Hoy es viernes

And it feels like I’ve been living in this house for a lot more than six days! That’s a sign that I’m very comfortable here, and for that I have to thank my host family for being so great, and the director of our program for matching us up so well.

The days are long, but the weeks seem to fly by. Because it’s the weekend now, and we only have one morning left of classes and three field trips before we move to Santiago for the rest of the semester. I feel like I’ve been in Linares for so long, when really, it’s been less than two weeks.

There’s been a lot going on, so I’m going to try and do a quick day-by-day summary before I get any more overwhelmed with keeping track of everything that’s happened each day.

LUNES (MONDAY)

We went over to the abuela’s house for lunch, after visiting them for dinner the night before. It was a lot more enjoyable this time around, because I think with rest and prior exposure, I was in a much better position to keep up with their Castellano (what the Chileans call Spanish. It’s not Castilian Spanish. Not even close.). They’ve got an uncle who’s a bit of a clown, and of course he liked to talk to me and joke around. Fantastic Spanish practice, since he spoke probably the fastest and least-elocuted of any Chilean I’ve met so far. I’ve also learned that a lot of the gringos get teased (in good humor) a little bit in their families, and it was the same for me. Over at la abuela’s house, the uncle would talk to me for a while, and then somehow end the conversation with “Me gusta tu pelo!” In English: I like your hair! And he said it so many times it became funny.

Later in the afternoon we had Mass and a little party in a rural chapel to celebrate the Feast (definitely typed “Fiest.” As in “fiesta.”) of the Virgin of Carmen, who is the patroness of Chile. There’s enough Catholics here that religious holidays are feriados: everyone gets the day off. I understood more of the Mass this time around, especially the homily, and after Mass we ate. Because you pretty much can’t go anywhere as a guest in Chile and not get fed.

It was nice to hang out with the gringos for a while after not seeing anyone for nearly two whole days, but we also had to be reminded that we should avoid English when we’re with the community, because they feel disrespected. I felt a little guilty afterwards, but it was really great to give my brain a break.

I also found an extra pair of jeans that I hadn’t worn yet. So, so exciting.

MARTES (TUESDAY)

We began classes. Classes run from 9:30 AM until 1 PM, when we all return to our houses for lunch, and begin again at 3 PM. We finish up around 6 PM. Classes have really taught us about la hora chilena: Chilean time. For instance, we usually don’t start class until at least 10 AM. We have a break around 11:30 which the professors tell us will last ten minutes. In our program, ten minutes = at least twenty minutes, in which we drink agua de hierbas and eat fruit and cookies. Class begin again well after 3. Then it’s break time around 4:30 or so. The other day, the afternoon break lasted at least thirty minutes.

Classes are nice because we get to have cool discussions about things like spiders that could kill us, the public health system, and education. They’re not so nice when we have to do actual school things like skits (three days in.a.row.) and write sentences using all kinds of Spanish words.

Fun story: my host family either comes to pick me up in the car, or they meet me partway when I walk. They also insist that I do not sleep with wet hair, and they are intensely preoccupied with making sure I am well fed and that I am not cold.

MIÉRCOLES (WEDNESDAY)

More class. Wednesday we talked about dirty words and euphemisms. This is incredibly important, since we’ll be around a lot of people our age who speak an entirely different language than we do- and by that, I mean they speak a different Spanish than we do. It’s also critical because Chileans are very quick-witted and love to joke around. Knowing those euphemisms and double-entendres (and EVERYTHING has a double meaning) is the key to understanding their sense of humor. Castellano also has four words for everything. Again, I don’t joke about how hard this language is. Not Spanish in general, but the Spanish that they speak in this country.

That night we also had la peña familiar, which I can only describe as a folkloric presentation in which we saw and learned a bunch of dances. The highlight of this was learning la cueca. Granted, the night before, my host mom and little sister taught me some of la cueca so I’d be prepared when I was pulled in to dance. My host mom says I danced the best of all the American girls. Then again, she is my host mom, so maybe she has to say that…

We also ate empanadas. Good lord. I’ll talk more about them in a food round-up later. All I say is that I ate two.

JUEVES

More classes. More skits. Are you kidding me?!

VIERNES

We listened to Chilean music in class and played bingo. It was very chill, which was wonderful considering all of us were thinking about the weekend and had very little desire to sit in class all day.

PENSAMIENTOS EN GENERAL

Why doesn’t the US have a national dance? Okay, we’ve got too much music to just pick one. So why don’t we have like four? Why don’t we all know how to dance? And by dance, I mean really dance, with a partner and with rhythm. Grinding and jumping around in a dorm room does not count.

I love listening to my host sister sing along to songs in English, and think of how crazy our language must sound.

They pronounce LMFAO as LIM-FOW. It’s the best.

Agua de hierbas is herbal tea. But do not call it té de hierbas here. It’s herbal water. If it’s not black tea, it’s not tea.

Questions I always get asked by Chileans: are you cold? Are you hungry? How did you sleep? Were you cold? Did they feed you? Do you have a boyfriend? Would you like tea? Would you like more tea?

This weekend: a field trip to the country. Hiking and football (soccer. Like, the game that actually uses your foot to hit the ball.). A disco. Mass.

Also upcoming: a food round-up post. Because it really deserves its own post.

Un abrazo y besos,

Gaby

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