Tag Archives: safety

Settled/Unsettled

Last night we went to the airport and dropped off my American host sister, another student from my university who was living with my family this semester. It was emotional. Leaving- whether it’s the States or Chile- is definitely my least favorite part of traveling. That and all the hours in the plane. Someone really needs to work on a more efficient and cheaper way of travel. Wouldn’t it be great if we could just pop back and forth between continents? Then you could just go down for a long weekend. I could have come back to the States for the Fourth of July. I could come down for Chilean Independence Day. Are we agreed that someone needs to work on that? Okay, aerospace engineers. Get to it.

I’ve become more settled here the second time around. I live in a house with my family. I could actually manage giving someone directions in my neighborhood. I have places that I like to shop, and I know where to go to buy certain things. I know that fifteen minutes can make all the difference between a 50 minute and a 90 minute commute. I have a routine (and anyone who knows me knows that I love a routine).

And yet, other things have happened that have been unsettling. There’s been a spat of robberies affecting my friends and coworkers lately- nothing particularly serious, but unfortunate all the same. I work in a part of town that’s quite different from where I live. I’ve seen what it’s like to be young and alone in a foreign country, and how hard it can be when you only have yourself to rely on. I’ve been exposed to more poverty, which is always uncomfortable. And it should be. I’m not saying you should avoid the glance of the homeless man begging for coins on the bus. Not at all. You shouldn’t. But you shouldn’t ever feel comfortable or nonchalant when you can tell that he hasn’t showered in several days, and that his hands are so cracked and dry that they’re bleeding. It’s unsettling. It’s unsettling when the bus driver doesn’t pay attention to the elderly woman getting off of the bus and closes the doors before she’s out- resulting in her falling out when he barely stops and opens the doors again (Note: everyone got off the bus and about half of the passengers stayed back to help. Buena onda. Clueless bus driver.). It’s unsettling when we have to go home early from work on protest days because the protests can get out of control enough that for those who live in the center of the city (not me. Not even close. I completely bypass all protests.), it can be dangerous to get home.

Does that make me cuica? Cuico/cuica is the chilenismo for snob, except it’s a little more derogatory. Is it cuica to avoid certain areas of town because it’s far away from home, I don’t want to go there on the bus, and I don’t want to pay for a taxi there? Is it cuica to always pay for a taxi if I’m going home alone? Is it cuica not to venture past Bellavista/Lastarria or outside of Ñuñoa when I go out? Does being unsettled by all of the things in the paragraph above make me cuica?

I can’t apologize for my limits. I know where I’m comfortable and where I’m not. If I’m uncomfortable- as in, I feel like something is wrong- I will not enjoy myself. I’m not a risk-taker. I’m settled. For as young as I am, I really like being settled. And I think the more settled I get, the easier it is for me to be unsettled.

Friends and family: I would like to re-emphasize that all of the crime and safety things mentioned above affected other people, not me. And that this is crime you will find in any big city in the United States. And that I take plenty of safety precautions, and overall, everything is good! Everything is very good. It’s all flying by, and I won’t get into it now because I’m a broken record on that subject.

Maybe I’ll bake something today. Or take a walk. Or read. Or all of the above.

I got off at the wrong metro station the other week. So I took a picture of it. Of course.

I got off at the wrong metro station the other week. So I took a picture of it. Of course.

I love how naturally perfect eggs are.

I love how naturally perfect eggs are.

Queque is sweet bread. Like banana bread, or orange bread. Queque means cake, which acknowledges the fact that these "breads" really are closer to cake. But Chileans just accept that and make it breakfast food.

Queque is sweet bread. Like banana bread, or orange bread. Queque means cake, which acknowledges the fact that these “breads” really are closer to cake. But Chileans just accept that and make it breakfast food.

Even when it's gray. Look at all that snow!

Even when it’s gray. Look at all that snow!

Las Condes, late Saturday afternoon.

Las Condes, late Saturday afternoon.

Ñuñoa on a Saturday night.

Ñuñoa on a Saturday night.

This is vino navegado. It smells and tastes like Christmas. It's basically a hot spiced wine (mulled wine?), with cinnamon, cloves, and orange. It is an excellent way to warm up.

This is vino navegado. It smells and tastes like Christmas. It’s basically a hot spiced wine (mulled wine?), with cinnamon, cloves, and orange. It is an excellent way to warm up.

I danced until 5 with my friends who were leaving the next day. Dancing until 2 is one thing. Dancing until 5 is another thing entirely. And the Chileans do it all. the. time.

I danced until 5 with my friends who were leaving the next day. Dancing until 2 is one thing. Dancing until 5 is another thing entirely. And the Chileans do it all. the. time.

When you go out until 5, the best thing for the next day is to watch a movie and eat popcorn. The translated title of Bridesmaids is Damas en Guerra- Ladies at War. ¿Cómo?

When you go out until 5, the best thing for the next day is to watch a movie and eat popcorn. The translated title of Bridesmaids is Damas en Guerra- Ladies at War. ¿Cómo?

Should I do a food post soon? Yeah. I think that’d be good. Chilean food, round 2!

Cuídense! With love,

Gaby

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Volando

Has anyone figured out how to make time stop yet? Or at least slow down? I’ve been in Santiago for 3 months. Which means I’ve been in Chile for about 3.5 months. Which leaves me about a month and half left.

I don’t want to talk about it. We dropped someone off at the airport last week, and I started crying. It got me thinking about how I’ll be leaving soon enough and then I’ll be one dragging my bags through the airport again and saying goodbye. My host mom just brought up how quickly the time has flown by, and I literally could not look at her because I started tearing up. I’ve had a bunch of moments like that this week, and mixed in with seeing people’s fall pictures from the States, plus a very full academic workload, it’s been emotional. I’m mostly blaming it on being tired and hormonal (you didn’t need to know that, but whatever, it’s the truth!), but we all know that that’s not the whole reason.

