Sunday, January 31, 2010

More Chilean Details

Last time I left Chile, I felt I had forgotten the tiny details that made Chile interesting and different from America. And having forgotten what exactly I wrote in 77 blogs entries, I figured I'd just risk overlapping.

1. Chileans feel that lanes are merely a suggestion. The dashed line doesn't have to be followed all that closely. They sometimes hang out right over the line, their wheels in two lanes. Anything goes in Chile.

2. Terms of endearment here are mean but accepted as cute. Chanchifante (my little pig elephant), guatoncita (big bellied woman), chanchita (little piglet), gordita (plumpy), negrita/blanquita (my little black girl or white girl), cosita (my little thing), gordifante (fat elephant). I don't know about you, I really don't want to be called a little piglet...even when it's said with lots of love.

3. My favorite Chilean/Spanish words:
Chan nan: pronounced Chaw Nawn! It means ta da!
cuatico: pronounced QUAteeko. Means freaky or strange.
te pasaste: pronounced very exaggeratedly tay pawSAWWWstay. Means you outdid yourself.
pucha: pronounced POOCHuh. It's the watered down version of chucha. It means darn or too bad.
chueca: pronounced chWEKuh. It means off-kilter, crooked. Like, I had a tooth that was chueca but then I got braces.

4. Farmer's markets and corner stores. They are everywhere! I loved them. It's the most convenient aspect of Chile. When you need food, you don't have to walk far to get it. I've almost stopped going to supermarkets completely. I've gotten so lazy and since having discovered how close fresh food really is, I've given up what I can't get at the farmer's markets and corner stores.

5. Reggaeton. You cannot escape it. The same beat over and over again. Very sexual lyrics. Very sexual dancing. BOOM bahdoombah. BOOM bahdoombah. BOOM bahdoombah. Se Va Sola by the Shamanes Crew, a group from Chile is really good reggaeton. You hardly noticed the same beat over and over again. In fact, check out all of the Shamanes Crew on Grooveshark. Really good stuff.

6. I have no idea if this song by Pitbull, called I Know You Want Me was big in the states, but it was big here.

7. I still think Chileans are the worse line cutters in the world. But, I have to admit, I have started to do the same. What? When in Rome, right?

8. Having a boyfriend with a truck has expose me to new details of Chile. For example, if you have enough cash in your car, you can get chores done simply waiting for the light to turn green. Thinking about replacing the wiper blades...never fear, wiper blade man is here! Want your window washed? Also very possible with every corner littered with teenagers offering to wash your window. And while that happens, you'll also be entertained by the magician performing slight-of-hand tricks and a flag girl twirling and swinging flags. Plus, once you park, you have the option of getting your whole car washed. Car washers come to you in Chile!

9. Peajes--toll booths. First, you have a FastTrak type system along the better freeways. It's a nice freeway because hardly anyone can afford to be on it. Then, once out of the city, you pay for each part of the highway you drive. It's not cheap. It costs about $6 to drive from Santiago to the coast in a car in peajes alone. Probably $7 including the FastTrak system. Then it's about $40 for gas. And considering how much Chileans's expensive!

10. Crowded beaches. Everyone makes the exodus to the beaches during the summer, even Argentines. It's a colorful and sometimes overwhelming scene. There are only certain beaches that don't have strong tides, so everyone flocks to them with their children. If you're not interested in swimming, you can choose miles of empty sand.

11. Just like in the car, on the beach, you can get whatever you need. Do a little shopping and buy some earrings, buy food and drinks, and listen to the one-man drummer nearby. If you go, bring or rent or buy an umbrella and if you're white, spf 50 at least. The UV rays in Chile are gnarly.

I have to say this list is more for me than for my readers. I just don't want to forget them when I go....whenever that is...

Friday, January 22, 2010

At the beach from the cybercafe

Algarrobo feels strangely similar to Santa Cruz...except that everyone is speaking Spanish. The two friends on the computers at either side of me are speaking Spanish but in an accent that makes me think they´re not from Santiago. Still Chile, but maybe to the South, I´d guess.

My thoughts lately have turned towards home...and then have immediately turned back to Santiago.

The beach life...awww. We don´t spend much money each day. Just ride bikes, eat ice cream, watch House on the laptop and data show Pollo brought.

It´s a normal Spanish life.

The past month has been filled with small sparks and ideas about home and about here. Exactly where oh where to place my roots...and is it possible to place them in two countries...or do you then spend your whole life stretched impossibly thin over 5,000 miles?

It´s strange to think, but your life is yours, your own, and you can put down roots anywhere you want.

I´m waiting for my heart to point and say, here. This is where you belong. For now it seems to be pointing in all directions, like one of those crazy sign posts you see in Europe.

Perhaps it is merely saying to me,"You belong to the world. You belong anywhere and everywhere."

And now, i´m off to drink a capuccino which at this one particular ice cream shop consists of regualr coffee and the rest whip cream! I´m definitely not complaining.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

My Terrible Spanish Jokes--Read at Your Own Peril

My roommate and I began creating Spanish jokes...really, really terrible jokes...but it has helped us remember words. And so, I decided that I wanted to show them off and make your days brighter...even if just by a little.

The first one:
Que dice frutilla a la manzana? Disfruta!
What did the strawberry say to the apple............... Enjoy!
Explanation: Disfruta means enjoy...within "disfruta" is the word "fruta" for fruit. hahahaha.

