Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Gringa has arrived!

I have finally been in Chile for over 24 hours. I don't know why but it has felt like at least a few days.
My flight was quite good, I flew out late Tuesday night and arrived mid-morning in Chile. Since the flight was overnight I had approx 3-4 hours of sleep on-and-off, and when the flight attendants served dinner at 3 am lets just say it didn't help with my inability to sleep. I sat beside a lovely Argentinian lady who spoke little English, a glimpse into my immediate future life in Chile, but we were able to have some conversation with the little bit of each language that we knew.

Clad in my Rotary jacket I only ran into one Rebound while waiting at immigrations. I got through security and customs easy enough (I guess you have to declare maple syrup? Well I didn't!) and there was mi mama Chileana, Alexia, and two other ladies waiting for me. With a hug and a kiss on the cheek (usual greeting) we were off. The one lady is a mother of a boy in my class, she speaks fluent English which was a help for those first culture shocked moments.

First sight of the Andes from the ground - WOW!! I think I have a thing for mountains, they are just so big, and everywhere! We drove through downtown Santiago, Provindencia and then Las Condes ( the comuna de Santiago that I will be staying in). I can't quite compare Santiago, it somewhat reminds me of Los Angeles and a bit of Toronto.. but not really at all, it's just Santiago!

Once we got to the house something that I most definably noticed were the gates. A gate to enter into the one area in which 3-4 houses are, and then a gate at my house, and then bars on my windows - I feel safe... I guess. Mi casa is very modest, quite small which is understandable in a city, very different from my house in Canada. As I have told some people before there is no central heating. So it might feel nice outside but inside is freezing, but I have found a spot on my bed where the sun shines in and is quite warm!

Can you guess a Canadian lives there?

I spent the day trying to have conversations with Alexia. We tried our best with my limited Spanish and lets just say my English-Spanish dictionary has been put to good use! I showed her my photobooks from my life in Canada along with a map of Ontario and Canada and explained to her where my family lives and where I have travelled. I arrived in time for lunch, and then around 5-6 pm we had "once", which is like crackers, cookies, tea, and coffee. Alexia knew that I was looking quite tired but I managed to stay up until 8 pm then headed to bed. I guess in that time my host-dad came home and I missed seeing him!

After about 9 hours of sleep I was ready for my first full day in Chile. I had breakfast with Alexia - tea/instant coffee(i opted out of the instant stuff), cereal but with yogurt, and some hard bread with turkey... different. After a freezing shower I gave Alexia her Canadian gifts - I don't think she knows what to do with the maple syrup!

Then she helped me learn numbers and how to count. I counted up to 131 all by myself before i got to tired of counting. Then we headed to the supermarket to pick up a few things
-eggs are in cartons on regular shelves, not refrigerated
-pan (bread) and fruit is picked, put into bags, and then weighed by clerks and given a sticker according to weight
-cereal boxes are obnoxiously covered with graphics, I'm talking Shrek staring you down, futbal players kicking a massive soccer ball at you, way to much for the eyes
-booze is in a massive aisle as if you were buying rice or other food
-milk was no where in sight... maybe I didn't notice it or we didn't go down the aisle

Once back to the house we had lunch and I was so tired from translating and using my brain a lot so I went for a siesta. After maybe 10 minutes my cell phone started to ring. I answered it not knowing what to say and it was my friend Cristobal the past Chilean Inbound who was in Waterloo last year! Getting him to talk to my host-mom we were able to meet-up just down the main street at the one mall. It was so crazy to see him, knowing that to me he is like Canada, but now... I am in his country! We took the metro (subway) and it was so nice. Toronto subway looks so run down and disgusting, they should take a hint from the Chileans! We went to his grandparents apartment in Las Condes in a really nice part. His grandma spoke quite good English so she would ask things in English and I would reply the best I could in Spanish and fill in the blanks with English. After some conversation we had "té" which like once was milk, tea, cookies, and bread with avocado - mmmmm! We had to leave around 5:30 pm because it was getting dark, and you don't travel in the dark in Santiago. Went back through the metro and were early before my host mom came to pick me up so we went into the mall. Many different stores, but Cristobal helped me to try and convert the prices so I should know how much I am paying.

Cristobal y yo

After coming back to the house we talked some more and had a phone call from Mia Tere (Maria the lady who speaks English), she helped to translate as I have to figure out information for my school trip in November. My host-dad arrived home around 9 pm and I finally got to meet him. Teo is the president of my host Rotary club. I was finally able to give him his gifts, he loves the tie... maybe. We then had what seemed like another té, I haven't figured out meals yet! We then spent the night trying to communicate, fighting over what a moose is called in Spanish (he thinks its a donkey or a bull... no it's just... a Canadian moose!), and I showed him my maps and then helped him with an English insurance form for my host brother on exchange in Kentucky.

So pretty much my life in a nutshell is a lot of Spanglish, smiling, nodding, and laughing because I can't understand and it's pretty funny right now because I'm horrible at Spanish. I'm sorry if my grammar is getting a lot worse already, or I'm missing words. I am so tempted to write the Spanish words that I know because that is how I am talking, and I am so tired/my head hurts from thinking and having to translate so much.

Much love from South of the equator
Lynn-say (as the Chileans call me)


  1. hey my name's connor, we are facebook friends, i just got back to the u.s. from exchange in santiago. just a tip on your cold shower... in most houses you have to turn on a heater to get the hot water running. so ask your family to "prender la calefacción" next time. suerte!

  2. oh i turned it on, saw the flame and everything... but it just wasn't as warm as expected!