Sunday, March 30, 2014

Speaking Spanish in Chile

It is Fall now, and noticeably cooler. It rained hard all day yesterday, so instead of taking our usual Saturday walk, we put the heating pad on our bed, under the sheets. It works perfectly. I am now wearing a shirt, sweater, leggings, a long knit skirt, Elder K.'s heavy work socks, and some slippers I knitted. My feet are still cold. The sun is shining on the balcony now, so I hope it shines through the window.

Today we visited Barrio Collao, the LDS ward in Collao. It is a small ward, in a small chapel on the second floor. But they are serious about their lives. We caught a #70 bus on San Martin, and within ten minutes we were dropped a block away from the chapel, which is near the bus terminal and the stadium. The first time we took a bus, we accidentally ended up in Collao, so we knew we could get there again. We did not meet anyone we knew in the ward. Several people were interested in the Perpetual Education Fund which is now expanding to students age 18 to 65, and several others, older, regretted the fact that they missed the chance when they were under 30. On the bus trip back,  two obviously drunken men were harassing (molestando) the other passengers, including us. Someone who got off where carabineros were hanging about on the sidewalk, sent one of them onto the bus. The carabinero told the drunken men politely to leave, which they did.

I will have to say something about music in church in Chile. There may be few hymn books available, or else people bring their own. The chorister sings a few measures in a pitch the congregation can comfortably sing, after which they sing the melody with enthusiasm. I am usually the only one singing harmony, unless Elder Balden is singing baritone. The problems come when a missionary or a member of the ward can sort of play a keyboard, so they struggle and drag and set the pitch too high. When this happens, members of the congregation take things into their own hands, and after a few measures begin singing their own tempo and pitch, leaving both the pianist and the chorister on their own. These are people after my own heart.

Not only that, apart from the actual musicality of the words, would you rather sing the hymn in English: "Should you feel inclined to censure/Faults you may in others view/Ask your own heart, ere you venture,/If you have not failings too?" or Castellan: "Brillan rayos de clemencia del gran faro del Senor, y Sus atalayas somos, alumbrando con amor."  Shining rays of mercy, from the great lighthouse of the Lord, and we are His watchmen, radiating light and love.

Excuse me, I have to go put the towel under our apartment door, one of our neighbors is burning toast again. They must really love burnt toast. At least it is not cigarette smoke.

Speaking Spanish - or I should say Castellan - in Chile

If you have traveled to a foreign language-speaking country for the first time, you will know that even if you have studied the language, nothing prepares you for actually speaking coherently upon first arrival. If you are able to speak a few words that are not too heavily accented, the natives assume you are fluent, and begin speaking very fast, using idiomatic expressions and emphasizing local vocabulary, which may not be part of the lessons you learned. You will discover that you can comprehensively listen for a limited time, after which you become so exhausted and have such a headache, that your head feels like it will explode, and you can't understand a word anyone says until you have recovered. You hesitate to tell anyone this, so they continue talking, talking, talking. Since you never say anything, they think you are taking in every word, and they keep on talking and talking, a bad habit to get into, since Chileans love to give lectures at any given moment. This continued with me for about three months, after which something seemed to click inside my head. As I learn more vocabulary, I become aware of people actually using it--I had been deaf to it before. Now I am able to segue from one language to another without much trouble, and although I still can comprehend a great deal better than I can speak, my speaking has improved immeasurably. More importantly, I am able to signal that I, being an inscrutable Gringa, am going to go do something else al tiro (right now) instead of listening to more lecturing.

Fortunately the people we have been working with daily are very patient, and/or have attempted to learn to speak English. Such people speak more slowly and clearly, since they know what it is like. Many who intend to learn to speak English here abandon it, although a surprising  number have made a good effort. It is hard to truly speak a foreign language without the surrounding culture to sustain it. English is a daunting language, with a vocabulary twice as large as the next one (German,) and lacking in rhythm and musicality like the Romance languages.  I'm glad I don't have to learn it. I do miss being able to express myself in my usual erudite manner. I find that when I'm finally in the company of English speakers, I uncharacteristically start to babble, to the point that Elder Kennington touches me on the arm to make me stop.

The desire to not look like an idiot is a real limiting factor in speaking as a foreigner, but during our time here, our need to communicate has been so intense that I have had to overcome my self-consciousness and simply blurt things out. If I can, I try to figure out the best way to say it beforehand, or else I stammer and look at Elder K. for help, expecting him to read my mind. People are usually forgiving, although they sometimes laugh uproariously at what we come up with. One can't take it personally. They love us anyway, and appreciate our effort to speak their language. My very worst problem has been saying prayers, possibly because the Latinos say such effortlessly beautiful ones.

