Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Say what?

I used to think the most difficult Spanish in the world was Chilean Spanish. It probably still could be considered more difficult than not. Why Chilean Spanish is difficult to learn is that Chileans mostly:
  • speak softly
  • speak in a monotone
  • cut off the last syllable of many words (e.g. cansá instead of cansada)
A Cuban guy came to fix my stove upon moving into our apartment. His Spanish was wonderful. (His English was pretty good too!) I could understand every word he said in Spanish. This only confirmed my knowledge that Chilean Spanish is the hardest.

And then my sink wasn't draining well, so last week, a different Cuban guy came to fix it. Oh my god was his Spanish difficult!!! His English was non-existent, so we communicated in Spanish, but I had to ask him to repeat himself often. When I asked him what had caused the semi-clog in the drain, I didn't understand one word of his reply! So I asked him, "Estaba tapado?" He replied, "Sí". And I had to get rolling anyway, so I saw him to the door and left myself. I think if I had conversed with him for a while, I eventually would have caught on. He left me pretty floored however.

Friday, December 3, 2010

On bilingual kids

When people comment that V and my future kids are going to be bilingual, I tell them that our kids will speak English with a Chilean accent and Spanish with a gringo accent. hahaha.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Thanksgiving sort of ruined.

I don't really like holidays a ton, except for el dieciocho and Thanksgiving. Yes, I'm a foodie. hahaha. Thanksgiving used to be my favorite American holiday. This year V and I had a lovely Thanksgiving lunch with my folks, for which I am thankful. But then, V asked me what we were celebrating. I couldn't remember if it was the first harvest that the pilgrims had after arriving to America, or if it was a feast that the Native Americans prepared for the pilgrims saving them from starvation. According to omniscient wikipedia, both answers are partially correct. Turns out the Native Americans taught the pilgrims to plant so that the pilgrims wouldn't starve to death come winter. It worked out well for the pilgrims, and Thanksgiving is celebrated at harvest time. So it celebrates the first harvest. Then the whites proceeded to kill almost all of the Native Americans.

I've always known that. I don't know why it ruined Thanksgiving for me this year and not other years. Perhaps because this year I read Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee, An Indian History of the American West. And so I guess having to explain Thanksgiving to a foreigner six months after reading this book, got to me. I'm just thankful my little nephew and niece didn't ask me. I might have gone off on an "unpatriotic" rant and ruined their childhoods.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Adios San Marcelino, poderoso salvador y protector del futbol chileno...

I just mentioned to my husband how I was hoping to read what the gringa bloggers had to say about Bielsa and nobody's said anything really. At least regarding his choice to quit as trainer of the National team if Harold Mayne-Nicholls weren't re-elected as the president of the Chilean Soccer Federation (ANFP) -which he wasn't. So here goes. The Argentinean, Marcelo Bielsa, one of the best soccer coaches in the world, quit. I'm not a huge soccer fan, but I really like Bielsa. He's a Philosopher Coach, literally. And a bit of an enigma due to his general avoidance of the press and his soft-spoken way. I've watched several of his conferences the last few years and while he's soft spoken, his ideas are wise and pack a punch. Especially interesting to watch was the unexpected conference he called the day before the ANFP presidential elections. Usually pretty concise, here he spoke a lot longer than normal, sharing anecdotes. It was really fun to watch.

Soccer is important in Chile! They rarely have a good team. They don't make it to the World Cup often (because as any Chilean soccer fanatic will be sure to let you know, Chile has to compete against Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay to get to the World Cup whereas the United States competes against Mexico and Central America, which is plenty easier. ) But Chileans love soccer and love their national team even if sometimes juega como las weas (they play like shit). Well, that changed with Bielsa. Under his direction, they beat Argentina for the first time ever in a play-off game. They beat Paraguay in Paraguay for the first time in 28 years. They won in Lima for the first time in like 25 years. They also beat Colombia in an away game the first time ever. He helped form lots of good players, and he led them to the World Cup in South Africa.

Before I go on, I must drive home that Chileans are A CRITICAL PEOPLE. They criticize everything!!!!!! Seriously!! They have a wonderful public transportation system thanks to ex-presidents Ricardo Lagos and Michele Bachelet and all Lagos and Bachelet got for all their hard work was a TON of criticism. Honestly, here in most cities of the United States we are like 20 years behind the public transport in Santiago, la Quinta Region and probably most of Chile!!!! And lots of Chileans can't talk enough shit about it. *Vent finished* (I suppose being uber-critical is sometimes one of their more endearing traits! :P )

In Chile, when someone actually achieves the carino del pueblo, the people's affection, it does call my attention. And, yes, they-especially the men-do love soccer, but seriously the Chilean people's love for Bielsa goes beyond just soccer. Honestly. It does. I think Chileans really like extraordinary but humble people, like Bielsa. I agree with the Bielsa-loving Chileans, Marcelo Bielsa is a Saint. And to that Bielsa responds: no hay Santo sin historia ni pecador sin futuro. There's no Saint without a past, nor a sinner without a future.

