Day 6: 15 June 2002 - "Read to me Naked." »
Day 5: 14 June 2002 - "Worshipping the estufa"
I shared a bed with Pato and Tamara that night and when we woke up in the morning, we huddled together, refusing to leave the bed. Most Chilean houses, at least those north of Region X, don't have central heating. Instead they have a collection of estufas (space heaters), which they move around the house wherever the family goes. The lack of central heating may be the reason that most Chileans have televisions in the bedrooms rather than in a communal family room. This way, they can spend their cold winter evenings curled up in bed, watching TV.
Rancagua, although only 1.5 hours south of Santiago, seemed infinitely colder. This was probably only because of the big house and lack of central heating, but we spent most of the day blanketed up and cuddling together. At one point, we stepped outside and realized that it was noticeably warmer there.
Finally, someone encouraged the dogs to jump on us, so we had to get up and shower, get dressed, and eat breakfast. At breakfast we huddled around the estufa, fighting for its attention. I took a short shower, since no one wants to be wet for long in that cold.
I bundled up, then we went into downtown Rancagua. The car was having brake problems, so we left it at the mechanic's and walked around town, shopping. Pato tried to get me to buy a jacket with what looked like squirrel fur trim, we heard a dance-remix of "Old McDonald Had a Farm" playing in one of the shops, and I found a lovely enormous scarf/shawl thing, which was very helpful for wrapping up in back at the house.
As we walked around downtown, I was amazed by the numbers of stray dogs wandering around. It made me wonder if we didn't have that problem because of Bob Barker. That would be odd. They don't really seem to bother anyone, but because of them, many Chileans have a metal basket on a pole on their lawn extension. Rather than putting their garbage bags on the ground, where the dogs can get at them, they put them up above the dogs' reach.
After shopping, we went back to the house and met Soledad and Teddy's other daughter, Angie, who, I believe, goes to college in Santiago. We went out and rented videos and brought them back to the house. We brought the estufa into Soledad and Teddy's room, curled up in the bed, and watched 10 Things I Hate About You. I always forget how very stupid and juvenile the poem that the main character writes is. "Is the poem that the main character writes"? I can't even write English, so I don't know how I'm going to teach it. Anyway...
After Ten Things... and the beginning of The Stupidest Movie Ever (well, okay, maybe not ever, but I don't think it's the cinematic masterpiece some people seem to think it is...), the time came to "make an appearance" at the local discoteca. Tamara had gone with her friends and had gotten us tickets as well. We were rather tired, but we said we'd come for a while. On the way, the aunts decided they didn't want to make another trip, so we were going to have to stay till 4am and come home with Tamara. Yikes.
We felt a bit out of place at the club, because everyone there was either about 16 or a 30-something man. We had a few additional handicaps: me because I'm a gringa and Pato because he's been gringofied by his time spent in the US. Unbeknownst to us, a trend had swept the nation in Pato's absence: Axe Bahia. This, apparently, is some mostly-naked Brazilian-inspired dance group. Before their invasion, Chile was a perfectly normal country, with a host of original dances and dance clubs where you did what you liked. The curse that Axe Bahia brought with them: choreography. Every song at the dance club had its very own dance with its very own moves. The young chilenos and chilenas knew all of the steps and we were left trying to mimic them and failing miserably. We danced for a while, trying to ape the skilled dancers on the floor, but we kept giving up and retreating to watch everyone else. We did make another attempt later when they started playing old gringo music that hadn't yet been Bahiafied - 80s music, the Grease megamix and things like that.
We did a lot of standing around and shivering. It was amusing to see the Chilean kids out there in jackets and scarves, dancing the night away. Tamara and her friend were wearing sleeveless tops, but even dancing as much as they were, I couldn't see how they could handle it. After a bout of maniacal hopping around to "Hey Micky" (or whatever that 1980s cheerleader song is), my lungs hurt the way they do when I try to run somewhere in the cold and breathe in too much cold air. I had to retreat and sit down.
Anyway, we lasted until 4am, when we went home, had some tea and sandwiches and went to bed, reeking of cigarette smoke and very cold and tired.
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