5 Ways to Alienate a Chilean

It’s bound to happen. Spend any amount of time in a culture that’s not your own and your foot will certainly end up in your mouth at some point. Sports, politics, and religion aside, there are plenty of other ways to meter la pata in Chile. Over the years I’ve stumbled on a few (hard not to take a nose dive once in a while with that foot in mouth thing going on). Being from the “learn from my mistakes” camp, I thought I’d share.

A few faux pas a la chilena:

Tell them you don’t like sandwiches

Chileans love sandwiches, or “sánguches” in the local vernacular. They eat them for breakfast, onces (tea), snacks, and late night noshing. As the only gringa on a 2-week road trip with Chilean friends, I rebelled after about a week of so much ham and cheese on bread (and not much else) and they all looked at me like I was from Mars. To be fair, Chile has a pretty impressive line-up of granddaddy sánguches that will out-whop the whopper any day (check out “Sánguches”). (Too bad I wasn’t seeing any on that particular trip!)

Tell them you don’t get the concept of onces

Onces—or (tea) in more uppity circles—is a Chilean gastronomic institution. Inspired by the British tea, people gather in the early evening (mostly on weekends these days) to “ruin their dinner” (yikes, I’m channeling my mother!) for a carb fest of sandwiches (ham, cheese, and avocado are customary) and/or toast and jam, cookies, cake, and even ice cream (surprisingly often in reverse order). Oh, and the cup of tea is placed in front of you with the plate of food behind it, so that all the crumbs fall into the cup. Don’t try and change it around. It’s no use.

(Onces merits an entire post of its own… duly acknowledged and forthcoming).

Tell them you don’t like Joan Manuel Serrat

I’m sure this is generational and probably occurs throughout the entire Spanish-speaking world, but stating that this 60-something Barcelona-born singer’s pronounced and seemingly affected warble just doesn’t do it for you will not win friends and influence people.  It seems to generate the kind of reaction I could imagine if someone uttered  something as unthinkable as “the Beatles suck.”  Rolling my eyes and turning an indifferent ear to this 1970s “ídolo total” has earned me gasps and sneers on more than one occasion… you’d think I’d learn to keep my mouth shut, ¿no?

Tell them that they, or someone they care about, is “cynical”

This is one of those false cognates that can get you into really hot water. In English, it means “scornful of the motives or virtues of others.” In Spanish it is someone who “muestra cinicismo, desverguenza, en el mentir.” A despicable and remorseless liar. Ouch! You’re sure to wind up doing a lot of explaining and eggshell treading if you fall into that trap! Get the full story at: Cyncial or Cínico)

Tell them that their national anthem is not the best in the world

I’ve never fallen into this trap myself, because frankly, just about anything is better than the US national anthem (which requires a nearly inhuman vocal range and 10 years of serious operatic study before attempting it). And on the other hand, I do think that the Chilean version is rather nice. But Chileans go beyond “rather nice.” They really do know the words, sing loud and clear, and will swear to you that it won a competition for the “Best National Anthem in the World.” And damned if I can find anyone who doesn’t believe it lock, stock, and barrel! Here, take a look and decide for yourself:

I’m sure there are plenty of other ways to rile up Chilean pride and turn yourself into the bad guy… I bet you even have a few tales of your own to tell! Leave a comment here—or, if you like—write your own blog post and we’ll link up!

Dr. Annje tells her side of the story at Annje Unabashed.

And Sara has a few things to add at the Chilenguita Diaries.

Emily gets her 2 pesos in too, check her story out at Don’t Call Me Gringa.

Abby goes straight to where the heart is (the sandwich, of course) at Abby’s Line.

We can’t leave Lucie out, so here’s her list at Gringa Gone South.

Maeskizzle goes a step further by also adding ways to win over Chileans at Transcultural Vogueing.

Eileen comes through with her own bearshapedspherical advice on how to alienate–and then not–by making a “no” sound like a “yes” at Bearshapedsphere.

La Abejita is joining a bit late, but we don’t mind… especially since she took a twist of her own, turned it around, and wrote about the things that Chileans do to alienate foreigners here in Chile… check it out the Buzz de La Abeja.


And now for Phase 2: Let’s move on to the counterpart to this post: Finding your way in to Chile (or how to unalienate yourself!)


188 responses to “5 Ways to Alienate a Chilean

  1. Laura Riquelme Perez

    This post cracked me up. My father is Chilean and I have spent plenty of time down there visiting my family and friends.. I must say, you hit it all on the mark! Especially the Joan Manuel Serrat, I grew up in Seattle, Wa listening to him and so many other guys like him full blast on records that my father would play on the weekends as he was working around the house. Always makes me nostalgic for my youth!!!