We often get "Good Mornings!" or "Thank yous!" from Chileans, who recognize us for being Gringos and try to make us welcome. ("We know you call us Gringos," we tell them, and they smile sheepishly. "It's okay. We ARE Gringos. We live in Gringolandia." (Uproarious laughter.)) They are at pains to explain their idiomatic Chilenismo sayings to us, for example, when Galvarino describes the light rain falling outside as "gotitas de lluvia bastante para despertar un flojo," droplets of rain just enough to wake up a bum. Some of the sayings are the same as in English, for example, something with little value is referred to as "maní," peanuts. There are also words spelled the same as English words, which Bishop Anriquez refers to as "false friends" (amigos falsos):

éxito is not exit - it means success
sopa is not soap - it is soup
compromiso is not compromise - it means commitment
mascota is not a mascot - it is a pet
red is not the color red - it means network
destreza is not distress - it is skill or ability
delito (not to be confused with deleito, which means delight) is not delight - it is a crime

Related to these are a list of delightful words used in a completely different way:

frivolité  = tatting
confección = preparation, especially tailoring or dressmaking
etiqueta = label
jubilación = retirement
confabulación = conspiracy
gratificación = gratuity, reward
calipso = the color aquamarine
plaza = the size of your bed (un plaza is a twin bed, dos plazas is a queen)
taco = a traffic jam

Chileans tend to use certain words a lot, for example:
harto as in fed up, lots of, or a great deal of. They use it constantly.
Ja, ("ya") with a nod -- are you with me? -- do you understand?
al tiro = right now
logro = accomplishment
Tata = Dad or Pop
guagua (wahwah) is a baby
tipo = a guy
pololo and polola are for boyfriend or girlfriend, but not quite sweetheart (novio y novia)
lindo = pretty or cute, continually in use - ¡qué lindo!
más o menos = more or less, usually pronounced (mah-o-meno) very fast.
luca = un mil pesos, about $2, like saying "a buck" for one dollar
genial = something good
fome refers to anything boring, dull, and undesirable
"Si po" litters Chilean speech in the same way that "yeah" and "y'know" do American English. It is said in the particularly Chilean plosive articulation, barely expressed and not lingered over. It can mean OK, come on, hurry up, but, or . . . well . . . ?
Interestingly, the Chileans themselves regard surrounding Latin American countries, for example Colombians, as having superior Castellan-speaking abilities, since they speak more slowly, with better enunciation and command of the language. Something to emulate, ¿tal vez?


The Registro Civil, where we went to register our new address. Galvarino says Chileans never do it.


Inside the Registro Civil, early in the morning (before 9:00 a.m.) and amazingly empty. Usually it is harto and overflowing. There is apparently a wedding going on in the second floor, from the flower sellers and bouquets of lilies waiting out in the front.


We finally reached Graduation Day for the weavers of the Centro de Autosuficiencia. Andrea, the teacher, told her students that since she had no daughters, she had taught them all so they could teach others. Thirty women received certificates as being weavers competent to set up their own businesses. Usually weaving teachers can make a lot of money to do what Andrea has done for free.


In return, Andrea's thirty students chipped in to get her a beautiful set of silver Mapuche jewelry, with a dangling pendant and earrings with five-petal flower cutouts.


 The tender shrub, maple-leaf Abutilon, from the mallow family, in glorious bloom. We toured three small used car lots on the calle nearby, and stopped at the Institute Building on Colo Colo (not far from our apartment) to ask Hno. Verdugo, the Institute Director, if we could park a car in the Institute parking garage. He said he would certainly check into it. 
We had a good day on Friday: A returned missionary who was sent home a week early from Venezuela with all other non-native missionaries came in for Self Reliance workshop training; a couple from San Pedro, where we visited last week, came in for help with employment; Veruska, a tall beautiful Brazilian student, also needed help with employment; Hilda Gutierrez gave us a visit, as well as single High Priest Hno. Verdugo (not related to the Institute Director) who is a member of our Universitario Ward, and who resembles in many ways the English actor Rowan Atkinson. I am never quite sure what he is saying. 
I discovered that the Bishop's Storehouse, on the first floor of our building, has a sealer for plastic bags. Hna. Balden, the mission nurse, has been looking for one, since the missionaries keep eating the rations out of the emergency kits she has issued them, and she wants to deter them from opening the bags if she can.


