Soltera in Santiago: Love vs. lust

So I filled you all in last week about Pancho throwing around those three words that really shouldn’t be “thrown around,” so to speak. I didn’t really know how to react to any of this at first since I’m not used to guys being so forward so early. In fact, I’m not used to guys being forward at all. Usually, there is a series of ridiculous mind games that come into play before commitment is even considered an option. For example, instead of saying, “I’d like to see you, let’s go out together,” we just casually text, “What are you up to tonight?” That way we convince ourselves that we don’t sound too eager or desperate. But down here, we’re in a whole new playing field.

54969um5p7rdbp2 Soltera in Santiago: Love vs. lust

How do you draw the line between love and lust? Photo: Stuart Miles

Pancho continued to say “I love you” and I continued to come up with new alternatives to reply to this such as “Aw, I had a great time with you” or “Thank you” followed by an intimate kiss. I wondered, did we somehow press the forward button on the relationship remote control to skip out on getting to know each other and just having a good time?

The weird part is, I feel like my lack of reciprocation isn’t even turning Pancho off. I think he takes it as a challenge and seems to be intrigued by it. It’s like he’s wondering how many “I love yous does it take for Soltera to say it back? It makes me wonder, would he start to lose interest once he’s won me over?

Maybe this is all in my head but I think we’ve all met those people. Hell, I can be one of those people. The ones that want what they can’t have and think, “Wow, this person must be amazing if they are not showing interest in me and are so unattainable. I’m going to try even harder and then they’ll want me, too.” Wrong! Where do we get this psychotic train of thought from? That type of feeling is what seems to get us into trouble in the end, myself included at times. And that’s how I feel about Pancho at the moment.

So I ask Pancho out for a pisco sour or two because I decided a specific conversation needed to happen and clearly he wasn’t about to bring it up. I told him I was kind of uncomfortable with his level of intensity and that I didn’t think love was part of the equation yet. Not in those exact words, of course. I highly recommend sugar-coating things if you don’t want a drink thrown in your face.

Well, I’ll be honest, I could tell Pancho was a little hurt and offended. He started to play with his hair and look obscenely uncomfortable. I decided that this may have been the first time Pancho had a girl that wasn’t throwing herself at him after he told her he loved her. I even mentioned that lust is what we often feel in the beginning and often confuse with love.

“It’s not lust,” he said. “I would know if it was lust.”

That’s the thing about dating. Do you really know the difference between lust and love when you don’t have an objective view of the situation? Things tend to get a little cloudy. Well, what ended up happening is that I told him that I wasn’t there yet and that I didn’t know when I would be. Pancho told me he understood and that he’d still like to continue to date. That’s what he said at least.

It’s been a couple days and I haven’t heard from him. I think I might have bruised his ego a bit because Pancho’s usual routine is calling me on a daily basis, telling me he misses me far too often, and ending the convo with those three controversial words that began this dilemma.

Maybe he decided he really was “in lust” or maybe he just hasn’t come to terms with the fact that not every girl he meets is going to say “I love you” just because he did. Either way, I had a great time with him and I do hope to hear from him again. But that still doesn’t constitute love. Not in my book anyway.

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Soltera in Santiago: Moving too fast

After having dated quite a few Chileans, I have come to understand that things are a little more dramatic in the beginning of the dating scene here – which is good and bad, of course. These guys really do appear at your door with flowers and not just a blockbuster movie. You question how much time really went by when you receive a text that says “I miss you” even though you had just seen him a few hours ago for lunch. I’m still on the fence if I think this is needy and a little creepy or just plain adorable. Maybe both? The little things go a long way when dating and I’ll be honest, Chilean men have this down and know how to knock a girl off her feet.

Now, this is all good fun until things start to not just move fast but they begin to actually make the hair on the back of your neck stand up. Those few intense words come into the conversation and are dropped on you like a bomb. You may know what I’m talking about: I love you.

Okay, so Pancho has laid down the “te quiero” form of “I love you” on me to which I’ve replied with a kiss, more or less to avoid the awkwardness of saying “Really? I’m not sure yet.”

