’t show up in the email.

To make things easier for you, here are the videos – they’re worth it, I promise:

 

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The beautiful Calle José Arrieta

I’m loving all of my English classes so far! The last time I thought I’d be a teacher, I was in first grade, but I really do love my job in Chile. I currently have 4 students, which is perfect for my schedule: last week, I taught 7 classes (total of 8 hours), and this week I have 9 classes (total of 11 hours). I realize that this sounds like nothing, but when you include the time it takes to travel to the class location and the prep time for the class, it adds up. It will change every week depending on the schedule of my students, but since they all like me (they’re very vocal about their feelings about the classes and my teaching style) and I like them, I’m hoping I can work with them all for the rest of my time in Chile. Ideally, I’ll have 1-2 classes every day, giving me the opportunity to both spend time in the neighborhoods where the people live, as well as do other things. It also gives me the opportunity to spend some time in some nice apartments, since ¾ of my classes take place in the students’ homes, and all three of these apartments have dogs! I really can’t complain right now. My newest private student lives less than a mile from my house, so I can walk to her, which is incredibly convenient, especially because we meet three times each week. Taking public transportation can be exhausting, and of course costs money, and I usually leave an hour before each class to ensure that I have enough time to get there. But I only have to leave 25 minutes before the class that’s walking distance away, which is fantastic.

One of my students is from Colombia and her Spanish is 10x easier to understand than Chilean Spanish – it is much slower and clearer, and I can actually hear every word she says, even if I don’t know the meaning. There’s a 15-year-old cousin of our family that I’ve met a bunch of times and I literally can only understand about 5 of every 30 words she says – Chilean Spanish is haaaaaaard, especially in the young ones. But I’m learning so much every day just by listening to conversations in my house, and hearing the words and phrases that my family members and others say every day. For example, when anyone leaves the house, they say, “Que te vaya bien”, which is a shortened sentence of, “Espero que te vaya bien”, which literally translates to “I hope that you go well”, and means “I hope all goes well”/”Have a nice day”/”Take care”. I never learned this in my Spanish classes at Wesleyan, and probably wouldn’t without living in a place where it is used every single day. Additionally, I’m learning more about word order in Spanish that I didn’t learn in the classroom – it’s easy to try and translate what I hear into English, or translate the English line in my head directly into Spanish, but word order is different colloquially than it is in the textbook. For example, in English I would say, “Rachael left the house”, but here they would say, “Salió la casa Rachael” (left the house Rachael). These little things that I’m learning every day make me so happy to be here! Yay experiential learning!

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Experiential learning with vegan empanadas

For the last three weekends in a row, we’ve been to a birthday party with our host family – the first weekend was Aly’s (host mom) surprise party at our house, the next weekend was adult cousin/aunt (unsure of her exact relation) Christy’s birthday, and last weekend was the 15th birthday of Felipe’s (father of Leo the toddler/boyfriend of host sister Javiera) sister, also named Javiera. When we went to Christy’s birthday party in Peñaflor, about 40-60 minutes outside of Santiago, our family got there around 10:15pm, so I was prepared not to go to bed until at least 3am. This party was SO MUCH FUN. All of the parties we’ve been to have been almost all family, not friends, and everyone gets along so well. Everyone was so warm and welcoming to us even though they have no idea who we are. And the best part of this party is that there was no awkward standing-in-a-corner/small talk time because everyone wanted to talk to us. That’s probably the best part about being an extranjera/gringa here – I always have someone to talk to, and usually someone else who wants to jump in (note: being popular is very fun sometimes, but also exhausting). Everyone made sure to speak slower with me (though this doesn’t mean actually slow – it just means slow for Chileans). One woman kept throwing in the few English phrases that she knew, and later when people were giving speeches about Christy (the birthday lady), the English-phrase-using woman shouted out that they should provide subtitles in English for us. It’s funny how so many people think all we want to do is speak English while we’re here, when actually that’s the last thing we want to do. When I talked to someone about this, he explained to me that it’s a difference in culture – people here want to speak English with me because they want to practice their own English, while people in the U.S. generally don’t want to explore new cultures, languages, and countries, so they don’t usually want to practice Spanish with Spanish-speakers that travel in the U.S. While this is definitely a generalization, I see a lot of truth in that, especially with many Trump-supporting members of the U.S. right now.