Teatro de Liceo de los Hombres de Concepcion, Theater Club of the Men of Concepcion, built in the early 1930s, was nearly destroyed in the 9.5 1960 earthquake.You can see the brick construction, which is typical of many ruined buildings in Concepcion. Construction now is usually steel reinforced concrete, and buildings are going up all over town, mostly high-rises. Our own high rise on Orompello survived the 2010 earthquake, so we are hopeful it remains standing throughout our visit here. The theater is now a historical site, facing the Parque Ecuador on Calle Victor Lamas.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Adventures at the Supermercado

Today we attended the Barrio Norte. This was not hard to find. The colectivo #3 dropped us off on the corner of Ejercito and Galvarino, then we walked the three blocks to the chapel. Our gregarious morning concierge, also named Galvarino, who claims the calle was named after him, (there is a Calle Galvarino in every city in Chile,) promised to meet us there, since he had been visited by sister missionaries who had left him a Libro de Mormon, but he never did come. I'm sure he has a good explanation.

This ward had no benches in the chapel, so they had put out all the chairs, which were eventually mostly filled. It is an older ward, with some second-generation members in it, who have a great deal of affection for one another. We recognized Hna. Lilias, the cheerful cook to the mission president; Elder and Hermana Solis, who work in the bishop's storehouse on the first floor of our Centro; and Hna. Beatriz, who came in a few weeks ago for help with her family history. They welcomed us warmly. The little boy in the family sitting in front of us reminded Elder K. and me of our grandson Bennett, with his big brown eyes and winning ways. The ladies of the Relief Society discovered I was involved with weaving, and made me promise to come teach classes in Telar during the month of May. They seem to think that missionaries have magical qualities and are experts in everything.

 
Elder K's replacement for Ricola lemon-mint. You can find Ricola once in awhile, but it is very expensive. It took awhile to realize that in Chile, "caramelo" refers to hard candy. Fortunately for me, I can find good dark chocolate here. My favorite is the Ambrosoli Orly brand, of dark chocolate relleno sabor mente, with mint filling, hecho en Chile, made right here in Chile.Fortunately, Elder K. doesn't like it as well as I do.

Little bear cookies, distributed by the food conglomerate Bimbo.

I like the brands Mr. Musculo and Virginia for cleaning sprays and floor cleaners, but I thought I'd try Blem floor cleaner, made by the Johnson company.

This is one of the smaller stalks of apio, celery, that I could find. You can see the 12 inch ruler next to it. The squash is similar to a zucchini, called zapallo italiano, which we use in making one of our favorite dishes, of cubed  sauteed zapallo italiano, julienned carrots, and sliced onions.

Comino molido, cumin. The Negrita brand reflects a term of affection used in Chile for a spouse or other much-loved intimate. The Chileans do not understand the problem Americans have with using this word.

Bagged baking essentials in my cupboard: dill, Merken chili spice, bicarbonato--baking soda, and coco rallado, shredded coconut. Shredded. Very small, very dry. You don't have to store it in the refrigerator.

Since I had so many bags of herbs spilling in my cupboard, I searched for little containers to put them in, including these baby bottles on the clearance table, now holding oregano, and dried orange peel for my Boldo tea.

I also found these little jello molds to put things in. Nuez Moscada entera is whole nutmeg, with its own little grater.

Thursday, Google reminded us it was the Equinoccio de Otoño, Autumnal Equinox, the first day of Fall.


This is the fun lady that keeps bringing me Copihue. She apologized for leaving one home that she meant me to have. She is working on a boina, beret. More than one hermana has asked me to teach them how to make a Copihue wall hanging like the one I made, but I am not sure I could ever make one like that again.

Speaking of Copihue, Hna. Verdugo made this at home during her summer of babysitting. The tree is the Araucaria Araucana, with a Copihue vine climbing up the side.

Hna. Verdugo working on a small edition of the Copihue, for use as a bookmark.

Hermana Sofia wearing a woven blanket, and to go with it, the striped wool hat I crocheted so I would have a warm dry head when the rains and cold inevitably come. When not in use, the striped hat makes an admirable small basket for holding yarn.

Another wall hanging made by Enove, Andrea's sister.

The fall flowers are stunning. The hibiscus are especially beautiful.

 Mirabilis, the Four O'Clock, is widely planted all over Concepcion. Like the flowering impatiens, it grows to a very large size.

Cola de Leon, Leonitis Leonurus, Lion's Tail or Wild Dagga, a tender perennial originally from South Africa. From the mint family, this plant attracts birds and butterflies.