First off, what does “te quiero” even mean? I notice Pancho has said this to his good female friends, so what does he mean when he says it to me? Well, I figured it was just something I would continue to avoid in any way possible, clearly the mature thing to do. But then, Pancho told me “I love you” in English. I was completely thrown off guard and I wasn’t sure if he knew what he was saying.

I told him that saying that expresses something almost sacred and it should be saved until you find someone that you know you love beyond a shadow of a doubt. Otherwise, you are just throwing the words around, making them less serious and mocking them.

He replied, “But, I love you.”

How can I validate that this guy even knows what love is if he’s saying it so early on? I don’t even know how to put down in thoughts how I feel about Pancho in that sense yet, so words are nowhere in sight. Yes, it’s true that he may be completely clueless as to how strong the words are in English being that he doesn’t exactly speak English fluently but this still leaves me feeling uneasy.

The problem is that the longer I date him, the longer I feel like I’m leading him on. Am I morally obligated to break things off with him to save him the heartbreak in the future?

I mean when two people are on completely different pages in a “relationship,” then isn’t the person who has stronger feelings bound to get their heart trampled on in the end? I don’t want to be the reason for that.

So as much as I have a really good time with Pancho and love having his company, I don’t equate that with love, at least not yet anyway. Part of me says to stay with him because I could start to feel that way in the future but the logical side of me is saying that this is going to blow up in my face sooner than later and that I should start running in the other direction fast.

I mean, should you break up with someone because they’ve developed stronger feelings than you have? You could potentially be in a relationship where one person is wanting to move forward and the other is at a standstill; that isn’t exactly the ideal situation for either person. What do you guys think?

Soltera in Santiago: Meet the parents, part 2

So last week I left you hanging after I told you about meeting Pancho, the dark and handsome guy who lent me some change at Starlight Coffee while I awkwardly held up the line.

As a quick re-cap, Pancho had invited me over to his house to make some food together and I was excited to have some one-on-one cooking time. I even began to convince myself it sounded romantic. I mean, not many guys want to go together and cook dinner when you are just getting to know each other these days.

Well, the twist on this fairytale date was that Pancho’s entire family – scratch that, his entire family alongside his extended family was waiting for us as we pulled up to his house. It was about the most nerve-racking thing I had experienced in the Chilean dating world as of yet.

I walk through the door of Pancho’s house where I am greeted by his siblings, aunts, cousins, and that’s right, his mother. At least I figured it was his mother since I had no idea what she looked like at the time. Well, it was.

As I’m trying to figure out how to handle the situation without being the crazy gringa that ran back out the door screaming, I’m introduced to family member after family member. These people were completely interested in getting to know the “polola” as they asked me about how long I’ve been here, where I’m from, etc. You know the drill. Luckily, Pancho went out to the car to get some of the food we brought to prepare, so I snuck out with him.

I immediately asked him, with a rather distraught look, why he hadn’t forewarned me I would be meeting his family. He seemed perplexed. He didn’t think it was a big deal. He didn’t know why I wouldn’t want to meet his family. I explained that wasn’t what I meant and that I was just shocked it was so soon.

So then I ask why on earth they think I’m his girlfriend. Pancho’s pitiful reply to this is that they had assumed I was his girlfriend since he had told them that we had been going out. Naturally, I asked why he didn’t correct them and he explained that if you are hanging out with one girl who is not a completely platonic friend for any period of time, then she apparently is your girlfriend.

In all seriousness, we were intensely flirty and enjoying each other’s company in more ways than one but still, it did not and should not have had a title yet. We were in the “talking” stage. Get with the program people! There are steps that need to be taken before one just jumps into a full-blown relationship. The most important one being, asking the girl first.

I had to question if this really was the case in the Chilean dating scene. If it was true, then I’d just met the bipolar match for the North American male. Chileans are far more interested in giving the person of interest a title faster than a guy from the states can spell the word commitment.

I couldn’t decide if this was refreshing or downright scary.