I ended up talking a lot about why I’m vegan – since food is served all throughout the party (yes, up until 2am), every time I politely declined something and the person urged me to try it, I explained that I’m vegan and they took no offense and moved on to the next person (actually, usually someone else who already knew that we’re vegan would jump in and say it). I think that people here are much more interested and accepting of our veganism because it’s not common in Santiago, but especially because the food systems in the U.S. and Chile are completely different (though I don’t know too much about the food system in Chile yet except that produce is super cheap – I will look into it soon). I explained that I chose to go vegan 7 years ago because of many aspects of the U.S. food system, and everyone seemed genuinely interested in learning about it. My experiences in the U.S. have generally involved people being dismissive of my choice (though not always), so it’s very refreshing to talk to people who can respect it. Felipe’s aunt, Pamela, whom I’ve met many times, definitely wins the award for Most Helpful Family Member because she thoroughly searches for any vegan food at all the parties and moves it away from everyone else so we can eat it. At this birthday party, she moved an entire bowl of pistachios into a corner for us even though we repeatedly told her that we couldn’t eat all of them – she’s hilarious. At the end of the party, when I was hugging Cristy (the birthday lady) goodbye, she promptly invited me to her wedding in January…where else does that happen?? People here are unbelievably generous and welcoming toward us, and this just goes to show that they are genuinely interested in our backgrounds, experiences, and well-being. I feel so lucky to be living with a host family that comes with a huge extended family of which I get to be part.

I also talked to a man named Richard, who is originally from England and whose parents are Spanish, so he grew up bilingual. He told me that though he’s a native Spanish speaker, he has lived in Chile for five years and still has trouble with the language (which definitely didn’t make ME feel confident about my language skills). But he said that if it weren’t for the people here, he would’ve left years ago – the generous, welcoming people are the reason that he stayed, and I feel the same in many ways. I do really like the city of Santiago, and of course there is so much of the country that I need to see, but the language is extremely difficult. Especially because I have an English student from Colombia who naturally speaks incredibly clearly and slowly, and I think about how much easier it would be to improve my Spanish if I were living there. It’s easy to get frustrated when I don’t understand much of what people are talking about, but in general, I feel pretty good about everything going on in my life here, and my amazing host family is a huge part of my Chilean experience.

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Speaking of my extended family, one of our Chilean cousins works in a coffee shop, and he made me this beautiful almond milk latte today and I am very happy about it.

 

New foods (I put links in here so you can see what they look like):

  • Arvejas – they look taste like lentils, but I think are more similar to split peas; regardless, they’re delicious.
  • Avas – pretty positive these are lima beans with a Chilean twist (no direct translation)
  • Cochayuyo – seaweed-like food that is naturally hard when it’s raw, but you cook it and put it in salads, soup, etc. I’m usually not a huge fan of seafood (plants, of course)/seaweed things, but I actually really like this when it’s part of a dish with lots of other vegetables.
  • Chirimoya – delicious tropical fruit that you can eat plain or put in punch/sangria!
  • Calzones rotos – this is some sort of fried dough dessert, kind of like funnel cake, and the words literally translate to “broken underwear”.
  • Alcayota – looks like a honeydew on the outside, but it’s in the same family as pumpkins/squash. Apparently the only reason people buy this is to make it into jam. Below is a picture of Leo using the empty rind of the alcayota as a hat – I think he rocks it.