Friday afternoon (afternoon here lasts until 8:00 p.m. or 20:00 hours, after which it is night time,) we accompanied Hno. Seguel across the mouth of the Bio Bio River to the suburban city of San Pedro de la Paz, where we were to visit with the presidency and bishops of the San Pedro Stake. He checked the route before hand to make sure we would avoid the usual evening taco, traffic jam, as residents drive home from Concepcion, where they work.

San Pedro was exceptionally clean and green, with nice lawns, trees, well-ordered streets, and well-built homes.

At the San Pedro Stake Center, Hno. Seguel gave a presentation on the Centro de Autosuficiencia and all the changes coming, including  more people who can take advantage of the Perpetual Education Fund, and the discounts available. Although Hno. Seguel talked fast and skipped over lots of the Powerpoint slides, the meeting did not end until 10:30.

Saturday we had a few places to go. I took a photo of this Araucaria Araucana  tree, which we can see from our balcony.

We walked through the Plaza de Peru, where it seems they have a weekly flea market of antiques, mostly wildly overpriced.

We visited Bishop Anriquez and his wonderful wife, who live in this pretty upstairs apartment. Elder K. reported on his first lesson of Strengthening Your Marriage in the University Ward Thursday evening, which went very well indeed. Five more lessons to go. Bishop Anriquez had to limit the number of couples to six, and has a waiting list for future classes. They invited us to come to the farmer's market at Collao with them, which we said we would like to do at another time.  We then walked along Galvarino toward Los Carrera, to see if the Conejo family was home, since they had been gone to Puerto Montt, Osorno,  Ecuador, and Cartagena for the summer. The children were home, but not Hno. and Hna. Conejo.

At the Sodimac, we picked up a room heater and more insulating curtains for the coming cold weather. On the way back, we saw this unusually well-cared for tile-roof home.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Living in Chile

We've been working on the Living in Chile list (at the bottom of the page) for five months now:  notes on overcoming culture shock and adapting yourself to life in South America South, or, as the Chileans like to say, life Al Sur del Mundo, at the Southern Tip of the World.

This morning, we visited the Santa Sabina Ward. This took some doing--it is in a neighborhood fairly far from where we live, and not along the usual path of most buses and colectivos that go by our apartment. Plus, colectivos and buses are scarce on Sunday mornings. We hopped on a Centauro bus, which took us as far as Calle Cifuentes, from which we could see the church steeple at the top of a hill. It was drizzling, but Elder K. had his nice new paragua (for water,) umbrella. We found the Tucapel bus terminal, which didn't help. About then, a car stopped in front of us--the bishop of the Santa Sabina ward. He knew we were lost and he gave us a ride. Bless him for listening to inspiration. The building was a very nice stake center, and the ward was full and overflowing. The Relief Society sisters, especially, were interested in knowing about the Perpetual Education Fund expanding to include older members. After five months in Chile, I was able to get the message across without much prompting.

Saturday afternoon, we went to Barrio Laguna Redonda so Elder Kennington could talk to Hna. Dagnig's cub scout troop about preparing for a mission, but their scout campout the night before had turned into un fracaso (don't ask!) so instead Hno. Delgado met us at the church and we walked in the brilliant sunshine to their home. Above is the Laguna Redonda, which fell several feet during the 2010 earthquake. Don't believe the Google Maps placement of Laguna Redonda on what is really Laguna Tres Pascuas. It's not even round, for heaven's sake.

Both of us are taller than Hno. Delgado, who is nevertheless a very kind, spiritual man. He told us how he wanted to be on the rowing team, un bote de remo, but since he was too small, he served as the timonel, coxswain.

The Delgados' two story home on Paisaje Dos.

Hno. Delgado has a collection of woven sombreros, spurs, and a leather saddle from the 1880s, and bamboo tiki torches for the scout troop. He likes to collect antique tins and bottles. You can see the beautifully carved wooden table and chairs set, which included a sideboard.

Hna. Dagnig served us each a big plate of purple grapes. Then we went into the dining room, and we ate empanadas, sopaipillas, pan de campo, Ecco--a toasted barley drink (like Pero)--with cocoa, and cookies with jam and manjar. Their youngest son, a returned missionary from Colombia, told us the story of the family's conversion to the LDS church: His parents were on the verge of divorce, when a pair of missionaries showed up. Hno. Delgado was the first to be baptized. Hna. Dagnig, seeing the change in him, finally responded to the set of missionary sisters who began visiting her, and after giving up smoking her cigarettes and pipes, she was baptized as well. They were sealed in the Santiago Temple. Both have been a great force for good in the Barrio Laguna Redonda.

