Saturday, December 7, 2013

Some different things about Chile

There are some unusual and different things about Chile. Here is a list of a few things, some quite puzzling and humorous.

1. Don't ever go into the bathroom stall at a public restroom without checking the toilet paper first. Either there is none or it may be stationed outside the stall?!
2. Lots of people hitchhike - young and old! it is common and safe. many people can't afford cars and though buses are very common and go everywhere sometimes it is just more convenient to hitch a ride. Also it is considered good Christian form to pick some one up and snobby not to. Of course you use your own discretion. Use your emergency blinkers when you pick them up.
3.Milk comes in boxes unrefrigerated and jam comes in bags (very messy!)
4. Many chilean products are poorly designed and constructed - the weeny easybake oven (it is neither) that seems to be the standard stove for most chileans that can't fit 4 pots on the top and you need 3 arms and the patience of a saint to light the oven. The washing machine where the clothes come out dirtier than when you put them in and the dryer that sounds like 100 squeaking rats are inside turning the drum and it takes 2 hours to dry a load of clothing. I have grown to love my clothesline with all that nice fresh Patagonian air and a good torrential downpour gets most of the dirt out!
5.Dirt / Gravel roads are common but well maintained though a little dusty when it's dry and it's not uncommon to see oxen pulled carts on the side of the highway or what we would call the interstate. You will also see bicyclists and pedestrians on the interstate.
6. It is good form when you enter someones house to say "permisso" or permission. It is like the Irish saying bless all in this house! Chileans are very polite and just saying hola to someone you don't know is too casual for chileans. You should say "Buenos Dias, hola" especially to someone you don't know
7. Chileanos are real big on receipts. They must give you a receipt even for the most simple purchase and they are real insistent that you take it. This has to do with the tax laws. Also if you do a credit card or debit purchase they will ask you to hit enter on the machine to verify the amount that they put into the machine. This is to prove that they are honest.
8. They love bags or bolsas. If they were selling you bags they would put them in a bag and that in a bag and so on.But the bags are so holey you have to use 2 at the grocery store.
9. You get to kiss your banker. It is common to kiss someone on the cheek when you say hello (opposite sex). Like the frenchies.
10. Chileanos do not like BBQ sauce or sweet meat like chinese or americans.
11. They love bubbly water or carbonated water.......... actually I have come to prefer it as well. You can't get just a free glass of water at a restaurant. It is always bottled and you have a choice- con or sin gas. with or without carbonation. Samuel & Andrew still get confused by this.
12. There are many little roadside shrines a symbol of the catholic heritage of this country.
13. The language is always good for a laugh. Like when Jim asked the ladies at Kuchenladen for a Bodega de galletas which is a barnful of cookies instead of a bagful or when Jim wanted to grill a cerro instead of a cerdo - a hill instead of a pig. Our friend told us his ancestors came from germany on sheep instead of ships. I have been teaching the ladies at our favorite cafe some english so they can help the american tourists. We have a good laugh as they try to pronounce some of the sounds that are difficult for a spanish tongue.
14. Tipping - the waiter tips are only 10% but it is customary to tip many others including the bag boy at the grocery who only makes $2.50 per hour, the guy who helps you park your car and then makes sure it isn't broken into (you hope!) and the juggler who entertains you while waiting for the light change.
15 which brings up another topic on parking- there are no meters on city streets but there is usually a guy with an official orange vest who will put a ticket on your car and then conveniently take your money when you are ready to leave which is only a $1 or 2 depending on how long you are parked.
I assume they are city employees?
16. The roads are pretty well maintained - in town they paint the street lines with hand brushes and weed the roadsides with weedeaters- both very time consuming and though seemingly inefficient I guess it does provide jobs for the locals!
17. Though i must admit chileans are ingenious and learn to make do when they can't afford an item or it just isn't available for example - workers pouring concrete on the roadside are using a smoother with homemade stick handles and if you don't have a ladder tall enough you just build it with scrap wood!
You fill up your car with firewood if you don't have a trailer and if you don't have a car you use a wheelbarrow and if you don't have a car, your back is just as good!


  1. You had me laughing out loud, Lorie! And all very true! I especially liked that part about getting to kiss your banker! I remember how odd it felt to kiss the Dr :)

  2. Thanks for the comment, Bertha
    Yes, I don't always care for this custom especially with men I don't know!

  3. I loved reading this post. Customs are so different. Question -- why do you put your hazard lights on when you pick someone up?

  4. So that the people who are passing you see you and that there are people getting in and out of your car on the side of the road. it is just a caution thing.

  5. Okay, so I see that you have a new Chilean president now. Based on what little bit I have read about her, she and the political system look like pretty much a clone of what we are getting here in good ole US of A. What gives? How do you benefit form it? They seem to be focusing in on the public education system (sound familiar?) How do most of your friends there feel about things? Hope all is well and I hope you guys have a very MERRY CHRISTMAS!

    Ray L

  6. Ray

    Yes this is an issue. Our friends have said that it will not make a lot of difference because the other party (the conservative one)is the one that produces all the money for the stupid social programs. So basically the communitst can not do anything with out the producers and they know it!
    We knew when we moved here that the problems of the USA would follow us eventually, and we knew that there are corrupt politicians here as well, but not nearly as corrupt as the usa. They know here that they walk a thin line on both sides of the isle. Also it should be noted that her party members (the liberals) are already promissing to protest her this week. So she is not in so deep with her own people.