  2. Hi Laura- thanks for the backup! My guess is that I’ll get some Chilean lambasting for this one! 😉

  3. Selecting your own tomatoes at the feria really winds them up.

  4. That’s true- no touching the merchandise! On a similar note, I once tried to browse through a magazine at a kiosko and the guy acted like I was stealing something… I asked “How do I know if I want it if I can’t read it?” he responded, “why would you buy it if you’ve already read it?
    total impasse…

  5. Pingback: Ways to Alienate a Chilean « Cachando Chile: Reflections on … | Chile Today

  6. “I don’t like and I don’t want children.”

  7. Maybe you should add insisting on calling football “soccer”, at least here in the south of Chile is like saying “Sieg Heil Satan!!!” inside a church a sunday morning :p

  8. Yeah- that even gets the Brits in a bother!
    On the other hand, if you’re in Chile and speaking Spanish, you should at least make the effort to say “FUT-bol”!

  9. Tell any Chilean that their soccer teams couldn’t “hold a candle” (no poder compararse con) Argentina’s soccer teams. That’s one sure way for any gringo to influence friends and influence Chileans…

    Rick de Nueva York
    The Community-Driven Online Spanish Dictionary

  10. Not just their soccer (ahem- fútobl) teams, but compare anything Chilean with anything Argentine (wine, for example)… Although here’s the rub… Chileans quite regularly measure themselves against Argentina and decide they come up short… but don’t let anyone else try it! (Human nature I guess)

  11. The funny thing about sandwiches in Chile is that though they are eaten all the time, they are mostly “snacks”–when it is time for the evening meal (not once) and you have already eaten a sandwich, they tell you that a sandwich is not a meal… you just can’t win.

    I was in Chile when Bam-bam Zamorano was a big “futbol” star. I remember arguing that he was a horrible soccer player and could never be counted on to do anything and I have never seen such daggers in the Chileans eyes–if looks could kill.

    My in-laws always watch in horror as I cut up all of the pieces in a cazuela before eating it, as if I have defiled their national dish. Sorry, I like to eat it all together, like a soup.

    oh, and offer to help in the kitchen and then don’t peel the tomatoes.

  12. Good ones Annje! Zamorano is still pretty up there with the santos (and the nerve of you defiling his good name!)
    And ha-ha… you turn cazuela into minnestrone!
    And yes, the unpeeled tomatoes- the “but the skin has more vitamins” argument doesn’t cut it. My boss once told me that peeling tomatoes was a sign of cariños and concern for those who sit at your table.

  13. De acuerdo, si hablo en español, escribo “fútbol”, pero si estoy escribiendo en inglés, usualmente escribo todo en inglés… Escribir “let´s play fútbol” es medio raro, al menos para mí.
    Sobre el fútbol argentino vs el chileno, nada que discutir, pero sobre el vino… mmm no estoy tan seguro.

  14. Leyendo de nuevo, creo que he malinterpretado tu post, Margaret xD Sorry

  15. Ok Marmo, (Responding to your 2nd comment) point taken, but if you’re speaking English with people from the US (where does Canada stand on this one??) football is that game where the big guys pad up, chase an oblong ball, grunt, and jump on each other for a couple hours, but if you’re talking about thin guys in shorts kicking a round ball around on the field for a couple hours, then you’d better say soccer if you want to be understood!
    BUT… since what little talking I do about the game is almost always within the Chilean context, I purposely pronounce it a la chilena just to make myself clear (such subtleties of language! ha-ha)…
    I’ll bow out on any comparing of fútbol argentino vs chileno, but when it comes to wine… well then I could go on for hours! (and I’ll stay on this side of the cordillera thank you very much!

  16. Marmo- hola de nuevo (respondiendo a tu 3º comentario)-
    ¿piensas tu? ¡Creo que me lo cachaste muy bien! Respondiste con una forma de provocar ira a los chilenos y yo estaba de acuerdo!

  17. Tell them that fanny packs aren’t cool.

    Eat the skin on a baked potato (and I know, I KNOW that there was once some crazy potato disease that would kill you if you ate the skin, but there’s not anymore!).

    Insist on walking around with bare feet and wet hair while you’re sick.

    Although I have to admit I don’t know anyone who loves the national anthem. The last soccer game we were watching with a group of Seba’s friends and the camera panned to a Chilean soccer player who didn’t know the words. We all started cracking up, and then of course it turned into a “Well, does anyone actually know the words?” And one of the guy’s dad actually came in and sang the whole thing because not a single one of the five guys sitting around at the table or their significant others (all Chilean but me) could spit all the words out.

  18. And ditto to what Matt said. Not liking/wanting children is basically the equivalent of blasphemy here.

    I’ve resigned myself to just lying.

    I sigh. Look down. And say, “we’re trying,” so people will just STOP ASKING CONSTANTLY!!!

  19. Hi Kyle-
    There was a time that you couldn’t eat potato skins? Cooked? Weird… and the whole barefoot thing… I always wonder if I’m supposed to put shoes on before I answer the door when the mailman comes… and it’s MY house!
    OK- so the national anthem thing may be generational too… post Pinochet and all that… and having kids- good strategy… but haven’t you had people try to give you advice on what doctor to see (or herbs to take) that will make sure you get pregnant? People just want to be so helpful!

