Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Sample the Chilean Experience

So what is the Chilean experience, really? Here's some examples:

1. Example 1: The Coddled Chilean Man Date
Recently my friend went out on a pseudo date with a 27 year old Chilean man. They planned to meet where he lived, in a town outside of Santiago. It took her two hours on a bus when she thought it'd take about a half hour (in a car it would have). When she arrived, she and her guy hung out with his friends in a plaza. Then they went back to his house, where he lives with his mom. His mom served once (tea) with maraqueta bread (kind of like a small baguette), butter and ham. My friend, being a vegetarian, only ate bread with butter. When she revealed that she was a vegetarian, it was a big deal...kind of similar to My Big Fat Greek Wedding "What? You eat no meat? You eat no meat. That's okay. We'll have lamb." Then they watched bad Chilean reality shows.

Low-key, free and involving his mom. The Chilean date.

The best part (or worst part) about dating a Chilean man is that really you're dating a Chilean man and his mother. You get the man and when you're tired of the man, you turn to the mother where you get free lunch or dinner, your clothes washed, and a trip to her second house at the beach. Wherever there is a Chilean man, there is always a caring (overbearing?) mom nearby.

Example 2: Biking the Cerro
I didn't really know it until now but biking to the top of Cerro San Cristobal is a feat that most of the Santiago population has attempted. I attempted on Sunday and would've made it (I swear!) if it hadn't been closed halfway up the hill due to the elections. I did however subir (climb up) the half of the hill three times with my friends, and so therefore enjoyed the speeding down as fast as you can before you get scared more times. As I watched the gringos at the bottom getting ready to ride the teleferico (tram) to the top, I thought, nope, that's the tourist experience. The Chileans go up by bike.

Example 3: Elections
Elections for president are a two-part affair. The first took place this past Sunday where they narrow the candidates from four to two. The second will happen in the new year, when they choose their president.

Here's how it goes: A month or two before the elections begins, signs start appearing everywhere, people's shining, smiling faces advertising their campaign. I have never seen more billboards and signs and faces in my life! It's Disneyland with a bunch of happy heads everywhere. Then people get tired of the posters and start vandalizing them. The faces start having missing teeth, horns, or parts ripped off. By the end, the signs are a sad state of affairs. My belief is that the guy with the most signs wins. If Pinera wins the final election, I'm right because this guy's mug is all over this city.

Also, on TV, they have the campaign ads. But TV is expensive here, so sometimes candidates can only afford a few seconds. Pollo was telling me that one candidate, Erika Arrica, or something like that, only had time to say her name, but even then it wasn't enough time, so it was only "Erika Arric". Another only shouted "Trabajo, trabajo, trabajo" during his three seconds of fame. Makes for fun TV.

Stay tuned, it's down to Frei for the left and Pinera for the right. If Pinera wins it'll be the first right-wing President to be elected since 1956. It's interesting because Chile is really divided between right and left. The right lost their land with the reign of socialist Allende. The left have family killed by Pinochet. It's a mess.

Politics--a hot subject here.

Example 4: Where I'm working
Sooooo, something kind of funky happened with our Internet at our house ( a certain someone might have forgotten to pay) and so I went on a wild search for Internet access. Being a very, very kind pololo, Pollo offered to let me use his apartment. But his house is such a bachelor's cave, that I decided I would try a cafe instead. A 20 minute walk to a cafe resulted in discovering that my internet didn't work there either. And sooo, where is the most reliable place for Internet in Santiago. Guesses anyone?

It's the gas stations. Almost every gas station has a place to work, including plugs and free WiFi. Go figure! So I'm working at a gas station, in a pretty comfortable chair, in peace and quiet. It's actually far quieter than a coffee shop. No coffee grinder sounds, no heating of the milk sounds, not even music. It's actually the perfect spot to work.

I know I'm forgetting so much more, but it's all I've got for right now...so now you know a little more about what it's like to experience Chile.