My real parents and my host parents have both told me that they know I will be coming back one day. And maybe it will be soon. I’ve decided to apply for an internship which would put me back here for 10 weeks next summer (or winter, in the Southern hemisphere). It would be a very valuable experience for me besides just getting some more time here, I promise. But it’s a competitive program, so who knows my chances of actually being accepted? Which means I don’t know when I’ll be able to come back. And that’s hard for me to deal with. I’ve done exactly what I wanted to do here. I didn’t really want to come here to travel every other weekend or go out three nights a week or anything. I cam here to live here. I came here in the hope that I could lay down some roots and that I would have a life here. And I do. Which means it’s going to be hard to leave.

I’ll be incredibly excited to go home and see my family and celebrate the holidays, of course. It’s gonna be an awesome Christmas. That doesn’t mean I’ll be any less sad or teary in that airport come December.

Several weeks ago, I was discussing how I don’t want to be seen as a tourist here. Then a Chilean asked me, “So what are you doing here?” And I didn’t really have a good answer for him. I am not a tourist. Do I occasionally do tourist-y things? Yes. Occasionally. Infrequently. I’m not an expatriate, because I’m not here for good. Am I just a foreigner? Just a student? Is that the easiest way to describe what I’m doing here? I wish there were a word that aptly described my temporarily-settled state. I know that, no matter how hard I try, no matter how many gringo students are overly impressed by my Spanish, I am not Chilean. Not by a long shot. So what do we think I am?

Oh hey! I finally went to a club!

Tip #1: if you want to drink, previa- or as American college students call it, pre-game. Drinks in the clubs are generally expensive, and you don’t want to fight the crowd at the bar, then have to sit at the bar with your drink while you’d rather be out dancing.

Tip #2: nothing really gets going until after 12, and a lot of people stay out until at least 4. So get yourself ready for a long night.

Tip #3: wear clothing with pockets. Try to avoid bringing a purse, because it’s hard to dance with your purse hanging off of you. It’s also easier to keep track of your stuff when it’s very close to your person.

Tip #4: take cab money to get home. Try not to ride the buses, especially alone, especially if you haven’t planned out multiple bus routes before you leave. Just take the cab.

Tip #5: try to get in for free! This is much easier for the ladies, especially the foreign ladies (sorry, guys). Covers can be ridiculous. Sometimes all it takes is getting there a little early or say you’re attending a club’s event on Facebook. But you’ll appreciate saving those 3.000 pesos or whatever it is.

Tip #6: just dance! Get in there and get going. That’s what you’re there for anyways, right?

Let’s talk about fashion! Santiago, like any other big city, exhibits a wide range of styles. You can get a good sense of it just by riding the metro. Let’s discuss some trends, shall we?

You can find every kind of sweater, or chaleco, in Chile. Like, every kind of style, knit, wool, size, shape, color you could possibly imagine. Chilean women wear sweaters in every kind of weather. It’s almost the only thing you’ll see them wearing on colder days, and I’ve even seen them when the temperature goes above 70.

Boots are also an essential part of the wardrobe, and they usually come with some kind of heel. I actually found it a little difficult to find flat boots at the beginning of the semester. Wedge boots, with laces, seem to have been the hot thing this season. Boots are still in full force now that spring has come to stay. I wonder if it’s an all-season thing.

Chilean women wear scrunchies. Not even kidding. We’ve been making fun of them for years, and they’re selling them new, in all kinds of prints and fabrics, in higher-end accessory stores. And the women make them work too! There’s nothing ridiculous about them! I might actually give one a try. Maybe we can bring it back?

There’s also a lot of acid-wash or very light denim around. Just another trend that I thought was gone with the 90’s until I got down here.

Scarves are everywhere, and with the wide range in temperatures you can experience in a day, they’re a must-have item. There are two words for scarves here. You’ve got the bufanda, which is usually a larger scarf made of thicker or heavier materials. There’s also the pañuelo, which appears to be more common and certainly so in the springtime. Pañuelos- also the word for handkerchief- are smaller and made of lighter materials.

I’ve seen a lot of ponchos. Mostly in the rural areas, but I’ve seen many a little bitty Chilean wrapped up in a poncho in Santiago when it gets cold. Side note: when it gets cooler here- and I mean, in the 40’s and 50’s, so not freezing- they wrap their babies up. Multiple blankets, poncho, ski jacket, boots, hats, gloves, the whole shebang. Chilean babies do not get cold.

Last thing, and probably the most unusual: printed parachute or harem pants. You know, the pants made out of some kind of jersey-like material that are tight at the ankles but baggy everywhere else? I’ve seen them all over the place. It’s a very specific Chilean woman who wears them- young, artsy, and hip. But really. Printed parachute pants! Are common!

One thing you don’t see: a lot of athletic wear. I’ve left my house in yoga pants just once this semester. Once. I have never gone to class in anything less than jeans. I also have yet to see many shorts, particularly on women. I’ll update you soon on that front now that the weather is regularly getting above 70-75. Because I don’t know how I’ll be able to wear full-length when it gets to be 80 and brilliantly sunny every day and I have to ride a crowded metro that hits 90 degrees during rush hour.

Oh, there was another temblor! I was sound asleep and felt nothing, but apparently it was stronger than the last one. It really makes me believe what the Chileans say about weird weather (which we had again recently: a full week of sun and 70’s followed by two days of under 60 with pouring rain) meaning more seismic activity. The scientists say no, but I’m inclined to side with the locals on this one.

We’ll see what adventures or thoughts I have in store for you next time! Until then, chao chao y cuídate mucho!

With love,

Gaby

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