  20. Bahahah. (seriously kyle, ‘we’re trying’? i love it)

    indeed, eating potato peels will always equal instant death!!

    how to alienate a chilean? margaret, i know you considered putting this one on your list…
    tell them el chavo del ocho isn’t all that great!

    my boyfriend LOVES to announce when we are with all his friends that “lydia doesn’t like chavo del 8” and then everybody looks at me as if he just said i eat human babies or something.

  21. I really like your blog, you have talent discovering what bother us. Great work


  22. Lydia- you are SOOO right about Chavo! Seriously… have you ever seen a Latino who didn’t love it? or a non-Latino who did? I just don’t get it! There’s just something about adults acting like kids that just really drives me up the wall!

    Fernando- glad you enjoy it!

  23. hahahahaha. Great post.

    For the “when you going to have babies question?”, I often answer, while sipping a beer or a pisco sour, “in 8 more months”. hehehe.

    And my husband now likes to eat the skin on a baked potato. I’m gringo-izing him.

  24. ha-ha-ha- I can just imagine the looks on peoples’ faces! and good for you for getting your husband to eat those (yummy) potato skins. I guess it surprises me that people resist them because my husband has always eaten them (either that or he quit protesting so long ago that I’ve forgotten about it)

  25. For the English when Americans call “catch and throw” football it really gets us upset.

    Chileans always seem to get upset when I tell then that Manjar is the most disgusting thing I have ever eaten, comparable to runny baby turds.

    However I think the British national anthem is probably worse than the Chilean or Yank one.

    I also tell them that Peruvian pisco is much better than Chilean (a fact that my Chilean wife agrees on)

    Finally I often say how I’d like to go to the Bolivian coast for a holiday (vacation to the yanks) That always gets then riled

  26. Yeah, I was going to write about Manjar. I think it’s disgusting and avoid it at all costs. Most Chileans think it’s food of the Gods. I try not to mention my hatred for manjar too much because it gets them all riled up. Sorry, but I’m a chocolate girl.

    Also, if you just want water when someone offers you juice, soda, wine, beer, etc. “QUEEE?? Solo quieres agua? Seguro? Pero tengo jugo, bebida, vinito, cerveza…..seguro??”

    Also if you don’t know who Chino Ríos is.

  27. Matt & Abby- complete agreement on the Manjar bit–just WAYYY too sweet! (same as the juice)…
    And Abby! You don’t know who Chino Ríos is? But he put Chile on the map! When he took the Number 1 place in world tennis, the news was full of “Now the world will know who we are!” I called my daughter, who was studying in the US at the time and she said, what? there was a tennis game?

  28. Matt- I can see you’re trying to start an international incident with our neighbors to the north! But really, I think it’s the Peruvians who get upset on the Pisco deal. Most people here seem to think Chilean pisco is fine and Peruvian is better.
    And that Bolivian coast thing… I had a Bolivian TA in grad school who would go ballistic whenever the subject came up! Imagine how thrilled he was when he discovered where I was heading off to live!

  29. Margara!
    Usted esta como recentida con Chile y los Chilenos…
    No he leido ningun blog que usted escriba algo positivo sobre esta cultura. Siempre son criticas ironicas que reflejan su descontento.
    Mas aun no entiendo como “Chilenos pueden comentas que su blog es entretenido”
    Como psicologo, leer su blog, deja reflejar su absoluto descontento con su vida, refleja que usted siente no ser aceptada y esta es una salida a sus frustraciones cotidianas.
    Ojala su vida cambie, y pueda usted vivir en paz, armonia y feliz con su medio …
    Los mejores deseos para usted, deseando su vida mejore

  30. José-
    No sé si hayas leído poco o mal, pero hace tiempo que no he visto que alguien se haya equivocado tanto conmigo. ¡Y un psicólogo más encima! Sospecho que nunca hayas vivido fuera de tu propia cultura.
    Uno puede estar muy contento en alguna parte sin sentirse 100% integrado, lo que es el caso, me imagino, con la mayoría de los extranjeros en todo el mundo… Uno crece y se aculturiza dentro un juego de reglas y luego como viajero se encuentra en una situación en la cual tiene que entender y vivir dentro de otro juego de reglas. No todas son obvias y hay momentos en que uno cae—rotundamente—. Y en estos casos hay diferentes formas de enfrentar la situación; se puede putear a todo el mundo o intentar de aprender. Personalmente, prefiero lo último… y, cuando es posible, advertir a los que vienen después para que no caigan en el mismo hoyo.

