Monday, October 4, 2010

Amigos Chilenos

One thing that I am super excited about is making Chilean friends. It was really hard to do this for a while because I don't have very many classes with Chileans, I don't know where to go to meet Chileans that are my age that aren't creepy, and I don't know what the culture is like in regards to meeting new people. One night during spring break, some of us went to a Peruvian restaurant, suitably named Machu Picchu, to share our stories from the first half of the break. Some went to the Atacama Desert (featured in the Deserts portion of Planet Earth if any of you are interested), one went to work on an organic farm, and we told them about our adventures in San Alfonso. The food was amazing. I can't wait to go back and to take my parents when the visit. I had a shrimp dish that was delicious. I couldn't tell you what was in it but I loved it. My friend had this amazing beef dish, and the beef just melted in your mouth. Here are some pictures of the food. 

After we ate Peruvian food, we decided to walk up Manuel Montt and find a bar or club to dance in. While we were walking and chatting, I accidentally bumped into a girl, and after telling her I was sorry, she exclaimed "SON GRINGOS!" which means, "They are from the US!" I've never seen someone so excited to meet gringos, and she was very nice. We walked along talking to her and her friends, one of whom was essentially the Chilean Borat. He could hardly speak English, but insisted on it and asked me all about my travels in Chile. He inquired about a few places, none of which I had been to. When I told him that I had been to La Serena, he yelled at the top of his lungs "LAAAAA SERENAAAAA I LOOOOOVE THIS PLAAAACE!!!!!!!" I couldn't handle it. I was laughing so hard the entire time we were talking. Once we saw a place that looked fun, we told our new friends that we were going to head in there. They looked very sad, and so I said that they should come with us. They reacted, unsurprisingly, with extreme excitement. It was our lucky night. The girl got us all into the club for free by repeating to the door man, "These are my special friends" in English until he let us all in. And when one of our friends showed up late, she went to the door and again got him in for free by saying "This is my best friend" and smiling with here extremely red, glossed lips. She was the nicest girl ever, and we had a blast with her and her friends. I think Borat was a bit much for everyone, but it was an extremely entertaining evening. 
Amiga Chilena

The next day was friday, the day before Independence Day. My family had an asado (grillout, super typical for this holiday), and we feasted on beef, pork, and sausage accompanied with a coal-roasted onion and red pepper. At the time I didn't think I could ever eat meat again, but it was very very tasty. My friends and I didn't really know what to do that night, but after talking with numerous friends on the phone, we decided to meet up with one kid in our group because he was with his host brother's friends at Parque O'Higgins (O'Higgins Park). During the holiday, there are fondas there, which are basically like state fairs. Lots of food, lots of drinks, and a few people there to entertain us. When we arrived and met up with our friend, we were greeted by a series of swears from a mulleted Chilean. Most of us didn't really know what to think, but as the night wore on, we realized that he just likes to swear in English. We had a blast with the four Chileans, Marco, Andrés, Tiare, and Nagel, at the fonda, teaching each other swear words, eating empanadas and kabobs, drinking chicha (a sweet drink made with grapes, supposedly very alcoholic but I disagree) and terremotos. At one point we found a patch of grass and just sat around chatting. They were all so nice and funny. I was really excited to meet them, as you can see.  After the fonda, we headed to one of the Chilean's apartments, hung out there for a while and then went out searching for a dance club. Although we weren't successful at finding one, I had a lot of fun with my new Amigos Chilenos. 
Andrés, Vartan, and Marco 
The next day I got up "early" (aka about 10am) and met up with a friend who had been in Buenos Aires all week. She and I decided to climb the Cerro San Cristobal to start the Chilean Independence Day right. We exchanged stories from the week, discovered a little japanese garden, and then headed back to my house to partake in the food festivities of the holiday. We ate the most amazing empanadas I've ever had, and got ready for the party that night. We met up with some more friends and headed to the national stadium to see what was going on there. Unfortunately we missed the festivities there, but there was a big event going on inside and we watched for a while on a giant tv outside the stadium. While we were sitting here, some Chilean cops came up to us and started harassing us, accusing us of drinking in public (which, for the record, we had not been doing). I was pretty upset that they were doing this, since Chilean cops are reputedly very trustworthy, but I didn't let it ruin my night. After a while, our Amigos Chilenos came and picked us up to go back to Parque O'Higgins and spend another night at the fonda. Again, more eating, drinking, laughing, and talking. We ended the night at another of their apartments, talking and getting to know eachother around the dinner table. 

The next day, I got a call around 7pm asking me if I wanted to go to Viña del Mar with my friend from my program and some of our new friends. Of course I decided to go. We had a fun drive there, listening to reggaeton and laughing, as usual. We got to Viña, hung out in Andrés' apartment while waiting for his girlfriend and her friend to meet up with us. We all went out dancing at a club called Scratch, and had a great time.  
Mateo, Vartan, Dani, Andrés, and Marco

The Crew at Scratch
The next morning, we woke up to Andrés making us cheese sandwiches. We all got ourselves ready, and headed out to see the naval/air show. Viña del Mar is on the coast, and for the Independence Day, the navy and air force put on a big show. My camera died before I could get pictures of the show, but here I am with my new friends.
Me, Varti, Andrés, and Marco
Since this weekend, I have spent a lot more time with these guys and their other friends. I can't even express to you all how welcoming they are. Even though Andrés lives in Viña, he still calls me ever few days to see how everything is going. Vartan and I skype, practicing our English and Spanish and having very deep conversations. I refer to him as "mi mejor amigo" (my best friend) because he is so awesome. We actually met Varti a while ago at our friend's house since he's the friend of my friend's host brother. We talked to him for about 2 hours about how we need to travel and enjoy Chile. He's a very genuine person. And Marco is one of the nicest people I've ever met. My friends all agree that he's the nicest of them all. He seems pretty quiet at first, but once he gets talking, he's hilarious. They are all so funny and close with eachother. It's obvious that friendship here in Chile, at least with these people, means a lot more than what we think of as friendship in the states. I'm so happy and feel very lucky to have these guys as my friends. I know it's going to be hard to leave them all in a few months.

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