As the night went on, I decided to just go with it. I let the family “get to know me” as I sat next to Aunt Maria Jose and we all shared the romantic dinner for two I had pictured in my head the day before. I guess this was something I had to experience since it wouldn’t happen in the average relationship at home until the guy trusted you enough to meet his family and deemed you worthy of a long-term relationship. Well, dating in Santiago is always an adventure so I guess we’ll see what other quirks lie beneath the surface as I get to know Pancho a little better. I may be the “polola” to his parents but I certainly am going to make him work a lot harder to earn that title from me. After all, I need to respect that he is Chilean but that doesn’t change the fact that I’m a gringa and a content “soltera” one at that.

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Soltera in Santiago: Meet the parents, part 1

Always in a hurry, I pushed and shoved through the absolute chaos we call the Transantiago metro to get to a date. Okay,

maybe that date was more like a desperate need to get some caffeine in my system early in the morning in the form of iced coffee at Starlight but who’s judging?

Finally, I arrived just to stand behind a mass of people that probably had no idea what the geometric form of a line looks like but patiently enough I waited until I got to the front. I didn’t realize until after I ordered my coffee that I had come up a little short. Maybe I dropped a few monedas in the people labyrinth we call rush hour in the subway. I mean, it wouldn’t be the first time. As my face started to turn red and the rather impatient Starlight employee glared at me with a “hurry up, I hate my job” kind of face, I felt a tap on the back of my shoulder.

Now at this point I’m feeling like bolting around and saying “seriously, I understand I’m holding up your precious time but I’m pretty sure this awkward situation sucks more for me than you.

Instead, I was greeted with a “Do you need some extra change?” from a very cute guy behind me in line. I think my face turned even more red at this point.  The guy, who will be known as “Pancho,” helped me pay for my coffee and then proceeded to chat with me for about an hour afterwards. I had a caramel macchiato and he had an espresso macchiato. Clearly coffee is the new zodiac sign.

Long story short, I found him to be confident and charming but not in the overly egotistical way. We continued to see each over the next couple days and I thought things were going pretty smoothly.

Over conversation, I mentioned how much I adore Chile’s gift to the world, also known as “pebre,” which is a fantastically, delicious salsa. Pancho boasted that he made an awesome pebre and that it was about as spicy as aji pebre gets. I took him up on the offer of trying it by coming over to his house to learn how to make it and cook together. A romantic dinner for two couldn’t hurt, right? I had no idea what I was in for…

We pull up to Pancho’s house as he reminds me that he lives with his family. I’m thinking that he probably forewarned them we would be occupying the kitchen or maybe he chose a night they would be away so we could have some one-on-one cooking time. Maybe I’m naive to the Chilean family way of life but I had a rude awakening.

The front door flies opens and a 9-year-old boy with a face full of braces jumps up to reach my cheek and gives me a kiss. Before I can say “Hola!” I get bombarded with what looks like a lineup about to meet Americo backstage in concert.

As I’m thinking “Holy mother of…” a middle-aged woman grabs me and says, “Why didn’t you tell me your polola (girlfriend) was so cute?

Did she just say what I think she said? I think I heard the infamous and ominous tone to the movie “Psycho” ringing in my ears. You know what I’m talking about.

That’s right my friends, Pancho had left me for the dogs so to speak. I was his “girlfriend” about to meet his mother and I hadn’t even heard that from Pancho yet. Not only that, but Pancho seemed to have casually invited not only his immediate family, but his grandparents, three aunts and cousins.

Okay, it’s not that being his girlfriend would be the worst possible thing in the world but let’s be serious, I didn’t think we were remotely ready for that. I was thinking we were in that completely foggy stage we call “talking” as we were getting to know each other. But this family had been under the impression, I’m sorry, delusion, that we were a couple.

I turned around and tilted my head in absolute confusion towards Pancho as he replied with a “Uh, what’s the matter?” sort of smile in return. Did he really think this was okay or even normal?

This got me thinking. I mean, how early is considered normal to meet the parents? Stateside this would be a pretty intense event that one would have to emotionally prepare themselves for. I didn’t even get to try on my four different outfits and plan out my backdoor-dash route in case it went badly. Just kidding of course, sort of.

I told myself that cultural differences arise in the most unusual places but was this culturally normal to meet the parents along with great-aunt Maria Jose after only a few dates? And even so, why did Pancho’s family immediately assume we were pololeando?