    Muchos de mis comentarios—los que interpretas como críticas irónicas—son en gran parte una manera de apuntar a mis propias “rarezas” y las de todos nosotros que estamos intentando de insertarnos en una cultura ajena. La capacidad de reírse a si misma es una señal de la resiliencia y es algo muy, pero muy sano. De hecho, es la única manera de sobrevivir en una cultura que no es la propia.

    No sé de dónde sacaste que no estoy contenta aquí. Todo lo contrario. Chile me ha dado una vida llena de felicidad y oportunidades que jamás habría tenido en Estados Unidos… pero esto no significa que encuentro que Chile es perfecto. Tampoco que creo que debiera cambiar y ajustarse a mis criterios. Soy yo la extranjera y soy yo que tenga que acostumbrarme. ¡Nada malo en eso!
    El hecho de que soy capaz de encontrar algo de humor en los puntos de desencuentro—que no soy fanática de jamón y queso ni de onces ni de Serrat—no significa que son cosas malas—simplemente que he reconocido que existen puntos en que me he metido la pata y que debiera aprender.

    Las cosas que no me gustan de Chile son las mismas cosas que molestan a todo el mundo…el smog, el tráfico, que alguien te roba. Parece que consideras que como extranjera no tengo derecho de fijarme en estos detalles. Equivocado, señor. He vivido aquí muchos años, he hecho mi vida aquí, y tengo los mismos derechos de querer un Chile mejor para todos… y reírse de mi misma en el proceso.

    Este post también se podría responder a otra manera… Los chilenos que han vivido afuera también podrían comentar de las cosas que hayan hecho que sus anfitriones no hayan entendido (besar a alguien recién conocido, rechazar a algún acto de gentileza no entendida, expresarse mal sin darse cuenta)… es cosa de aprender estar—y ser—afuera de su círculo de comodidad.

  31. I know it must be very hard for you Annje and Margaret…
    Living in a socially educated environment must be traumatic …
    I had visit most of Latin American countries living in Europe now. I can see how Americans can not fit at all in a socially educated society.


    I do not know how you two can be so frustrated. A little manners wont hurt you. 🙂


  32. I don’t want Margaret to take any of the heat for my bad manners 😉

    But perhaps it would be fitting to point out that we are all “socially educated” but what constitutes “manners” differs from culture to culture.

  33. Franco- Manners work both ways…
    I don’t know where you get the idea that I am frustrated or incapable of manners. And as far as Annje is concerned, in northern cultures (not just the US) kissing people who are not partners or close family is unthinkable. Having manners means understanding and following the rules of the culture in which one is at the moment. It certainly doesn’t mean you have to enjoy them. In many places in the world it is expected that people leave their shoes at the door when entering someone’s home. I don’t know many Chileans who would appreciate that (for example)… different culture, different rules. When in Rome, and all that. And with respect to kissing at parties, I know plenty of Chileans who also find it a burdensome chore to kiss everyone at a large party twice (beginning and end)… Annje is simply honest enough to admit up front that it is not something she enjoys.

  34. Estimados José y Franco
    No veo ningún resentimiento ni amargura en estos temas, sólo apuntan de un modo anecdótico a cosas que por diferencias culturales generan momentos incómodos, tanto a chilenos como a extranjeros. No creo que estén escritas con ningún mal ánimo; al contrario, en estos blogs estas personas hablan de su adaptación al medio chileno, pero sin llegar a aplicar juicios de valor respecto a las diferencias, que no son ni buenas ni malas, simplemente son eso, diferencias.
    En buen chileno, tómense un armonyl.

  35. Ja-ja-ja… Gracias Marmo- ¡me cachaste y te pasaste!

  36. Different cultures.
    Yes, it is so different…
    Living in a educated society , it is see life from a different perspective.
    I can see the small scale of thinking … referring shoes and kisses …
    I agree with Jose. your blog is a very good way of letting go your frustrations and unhappiness…
    I can tell, Margarrita the patterns of insecure personality that you have. In every blog or comment you do have to back up your frustrated opinion, calling friends to be agree with you. or referring to some else’s comments.
    Interesting …
    “When in Rome,and all that” referring? the kissing or the shoes?
    Rome, I personally adore Rome. I do go to Rome every other weekend…
    Giving you a little bit of culture. the tennis player Rios did not put Chile in the map. Education, culture and knowledge place a Chile in the map. may be you had not heard but Gabriela Mistral, Pablo Neruda, Violeta Parra…
    It is fine to feel frustrated, do not worry about!

    Annje: do not worry about your eating manners I am sure they understand.
    You can eat the cazuela any way you want. it is like eating spagette (tallarines) with just a fork.

    Hopping you two can be happy … expressing frustrations it is not bad at all, there is just different ways of living, cultures, educations, etc..

  37. Franco- If you don’t get it, you don’t get it. No need for insults.

  38. I am not insulting you.
    Just reading your personality.

  39. I LOVE this blog.

    Peg your doing great this week on getting things going.