The view from our new apartment. We are now able to see the stars at night, including Orion's Belt, which the South Americans call Las Tres Marias, the Three Marys.

Tuesday we helped process a group of new missionaries at the mission home on Castellon. On the way back, we stopped at Sodimac and bought the shelf unit, above, which after assembly turned out to be 89 cm wide to fit in a 90-cm space. It is sitting above the molding because the molding makes the space too narrow to fit. We had to put the bottom shelf in and then lay the top shelf on it because of the doorway molding. But it holds a lot of stuff! We got the Chilean flag on sale at the supermercado.

We also got this little shelf unit for the kitchen, and a set of curtains which we will be needing when the weather turns cold. There is a cottage industry for insulated curtain-making in Concepcion. Since everything was too heavy to carry home, we hired a pickup driver from the line of hopefuls just outside the front door of the Sodimac for $5 mil, about $10. It was worth it. The other drivers were making jokes about us converting our hired driver to the Mormon church, so we were able to start a conversation about it on the way back. We even had copies of the Book of Mormon we'd gotten from the mission home, but they were in English, to use in Elder K.'s newly scheduled English classes.

A little wall hanging  I made using beautiful hand-dyed wool yarns, off-white, green, navy, and calipso--aquamarine--using abedul, birch twigs.

The finished Mapuche telar, made with red, purple, navy, off-white and green hand dyed wool yarn.


Hermana Tia, Elder K.'s adopted aunt, wearing her crocheted colgante y pendientes, necklace and earrings.


A girl's doll that holds pajamas inside.

Hermana Verdugo, who returned to us after spending all summer babysitting her six grandchildren, now back with their families in Santiago. She was still able to  work on this beautifully-made unfinished wool blanket and several other items.

Elder Kennington modeling Monica's well-made poncho. She will be going to Osorno during the winter, and this will keep her warm. It is like  a very large, very heavy wool blanket with a hood.

Hno. Manuel Valdes, who joined a group of five returning Latino missionaries at the weekly Self Reliance workshop. We visited him in the Santa Sabina ward. He  is an entrepreneur and wants to start an educational farm in Hualqui. He has asked Elder Kennington for help. We will probably be taking the Bio-Tren to Hualqui sometime soon.



Suggestions for Living in Chile:

1) Even if you look like a foreigner, few Chileans speak English well, and they will expect you to speak Spanish. Do not hesitate to let them know you can't speak Spanish, or if you can, to ask them to repeat, more slowly -- Lento. We have been told it is very hard for them to speak slowly. Try speaking English slowly, for instance.

2) I drew a little map of Concepcion to memorize all the streets in order. We depended on that map for weeks. Since no one ever writes anything down, and you can only find out things by asking someone who knows, you will need to have the map in your head if you expect to use the transit system, including microbuses and colectivos--the group taxis--or walk most places, as we do.
3) Until you have your RUT number, the national I.D., use your Driver's License number to sign for credit card purchases. You won't be able to sign contracts without the RUT, so someone else with a RUT number will have to rent your apartment or install Internet for you. It takes about six weeks or more to get your Carnet card, ID with picture, including a visit to the police department for a background check, and having all the fingers on your right hand fingerprinted at the Registro Civil.
4) When you buy something in small shops, you usually leave your selections on the counter, the sales person draws up a slip of purchases, you take the slip to the cashier to pay, then take it back to collect your purchases.
5) It was not easy to find a stylus for our iPad. (Finally found one in the Santiago airport.) There is no decent canela--cinnamon--to be had in this country. (Sis. Kimball gave me some Costco cinnamon! Hooray!) Or brown sugar. (see recipe below) Or hydrogen peroxide. Or heating pads, although you can buy electric blankets. We found some heating pads with the right plugins on Amazon.com and had Vanessa send them to us. Elder K. gave away a pair of his very expensive rigid arch supports to a lady with scoliosis who had pain with every step she took.
6) Take advantage of the fruta y verdura paradise you are in. There is usually something on sale even during the winter. One of our favorites is the salad mixes sold on street corners, including grated carrot, sliced cabbage and lettuce, half a boiled egg, and cooked peas, beans, and sweet corn (choclo). The season for strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and grapes goes on and on. The apples are wonderful.The prices of fruits and vegetables sold by street vendors are usually the same everywhere. If you can find a vegetable rinse, buy some and use it. Romy often bought zapallo italiano, a striped, club-shaped, zucchini-type squash, cut into julienne strips, stir-fried with julienned carrots and chopped onions. She often added cream to the dish before serving. It was simple, inexpensive and delicious. Another common dish is rice with lots of mayonesa, pimientos (orange and yellow peppers) and cooked choclo, "sweet" corn. I have had to stop eating rice in Chile because it is usually a fried rice, and I have choked on it several times.
7) I made brown sugar by mixing 1 cup of sugar with 1 T. liquid chancaca (molasses). You can buy compressed bars of chancaca to make a dark sugar syrup by boiling with water. It is very strong. What passes for brown sugar is large sugar crystals that look brown.