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Miscellaneous happenings

  • I recently learned the word “mañoso/a”, which means picky, and realized that I have been describing Mel to my host family as “exigente” (demanding) for the last two months. Oops! Once she gets here and charms them with her Spanish, they’ll understand the non-demanding child she really is (Ya hear that Mel? You better be practicing!)
  • Many condiments come in bags, such as jam and mayonnaise (though mayonnaise also comes in a jar). This was interesting in one of the demo classes in my TEFL course in October, because one of my classmates was teaching a vocabulary class on containers, with vocab like jar, bottle, can, etc. When the students were matching food words to pictures of storage, they often matched jam to bags, and then we realized that even though this isn’t common in the U.S., they can say, “I would like a bag of jam” here in Chile and be correct.
  • Kinder vs. jardin – Kindergarten here is called “kinder” in Spanish, and pre-K is called “jardín” (garden). I only recently realized that it’s just the splitting of the word Kindergarten even though they’re totally separate programs – and I think this is adorable. “I’m sending my kid off to the garden.” – isn’t that cute??
  • All of the parties I’ve been to with our host family have had a lot of food (and they serve it up until the end of the party, i.e. 2:30am), but there are no plates for the guests to put their food – I find this strange. When people eat, they kind of just hover around the food table.
  • Life here is very family-oriented – we’ve been to parties with our host family 3 weekends in a row with family birthday parties, and all of the guests at those parties have been family members. I think a big part of this is because children tend to live at home until they’re married (or at least until they’re out of university, which is often between ages 25 and 30). Maybe I’m seeing so much of this because Javi (host sister) has a son, so she doesn’t have as much time to go out with friends, but in general, all the parties we’ve gone to have been all family members, not friends.
  • Everyone here uses Whatsapp – it’s very easy to forget about Whatsapp in the U.S. when it is not very common, but I’ve heard that virtually every country outside the U.S. uses Whatsapp in place of texting. No one ever calls someone’s phone or sends a real text – they all call/text through Whatsapp over data or wifi. All of the advertisements on billboards and at phone companies describe deals for gigabytes of data, not for minutes. I have a friend who told me when she visited the U.S., she sent people Whatsapp messages and never got a response, so she had to send real texts to them and it was a very strange experience for her.
  • Chileans love teaching me (and gringos/as in general) bad words (“malas palabras”), but the Chilenismo is “garabatos”. One night at Spanglish Party (the language exchange that Jordin and I go to every week), there was a soccer game between Chile and Uruguay (they’re in the middle of World Cup qualifiers). One of the guys I was sitting with told me that I would learn way more Chilean Spanish that night than any other night because of the soccer game. Every time there was a goal, people stood up and jumped around and yelled the Chilean national chant: “Chi, Chi Chi, Le, Le Le, Viva Chile!” It’s very exciting. But I actually got to use some of these malas palabras because during this Spanglish Party, just one week after the U.S. election, of course I was getting a lot of questions about it. After one Chilean man asked me about Trump in general, I explained to him Trump’s sexism, racism, white supremicism, etc., and then he repeatedly told me (in English) that I was overreacting about the whole situation (this was after 1-2 minutes of conversation). He may have also called me a “rambling bitch” (not actually sure if I heard him correctly), so it was the perfect situation to use my newly learned malas palabras after I chose to not engage with him further since he could not be respectful.
  • I recently went to a concert/lecture about the theremin, which is an electronic musical instrument in which the sounds come from electric signals. The “thereminist” uses their hands to control the frequency and volume of the sounds, between two antennas. So cool! Here is a video of her playing a few years ago, if you’re interested.
  • People are really friendly in situations with people they don’t know – they say ciao to the bus drivers, and “Que te vaya bien!” to people in the elevator – I love this. Why isn’t this a norm everywhere?IMG_9629.JPG
  • I think I’m addicted to apricots. I said last time that I eat 3-5 a day – that is a vast understatement right now. Sergio (host dad) and I have an unspoken competition every day as to who will eat more. These things are crack.

 

Vocab that I constantly confuse:

  • Alcayota – honeydew-appearing, pumpkin/squash family fruit described above.
  • Alpargata – rope-like sandal, similar to the brand Toms Shoes
  • Alfombra – rug/carpet
  • Almohada – pillow
  • Alcachofa – artichoke

Ciao until next time! Por favor, email/facebook message/whatsapp me personally with questions or updates about your own lives – I miss being home, especially during this time of year!

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Roses + mountain views in Parque Arauco, Las Condes, Santiago