Archive | January, 2010

Kissing Latin American Style

22 Jan

For the past month, I have tried to “besito” people when I first meet them.  This is a culture effect from Chile and has caused terribly awkward instances.

The process of besito-ing (as my friends and I would call it) consists of kissing the left side of the person’s cheek when you meet them–or just to say hello.  Having said this, you can only imagine people’s reaction when they hold out their hand for a good ol’ American shake, and I am heading directly for their left cheek–lips in perfect besito stance.

Although the awkwardness happens here, it even happened in Chile, too.  Here are a few examples that my friends and I talked about:

  • The “amateur” besito: when an American first encounters this aspect of the Latin American culture.  The reaction is never natural and the possibility of kissing the wrong side (heading for the lips) is highly likely.
  • The “too much” besito: when an American puckers too much and there’s the…yes…unintended pucker noise straight in the person’s ear.
  • The “accidental lip” besito: when the angle of the besito was not far enough to the left, and you have just kissed a stranger.  (I found out later that Chilean guys to this intentionally…sly.)

Let’s face it: Americans are amateurs at besito-ing.  We shake hands.  Does anyone else wish this were different in the United States?

I love the besito.  As incomodo as it can be at first, there is a sense of genuineness behind it.

This goes for their culture in general.  When you enter a room, it is custom  that you greet and kiss everyone in the room (As for a larger amount of people, I would say greet the majority).  For lunch, everyone sits down at once and enjoys each other’s company for three hours with wine, bowls of food, and dessert.  At the end of an all day BBQ (very popular in Chile), you leave by giving everyone a besito.

As for my favorite, before every glass of wine, hands raise and glasses ting to “salud.”  Everyone wishes each other good health.

I think that it is a good idea to try to carry out this affection into our culture.  Perhaps the besito is too much, but greeting everyone in the room individually or remembering to raise a toast isn’t–no matter the occasion.

Let us not be scared of affection.  Naturally, our hearts enjoy this genuineness.


¿Por qué ‘Vuelvo Allá’?

12 Jan

My first ever blog in my history of blogging.  I like it.  I also like Chile and that is what is going through my head 60% of the day.  Chile also explains the name that I chose for my blog–“vuelvo allá.”  Long story short: as your typical blonde, southern-accented, small town girl who has lived in the same state all of her life, I lived in Santiago, Chile last August through December.  I want to go back.

Yes, I know there are people reading this thinking, “not a big deal.”  However, I know there are those Southerners who wonder why in the hell I chose a country that had the first-ever democratically elected Marxist president and is now Socialist.

Heaven forbid, Socialism.

Going back to my thoughts 60% of the day, it happens.  I think about my time in Chile.  As for those who are world travelers, you may not want to read the rest of my, “I am bright-eyed and bushy tailed from my foreign experiences” story.  Perhaps it will remind you of your thoughts 20 years ago when you first left your country.  However, those who are not world travelers, you may want to continue with my raving and explanation for my blog name.

Sixty percent of my day, I want to return.  This explains my name, “vuelvo allá (literally meaning, “I return beyond”). 

The experience was not easy as pie.  The typical horror things occurred.  My bag with debit card, cash, Chilean license, and cellphone was literally cut off my body and taken by a 12 year old; I was yelled at negatively and positively–either for my blonde hair or for being an American (I think it is clear as to which caused the negative yells); I now mispronounce words in English due to my struggling efforts of learning Spanish for four months; and since Chile is the second largest consumer of bread in the world, I ate almost enough to gain my “Freshman 15” Senior year of college. 

Woo!  No, thank you, 40 types of Chilean bread for giving me the Kardashian-look.  I have brought you back on my body to the USA without having to get YOU a VISA!

So, I had a traumatizing robbery, was stared and yelled at so much it would be considered violating in my culture, can’t speak English, and my bathing suits may or may not be replaced by next summer.

I would never wish for anything else.  A cellphone and debit cards are just “things,” my English can revive itself, and I am starting to like my Kardashian butt.

Quiero volver allá.  Before Chile, my poor eyes had only seen outside of my country a total of four weeks in my entire life.  I thought, socialism=bad, communism=hell, central heat and air=in mostly every house and absolutely necessary for life, a woman president=highly unlikely, metros=what??, not owning at least one car per household=(even bigger) what??, and just thinking about not believing in Christianity=that is unnatural as a human.

Chile taught me something. As childish as this sounds, I mean every simple word of it: this world is a lot more fun.  I feel that I have a trillion cultures, governments, religions, people, and beautiful places to discover and unveil.

Most importantly, the people.  I want to return to my beloved friends.  The ones who were patient with my Spanish every minute and love me for my quirky, philanthropist, and sensitive self.

Cultures. Governments. Religions. People. Places.  It is what I will think of 60% of the day and blurb it out when I feel a tick for writing.  There are things that I will admit about myself that I have learned, even if it makes me seem shallow or foolish. I am foolish.  I know this because I am growing, and no one grows until they become foolish.

Hopefully, “yall” might want to read for inspiration to travel…leaving your bubble. Or, perhaps you may find some entries witty.  I just know that this will help me “vuelvo allá.”

Now, I’m wondering what I was I thinking about 60% of the day before I left for Chile?  Socialism=bad, Communism=hell…