8) Quillayes yogurt in large containers is more like U.S. yogurt, lots of fruit, and the containers are great for storing and containing liquids that come in pouches.
9) The liquid yogurt in pouches, which Elder K. drinks from the container, makes great sauce for fresh fruit or eating with granola. The Jumbo granola is way better than the Quaker Oats granola. 
10) On the subject of food: We found sweet and sour sauce, Hershey's chocolate syrup, and Quaker Oats in the Jumbo in Concepcion. Lider carries the Walmart brand peanut butter and potato chips etc. Chilean potato chip brands contain enough oil to spontaneously combust. The vegetable chips (sweet potato, carrot, and beet) are REALLY good and quite expensive. The cookies that look like they might be like Oreos, aren't. I was able to find gluten-free rice and corn based pasta. Cornstarch is called Maizena and is rather passive about the job it's supposed to do. Same with the gelatin. Don't buy any brand of vanilla (vainilla) except for Marco Polo (unless you test it first). The flavor is ruinous otherwise. Curcuma is not Cumin, it is Turmeric. Buy cominos if you want cumin. Parsley is Perejil. Bicarbonato is baking soda. Many other herbs I will have to put a name to. Merken is a hot Mapuche chili spice. I've found hot salsas in pouches that can be used in chili. Most Chilean food is not highly seasoned. Good luck on finding refried beans or pumpkin in cans. Hamborguesa is actually chicken, pork or beef-flavored rubber the size of a deck of cards, most often individually sold. There is a real problem with quality control in the Hamborguesas. If you want ground beef, get carne molido. Milk is ultrapasteurized and comes in boxes. Crema de leche para batir, whipping cream, comes in little boxes or sometimes is in the refrigerator section. I like it. It takes forever to whip, but once it decides to whip, it stays that way. Sour cream comes in pouches and is called Crema Acida. You can find cream cheese, which the Chileans call Filadelfia. It is outrageously expensive. 
Buying meat is a nightmare. Don't buy local Chilean beef, buy Argentine instead. Uruguayan and Paraguayan beef can be greasy. Look up beef cuts in Spanish to see what you think you are buying. Vacuno means beef, vacuna means a vaccine. Pollo Ganso is a cut of Chicken Goose Beef. Cook it a long time, it actually has good flavor.  I like the sobrecostilla cut for pot roast, you can often find it on sale. Loma is the best cut, also the most expensive. Chileans love to barbecue, and the smells in the evening are wonderful. Cerdo means pork, and it is usually pretty good. I hear bad stories about the hormones they use in chicken, but the chicken usually tastes very good. Pavo, whole turkey, is expensive, but you can often find diced or even ground turkey at reasonable prices. Remember the weight is in kilograms, so you will not get sticker shock.  Missionaries aren't allowed to eat seafood, but can eat freshwater fish. (Something to do with pollution.) The hot dogs have lurid food coloring, but the young elders are able to eat them on buns covered with tomatoes, avocados, mayonnaise, chucrut (rinsed sauerkraut) and papas fritas (a "completo"). Lots of different types of sausage, longaniza. You CAN find black pepper grinders if you look. Otherwise you get black pepper the consistency of dust. Sal, Salt, comes in plastic bags like powdered sugar to refill your salt shaker. You CAN find a holder for lighters so you can light a gas stove without injuring yourself. 
The national dish of Chile is empanadas with pino, a mixture of chopped beef, black olives, hard boiled eggs, and raisins, in a rather tough, doughy bread wrapping. The national drink, mote con huesillo, which you buy at roadsides and street stands everywhere, is dried peaches soaked in syrupy water with grains of puffy wheat. It deserves a blog post all its own. It is very filling, and you can buy the ingredients in most supermercados.


