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Monday, November 5, 2012

Notes on Cultural Differences

I stated in an earlier post that Chile hasn't shocked me. Life here is somewhere in-between what I'm used to in Mexico/Guatemala and the USA, but more toward the USA end. Orderly traffic, structured shopping centers, a lack of haggling, fixed prices, etc. However, that doesn't mean it's the same as America. I shall begin an on-going list of the differences as I encounter them. Let's begin.

1. No commercials. Luz the Abuelita and Roommate loves to watch her nightly television shows. She is sometimes so enraptured that I hesitate interrupting her. In fact I've noticed that the volume of the TV increases proportionate to how loud Leslie, Amanda and I are talking. Due to my issues with remembering things, or at least remembering them when it's appropriate to address them (remembering everyday at the office that I've been meaning to go buy shampoo, and then never doing it once I leave work for weeks on end; forgetting to get the one thing you went upstairs for until three hours later; things like that), I find it important and quite necessary to seize the moment when I remember something within the appropriate context. This is usually the reasoning behind my frequent outbursts. I've already developed the frustrating habit of forgetting to ask Luz important questions about Chilean life until she's gone to sleep or left the house for the day, and her TV time is one of the only consistent opportunities I have to ask her these questions. Due to her interest in the nightly programming, I often tend to wait until the commercial breaks to ask her what I need to ask her. However, it became apparent pretty quickly that I was waiting...and waiting...and still waiting for an opportunity to talk to her. It's because the commercial break never came; there are no commercials here. I can't explain how foreign this is (Is this Cuba?), how fundamentally unsettling it is to not have a break from the programming in which to rummage in the kitchen, go pee, or otherwise distract yourself during a show. I don't mind it at all - really, I don't miss the pathetic advertising aimed at shoving useless products and ideas down American's throats at all hours of the day - but it certainly makes conversation difficult. I've taken to just interrupting anyway. Problem solved.

2. The Tap Water is Great. Really, it is. And like I said, still no gut-wrenching diarrhea. I fill up my water bottle everyday and love it. I think it has an abundance of minerals in it. I don't know if that's true or not. Let's just go with that for now.

3. The Strays are Well-Fed. Per every other Latin American country I've ever visited, there is a large amount of stray dogs here. Except, these dogs are actual house-pet quality. I've seen several businesses around here leave out bowls of food for the dogs, and they're all extremely friendly and playful. Some can be found in the same spots everyday. We've had dog escorts a couple times already, strays that just pick up our pace and walk with us for a length of time like our guides (or maybe guards).


  1. commercials, I like that. I just hope Luz isn't watching Keeping Up With The Kardashians or some other "reality" show.

  2. I'm not lucky (or unlucky?) enough to get the Kardashians in South America! But the Big Bang Theory comes through, so that's nice.

  3. That's strange about no commercials -- in Stgo we got a lot of Argentinian cable channels and all the ads were for Argentine beers and Banco Santander, and of course the "llame-yas"

  4. Christine, I wonder if it has something to do with the fact that it's a local cable channel that the abuelita watches. I've noticed since this post that I have seen one or two commercials, but I think they come through the channel that airs more of her beloved reality TV programming. Without the breaks, though, I notice that two whole sitcoms are aired in a thirty minute slot. Ha!