Well, I guess you’ll have to wait until next week to find out.

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Soltera in Santiago: The One Month Rule

I’ve come across this rule known as the “one month rule” while talking to my Chilean friends. Some of you may already be familiar with it, but in case you aren’t, let me begin with this… When you enter into a relationship here in Chile, there is a mutual understanding that you are going to stay in it for the long-term. Because let’s face it, a lot of Chileans love to be in relationships.

This trend starts in colegio and ends in marriage, with very little breathing time in between. Sometimes it doesn’t even stop there – hello love motels! Being single doesn’t have a positive connotation here like it does, for example, in the United States. If people aren’t in a relationship, a lot of the time they are trying to get in one  instead of enjoying the single life.

A good friend of mine studied abroad here and in their orientation packet, they received a warning: “Please be careful when dating in Chile. Relationships move a lot faster than you may expect.” I’m dead serious. That’s when I knew there was cultural difference I wasn’t about to be gently introduced to, but smacked in the face with.

Time heals all wounds?

As for the one month rule, the idea is that however long you are single after a breakup, is in direct proportion to how many years you dated someone. For example, if you dated your boyfriend or girlfriend for a year, you should be over them and on to your next relationship in a month. If you dated them for two years, then you should be over them and dating in two months, and so forth. The problem with this mentality is do these people ever get the chance to mourn their ex and then have time for themselves to just be, well, themselves?

I have this friend who was in a serious relationship with her pololoand they broke up after a year and a half for the simple reason that she needed some space. My friend had her space, got a new perspective on things, and decided how much she missed her boyfriend. She wanted to get back together so she asked him for coffee to talk it over a little over a month after they broke up. To her surprise and dismay, he was already dating a different girl and they had been seeing each other on a daily basis.

My friend was destroyed over this. How could he have gotten over their relationship past and heartache so quickly? This was the utmost display of disrespect to her and she felt like their entire relationship was a scam. If he loved her, where did their love go? Did it go to his next girlfriend? Or did he just immediately try to disregard his feelings of emotional turmoil after they broke up by replacing her with someone else? I agree with my friend. This is not only disrespectful to the relationship itself, but it shows very little consideration for the feelings of the other person you broke up with. Because if they were that replaceable, why were you together and happily in love for so long?

I’m not saying that this doesn’t happen back home, I’m just saying this is clearly more of a trend here. And I believe it to be a rather unhealthy one at that. People going from long-term relationship to long-term relationship don’t exactly get healing time to figure out what they really want and deal with their oh-so-uncomfortable break up emotions. Let’s call it like it is. Dating someone immediately after a long-term relationship is more often than not, a rebound. Therefore, the person is merely dating someone else to bypass the pain of losing their ex. Do I want to be someone’s rebound? Certainly not. So I’m going to be extra cautious I’m not going out with a serial dater.

A serial dater is someone who doesn’t know how to be single. They just go from one relationship to the next so that they don’t go crazy when they feel incomplete just because they’re single. My advice to these people? Give yourself some time to breathe; being single is healthy! And when you find the one, you’ll know and you’ll be more than happy to settle down and all that jazz.

But until then, you don’t need to be in a serious relationship with every regular old Jose, if you catch my drift. Be single, embrace it, and give yourself time to heal after a relationship without the mentality of the one month rule. Because those people who abide by that are only setting themselves up for emotional co-dependency and missing out on the really amazing benefits of the best relationship of all. The one you have with yourself.

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Soltera in Santiago: The Rio summer fling

Written by Soltera in Santiago on January 26, 2012.

I guess I should start by apologizing for not writing last week but then again I’m not really that sorry because I was sunbathing on the beach in Rio de Janeiro. Winning!

Now, summer vacation is bittersweet. We look forward to it all year and then it comes and goes like the flick of a light switch…kind of like a summer fling. In fact, I was lucky enough to enjoy one with a rather handsome Brasileño while I was on vaca last week.

