A Travellerspoint blog

Family life in Chile

What we have discovered is that family is very important in Chilean culture. The extended family get together regularly even if they do not live close. Driving for 3-4 hours is not considered a problem, and they may do this as much as once per week.

Typically both parents work long hours, often until 8pm and hence, at least in middle to affluent families, they often have a housekeeper who attends to the house and children. Despite being predominantly catholic, most families have only 2 children for economic reasons. The roles of men and women in the household are a little different too. We have observed that the women tend to wait on the men, and rather than helping themselves the men expect to be served. Anibal asked me where my wine was and I answered with "what's a woman got to do to get a drink around here!?" Back home the men make sure everybody had at least their first drink. Over here, I am expected to get my own, even as a guest, as the women are busy preparing food and the men don't appear to serve at all. I am pretty lucky with my kiwi man, I think.

Routines are very different here. For example, they stay up very late, i.e. 1am,and sleep in until 10am. It is like returning to our kiwi adolescence. They also eat on a different schedule. Breakfast is necessarily late in the morning, the children are given a snack at Midday if they are lucky and then a cooked lunch is served about 2pm. Then they typically don't eat again until 8pm, however the evening meal is like a rolling buffet over several hours, ending at about midnight. The dishes are served as they are ready, when people feel like it. For example the other night we had bread and salsa and salad. Then half an hour later we had BBQ chicken and potato salad. An hour later we had spit roasted pork and ice-cream served at the same time! It is very informal and relaxed and everybody helps with the cooking. Interestingly, you don't get full and bloated as you just eat small amounts then digest before eating some more.

The children stay up late and ours are put to bed about 10pm. Thankfully they have adjustEd well to Chile time and sleep through till 9-10am. They have coped amazingly well with the different schedule and have had so much fun. At the farm Brodin and Daisy introduced 4 Chilean children to playing "spotlight". Its amazing how language is not a barrier for children. In fact for shy little Daisy it works well as there is no expectation that she talk to the other kids and hence she engages immediately and before long she is chatting away in English and they reply in Spanish and somehow they all seem to eventually understand. The language of children is universal it seems.

Posted by Fletchers 18:02 Archived in Chile Comments (3)

Pig Hunting in Chile

We have had the fortune of accompanying our hosts to Anibal's family farm about 3 hours south of Santiago. We have no idea what to expect at the farm, but are told they have a house and Anibal's two brothers will be there with their wives and one daughter the same age as Brodin. Driving south the Andes follow us and the top slowly becomes more snowcapped the further south we go. We travelled through wine country, peach country and orange country. The town nearest the farm is close to the epicentre of the 2010 earthquake and as many Chilean houses are made from mud, there are still many half crumbled houses around town. Eventually we turn down a dirt road and drive for several kilometers past small run down houses surrounded by dirt yards filled with chickens, many houses are semi-direlect with make-do repairs evident. We are wondering what our accommodations will be and our expectations are low. Finally we turn up a driveway, and emerging from the trees is the most beautiful farm house crafted from wood. The original mud farm house built by Anibal's father was destroyed in the earthquake and the new house was built by Aristo and Ariel.
Under the trees, a makeshift "fonda" or tent has been made with a table and BBQ under it. DSCN4354.jpgThree large dogs greet us and then we met Anibal's family. Whilst his brothers both speak reasonable English, their partners speak very little and we have hilarious conversations in Spanglish over wine and pisco sours under the fonda. Anibal's neice, Sophia, attends a bilingual school and is keen to practice her English. After months of trying to teach our kids some Spanish, they are finally starting to learn and use it as they want to converse with their new amigo.
Merrily and slightly intoxicated we go for a walking tour of the farm, only to have the dogs discover the pet piglet has escaped from his pen. A chase through the bush ensues with a squeeling, hysterical pig, followed by two dogs, followed by slightly intoxicated men, followed by three excited children, followed by their tipsy mothers! I swear it was a comedy show aching to be filmed. The pigs hysteria eventually increased and it was apparent the dogs had caught him. Aristo heroically entered the river and waded to the rescue but before he got there the squeeling ceased. When he returned he was dragging the dead, bloody piglet behind him. DSCN4378.jpgIt turns out my farming background has armed me with some useful knowledge as i was able to inform these fake Chilean farmers how to gut, de-hair, and hang the pig prior to it being skewered for the rotisserie for the following evenings dinner. DSCN4490.jpg
An evening of wine, conversations and much laughter took us through to the early hoursof the next morning. Never in our imaginings of our trip had we expected such fabulous hospitality and to experience family life so authentically.

We are in SOUTH AMERICA in Chile. I caught a frog at a farm. It jumped really fast but I just caught it and it's in a jar now. With water in it of course so the frog can swim and with two rocks so the frog can get out of the water and breathe.

Posted by Fletchers 07:49 Comments (2)

Lessons from Chile

16 September 2012

View South America and Cuba on Fletchers's travel map.