Que dice oveja Jack a oveja Can cuando Can compro un estereo nuevo? ............Baaaaacan.
What did Jack the Sheep say to Can the sheep when Can bought a new stereo. Coooollll!
Explanation: Bacan means cool in Chile. Baaaa is the sound a sheep makes... get it, get it? hahaha. Are you crying yet?

Longer joke:
Un nuevo presentador extranjero, se llama Stezar, estaba dando un discurso en una plaza de un pueblito. Los ciudadanos juntaron en la plaza, pero despues de cinco minutos algo extrano empezo occurir. Todas de las bocas de la gente empezo a abrir. Un nino que nunca habia visto este fenomeno, pidio, "Que esta pasando?" Una persona a lado de el respondio................. "Es bostezar!

A new foreign presenter, named Stezar, was giving a speech in a plaza in a small town. The citizens gathered in the plaza but after five minutes, something strange began to occur. All of the mouths of the people began to open. A small child who had never seen this phenomenon asked, "What is happening?" A person next to him replied..................."It's yawning" AND "It's the voice Stezar!"
Explanation: Bostezar means to yawn. But voz, which sounds the same as Bos, means voice. Chan nan! Aren't you glad you're read this?

That's all I've got for now. I've been trying to put one together for feliz (because fe means faith and liz is a girl's name...there's a joke in feliz somewhere). If you have a chance, send me your jokes!

Hope you all have a lovely and rico Saturday!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Can One Joke Change Your Life?

Recently Pollo and I have had our share of discussions over when I'm leaving and why. And inevitably, it comes up that despite how much he loves me, I remain unfulfilled. Not because of lack of love, but because of lack of Cathy.

My dance friends pointed out to me when I was last in the US that I am a very communicative being. And a complete one at that. But, when you put me in a situation for say, a year and a half, where my communication is restricted, you bet I'm going to be a little -or a lot-unfulfilled.

When I was last in the US, having gotten reacqainted with myself as well as with others, I broke up with Pollo on the basis that he really didn't know who I was. I had been lost in translation.

I still feel like that. Less so. But still, the shiny, bright, happy Cathy is just below the surface, as if I'm floating under a Spanish sea. Everything I do in Spanish is with that slow, walking-in-water feeling. When I talk, I feel like I talk underwater.

Pollo said to me once, "I don't understand it. You seem shiny, happy Cathy to me. And what's the problem? I love you as you are."

How to explain that I'm half Cathy and the other half is some weird, new Spanish entity that oddly seems similar to the timid, shy high schooler that faked her way through with a lot of bravado.

Then yesterday, we went to a Chilean wedding in Rancagua, an industrial city an hour south of Santiago. We went to the ceremony and then the socializing at the reception began. This is my most uncomfortable moment-a Spanish wedding reception. Normally, wedding receptions are a bit uncomfortable--until the alcohol starts flowing. The disadvantage for me is that I still feel uncomfortable here, even with the alcohol. It's a tough line to walk. Get too drunk and you lose the capacity to speak at all. Not enough and you say "uhhhhh" a lot!

But the gods were on my side. I had the BEST Spanish night of my life. Others might have judged the wedding for the food, or the dancing, or the drinks. But I judged it solely based on my ability to speak.

And then there it was. The golden opportunity. I was telling a friend of Pollo's about my travels to the north--that I went with my roommate and her friends and we camped beneath the stars and the full moon. Then he asked, "And you guys were naked, right?" And I replied in split second, "Well, that was implied." Ba doom doom. Chan nan. Joke (not true, but funny nonetheless). He laughed on cue.

So here's why it was so special. It was the first intentional, well-timed clever joke I have ever made in Spanish. I wanted to use the word "implied" but didn't know the word so just guessed at "implicado" and hoped for the best. I actually managed to get the joke in under the timing required for all jokes...something that with a lack of vocabulary usually leaves me in mid-joke going "uhhhhhh, como se dice....."

How could a joke make me feel so darn good? So fulfilled after so long being half-Cathy? Because it's a part of me. I might not be funny to everyone, but I like having a full set of tools in my toolbox to try. Spanish was mine fully to use last night. I used Spanish slang. I asked questions to other people. I understood when they responded (most of the time).

It was like coming up for air after such a long time underwater. A little peek at me--a little wave hello. Like "Ah, there you are. Where have you been?"

So here's the ultimate far do I take this Spanish thing? Do I see how long it takes for me to really start swimming? Do I have the patience to wait for the real Cathy to appear in Spanish? And even scarier...what if Pollo doesn't actually like the real Cathy. Actually, that's not scary--if he doesn't like the real Cathy, we all know he's crazy, right?!

I think everyone should live in a foreign country for the experience of limited communication. It's like having your mouth taped except for just a tiny hole and having to learn how to speak again through that tiny crack at the side of your mouth-exhausting, frustating, embarrassing, awkward as hell, but, once you get it, you ARE the party trick. Your command of your new speech IS the fascinating thing you bring to the party. People are amazed (frankly, I'm amazed too).

So here's to more Spanish jokes, a little brighter shimmer of me through the Spanish sea.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

I'm an auntie!

Say hello to Emmaline Jaymes Dean. I can already tell she's gonna be so cool!