I found it pretty interesting to compare the Brazilian men with Chileans and Americans. Before I get a wide-range of comments telling me I’m stereotyping, ignorant, and what I’m saying is completely bull, I want to remind you that this is all in good fun and yes, I know that not all Brazilians are like this. I know this is not scientific and they may be huge generalizations but stereotypes have to come from somewhere and this is what I got…

Brazilians are less vocal but much more touchy-feely. What I mean by this is that there were less piropos and whistling on the street but when a Brazilian decided he wanted to talk to you, he let his hands do the talking. I tried to shake a man’s hand and he just held it until I had to quite literally yank it away. Others seemed to like to rub your back while talking to you. Unfortunately, the ones doing this were about sixty. No thanks, grandpa.

Brazilians like to work out a lot, and quite frequently on the beach. In fact, there are workout benches right on the sand. Eye candy much?

Brazilian men can be often found without a shirt while they are just rocking a sunga, or speedo. I personally don’t find the speedo look enticing but whatever floats your boat and they have the bodies to back them up.

Appearance wise, they certainly come in a variety pack and a hot one at that. There is not really a stereotype of a particular Brazilian male because there is so much diversity, which is actually rather refreshing.

At a club in Rio, it’s not uncommon to see a guy hooking up with multiple woman in the same night. Maybe four, five or six girls. Seriously.

Some are proud of having many women and a little too open about it, too. For example, I had three separate men tell me they had been married twice and were looking for their third wife. Third time’s a charm, right? Apparently, there are many more women than men in Rio, so the odds are in their favor. One man even had several rings on his fingers and each one stood for a different girlfriend he had in the past. Pimp? He was interesting to say the least, especially since he looked like he was around fifty with a rather protruding guata, or potbelly.

 

Okay, back to my summer fling. I was at a club when this guy approached me and by approached me, I mean he just started grinding next to me. Usually, I quickly back off because let’s be serious, this isn’t exactly a thing we girls swoon over. But then I realized that this guy was super easy on the eyes and my cliché stereotype of a hot Brazilian. So I continued to dance with him.

My first thought? Well, too bad we can’t communicate because I speak about three words of Portuguese and this guy probably doesn’t speak English or Spanish.

Luckily, he spoke broken English and we filled in the rest by me speaking slowly in Spanish, which seemed to help. We danced the night away, which totally can allow me to check off a dream goal I had for the trip! Hey, dancing with a hot Brazilian in a Rio club, what single girl wouldn’t say yes to that?

Anyway, we ended up hanging out on and off throughout the week and hooking up on the beach, which clearly is not uncommon in Rio since about five other couples were doing the same next to us. The problem was, we both knew it would come to an end as soon as I left at the end of the week. And when that time came, we said our brief goodbyes, shared an intimate kiss, and said tchau, or bye. Do I regret meeting him and then having to say bye so soon? No, but it did kind of suck to get to meet someone you’re interested in and then have to let it go so quickly. What do you guys think of summer flings? Worth it or not?

Soltera in Santiago: $h*t Gringas in Santiago DON’T Say

Here is the counterpart to last week’s article, $h*t Gringas Say. Now that you’ve seen the  video and read last week’s article, you’ll understand where I’m going with this. These are phrases you will almost never hear come out of the mouth of a gringa in Santiago…I hope. Remember, if you have anything to add, feel free to let me know!

Weas Gringas DON’T say:

I don’t think I had enough carbohydrates in my diet this month.

I’m so over living abroad; I want to go back to my own country.

Extra mayo, please!

I’m dying to watch an English movie dubbed over in Spanish.

I would totally trade my life here for a 9-5 job back home.

My pololo is totally not affectionate enough.

I am so sick of pebre! …and choripan!

Rat-tails on men are just plain sexy! Business in the front, and party in the back!

I am adopting the fullet (the female version of the mullet).

Chilean men need to play harder to get; I miss all the mind games when dating.

Wow, this dish is so flavorful!

No, I disagree. Cazuela is not a lazy man’s soup.

I wish it rained more in Santiago…with lightening and thunder.

It’s such a relief that he lives with his parents.

If only this club would play more 80’s music.

I love the whole concept of nanas in Chile. I think I’ll hire one!

Avocados do not make up a part of my balanced diet now.

I hate that the beach is only an hour and a half away.

Let’s dress up classy and go to La Piojera.

No, no, no. I don’t want real juice. I said Zuko or Sprim powder.

