Sunday, 27 March 2011

6 things

Some things you're unlikely to find in your Lonely Planet guide or any Internet search.

1. You need a ticket to be served (see my post on being served). In any business in which you need to be attended to, there is sure to be a little box-machine thing dispensing tickets with numbers to minimize queuing and ensure everyone is attended with steady regularity. I would have loved to have been aware of this before coming. Would have saved me a lot of time!

2. There are fans in the metro that spray water at regular intervals. My first few experiences standing on the platform awaiting my train when suddenly sprinkled with cold water left me scowling around at the other people on the platform, mentally accusing each one of opening a well-shaken bottle of fizzy water, or shaking out their freshly washed and still damp hair. I was relieved, to say the least when I worked out where the water was coming from, and am now grateful for this revolutionary (no pun intended) invention, especially during the hot, sticky rush hour.

3. (Speaking of being ambushed by water) The buildings leak. Avoid taking the sharp end of a sharp corner around a building. You will get splattered. It feels just like have a bird drop one mid-flight, and the feeling when realising that you are in fact bird-poo free is a mixed one... "Where did this water come from? at least it doesn't stain!". They call it 'el sudor' (the sweat) which, as one can imagine, does nothing to make you feel any better about falling victim to it. I'm told it's actually faulty air-conditioning units.

4. If there is a protest, everything will close. And of protests- there are many. Stock up on essentials.

5. Tea is drunk without milk. Should you want 'tea' in the British/African sense of the word, you need to stipulate 'té con leche' (tea with milk). And this is readily available in a whole host of disguises- milk with a teabag; hot milk with a teabag; hot water, teabag and glass of milk; hot water, teabag, jug of milk; amongst others.

6. Everyone, and I mean everyone, is a night owl. Well past 22:00 babies still roam the streets and invitations to 'go out' are usually only valid from 23:30 onwards. This isn't just hip, young, Chilean twenty-somethings sporting all white bopping from side to side in electronica night clubs, this is also family gatherings, dinner in restaurants, movies, visiting friends etc. From birth chileans are groomed to stay up late and still get up and do a decent day's living the next day, or so I'm told. Interesting, as this contradicts the 8-hour theory, suggesting that the amount of sleep we need is actually very relative and dependent on our environment and what we're used to. I'd like to say that my body-clock is adjusting, slowly but surely, but unfortunately, that would be a lie. Thank God for coffee!

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