    My Chilean wife wants to know what “Charvo” is, she has no idea

    Remember the words of John Lydon

    “When in Rome,
    Gob on the Romans”

  40. Hi Matt- Thanks for your support here!!
    And yes, she must know Chavo del Ocho! A Mexican TV show from the early 70s that was widely popular throughout Latin America. I don’t know how many years it ran, but there are still reruns all the time. C loves it- so do his parents and his kids (very intergenerational)!
    And you’re not helping with your When in Rome variation!
    Of course I was referring to the standard saying “When in Rome, do as the Romans do” (just in case someone didn’t get that part).

  41. Like the gentlemen said:
    Always a friend come to the rescue!

  42. Soy Chilena y siempre me ha cargado eso de andar repartiéndole besos a todo el mundo jajaja… siempre trato de evitarlo xd

    Me encanta tu blog, lo encuentro muy chistoso!

  43. Margaret, Great post. I just got your email about this. I think I would like to participate. Is it to late to send you a link later in the day.

    Oh and what Kyle says about the potato skins is hilarious. Last Thanksgiving my gringo group of friends and I invited my boyfriend to our dinner and we had made mashed potatoes with the skin and the whole night he kept mumbling “Mashed potatoes with the skin! Mashed potatoes with the skin! Sara, do you see the skin? The skin? Mashed potatoes…”

  44. Hola Javiera! Muchas gracias!
    Sara- But of course! Just let me know when you’ve got yours posted and we’ll link up!
    Funny about the potato skins! I mean, I guess we all get certain things fixed in our minds–like mashed potatoes should be peeled or the tea cup should go in the back of the dish set-up!

  45. It’s meter la pata, not meterse la pata.

    This is what I read about our national anthem, and I agree: It’s impossible to sing a capella (the military brass band is the protagonist). You need an inhuman vocal range: when you sing “Dulce patria” it’s so high many men must go down in order to sing it.

    To Matt Wilson: Chilean pisco and Peruvian Pisco are different beverages. Saying that Peruvian pisco is better than Chilean pisco is like saying than vodka is better than gin, or that wheat flour is more tasty than a rose flower.

    ¡¡¡¿¿¿Mashed potatoes with the skin???!!!! That really sounds disgusting. I think I’ll have to eat a “berlín” with lots of “manjar” in order to forget that disgusting image. Mashed potatoes with the skin! Puaj.

  46. Strange. My wife is winemaker and says Chilean and Peruvian piscos are made exactly the same way! Will check up on this.
    She also says that Argentinian dulce de leche is better than manjar though. How anyone can tell the difference between differing soft stools is beyond me though

    Never heard of mashed potatoes with skins! Sounds a bit bog tasting to me. However in the UK we do bake spuds in their skins, so WTF.

  47. No mention of Nescafé anywhere here.

    Begs the question: Have the gringitos gotten accustomed to it and no longer ask for real coffee? (arrrrgh!)

    Has Starbucks filled the space with coffee to go?

    “No es café” was always a sure alienator before…

  48. Pedro-
    Yes, I’ve learned my lesson on the meter la pata expression and have fixed it both here and in the glossary (thanks again)–those reflexive verbs really are difficult to get a handle on! But that’s a whole different discussion.
    National anthem Actually I was talking about the US national anthem being impossible to sing… the Chilean version seems actually quite doable (although not for me because I even find Happy Birthday to be a challenge!)
    Pisco– both are made by distilling wine, which means they are both brandies and therefore in essence, the same thing. The difference is that the 2 countries use different grapes and different distilling methods.
    Rustic mashed potatoes (skin on)… guess it’s an acquired taste… note that these are mashed and not whipped.
    And Matt- we do baked potatoes with skins too, and the skins are my favorite part! Unfortunately I have never found proper baking potatoes here in Chile–the thick-skinned Idaho potatoes are the best!
    Berlin con manjar ¡Adelante! (and none for me thanks!) 😉

  49. I don’t think that Chileans get offended that we don’t like Nescafé, but I always thought it was odd that people would complain about gringo coffee as they stirred their powdered Nescafé. Sure, there’s a big difference between drip coffee and espresso–which are two different things altogether–but how Nescafé comes out as being better than drip is tough to figure! Maybe all the new coffee shops are changing things a bit!

  50. Good call IndieVintner, am sure you are the pool hustler from Matetic?

    However I think that is how the Chileans have alienated the English. To serve an Englishman nescafe is like serving him warm beer (as the French do)

    Am wanting to try these skins with mash though.

    The English I know in Chile have the saying.

    “Chile is the only place we can go to where our food is better”

  51. Matt- I thought the English DID drink warm beer–no? (you can tell I’ve never been to a real English pub!) I thought Europeans in general looked down on those of us in Canada & US who like our mugs frosty!
    Not touching the food comment with a 3.048-meter pole!