I really wish more people smoked in bars here. Or in general.

Those dogs look so happy on the street!

I highly doubt that guy hitting on me at After Office was already married.

Let’s go to the park and make-out as people walk by!

That taxi driver clearly didn’t rip us off. It was only 3 luka each block.

I would never go to Jumbo on a regular basis.

Too bad Starbucks doesn’t sell Nescafe.

I just love paying 3 times the price for things that I could find cheaper at home.

Amor, why can’t we do more things with your entire family?

Papa mayo is such a creative dish.

I don’t care if he has a lot of money.

The bureaucracy here works so efficiently.

There’s nothing more attractive than back hair.

The receipt system where you pay for something in one line and pick it up in the next is so convenient and logical.

I would never travel outside of Santiago; there is nothing else to see and do.

Why is everyone always in such a rush?

I did not get food poisoning from that home-made mayonnaise.

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Soltera in Santiago: $h*! gringas in Santiago say

Written by Soltera in Santiago on February 16, 2012.

(pronounced as “Bleep gringas in Santiago say”)

So clearly this is a tribute to the now widely-known and equally loved “$h*! Girls Say” video on YouTube. If you are one of the few who haven’t seen it yet, go to the bottom of this page right now! Have you watched it yet? Good! Now you can fully appreciate this week’s article. It’s a satirical compilation of the rather ridiculous and completely true things that, well, girls say. Now claro que si, I’ve put together a list, with the help of my fellow witty amigas gringas, of the sh*it gringas here in Santiago say. Let me know if you guys have anything you think should be added!

Photo: photostock via freedigitalphotos.net

$h*! Gringas say:

Ugh, why am I drinking Nescafe?

Let’s go to Starbucks!

Why is the internet at Starbucks sooooo slow?

Why are there no hot guys here?

I would totally date him if he didn’t have a mullet… or a crustache.

Omg, we should go to Cali Cantina tonight!

Why did we come to Cali Cantina? It’s like one big gringo frat house.

I totally met this hot Chileno at Bar Consitucion last night…

Am I going to see him again? Hell no, he was wearing a fanny pack.

I just love when my pololo cooks for me. And by that, I mean his mother actually made it.

Why did this guy just text me that “he misses me?” We just met last night.

So the milk comes in a box…on the shelf…and mayo/tomato sauce/jelly come in a bag? Wtf!

Jumbo has pancake mix and chocolate chips?! Let’s have a girls’ brunch on Sunday funday! I’ll bring the mimosas!

Omg, I love pisco sour!

Omg, I hate pisco sour! I drank way too many last night; my throat burns.

I hope my English students don’t realize how hung over I am. Maybe I’ll just make this a listening class and turn on the cd player.

Meet you on skype in like 5 minutes. Okay, mom, can you hear me? Helloooooo?

Omg, I would never date a guy who lives with his parents!

So I hooked up with this guy last night and I would totally date him. I mean, yeah, he lives with his parents but he has his own car.

When walking down the street, I’d say I give the finger more than I wave hello. Freakin’ piropos!

No me toques weon!!

That poor dog needs a home! Let’s at least give him some of our completo.

This completo is not organic! Do you know where an organic store is?

Why is that baby drinking soda from it’s bottle?!

Is it me or is everyone on the sidewalk in slow motion/playing red rover with their hands linked so I can’t pass?

Can you pincharme when you get to the carrete to tell me if it’s fome?

Ugh, do you know someone who’s a hairstylist that speaks English?

Okay, but what about a stylist that doesn’t thin your hair, razor it, and give you a mullet?

See you in 10 minutes. And by that, I mean an hour. I’m on Chilean time now.

 

Soltera in Santiago: The Bachelorette, Chilean Style

So as I sit here and drink my overpriced yet delicious iced coffee, I can’t help but reminisce about the past weekend. One of my best friend’s is getting married next weekend, so claro que si, we had to throw her a Bachelorette. Now, I’ve attended Bachelorettes in the past but this time…it was el estilo Chileno.