After two days in Chile, I have come to the conclusion that there are a number of concepts that we in New Zealand have not grasped.
One is traffic congestion. When a city of 5 million people has a public holiday all three lanes out of the city are blocked. All day and late into the night. After 5 hours of attempting to escape the metropolis we turned back. On the bright side we did some exploring around a "Fonda" or fair, the kids rode some horses, and we explored a small town.
Secondly, littering appears to be a national pasttime in Chile. I guess when 5 million people can't find a rubbish bin and drop their litter it makes a lot more impact when only a few hundred thousand do so. Rubbish bins are few and far between, but I expect attitude also comes into it. Brodin told us yesterday he likes New Zealand better than Chile, because of all the rubbish in Chile, he said "there are a lot of litter bugs here!" I wonder if the "be a tidy kiwi" campaign when I was a kid had influenced us. I like to think so.
Thirdly, air pollution. The smog is phenomenal and it is largely due to traffic. The smog increases daily until heavy rain and then the sky clears. Interestingly, it was terrible yesterday when everybody is escaping the city for the holiday and then this morning, when the roads are quiet, the smog is much thinner. There are a number of initiatives to try and manage the pollution in Santiago city. Cars older than 1995 have restrictions around the number of days they can be used, cars that do not have a 'green' sticker to say they are friendly, i.e. Have a catalytic converter, also have restrictions on their use. There are many cars in this category. Driving along the motorway there are broken down cars every few kilometers. One had lost its entire wheel and the owner was running back down the road to collect it! Apparently they also have a WOF system...... But maybe not an effective one?
Fourthly, poverty. Driving around there are many houses, if you can call them that, crafted out of debris, with branches as walks and scraps of iron, broken planks of wood, and pieces of tarp or polythene as rooves, held down by rocks. Dirt floors and surrounded by mud. Daisy considered one such home very attractive as there was a point tied up outside! Children and adults alike stand at the toll booths and wander through the traffic jams selling items for a living. We saw a man with a terrible club foot dancing on his hands at the traffic lights, entertaining the car loads and then hobbling around to collect cash from them. You have to respect them for the risk they take and for not sitting and begging which has started to become common place on Lambton Quay in Wellington. 
When the earthquake hit a couple of years ago many of the houses crumbled, particularly those with tile rooves. As very few people have insurance they continue to live in houses that are half collapsed. Some have made attempts to waterproof them using tarpolines and others are left as is.

Posted by Fletchers 19:34 Archived in Chile Comments (1)

The flight to Santiago

Sept 14

Traveling with children really enhances travel experience. Whilst as an adult I am focused on the destination rather than the journey, the children have very little concept of where we are going, hence they soak up the long flight as if that in itself is the adventure. Their eyes light up in awe as the enormous vessel lifts off from the ground and takes to the sky. I take that amazing feat for granted until I see their excitement. They stare in amazement out their window at the blanket of fluffy white cloud below. How cool to be above the clouds! They watch movies and play video games on their individual screens whilst their dad fills in tourist cards and practices his Spanish. Daisy observes "but Dad, you're missing all the fun stuff!" Even the meals with all the little tubs of food is a treat. Oh to feel such wonderment at the start of a 12 hour flight! The novelty had worn off after 10 hours and an uncomfortable few hours dozing, but nobody is complaining yet.

Trying to explain to the kids that we left on Friday afternoon, slept overnight on the plane and now its Friday again here in Santiago, is quite confusing for them. Not as confusing as it will be on the way back when we lose Monday altogether!
We arrived at Santiago airport to the smiling face of Anibal who we got to know in Wellington before he and his wife Carmen and their son Vincente returned to live in Chile. It was so nice to be greeted so warmly. We are at their home for the next week and it sound like they have a lot of plans for us!
Impressions of Santiago so far... Warm, ah bliss! A lot of smog, a lot of rubbish. Fantastic roads and the longest tunnels I've ever been in. We look forward to feeling more human tomorrow in order to explore.

Posted by Fletchers 18:32 Archived in Chile Comments (4)

Vaccines, vaccines...more vaccines-sigh....

Ever had that feeling that you are a pin cushion?

There are some serious diseases out there. Hence the jabs for Typhoid, HepA, HepB, Tetanus, Diptheria, Pertussis (whooping cough) and the flu! They all take time and they certainly can tire you out. Daisy and Brodin have both been very brave when getting the needle stuck in their arm. No tears last time round!

Interestingly Cholera is not a risk in the countries we are traveling to. However the Cholera oral vaccine gives reasonable protection (60%) against traveler's dia... which is especially important when at altitude with kids as dehydration occurs quickly.

Even our wee dog Cupid has had to have vaccinations (Pavo-virus and Kennel Cough) as he is going on holiday at Rachel's uncles dairy farm in Hunterville. He loves it out there hanging out with the farm dogs and chasing the cows!


Posted by Fletchers 02:25 Comments (0)

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