  52. No way, the English like really cold beer. The French are famous for warm beer, as are I though your countrymen! I lived in the USA for 5 years and whenever we went to a basketball game or baseball there were people selling warm beer in plastic cups with cold hotdogs! in soggy paper towels! Maybe I always went in the section for the French!

  53. Well, good to know! And no… folks in the US like their beer cold and hot dogs hot… unfortunately what you like and what you get don’t always jive… And besides, that flat draft swill served up at the games could hardly be called BEER!

  54. Great post Sara! You’re linked in now (see the main text for Sara’s link).

  55. En Chiloé (al sur de Chile), es común que se preparen las “papas con chaleco”, al horno o al rescoldo (http://www.nestle.cl/cocina/RecetaView.aspx?RecipeID=800) lo que sería “Vest Potatoes”? “Potatoes with jacket”? hahaha, they taste nice ^^

  56. I would just call them potatoes with skins… and al rescoldo are absolutely delicious!

    But would anyone mash them? Nah- I don’t think so, because the baking makes the skins thicker and so they wouldn’t mash up the same way they do when boiled…

  57. Hi Peg,
    Wow….quite the commotion here today! I do have a couple of questions for Jose Farias.
    One….as a psychologist is it not totally unprofessional to psychoanalyze a person without being asked….privately much less publicly?
    Two….Wouldn’t expressing your observations-be they good, bad or indifferent and laughing at the pickles you get into as a expat be considered a healthy form of processing your experiences?
    Now for Franco……sir, you show a complete and total lack of education!

  58. Hi Jude! Guess you told them! You seem to be looking at this picture pretty much the way I am…

  59. Peg’s remarks provoked some memories about my own dual-cultural language experiences. I’m American by birth but have lived for 10 years in England. I now have dual citizenship.

    I was project manager for a British government IT project and was leading a meeting of the Advisory Group. There were differences of opinion on ways forward (to say the least). So I said let’s table this agenda item for now and one of the Committee stalwarts said ‘But it is tabled.’ To which I respond, ‘Not officially’ and requested a vote that we set the item aside for later discussion.

    After we went around a few times, we discovered that in the US and the UK to table an agenda means totally opposite things. In the US, if you table an agenda item in a meeting you are putting it on the shelf, so to speak, to discuss at another time. In the UK, if you table it, you are putting it on the table for immediate discussion.

    We all had a good laugh and of course I fielded all of the gentle jibes about how the language existed way before the uncivilized colonials in the New World. And, to be honest, the incipient tension in the meeting was relieved.

  60. Good one Judy- this stuff happens to us here all the time because of the Spanish vs English difference, but there you go–all that misunderstanding in the same language!

  61. Wow, this one’s got some legs. Who would’ve thought a few innocent observations would spark such vitriol from some natives. (Who’d have thought that Chileans had vitriol?)

    Franco & Jose: Don’t read my blog. You’ll most certainly have a coronary!!

    Marmo: I also call them jacket potatoes too! Well, where I’m from they’re called spuds.

    Is it me or does Chavo look like a smack head?

  62. Yes Shark, I have thought about you and your blog a number of times over the past few days!
    Jacket potatoes? Interesting! I’ve never heard them called that, although the idea is pretty clear.

  63. Margaret: Of course I knew you were talking about the American anthem. But ours is not easy either.

    I know Chilean pisco and Peruvian pisco are not as dissimilar as wheat flour and rose flower, but Chilean pisco has water and Peruvian pisco doesn’t. If they had different names all the arguing would stop.

    I ate my berlín and thought it had too little manjar. I’ll have to go to another pastelería.

  64. Hi Pedro- Well, as I said, sadly, all national anthems (and songs in general) are out of my range.
    Agreed on the Pisco, but both sides are porfiados and not likely to give in any time soon!
    Too little manjar in the berlín? Next time you can have my share too! (but if there’s chocolate involved, that will be a whole different story!)

  65. I have just been to a lunch where there were Chilean pisco makers. Now I am an authority on pisco

    Basically Peg is right, same process different grapes and Peruvians use a more artisanal distilling process . The water comment is surely a joke!

    Shark must be a Brit then as we call them Jacket potatoes . Remember Spud-U-Likes from the eighties Shark?

  66. Real beer can be served warm-ish in England, a good bitter at a little under room temperature is really quite lovely.

    Matt Wilson is, however, a heathen and drinks nothing but crappy lager. He even enjoys Wife Beater, a sure sign of someone who doesn’t actually like beer.


    Interestingly, though, his Chilean wife understands the merits of a good English ale.

  67. Matt-
    Pedro is right about the water… the distillation process produces very high concentrations of alcohol and in Chile purified water is used to bring it down to a consumable level.
    Wikipedia has a very good description of both piscos: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pisco

    Shark is very secretive about his nationality, but some have supposed him to be Irish.

    And Spud-U-Like? what a name! kinda catchy!

  68. Oooo damn huasos at Capel (Concha y Toro) never told me that about the water. Though Im guessing they don’t want that public!