Bachelorettes are a time-honored tradition. Photo: photostock via freedigitalphotos.net

The night started with a bunch of us girls meeting up for a cocktail hour and promiscuous games of all sorts. The champagne was popping and the apartment was decked out with bachelorette attire (shot glasses in the shape of male body parts, etc). After one too many champagne glasses and cocktails, we made it to part dos of the night: the Male Strip Club. Yes, they do in fact exist here. So here we are, eight gringas and a chilena trying to get into Burbujas Club in Suecia, after we already put down forty lukas as a reservation deposit. And surprise surprise, they decide to charge us way over the fee they originally asked in the email reservation.

Long story short, there were eight gringas arguing with the club owner and asking if we could just pay the original fee. Go figure, the chilena with us was even a lawyer, yet the owner basically tells us “too bad, so sad” and we are on our way without our deposit back and no naked strippers in sight. Needless to say, none of us will ever go there again and we may or may not have stolen their balloon display outside the club to implement into our pictures everywhere else during the night.

So what is a group of Bachelorette-enthused Gringas to do, when strippers are taken out of the equation? Drink and dance the night away, of course. And that is exactly what we did until the rest of the night became such a blur that the next morning my head felt like someone hit it with a pisco bottle. But…I do remember some key moments here and there.

At one point, we took a drunken picture with a paco on the corner who we also attempted to convince to go back to the strip club with us so we could get in. Fail. We rolled into Bar Constitucion sometime during the night and somehow persuaded massive groups of people to start chanting the Bachelorette’s first name, Josie. This was then followed up by one of the girls in the group drawing tattoos saying “Josie” encircled by a heart on a multitude of random people throughout the night. What kills me, is when my friend would ask if she could draw a tattoo on them they were like…“obvio! Por que no?!”

Later on, we ended up at Mito Urbano which is where, I’m pretty sure, we started to lose girls right and left in our own version of Bachelorette Survivor. People ended up making out on the dance floor, going home with someone, or going home throwing up. After managing to gather up a few of the stragglers, we end up leaving the club where we stumbled down the street, which is not easy to do in heels, believe me.

All of a sudden, a group of excited and random Chilenos start chanting, “Josie! Josie!“ I’m pretty sure a passerby asked, “Que es un Josie?” or “What’s a Josie?“ And how did these random people we didn’t recognize at all even know her? Well, they all had her name tattooed on their arm with a heart. Completely normal.

Finally, and don’t ask me how we got here, we ended up at a female strip club since we couldn’t get into the male one. And I’m pretty sure as soon as we walked in you could hear a pin drop as everyone turned and looked at us…f-awkward. I don’t think they have female clients very often. But it must have been a pretty good time because I do recall one of our group members getting up on stage and showing us how it’s done, to which the club owners(this time around) were completely supportive about. In fact, I think the “clients” were more interested in what the heck we were doing there in comparison to the strippers.

At about 5:30 a.m., we classily made our way home. And of course, no bachelorette party would be complete without a hung over breakfast, so we dragged our butts to Café Melba after a few hours of drunken slumber for some blueberry pancakes, french toast, and bacon. Highly recommended by the way! Was is a $h*tshow? Why, yes, yes it was. But it’s a night I almost never forgot. Now, for the wedding…

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Soltera in Santiago: The Pinochetista

I believe that there are two sides to every coin, and so it goes with people. There is the face we’d like the world to see and the face we really have. At some point they collide. For the first time ever, I’ve decided to sign this week’s article with my name. Why now? Well, why the hell not… It’s about time, don’t you think?  But I’ll keep it to a minimum because: “A mask tells us more than a face.” –Oscar Wilde

Written by: B. McAndrew aka Soltera in Santiago

Pinochet's legacy draws both ardent supporters and fierce critics.  Photo: Ramiro Garcia S.

Now, I don’t believe myself to be the most politically savvy person in the world.  I’m not writing this with some political agenda or to inform you, as much as I am basically just fed up with all of the ignorant comments I’ve heard lately, especially from one individual in particular.

Who was he? A guy I recently had a date with and quickly deleted out of my cell about 0.5 seconds later. This is how it all started…

So here I am at the gym trying to work off the five pounds of choripan and pebre I inhaled at an asado the night before, when I see a rather toned, muscular Chilean guy (which can be few and far between) getting off the treadmill. We both caught each other’s attention while taking a break from our workout, and started chatting about over our mutual love for the deliciousness that is Asian cuisine.

