Tuesday, July 13, 2010

One country, a billion different worlds.

One of the most amazing things about Chile is its variety in climates. It goes from dry (but beautiful) desert in the north, to the ideal Mediterranean climate where I am staying, to cold and damp in the south. The eastern border of Chile is lined by the Andes Mountains, which are covered in snow, and the western border is lined by the Pacific ocean. This makes the country very secluded, creating rapid speech and a TON of slang spoken by the native chileans. I have learned this first hand and I am still trying to keep up with my host family! They joke around with me and laugh at my 'horrible' spanish, but it's all in good fun, a broma (joke). Chileans are known for their cleverness, they are true bromistas (jokers).

If you're interested in learning some slang, here are a few things that I've picked up!
  • Cachai? - "Did you catch it?" basically like "you know?"
    • This is said at the end of a sentence and doesn't need a reply, but if you would like to reply you can say "Yo Cacho."
  • Que onda - What's happening? also a way of saying something is really cool. Onda literally means wave.
  • Pololo/a - boyfriend/girlfriend. Novio/a is used for fianceé.
  • Po - just a chilean speech habit, it's attached to the end of random words when speaking and doesn't hold any meaning. 
    • It's kind of similar to "like", as in "I was going to the store and like there was this guy there who like really seemed into me." A really dumb example, but whatever. It's said by all ages, not just the young people.
  • Filete, bacán - both of these words mean "cool."
  • Fome - boring.
  • Huevón - this is a term that you HAVE to use wisely, or don't use at all. In some contexts it can simply mean calling your friend "dude/buddy" but in other contexts it's basically like saying "f**k."
    • Now I only use it occasionally when teasing my host brother because he tried to get me to say it to his friends. When I said it in front of my host mom, to show her what he taught me, she was absolutely in shock... so that shows you how bad it is lol.
 If you want to learn more Chilean slang, go to http://www.contactchile.cl/en/chile-chilean-slang.php there's a HUGE list.

I live in Viña del Mar and go to school in Valparaíso. It's winter but there are days when it is really nice and warm. My friends and I walked by the beach in search of a restaurant that served seafood empanadas (a delicious fried bread with stuff in the middle, such as shrimp and cheese).

Here are a few pictures from the walk.
 A few sea lions just chillin

A beautiful view of the glittering Pacific ocean

[photo taken by my friend]

My friend and I.
[photo taken by another friend]

A small sample of the amazing graffiti

This past weekend I went to Chillán (chee-yawn) with my study abroad group. Chillán is a town in the south of Chile pretty much in the Andes Mountains. I have never seen so much snow in my life! We stayed at a really cute lodge for the weekend. I went snowboarding and did a ropes course (canopy). It was really cold and it snowed the last day we were there! 
 A few friends and myself, I'm in the middle on the ground with the alien goggles haha.
[photo taken by a friend]

The people running the lodge said they had jacuzzi s, so after the day of snowboarding and skiing my friends and I were really sore and cold. All we wanted was to sit in hot water. So we signed up for the jacuzzi.
Little did we know that the jacuzzi was outside. We had to walk through the snow to get to it. At first we were in disbelief and everyone thought we were crazy for going out there in the snow; but as soon as we sat down in the hot water we were in heaven. 
The houses in Chile do not have central heating, so in order to sit around the house I wear about 3 or 4 layers of shirts/jackets, sweatpants, a pair of socks, and a pair of knitted booties to go over the socks. Talk about COLD! The lodge had heating and we were loving it.
I won't complain too much about the cold because I absolutely love Chile, I won't ever take central heating for granted again though.

Lets praise GOD!
[photo taken by a friend]

An amazing sunrise over the Andes (above and below)

Behind the lodge. The hot tubs are back there somewhere!

That's right... I not only survived the canopy tour, I mastered it.
[photo taken by a friend]

With so much snow around, it's impossible to NOT make snow angels!
[photo taken by a friend]

Here's an interesting cultural thing that turned into a disaster at the lodge.

Chile is a rising country. It just recently got out of a dictatorship so a lot of buildings have been built within the last 20 years and a lot of things are starting to become more modern. At the moment though some things are still a little behind the US, such as the plumbing. The pipes here are very sensitive, so flushing a lot of unnecessary toilet paper can clog up the pipes or worse. Usually when I go into a public restroom there is a little trash basket next to the toilet for the used toilet paper (it's only for pee, the toilet paper used for the other thing you flush). This cuts down the amount of toilet paper going through the pipes. 

I never really understood how important it is to throw the toilet paper away instead of flushing it; I don't think the girls living above me understood the importance either. 

So one night I ran inside from the jacuzzi to find my room flooded! Water was dripping from the ceiling, covering the floor and the beds. It turned out that some pipes upstairs had either broken or flooded. My friends had already moved our stuff into the other room and we all climbed on the bed waiting for help. Eventually people came to clean it up and change the beds and we got to fall asleep listening to the drip... drip... drip of water leaking into a bucket on the floor.
My theory is that the girls were flushing their toilet paper.

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