Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Nuevos Amigos 

First of all, I have to tell you worriers out there that this is urban living, so we’re not talking visiting the remote groups of primitive people in the sticks.  Everyone has TV, nearly everyone has a cellphone, although interestingly, not everyone has a smartphone, and people actually walk and look around at the same time. My hostal host’s internet has been in the process of being upgraded for higher speeds and more bandwidth, which is why all of the posts have been delayed.

Being the Nuevo Ano holiday time, there are tons of tourist families here for the celebrations.  Generally everyone hangs out in a big family group from the Grandparents to the smallest children.  It’s heartening to see the public displays of family affection, especially toward the old and the young. And everyone's smiling, even the teens.  (grin)

My Nook e-reader (the small b/w one) has been the catalyst to several conversations.  Once the person I’m talking to finds out that I am una tourista Americana de CALIFORNIA, the fun really starts. 

Do you speak Castellano? 
Uhm, no, not really. Un pequeno...
But your accent is wonderful!

Apparently the two intelligible words I've managed to get out are right. 

Did I mention that the words "jet lag" translate into "hetlaag" (phonetically), and it's gotten me out of several confusing situations.

My mother has taught me that there really are no strangers in this world, and that if you approach people with happy abandon, they’ll generally respond in kind and kindness.  Of course you need to be a tad selective in this, but not hugely (at least so far). 

So thanks to the taxi driver, the woman at la panaderia who sold me my empanadas for dinner the first evening, the checkout clerk at the grocery store who took my $20.000 pesos ($40.00) and honestly returned the correct change. Then there is Mina and Miguel at the liquoreria (vino y champagne para nuevos anos, y aguas minerals para hoy). 

Sra. Elizabetha Schreiber, the woman who now lives in the house of the famous architect who designed many of the public buildings in Valpo, spontaneously invited our little tour group in see her house which was famous back in the day for its plaster work ceilings.  We found out that she was a widow with 3 daughters, 1 son and 14 grandchildren. 

And lastly, the other Americans, two other tourists - from NY - with me on Michael’s tour.  One was a medical resident in urology at Bellevue, his new wife a law student at Brandeis. Elon, the doctor, had just gotten his brand new gigantic digital SLR (24 megapixels?) and a lens that cost about as much as the camera body.  They were just back from a 2 day Easter Island jaunt where he took nearly 2,000 pictures.  Apparently the Russian tourists in their group were not thrilled by the fact that he was always lagging far behind the group called him “paparazzi boy”.  We did get to see LOTS of details we might have missed had we been moving more quickly and not waiting for him to catch up.  Bonus:  He’s got my email address and will give me the web address of his albums!  

One more thing: I have been informed that a light hug and an air kiss to the cheek is a very desirable thing in Chile, and that I'll break a lot of ice if I greet people that way the second time I meet them.  I'll keep you posted on that one.  

1 comment:

  1. Ah yes, the abrazo y boss greeted me that way the second time I met her, much to my confusion!