Mote con huesillo

Chilean cheese is generally of two varieties and expensive: Gouda laminada (sliced), and quesillo, soft pot cheese. Everything else is imported, and ruinously expensive. There are no corn tortillas in the entire country, although you can find corn chips and flour tortillas.
I see I'm going to have to expand on this some other time. I haven't even mentioned the herbal teas of Chile.
11) Do not be put off by what a business looks like on the outside. It MAY be very nice on the inside. Often the living quarters of the owners is behind the store and goes deep into the middle of the block.
12) The dogs on the street have parasites and ticks. (Garrapatas.) They are not your friends. Hna. Balden keeps telling us of elders who have been bitten by dogs. Do not pet them. Some towns have a worse problem than others with the number of dogs.
13) Things I wish I had bought more of when I was in Santiago and Valparaiso: hammered copper, alpaca neck scarves, and lapis lazuli jewelry. Although I have found more at Ferias Artesenales. Prices for jewelry and watches is much less in the Centro Urbano--along Calle Barros Arana and all the cubbyhole businesses leading out of the plazas down the center of town--than in the large department stores like Ripleys or Falabellas. We did find a nice umbrella (paragua) at Falabellas, and a very nice bedspread at Ripleys. I bought a few clothing items in the department stores, although my husband could not find anything that would fit. Maybe in Temuco, where there are more descendants of Germans. He did order two pairs of handmade leather shoes for about the same price as new ones.
14) We bought a couple of fans to 1) dry the laundry and 2) serve as white noise at night. Chileans are not generally noisy, but they do tend to stay up late, late, late. The fans, by the way, one of which was made in Spain, were expensive.
15) Try to find an ATM machine (if you can) that doesn't swallow your card whole during the entire transaction. Elder Kimball had a bad experience with one. We found a RedBanc ATM that you allows you to pull the card out right away. Most ATMs are not accessible after 2:00 p.m. unless you have a bank card for that bank, which, good luck with. You can hang around until someone opens the door with their bank card and then you can slip in the door behind them. Or you can go to the Jumbo on Bernardo O'Higgins downstairs and use the ATM all day, as long as there is money in it. It doesn't swallow cards whole.
16) Even walking outside 30 minutes, you may need sunscreen in mid-summer or at high altitudes. You can buy little spray bottles of it near the checkout counters.



17) We couldn't find antacid that isn't outrageously expensive, so we bought Calcium Carbonate supplements and chew on those instead. Or have someone send you some.  Probiotics are outrageously expensive. Fortunately yogurt is widely available. Vanessa sent us antacid and acidophilus tablets, hooray! Also ibuprofen, another outrageously expensive item. (Am I overusing the word outrageously?) We hand out ibuprofen to suffering friends who cannot afford the ten tablets at a time of questionable effectiveness you can buy here. We will probably send for more and leave them as good-bye gifts.
18) We found a great shoe repair place--Navarros--on Serrano between Cochrane and San Martin. Heel replacements are perfect at about $4 a pair. There is also a wholesale shoe place on Los Carrera that sells great "Grasa de Caballos" shoe grease.  There are a lot of dentists in Concepcion, and we found a jolly one who did a pretty fair job for a fraction of what we would have paid in the States. He only gave us anesthetic when it was actually called for. I will have to say, now that we have been home for two years, that one of my husband's fillings (he had two) and the one I got have cracked and fallen out. Our U.S. dentist tells us it is because they used acrylic fillings in grinding molars, when a metal blend would have been more sturdy. Ah, well, it lasted long enough before we could have it replaced.
19) I have problems with gluten, but I can eat the bread here. As long as it is not too much. It is easy to go overboard. The best bread in Concepcion, especially flautas (half-baguettes) and croissants, is at the Unimarc on Chacabuco near Arturo Prat, conveniently across from the Centro de Autosuficiencia. They also have really good roast chicken there, and thin-crust pizza.
20) Serve lemon and olive oil with salad, mayonesa (in bags with screw tops) with everything.
21) You will be honked at, eventually. Don't take it personally. Buses are independently owned, and they are in competition with other buses. Take a colectivo, if you can. The drivers seem to care more about their vehicles. Middle-aged women in colectivos do not like to move over for other riders. Even a millimeter. (See #34, below.)
22) Most people think well of the Mormon missionaries. It gives members a lift to see you with your name tag.
23) There are no parking meters, because you must pay a street-side parking attendant who appears out of nowhere, for the privilege of parking at that particular curb. Often they will help you parallel park in miniscule spots. If they know you are a Gringo, they may delay the amount of time it takes to take your pay so you have to pay more. Show your disapproval. They get off work at 8:00 p.m. so you can park wherever you want. If someone is stopped in front of the driveway you want to turn into, keep your blinker on so everyone behind you will honk into shaming them to get out of the way.
24) When you go to a chain grocery store, Lider, Unimarc, or Jumbo, you may be asked the following at checkout: Boleta? (if you want a receipt) Puntas? (if you are collecting points--you have to sign up for this, and have a RUT number) Cuota or Sin cuota? (Do you want to put it on a credit card payment plan? You will want to say: Sin cuota) or Donacion? (if you want to round up your small change for the store charity). If you don't want to keep all the 10 peso coins you will be getting as change, you can give them to the grocery bagger. The young adults we knew did not get paid for bagging, just tips.
25) In the grocery store, you have to take your bags of loose bread, fruits and vegetables to the weigh counter to be weighed with a sticker before you can buy it at the checkout.
26) Always take toilet paper with you, especially if you are going to smaller cities. Even some of the chapels in Concepcion are often without toilet paper, and there are rarely hymn books, either. Carrying wipes with you is not a bad idea. If you are lucky enough to have a car, stock it with paper towels, a blanket, water, coins to pay for toll roads as well as jugglers and acrobats at the intersections, and, of course, snacks.


