So I met my Chilean family — ALL of them. Charles, my host dad, just turned 70, so on my first full day with the family, I experienced a 70th-birthday party with his whole extended family. They cooked all day — tortas, pizzetas, carnes, mayonesas con apio/pimienta — and I helped. I was a sauce spreader and a topping putter-on-er and a taste-tester. The festivities began at “7pm” and people arrived around 8pm. Natalie-the-American went to sleep at 11:30pm, but apparently the last few people left at 3am. I think I don’t fully realize how much my brain is working to translate all the Spanish around me because I fell asleep and stayed asleep despite all of the fiesta noise right outside my door!
During the fiesta, I tried pisco sour, the “national drink” of Chile. It’s made from pisco (the alcohol), egg white, lime juice, and sugar. It sounds kind of weird, but it’s actually pretty tasty! Charles offered to teach me how to make it, so maybe I’ll bring the trend to the US.
The party was the big event of the weekend, but I have also really enjoyed all the quiet moments and just seeing the parts of the neighborhood – while walking on my own or driving with Charles and Imelda. I woke up “early” this morning (8am; others woke up closer to 11am) and walked to the Starbucks a couple blocks away (they also have Dunkin Donuts!). There were lots of people running and biking; I also walked to the park on a nearby avenue and found that my pale legs glow in comparison to everyone else’s. I’ve already gotten some “you’re not from here” looks. “Gringo” is not used as an offensive term here, so I am often called “la gringita,” “la chica,” “mi hija,” or “mi amor” by my family.
I really can’t even compare Santiago to any US cities that I’ve been to. In the neighborhoods around me – Las Condes, La Reina, Vitacura, Providencia – the streets are lined with trees, the balconies are overflowing with greenery and flowers, the sidewalks are surrounded by green green grass, and you stumble into parks (with playgrounds and benches and paths) every so often as you go. The buildings are whites and oranges rather than all shades of gray, which creates a lovely contrast to all of the vegetation. I have yet to see the poorer areas of the city, but I’m very much enjoying my situation in this “barrio” so far. Like I mentioned before, I have a Starbucks and park very nearby as well as convenience stores and a metro stop – all the necessities, right?!
Although it’s not wintertime and is therefore snowless (unlike Maryland right now), I can still walk out onto la Avenida de Cristobál Colón and see the top half of the nearby mountains..! What a life. Life is fun sometimes. God is good always.
Peace and Blessings x
(From the Las Condes, Santiago)