    Spud-U-Like was a
    chain of fast food restaurants selling Jacket Potatoes in the UK in the eighties could get many fillings like curry, meat balls, cheesy peas, and many others. No manjar or that other Chilean disgusting goo Mayonaise! Or devils sperm as we like to call in in the UK

  69. Hey Matt- why the mid-stream change of personality? and no, I don’t think it was anything secretive on the distillers’ part… just part of the process and not at all uncommon!
    And your jacket spuds basically stuffed baked potatoes?

  70. haha, I thought about shark and his blog too… if they didn’t like our examples (making fun of mostly ourselves)… You missed out on all the fun shark!

    Shark is secret about his nationality (why??) but he probably doesn’t remember the eighties, I’m guessing he was born mid-80’s.

  71. Yes, Shark is much more categorical and outspoken about his opinions!
    Age? Can’t even hazard a guess!

  72. Woah, lively comment section here!

    First things first, I posted as well: http://emilyinchile.blogspot.com/2009/11/group-post-how-to-alienate-chileans.html

    Second, I thought your list was funny. Franco, if you’re still reading, WHY do you find these posts indicative of someone who is not from a socially educated environment? That’s a genuine question, I’m just not sure how you’ve come to that conclusion from what Margaret and Annje have written. Or do you have other experiences of people from the US/the US itself that cause you to think this?

  73. Margaret, I’m sure you’re not up in arms over this in the slightest, but having a blog that criticizes anything about a country that’s not your native invites comment’s like Jose’s and Franco’s. Having a blog also seemingly invites people to read into a deeper meaning of your life and actions.

    I can’t tell you how many Chileans have sent me nasty emails telling me to go home because they were upset about any form of what they interpreted as criticism on my blog.

    That being said, in the U.S. I had a blog about my life…get ready for it…living in the U.S. HA. By the end the comments got so out of control that I actually shut that blog down. Chileans don’t like anyone criticizing their country, nor do most gringos. It goes both ways.

    I say, a little bit of criticism, self reflection and cultural observations go a long way towards understanding one another.

    PS. I have the same question as Emily. What specifically, is making you, Franco y Jose, pensar que la Peg esta tan miserable en su vida aqui?

  74. Emily- I enjoyed your post (especially the palta) and it’s now linked in.
    Kyle- no, I’m not getting upset about what 2 people had to say out of all those who responded, but you’re right… when you expose yourself in public, you will evoke different actions from different people. Not everyone will get what you’re about, nor will they agree with it. Of course no one likes to see their country criticized, and I try really hard NOT to do that without some kind of reflection. And I don’t think the things I mentioned here are criticisms but rather puntos de desencuentro. You can not agree with someone without being offensive or being offended… ¿o no?

  75. Totally agree with you Judy …

    Expressing experiences are totally healthy!
    “Muchos de mis comentarios—los que interpretas como críticas irónicas—son en gran parte una manera de apuntar a mis propias “rarezas” y las de todos nosotros que estamos intentando de insertarnos en una cultura ajena. La capacidad de reírse a si misma es una señal de la resiliencia y es algo muy, pero muy sano. De hecho, es la única manera de sobrevivir en una cultura que no es la propia.”

    Rarezas y sobrevivencia… comprendo totalmente…

    Y una vez mas para Judy… Lea con mas atencion… como psicologa que usted es ” si es que lo es” …
    Tambien se comprende que usted salga a defender a su amiga.
    Es psicologicamente entendible.

    No veo que se haya escrito que sus blog sean malos … son solo el reflejo de sus “rarezas” y modo de “sobrevivencia” al enfrentarse a una cultura que no es suya y aun que usted dice que vive en ese pais por mucho tiempo se deja ver facilmente su descontento. Por lo cual psicologicamente necesita reir de lo que le molesta.
    No veo nada malo en el Sr. Jose o Mr. Franco asi como Peg expresa sus frustraciones riendo ellos expresan e interpretan reacciones que salen de los parrafos …
    Otra anotacion si uno elije tener un blog publico ,uno tiene que ser abierto a ver que no a todas las personas les gustara.
    Y la Sr. Josefa dice amigos al recate. yo tengo la misma imprecion.

    Y crea usted Sr. Peg que tambien he tenido su expriencia como extranjero.

    Le deseo lo mejor y no se defienda tanto que al defenderse usted mete la pata y refleja su rareza.
    ( perdon mi espanol)

    Big Hug

  76. Mark- Not sure how to respond to your comment. Of course José and Franco have a right to express their opinions. I didn’t delete their comments.
    Perhaps the problem is a definition for “discontent”… However you want to define it, my point is basically that outsiders tend to make cultural mistakes and when that happens, you can acknowledge and learn, or you can insist that you are right and the host culture is wrong. In my opinion, the latter attitude is the one that shows discontent.
    Not my case. Period.