After the World Cup was over, the Chilean National Team went to the Moneda to be greeted by the president, and many Chileans outside la Moneda. When Bielsa gave Pinera a "lukewarm greeting", it was controversial. Because Chileans love one of them more than the other. hahaha. Here I've found the truth about the presidential greetings!

Although the Chilean president denies it, many think that Pinera influenced the results of the ANFP elections so that Mayne-Nicholls lost and Jorge Segovia won the presidency thus provoking Bielsa to quit. I don't know if it's true. However, I don't like Pirana, so it wouldn't surprise me. But the real clencher is that the change of ANFP presidency will be good for Pinera's business interests. Since the team he's owner of, Colo-Colo, will receive more money with Segovia as president than it would with Mayne-Nicholls.

I was really sad to hear Bielsa was quitting! I honestly don't like soccer that much, but I like how Chileans are about Bielsa. And I like Bielsa. I was bummed. But I watched a part of a press conference where Harold Mayne-Nicholls spoke and he made me feel better. More or less he said that Chile had a wonderful opportunity with Bielsa. The ANFP put together a project for Chilean soccer that interested Bielsa enough to accept the position as the coach. He said we should be grateful for those four years, and the work that Bielsa, the players, and others involved in the project did for Chile. (He said it so much better than that, but that's the gist.) It made me feel better about Bielsa quitting. This whole Pinera in, Bielsa out situation also makes me happy I'm living in the States now. As a friend of mine said in facebook. "Todo esto me da asco!!!!!" Agreed!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Immigration to the US: Filing a change of address

Heads up to present and future immigrants and their spouses.

V and I have been in the States for like 7 months now, and just moved for the first time within the States, like a month ago.

We just moved to Portland, Oregon, and thus had to file two forms. One was a change of address form for V, the permanent resident: AR-11. The other was for me. It's the I-865, the sponsor's change of address form. As far as I know, it needs to be sent in by mail. The AR-11 is supposed to be filed 10 days after the move and the I-865 about 30 days after the move. Lots of people don't do it, or do it late, but you could potentially get fined and I'm not sure what else for not doing it.

This British Expat Forum has info on this. Just use the search box to find what you need.

The AR-11 can be filed online.
The I-865 must be sent in. I believe that clicking here and scrolling down you can get the most recent form.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Packing Light for Travel

First I must just say "VIVA CHILE MIERDA, GANAMOS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

So before a trip:
-Definitely check the weather for where you will be traveling.
-Plan day by day outfits, if necessary, like especially if you'll need formal wear with jewelry, nice shoes, etc.

Here's a packing list from Travel Light Guru Rick Steves:
-packing list

Now, my own tips:

If you have a tendency to overpack, when packing don't ask yourself "what will I need?", but "what can I live without?" - e.g. Perhaps your yoga pants can double as long underwear, pijama pants, and sweat pants. And maybe you don't really need that kitchen sink. Or the laptop. Or three pairs of jeans, maybe not even two.

- Now this is just a general packing tip, to make it easier. A week or two before I leave for somewhere, I often find an empty corner of my apartment and open the suitcase I plan on taking and let it sit there. As I think of things I'm going to bring on my trip, I throw them in, so I'm not stressing out last minute about all the things I might be forgetting. Ojo: this can lead to overpacking. So do this for a week or two before traveling, and then when you are actually packing your bag, start filtering out things that aren't necessary. This is a comprehensive way of packing a bag, and probably isn't for everyone.

- keep a rubbermaid with all your little travel gear in it, like TSA locks, fanny packs :), luggage tags, cosmetic bag, packing cubes if you use them, etc.

- when I travel to other countries, I tend to accumulate some money in other currencies. Before leaving said country, I try to get rid of all the coins, unless I have a reason to hold on to them. For example, the new Chilean 100 pesos is very similar to the Euro coin, so I've heard they work for buying cigarettes from vending machines in Italy. Or they used to. You get a great exchange rate that way. Unheard of. But I digress... So, I actually usually arrive home with foreign bills if I think I will be traveling there again. Not a ton, maybe 20 dollars worth. Then I divide them in little ziploc bags by country, and next time I travel to say, Argentina, I've got 20 bucks worth of pesos just in case. And I keep the money with my passport, so I know where it is. That way it's also travel-handy, and I feel like a spy from a movie, :P hahahha. Except I guess I'd need a couple more passports to really feel like Matt Damon's Jason Bourne.

