Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Pantyhose vending machines.

More then just for a quick snack, vending machines can sell pantyhose for the woman on the go, and are in almost every metro around Santiago.

They're incredibly practical if you think about it. You leave the office for the metro, and realize you have a run in your stockings the day of a big meeting and don't want to look trashy, buy new panties! In the metro! Change at work. So smart, even thoughtful really. 

They even suggest a kind of value for the Chilean professional woman. There must be a large enough population of working women for it to be profitable to have these at nearly every metro station.


Tuesday, March 8, 2011


We don't watch very much TV at the apartment, maybe the evening news, an occasional movie, and our soaps when we remember (I am kind of interested in a new comedy Almacen however), but when we watch TV it's not the shows that get me. It's the ads.

In the U.S. commercials cast those who use their products as cool or more attractive. They appeal to the individual. You will be better off if you buy this, they say. As someone who's given up on being cool a long time ago, I don't find them very effective (except that I guess I think about the products advertised more then the ones that aren't).

Here however it's not about looking cool, it's about doing what's best for your family. You as an individual won't just be happier, this Coca Cola/Pampers/Activia/whatever will make your entire family better off, it will bring communities and neighbors together, these commercials say. In this way it's both more effective, and it feels a little more sinister. You'll buy this if you love your family, and if not .. well ... you must not love them that much.

I found myself getting choked up over an Activia commercial the other day. How a yogurt that helps with digestion was cast as a means of bringing the family together, I can't really say.

Perfect example of this pasted below.  A yogurt commercial that both plays on crucial role the family plays in Chile, but also on the nostalgia many people have for the pastoral south of Chile, where many people still have family.


Monday, March 7, 2011

Giving blood.

Donating blood in Chile is another one of the things that is different than how it is in the U.S. When a family member or friend is in a car accident, rather then getting blood from a large bank, like in the U.S. the onus is on the family members to get blood for the relative in need.

When I first heard this I thought that people wanted you do donate in honor of their relative who needed a transfusion, to replenish the supply or something. In fact it's for a specific person. It seems like just another source of stress for family members when they are already worried about the health of their family.

However, so often I've heard people say that they want to "do something," really get active in their loved one's recovery, and feel like they're doing something other then sitting by their bedside, and this definitely gives families a chance to get involved .. I guess.

On another note: I finally found out why nail polish is so strictly prohibited in surgery. Apparently because the natural color of the nail is red (because of the red blood cells) if one's nails turn white during surgery, it means something's gone wrong. Good to know.


Friday, March 4, 2011

'Are you in love?'

Apparently a popular saying in France and Chile for when someone cooks something very salty. They are in love because they are too busy thinking about the person they are in love with to watch the amount of salt they pour into their cooking, the saying goes.

I've never heard this before, but I like it.


Tuesday, March 1, 2011


All the crazy running around town for this little card.

So yesterday was pretty close to being my own personal hell. My visa was supposed to arrive in the mail, but never did, so I had to go to the foreigners' office. I set my alarm especially early, but didn't get out the door until 9 a.m. Thankfully, the foreign office is just down the street.

Cutting to the chase, after eight hours of climbing stairs, visiting various levels of the foreign office, civil registration office, and at least three international police stations, I ended the day broke and with my fingers covered in black ink and baby oil. This, it seems, is standard procedure.

To explain: The ink and baby oil were the last part of my ordeal. There use of a fingerprint on documents here is extremely common, and I had to get fingerprinted on more then one occasion yesterday.

The baby oil/lotion was to remove the ink, although it seemed to only further slicken and smear it. I walked out of the last building, after standing for two hours in a bathroomless gigantic office, with my hands held in front of me like a surgeon who'd just been prepped for an operation.

Before moving to Chile I knew very little about the it. South American country, land of wine,  bass ... and that's about it. I kind of wanted it to be a totally new experience, and avoided doing research. Even so, in my minimal research I'd heard the bureaucracy in Chile was infamous well before I left. I still think the U.S. is probably far worse in this way, but this experience may change my mind.

What makes matters worse is that all Chilean government offices close at 14:00 -- yes, 2 p.m. Which means you absolutely must take time off work to get these things done because there is no way you can do this on a lunch break. Thankfully, my job is very flexible with my hours. But how do people with more rigid schedules make this work? Especially foreigners, most of whom are Peruvian, Bolivian, or Ecuadorian and usually work very difficult jobs, which, I imagine, are not as flexible.

At least there wasn't any bribing or other form of corruption in order to file my paperwork, like is common in other South American countries. For this, I am definitely grateful.


Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Teeth of garlic

In looking up recipes here, I noticed that cloves of garlic are referred to as "a tooth of garlic" or "three teeth of garlic."

Kind of tickled me pink and thought I'd share.


Chilean hospitals.

This is something I have so much firsthand knowledge of, I could write a book about it. Emergency services? General care? Operations? Private versus public care? I've got all the bases covered.

Recently, a bump that's been a bit annoying has grown a bit more noticeably painful (and unsightly) so I visited the doctor who told me I have a benign tumor pressing into my tendon creating the discomfort. Why the doctor felt the need to bust out the "T" word if it's benign is beyond me. I prefer to say bump.

But onto Chilean hospitals and healthcare in general: They're fantastic. Quick, clean, efficient, and overall less expensive then services in the U.S., I can see why people leave the country to have surgeries.

The hospital I'll be going to (pictured above) is not only gorgeous, with frosted glass, pleasant and informative doctors and nurses, good equipment, informative "what to expect with your surgery" pamphlets, it also has a faint smell of aromatherapy products. If I wasn't having surgery here, I could easily confuse it with an upscale hotel.

There are some quirks however:

--I have to take all my documentation, sonograms, blood tests, everything to and from the hospital with every visit. Rather then keep them on record at the hospital, I cart them to and from our apartment with me almost everyday. I now have a sack, provided by the hospital, filled with papers from the hospital.

-- There's also this obsession with people not wearing nail polish during surgery. I mentioned this to Daniela and she agreed saying that the first thing people do if they find out their sister has been in a car accident is rush off to the drugstore for nail polish remover. There is to be no nail polish in the operation room, which strikes me as a bit odd. But hey, I'm not going to complain about an attention to details when it comes to surgery.

--Administrators also don't all wear scrubs. They wear identical suits. Blue blazers with blue slacks, floral shirts, and heals, of course, to keep it classy. I'd seen these women walking together during lunch hours in downtown Santiago wondering what kind of job would require all their female employees to all wear the same suit. It's hospital administration. This can be a bit confusing for me.

I'm used to looking for certain cues when I'm at the doctors. Person in scrubs means nurse or administrator. All these women in suits, which one am I supposed to talk to? The organization and layout of the hospital is also confusing. I've never had surgery before and now I am doing it abroad and in another language, which can every once in a while be a bit overwhelming.

But with such attention to details, reassuring and informative doctors, and a nice aromatic smell when I wake up from surgery, I'm sure I'll be fine.