Hola from Chile!
From the moment we crawled off of the plane into the 88 degree, brilliantly sunny, crisp Chilean air, our trip has been absolutely fabulous. Liz´s aunts greeted us at the airport and immediately rushed us to their goreous farm, although gorgeous now seems an understatement. The farm resembled, for lack of a better name, Eden. The green grass and beautiful house surrounded by acres of peach, grape, plum, and almond trees created a completely surreal environment for the five of us, who, despite our sleep deprived state, could still appreciate the astounding landscape. We ate… and ate… and ate all day, in between napping by the pool in the sunshine. The farm even had german shepard puppies!
Liz´s family treated us with a genuine hospitality that could be unparrelled by any stranger I have ever encountered. They served us left and right, refused to let us help in any way, and offered us anything we could ever need. My first impression of Chilean culture, therefore, was one of complete respect for others, as well as a familial bond that revolved around cuisine. Chileans eat… SO much and SO often.
Over the past few days we have been attending classes at a Spanish language school in Santiago. The staff is all very friendly, as are our classmates. Most of them are adults from Brazil, exposing us to another cultural and linguistical barrier. I have learned so much about both Brazilian customs and cultural as well as Chilean cultural, allowing me to compare and contrast the two with the American point of view. While my class is quite difficult, I enjoy the challenge. I find myself sitting back, enthralled with the conversations taking place around me. Yesterday, for example, my class discussed and debated myraid complicated issues, including homosexuality in society, marrital customs and relationships, and the displacement of people from their land. After every discussion, even the most heated, someone will always say something clever and the tone returns to friendly agreeing to disagreeing. My Spanish is already improving.Even right now I find myself accidentally translating words and phrases into Spanish subconsciously.
After classes each day, we use the metro to explore the city. We have gone shopping at a market called Los Dominicos. Located on a beautiful hill with an expansive park and tremendous view of the looming Andes in the distance, Los Dominicos consists of myraid artisan shops selling everything from jewlery to ducks to wool.Everything was relatively inexpensive, but very fun to get.
We have been having the best time simply walking around and seeing if we end up where we intended to go. While at first we were all very timid about our lack of Spanish, we have all become more confident. I had been very intimidated by feeling so isolated and different in Chilean society, but all of my confrontations with Chileans have been nothing short of genuine. Everyone is very patient and understanding, which is quite a relief.
More adventures to come,