Here are a few things that are almost always on my packing list:

- a fold-up, eco-friendly grocery bag, e.g. These I find AWESOME for travel. Especially in the airport. I carry it in my purse, and often I have lots of warm clothes like a thick sweatshirt and maybe a coat that I want to carry on the plane. In the airport, I can throw my coat, sweatshirt and extras in this sack for going through security and also if I'm too warm I can just carry it around in the bag. These bags are seriously the wave of the future! ha!

-I find a pair of long yoga pants very useful when I travel, because you can use them as lounge pants, pijama pants, long underwear, and casualwear.

-I'm all about having a beige, gold or bronze pair of dress shoes or sandals to wear with formal wear or anything really. Since they match my skin, I don't need to match every dress, skirt, and shorts; they also go well with jeans.

- bikini: a personal must have. I think I wouldn't leave it behind even if going to Antartica. I have a fear of not being able to swim in a pool, at a beach, etc. because I didn't bring my swimsuit.

- another good item: bolero mangas. I can't remember this word in English if I ever knew it, but one of those sweatshirts or sweaters that is basically just sleeves and goes over short sleeves, like this. It's a great piece of clothing, because it's small and light, packs easily and often when V and I would go to Vina for the weekend, I'd just bring that and two different short-sleeved t-shirts or tanks. That way I could convert my short-sleeved shirts into long sleeves. And I could still put a sweatshirt over the mangas. This cuts down on the need to pack so many long-sleeved t-shirts and short-sleeved. It's great for Vina weather where it can be hot in the day but it is usually cool at night.

- I also travel sometimes with a little "Travel Pro" duffle. Rolled up, it was the size of those eco-friendly grocery bags, and it fits about the same amount, but it has a zipper, so I don't have to worry about stuff falling out of it while I'm in transit.

- Another item that can be useful is a quart-sized see-through cosmetic bag. They sell them at Wal-Mart now, and probably on the internet. That way you can use the same quart-sized bag every time you carry liquids onto the plane. Yoopee!

-Rick Steves travel tips

Anyway, here are a few videos I found useful for packing light. They contain excellent information!!! And lots of it!

-I must say, I pertain more to the "rolling your clothes" way than the layering-folding style. Or the shove-them-in-the-bag style too. It's efficient and effective. haha

Last of all, if you're stressing out before a trip, just make sure you have your travel partners, a passport and perhaps a credit card. Everything else can be figured out upon arrival. Boa viagem!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Top 11: You know you're a chilenized yanqui when...

11. You can't believe the amount of shopping people do in the States.

10. You are overwhelmed (and perhaps even amused or disgusted) by the material wealth of the United States.

9. Sometimes when a family member or friend suggests eating out, you say, "but we have so much food in the refrigerator at home."

8. You ask for referrals for services and products all the time. You are also very practiced in negotiating prices.

7. You occasionally use wordreference dictionary to translate from Chilensis to English.

6. Spanglish is your language of choice.

5. You can make a seven course meal even with the fridge and pantry almost empty.

4. You check the dates on the milk, yogurt, etc. while shopping at the store to make sure it's not already expired.

3. Half of your facebook friends are Chilean, and your friends and family from home complain that they can't understand most of you facebook page (because it's all in Spanish.)

2. And you know you are Santiaguized when...acting like a total bitch (especially to strangers) - te sale a flor de piel - comes naturally.

1. You think about a thought in a thousand different ways (te day mil vueltas a un pensamiento) before saying it to assure yourself there's not one possible sexual interpretation of what you are about to say.

hehehehe, feel free to add your own ideas :)

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Arriving in the States with an immigrant visa

So we were scheduled to fly out of Chile March 1st, but there was this "big tremmor" which shook the airport up and trashed it enough to delay our flight about a week. I consider us very fortunate, because many didn't fare so well in the earthquake.

We arrived in Miami March 8th, I believe, and went through immigration. V was on his immigrant visa so he got in the "U.S. Citizens and Permanent Lawful Residents" line with me to go through immigration. It's called something like that anyway. So we went up to the immigration official/cop guy and I went through first and then V. After V got his finger prints taken, the officer lead us to a room close by. There was one other client in there waiting, and then the official. We were told to take a seat and we waited for about 40 minutes while the immigration official worked. It was like 5am. Yawn. But the guy got to us and was really friendly and helpful. V just had to sign a form and we chatted for a while with the guy and headed to Ft. Lauderdale for a vacation with my family.