We ran into each other a few more times before he (Alvaro) finally asked me for my number. I was intrigued. I mean how many built, Asian-food loving, witty, non-smoker, single Chileans was I bound to run into?

So, the next weekend we went out to a Korean restaurant called Sukine in Patronato where I tried some rather highly recommended kimchi and bulgogi. Muy rico, by the way! I remember thinking the night was going well until… cuek, we got into a heated and completely unexpected debate about politics, which I usually try to steer clear of, at least on the first date.

How did we get into this mess? Well, he had asked me what I did that day and so I told him…

I went on a tour at Villa Grimalde in Penalolen to get a more up-close-and-personal glimpse of the effects of the oppression during the dictatorship. I had heard about the memorial park through some expat friends who told me you shouldn’t leave Chile without checking it out. I tried to find it in Lonely Planet and Chile travel books but it wasn’t even mentioned. Odd. So I asked some amigos Chilenos and two out of three of them had no idea it existed. Even more odd. Apparently this place was completely off the radar… all the more reason to go.

So off I went by bus to the outskirts of Santiago to go on the tour.  I’ll be honest. I was pretty ignorant when it came to my knowledge of Chilean history and culture before I arrived to Santiago.  The only thing I did previously learn about was the Pinochet regime. Therefore, I had a decent understanding of what went down here during that time period, and going to this memorial site just made it all the more real. Quite frankly, it was disturbing. But it affects you in a way you need to be unhinged, to wake you up to the reality of an atrocity that is very much existent and still creeping its way into present-day Chilean life.

I read and listened to riveting accounts about the disappearances, torture, and senseless violence that occurred during the dictatorship that was ordered by Pinochet at that very location. I felt my stomach turn as I saw jaw-dropping lists and haunting faces of countless people who had been killed within those gates. Besides those who “disappeared”, about 27,000 other people suffered torture under his orders.

It took me out of my comfort zone as I could feel the hairs standing up on the back of my neck. I found it to be a rare and raw cultural experience in a city where culture and history is being absorbed by assimilation in the “modern” world. And yet, this was something almost completely hidden.

But why? The Memorial Museum created during Bachelot’s presidency is clearly out there in the open and has more publicity than la shuuu. But this place is almost concealed from the tourist eye.

After I told him about how much my experience that day impacted me, he asked me point-blank…

“Why would you go there?”

I was not only perplexed as to why that would be his first reply, but I was agitated by his tone. So I asked him what he meant by that.

He explained how much of an asset Pinochet was to turning around the economic crisis that occurred due to Allende. Pinochet was, by far, the best leader that Chile ever had in history and the country would not have succeeded without him. Here I was, unknowingly on a date with el Pinochetista.

Okay, even though it is undeniable that Chilean economic activity rose immensely under his leadership, I asked him what he thought about the methodology he used to get rid of his opponents.

Alvaro told me that he didn’t necessarily believe that the economic success that came out of the regime was a justification for the deaths and disappearances of all those people, but that they were two very separate and distinct issues.  Pinochet wasn’t really a bad leader because he wasn’t directly responsible for the deaths. He also made it quite clear that without sacrifice, there is no progress.

Did I agree with him? Hell no. I told him to get his head out of his poto. We spent the entire dinner arguing that there is no justification for the murder of innocent people, whether there is a political gain or not.

I’ve heard many comments in support of Pinochet since I’ve been in Chile, and particularly from those of a higher-income background. If you want to argue that he helped Chile’s economy grow, fine. But don’t sit their on your naïve culo and justify his tyrannical actions, practically calling him the savior of the nation, without remembering that he also had no regard for human rights among your own people.

As much as this guy’s train of thought and lack of compassion had me seething throughout the rest of the dinner, I had a thought.

Stop letting people who do so little for you control so much of your mind, feelings, and emotions, and just let it be.

I can’t change how this weon thinks, but I can control how I react to him.

If you have any questions you‘d like to throw at me, you can message me on Facebook on my page: Soltera in Santiago.