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5 Last-Minute Discoveries

Monday, December 19, 2011

On the last day of my first summer at Wediko (therapeutic summer camp), one of my charges jumped into the pond at breakfast, accompanied by his preferred greeting, “You f****** b**** I’m gonna…” .  My supervisor walked by and said, “The good thing is, we still have time to learn!”  Even though the buses were leaving in a few hours, the program rolled on, and we dealt with the situation as one more precious opportunity to teach this child new skills.

Though my last days in Palena were all about leaving the old, there was actually some new, too:

1. New path the the river.  Melissa and I found a way to get down from the garden to the river — though the water was shallow (not like the OCEAN here in Viña del Mar!  Delicious!), I found my way in.

2. Bono de matrimonio.   That’s right: under Piñera, there is a cash prize of $500 for couples that have been married for over 50 years, “to reward the institution of the family”.  Are you kidding?  Look, if you’ve been married for 50 years and you want to celebrate with your family, go right ahead!  But does the State need to enter this?  And how do we know long-term marriage is always a good thing?  In some marriages, we could give you a prize for getting out!  If you care about family, care about the quality of family — about birth control, about maternal health, about preschool, about counseling, about parental leave-of-absense and vacation time — not  “marriage” as if it were an end unto itself.

3. Mate con leche.  I’ve heard for awhile that I have to try mate served with milk, rather than water — on my very last day in Palena, the women attending a weaving training course in the office were serving it (with milk from one of their cows).  They heated the water up in the kettle and the served it into each serving, just like you normally do with water.  It was ultra sweet (from added sugar), but interesting.  Like a breakfast desert.

4. “Tuto. I learned this Chilean slang for sleep when I went for onces (tea/dinner) at one of my high school student’s houses.  I’m not sure how I hadn’t come across it before, because after learning it Monday, I suddenly heard it left and right.  (By the way, this dinner event was a such a sweet, initially awkward but ultimately very satisfying and fulfilling evening.  At first they offered me juice while everyone had mate, and when they started a second round of mate and offered me coffee, I gently suggested I could have mate too.  ‘But no, we have coffee!’  As Tito had taught me, coffee is more expensive and fancy, certainly more fit for a gringo guest.  They were surprised and impressed that I liked mate and obviously knew how to deal with it).

5. “Un Verano Sin Corbata.”  A frequently-playing TV commercial is advertising this new campaign, “A Summer Without Ties,” with the aim of reducing energy costs.  The estimate is that this will save 3.31% of energy expenditures in the public and commercial sectors, a savings of 10 million dollars.  My comments:

  • Does taking off a tie really make that much of a difference?
  • If you want to save money/energy on air conditioning, why not make a meaningful change and wear shorts and t-shirts?  It’s in the 90s in Santiago!
  • Do women go to work?
  • Does anyone blink an eye that a commercial by the Chilean government talking about savings in Chile cites that amount in US dollars?
  • You guys realize this video is hilarious, right?  I mean, your real goal is to get us to know your names, and for us to think you’re funny.  Why else would you film yourselves strip-teasing, for an extremely token environmental gain?
One Comment leave one →
  1. David Russell permalink
    Tuesday, December 20, 2011 6:02 am

    Good to the last drop! Maybe still a little more learning in the last few days.–I’m sure you will let us know!

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