The calendars, printed on 8 1/2" x 11" paper, are too wide for the narrow folders; too long for the short yellow folder, and "lined" paper is graph paper. 

27) Standard 8 1/2 x 11" paper will not fit in most notebooks or folders, which are either too narrow or too short. "Lined" paper is graph paper. Paper punches only come in the two-punch variety. Try Lapiz Lopez for stationery needs.
28) I have found 220-110 electrical outlet  adapters for U.S. electronics in the Hiper Lider and Jumbo. The most useful are the all-in-one international adapters, especially if you can find a multi-outlet strip. The European size adapters also have three prongs but are too big to fit, but there is an adapter for those, too. If you visit Argentina, the adapters do not handle Chilean plug-ins, although they did for American plug-ins. Draw your own conclusions. 


Adapter in Buenos Aires that does not accommodate a Chilean plugin-in, which needs three holes in a row. Several other South American countries use the American-style plug-in.

29) Make sure your electronics can handle voltage to 240, (for example, look on the big heavy rectangular adapter that comes with your laptop plug-in cord). If you do not see the number 240, it may burn up. I have two voltage converters (like little bricks with prongs) but neither of them work at all. The only thing I have lost is a little Black and Decker fan, which whirred VERY FAST and then started smoking and died. But my laptop, iPad, and phone and digital camera chargers have all worked fine, also my Babyliss travel hair dryer and my curling iron.
30) Some things you may have to hunt for, for example, wire whisk, clipboard, envelopes, delantal (apron), etc. may be found in specialty shops, or show up unexpectedly at the Jumbo or Lider, never to be seen again.
31) Which reminds me, if you see something you want, buy it since you may never see it again.
32) When someone ships a box to you, make sure it is U.S. Priority Mail. Do not use services like UPS, or they will charge you $100 to deliver. Vanessa sent us a box of socks, books, antacid, Ibuprofen, acidophilus, and A&D ointment via U.S. Priority Mail (it cost $60 in one of the Post Office boxes) and it got to our apartment in 10 days. If you send things to the U.S., use Correos Chile. Lines are shorter in the afternoon before 5:00. Bring a list of all contents, their value, your address, phone and RUT number, and the address and phone of the person you are sending it to.
33) In Concepcion, peatones (pedestrians) will cross at a red light, if no one is coming, on a one-way street. They will cross at the middle of the street, too, but are usually aware of how much time they have to get out of the way. Vehicles are not allowed to turn right on red. If you wonder why all the cars surge out on a green light and race like it's a speedway, it's because the lights are not synchronized to maximize traffic flow. If you follow a colectivo, you can see where all the potholes are and avoid them.
34) As in Germany, Chileans walking, most especially women in their 40s and 50s, do not like to make way for anyone else on the sidewalk. Even a millimeter. Like the French, they will at least acknowledge you in the elevator.
35) Chileans say  ¡Chao! (the Italian Ciao) for goodbye.
36) Take a snack with you. You never know if you'll be stuck in a taco (traffic jam), your bus won't show up, or your meeting will start an hour late. Chilean snacks tend to a lot of starch, so you may want to take an apple.
37) Tea Tree Oil is indispensable. Unless you are one of those unfortunates it doesn't work on. It repels pulgas (fleas) or, if it is too late, apply it on a new bite--try not to scratch it--and it will take the itch out, and it will heal faster. I have also made a lot of use of spearmint oil, lavendar oil, eucalyptus oil (works the same as Tea Tree Oil) and digestive blends.
38) I'm sure there are more, but that's enough for now.

 ¡Chao chao!