Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Viña Bizarre

Before I left, UNCA Study Abroad gave me a gargantuan packet of information about living in a different country. I remember reading the "culture shock timeline" which outlines the stages of adjustment that you can expect to experience during your semester or year abroad. According to the timeline, the first two weeks are called the "honeymoon phase:" you're in love with this new place and enchanted by everything and you find yourself hugging random chilenos on the street because you love them, too, and you recognize and appreciate the differences between this culture and your home country. Then comes a horrible month ("negotiation phase"), according to this timeline, when the small differences begin to feel alienating rather than charming, and you're frustrated because you can only express yourself at a fourth grade level, and you miss readily available good coffee. I'm filling in some blanks, here. 

At one and a half weeks, I am still in the honeymoon phase. I can't help but grin every time I look out the window of the metro on my way to class and see how the old city curves into a crescent shape around the harbor, or listen to the seagulls calling each other while I boil water for tea every morning. But sometimes I catch glimpses of the cultural "negotiations" to come, like my frustration with the apparent lack of a system involved in catching the micros, or the lukewarm showers that are never long enough, or how the other night a cute little black street dog straight up ate mayonnaise off my pants when a big glob of it fell from the amazing food I was eating (it's called a completo. more about these later). What the hell, street dog? Don't you know that's totally disgusting? And then I accidentally dropped another glob directly onto one of the other street dogs that was hanging around, and the little black one jumped on it's back and ate it. Yes. The dog ate the mayonnaise off the other dog. Cultural negotiation.

I feel like I'm getting the hang of this city, though. Or, rather, these two cities. I live in Viña and go to school in Valpo, and I have been taking the metro because it's new and fun, and I can take a bus anywhere. Swiping my card and going through the turnstile, walking underground to the station, and reading my book while I wait for the train feels so much calmer than basically diving into the street kamikaze style to catch the micros. The Miramar metro stop is about a kilometer from my house, whereas the micro stop is much closer, but it's a really lovely walk right along the one of the main streets in Viña. I can see the ocean through the buildings. 

Notable moments from the past week: 
1) When I ate lunch at my host grandma's house with my entire family, and my 10-year-old cousin periodically shouted the word "Fuck!" to absolutely zero reaction from anyone because they don't know what it means and ten-year-old boys are always yelling things randomly.

2) When I ate a completo. It is a hot dog inside a giant piece of really good bread, surrounded by chopped tomatoes, sauerkraut, and avocado, and then slathered with mayonnaise. This was the food that led to the grim third world moment discussed above. They cost like $2 and there are food stands everywhere that stay open all night and sell them. 

3) The pack of Hello Kitty dogs. There are street dogs everywhere, and they are really friendly to humans because that's the only way they can eat. They sleep on the sidewalks and run around in packs, and some of them even have little jackets. Apparently, my friend Trent saw a pack of these dogs running around, and they were all wearing Hello Kitty sweaters. I believe him. If only because the existence of the homeless Hello Kitty dog pack clears up any lingering question I may have had about what postmodernism is.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. "'re frustrated because you can only express yourself at a fourth grade level..."

    As oppozed 2 teh six grayed level your use 2?

    ZING!!1! LOL!1! Eye when!

  3. I'm so glad you're keeping this blog. Now I can finally know the dailies of the Sprague girls once again.(I'm following your sister, too.)

  4. Hey Lindsey,
    Is your mailing address the one on your FB?

  5. Yeah! It's a surprisingly straightforward address.

  6. i love this post. caught up and now ready for the next one.


    ps. send me dos completos, por favor.