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Published: October 26th 2021
On the road again
Off to Atacama, August 2021
So you’d think after three years of living here (Aug 23rd
was our three year Chilean anniversario) that I would get it…I would understand how things work, and have adapted my ways to the Chilean way of living, of thinking. Well you know what they say, you can take the Gringo out of Gringolandia, but you can’t take Gringolandia out of the Gringo…wait, is that right? No matter…what I’m trying to say is that, no matter what, there are some things you just don’t adapt to, or change your ways with. For instance, why do all the sushi rolls have cream cheese in them? What’s that about? No one has ever explained that to me and I have not met a single foreigner to whom this makes sense. Why is it when the restaurant makes a mistake, the server yells at me? But ok whatever, not exactly what I’m talking about here. What I’m trying to get that, is my whole sense of tasks and time is completely different, and it will never adapt. It does not matter how many times I check a website, and look at the opening times for a store, or restaurant, or feria artesenal, I believe
An actual family picture with everyone looking
Cactus hike on the Rio Puritama, San Pedro de Atacama
the times posted on the website…and literally, have been shown time and again, that this is correct maybe half the time. But oh no, I still believe it. When something says 11 am on the website, you’d think it’d be open. But it’s like a 50/50 proposition. And for some reason I’m always disappointed when it fails to come true…and we’re the gringos standing out front of a restaurant waiting for it to open…because the Chilenos know. They are not there standing with us. They’re at home, sleeping or doing whatever Chilenos do in their house (watch their nanas clean?) *sigh* But after a lifetime of living in North America, my brain simply can’t adapt to these little nuances of time.
This also became even more evident to me when we met some Chilean friends recently for lunch down in a hipster ish kinda area of Santiago, called Barrio Italia. It was a beautiful Saturday afternoon, and we decided to meet for lunch, around 2:30 in the afternoon (there’s your first clue that we are meeting at 230 for lunch), with our young kids, as they had girls the same age. And the area was rammed with people…it was
What kind of dog is that?
Vicuna in the high Andean plateau (12,000ft)
the worst time to come, if you were looking for a quick sit down with your hungry children. And there was this specific Spanish tapas restaurant that they wanted to go to. And don’t get me wrong I like this restaurant, so I was totally happy that we were going there. When we got there though, we realized, boy, this is a long lineup and our children, they are on the verge of hangriness…probably already there. And the other family is not here yet. But hey, let’s line up, and find out how long this is going to take. So we did…and it didn’t look hopeful…and the guy serving was kinda vague about the seating arrangements, and whether we could have 8 at the table, to be honest he was kinda a jerk. Well the other family shows up, and we’re thinking 45mins to an hour to sit down – not for food, that’s probably like another 20-30 minutes after we sit down. So hey, I start to think. There’s a nice joint across the way with a great patio where we can get a beer and a burger. Kids love hamburgers! And fries too. There’s a line, but it’s
worth finding out. So I turn to Steph and tell her Imma head over…and I stand for a few minutes in the lineup, and the hostess comes and says, oh hey, we can get you in on the patio, 8 people no problem! I’m like, great, and go and sit down. I call Steph, and say “Hey, I got a table and it’s for 8 and we can eat right now”. Great news right. Well, I could tell Steph was a bit hesitant. She was not so sure…she says, I’ll call you back. Well, ok, I mean I’ve solved our problem. Hungry children no more. Beer, burgers, big table! I have it all and it’s so close. My phone buzzes…Steph sounds kinda, I don’t want to say annoyed but like, yeah, you should come back right now. The other family was confused – why would I have gone to the other restaurant? We came to go to this one…we can wait. I was…miffed…I had taken control of the situation and solved the problem. But wait, maybe there was no problem. Let’s give the kids snacks, they can sit on the grass and watch our phones. Who cares about waiting a
Little girl, big valle
Rio Cochiguaz, Valle del Elqui
little time for a table, we can do it…
Well, I care. My children are terrifying when they are hungry…I’m terrifying when I’m hungry. Plus waiting sucks.
And therein lies the difference. The sense of time is just…different…the task orientation…different. In Chile, you have these long drawn out lunches, and to be honest it’s great. I feel like back home, people come at 12, leave at 2 and that’s that. E-fficient. Here they maybe show up at 12, or 1 or 2 or 3 and then leave 7 or 8 hours later full of wine and meat. It’s the slow burn. It is for sure frustrating at times, because I’m still not always on that program, not mentally anyway, and when it comes to work it can intensely frustrating…when someone tells you I’ll get this done by a certain time, there’s a good chance they won’t. But sometimes, it’s endearing, because efficiency isn’t always the goal. In this case it wasn’t and we had a wonderful lunch, at the restaurant we wanted to go to with lots of Sangria, and in the end the kids survived (and certainly perked up once they got fed, and plus we went for ice cream after).
Ultimately, some days though you do end up feeling like you will never get it, will never be part of the “club”….that you’ll always be an outsider. And that’s challenging and frustrating at times…mind you other days, you’re pretty good with the club you are already in...it’s a pretty good club. But try as I might...learn the language, eat the food, travel the country, spend time with Chilean friends...part of me will just never adapt.
Well now that that’s out of the way, things started to go the right way on the COVID side here in Chile. So much so that I started booking trips as fast as I could. So in the last three months we have been to San Pedro de Atacama to see the desert and the amazing landscapes, Valle del Elqui to see the stars and drink the pisco and to Pucon to go skiing on a volcano and swim in the coolest god damn hot springs I’ve ever been in ( https://termasgeometricas.cl/en/ ). While COVID has had a bit of an uptick here lately (they are rolling out a third dose de refuerzo), hopefully we can continue to travel and can get our parents in in the next few months and see a few more places that were on our list. Stupid COVID…so much to see, and I think about what could have been without it. The whole country is pretty accessible with not a huge amount of traveling. Oh well, been a lot of fun to travel the last few months and show the kids the country. Hoping we can keep it going.
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