V was told that he can work with the visa that's stamped in his passport. Apparently it works like a green card while we wait for the green card to come in the mail.
Also the friendly official in Miami had recommended V get an I.D. card at the DMV, so he doesn't need to carry his passport. Also to get a job, apparently you need to present two I.D.s but we haven't gotten that far yet. And V has an international driving license so he doesn't need a driver's license just yet. So at the DMV, we were just about ready to finish getting his I.D. and the lady helping us said that when he comes into get his driving permit, he should bring the receipt she was handing me. I let her know he had an international driver's license. And after making a call, she informed me that if he gets an I.D. card, his int'l license would no longer be valid. Random. So we didn't get the I.D. card.

That night I happened to open some more mail V'd received while we were in Florida, that we just hadn't gotten around to opening. He'd been sent a sort of "alien" I.D. card, so I imagine that will work as an I.D. for writing checks and buying booze 'til he feels like getting his Minnesota driver's license. We had quite the pile of mail. V had like 3 or 4 things, mostly from USCIS. He'd also been sent his social security card, and a couple random papers that I've forgotten what they are. I wonder if the I.D. card he was sent is the green card... hmmmm...perhaps.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

phone solicitors

So we registered for Ripley novios last year, and a few years before that I turned in my personal datos occasionally at the neighborhood Bandera Azul to try to win a moped, a cart full of groceries, etc. So by now a thousand phone soliciters have my phone number. Ugh.

I get a lot of solicitting calls and find them super annoying because they are insistant to sell my husband and I things that we don't need. The typical phone soliciter calls asking if we want to get more long distance minutes for our home line for only like 4.000 pesos a month. Or even better, they want us to switch cell phone companies. To which I have responded on various occasions, my husband has 2000 minutes a month to talk on his cell phone for free because he works in coverage optimization for movistar. They ask me, what about you? I have a good plan as well. What's more I use my husband's phone all the time to make calls. You know we've never gone over the 2000-minute limit? That usually shuts a phone soliciter right down. They're Chilean. They know about making good use of scarce resources.

You can always hangup on them too when you realize it's a solicitor. Sometimes I just do that. But it annoys me that they call me in the first place.

Several months ago I was at my sister-in-law's house and the phone rang and her 10 year-old son picked it up and said "qui pa longhi?". He started snickering as he set the phone down and his ma picked it up. That cracked me up and I was inspired by him and the next phone call I got at home, I followed his lead answering the phone with a, "qui pa longhi?" I was sure it was a solicitor, but it turned out to be the secretary from Solaris confirming my massage for the following day. It wasn't even the young secretary who would've gotten a kick out of my new phrase for answering the phone. It was the 50-something secretary who just straight up didn't understand what I said and clearly found no humor in it. Cuak.

And then there are the random surveys calls, comparing super cerdo with other pork brands, or comparing sports drinks, etc. Sometimes I answer those because I find marketing slightly interesting. There was that one surveyor that wanted to get an idea of our household income by asking if we had say, a plasma tv, computers, internet, etc. I know that some studies do ask those sort of things for that reason, but if that was legit, whoever set up that phone survey is an idiot.

The other day Ripley seguros called to talk to V - they always want to talk to V, and I said he wasn't here and that furthermore we are moving out of the country in a month. That got us off the phone in a jiffy. God, why did I just think of that.

And then, it occurred to me, after like 3 years receiving these horrid calls, why don't I just answer my phone in English, duh? God, seriously. This is just occurring to me now. So I told my suegra the other day that from now on I'm answering my home phone in English to webear a los weones molestosos. (Afterall the principal reason for getting the phone line to begin with was so my folks could call me at home rather than on my cell.) My suegra really liked the idea and said, yeah, you should really make them make a HUGE effort to communicate with you, and then when they finally get the message across, working their butt's off to make sense in English, tell them in perfect Spanish: "lo siento mi esposo está de viaje. Llega la otra semana." Click. hehehehehehe.

And ever since I've made this decision, my phone hasn't rung once. Awaiting my chance...

Edited February 8th:
So I've had my chances. The first call was from the firefighters calling us back because we complained about a gas leak in the building. I switched to Spanish right away ;). And now I've just gotten a call from someone who I don't think I know. The conversation went like this:

Alo, alo?
Alo, alo?
Works magic.

Although I'm thinking next time I'll try to figure out who's calling before getting them to hang up on me or at least get more information. I'm thinking the next conversation with a stranger will be more like this:

Alo, alo?
Alo? Alo?
Está __________ ___________?
Rrrodrrrigoouu? What?

And then just yesterday, the 12th, I answered a call:
Like a charm. ;)