  77. Con respecto al consumo de café, me imagino que es debido a que tenemos tan arraigada la costumbre de tomar té, por lo tanto no le hemos dado una oportunidad a descubrir el café y sus variedades de marcas y sabores. En culturas donde se acostumbra a tomar té hay bajos porcentajes de consumo de café: UK nisiquiera está en el top 10 de Europa, en Japón es muy bajo y en China nisiquiera encontré datos (ambos países tienen incluso ceremonias del té).
    Es como si a alguien no le guste o no esté acostumbrado a consumir ketchup, por ejemplo, quizás alguna vez compre, pero lo más seguro es que el envase le dure muuuucho tiempo ahi guardado. Lo mismo creo que ocurre en varias casas chilenas con el café y como no se conoce mucha variedad se compra lo más consumido que es el Nescafé (de verdad no creo que alguien lo prefiera, habiendo consumido productos mejores).
    Recuerdo que cuando teníamos que estudiar mucho para exámenes en la U, con mis compañeros, tomábamos café como un substituto de droga, más que nada para mantenernos despiertos y a nadie le importaba que la basura que tomábamos era Nescafé.

  78. Fernando- Tienes razón. Chile tiene un altísimo consumo de té, aunque no he visto las cifras últimamente. Sería interesante ver qué está pasando con respecto al consumo de café, lo que sospecho está subiendo (por el número de cafés que están abriendo). Tampoco sé cuánto Nescafé consumen (con respecto al té), pero sí puedo confirmar que hay personas (sin ir más lejos que miembros de mi familia chilena) que lo prefieren en vez del “café café”. ¡Cosa de costumbre supongo!

  79. woah! quite the comment section here! i’m a little late, but here’s my post:


  80. Matt Wilson: I wasn’t joking about water in pisco.

    I quote from Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pisco#Chilean_pisco

    Regular pisco is quite bland in taste since the alcohol is mixed with water, reminiscent of a weak rum, and its odor is very sweet and woody with a slight yellowish tinge to the color.

    Spanish Wikipedia says

    En el pisco chileno los productores pueden agregar agua desmineralizada para ajustar la graduación alcohólica resultante, que alcanza regularmente los 60° y llegar hasta 73°, a la deseada, tal como se hace en elaboración de otros licores espirituosos, como el whisky, el vodka y el singani.

  81. Yes Pedro I stand corrected. Even after I was with pisco distillers for almuerzo yesterday they failed to let me know about the aquita.

    However a warning to you all Wilipedia is not always as honest as we would like to think it is

  82. Matt- Pedro is right… and so is the Wiki… it’s a commonly used practice in distilled spirits and nothing underhanded about it!

  83. Hahahaa
    I suggest people look up

    “I stand corrected”

    on Wikipedia

  84. Hey Margaret! Love the post topic! I wrote a post on this topic as well! You can find it at http://gringagonesouth.blogspot.com/2009/12/group-post-how-to-alienate-chilean.html

  85. chiiiaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!! qué blog están leyendo éstos???? Franco y José. Se fueron al chancho y más encima, para mi, que no entienden. Por último, si uds. van a criticar, lee un poco más de los blog (y quizás 2 veces a ver si entendemos bien la materia), y haga una critica que valga la pena, para que uno aprenda algo nuevo. Para mi sus comentarios están totalmente irrelevantes. Están puro webeando!!!

    On the use of nescafé: I also think that Chileans like nescafé for its ease of use. Chileans are super practical about serving guests, and it’s easier than making coffee. You don’t need a special machine to do it.

    That said, I was at jumbo, grocery shopping for an outing with friends, and the nescafé was as expensive as the real coffee. So F (a Chilean friend) suggested we just get real coffee and make Turkish coffee all weekend. It’s just like making nescafé except that you use real coffee, just-boiled water, add milk and sugar right away, stir, and then you let the coffee grounds settle at the bottom for 10 minutes, and then drink. And be sure not to sip on that last “cachito” or you’re in for a nasty surprise. Guákala! I’ve been making it for my suegros, and they LOVE it. Except for the time when I confused the salt with the sugar: the salt was all shiny like sugar is! hehehe

    And here’s my two cents: http://laeskimita.blogspot.com/2009/12/how-to-alienatewin-over-chilean.html

  86. You all forgot the sugar!!!! You can not get off scot-free here if you refuse to take sugar in your tea (or nescafe!) you must have something wrong with you to drink it straight (well as a brit with milk, that’s just about accepted!!)

    For those who may not understand the term – Scot free.
    To escape pursuers or avoid payment.

  87. “scot-free”, meaning “without consequences or penalties” I think this is a better description!!

  88. Sara: Ah! the sugar thing! I don’t think it offends them, they just don’t get it… a friend always served me coffee with sugar and I always asked him not to… then one day he said, “but don’t worry! You aren’t fat, you can have sugar if you want to!” I had to laugh–he was being sweet and assumed that I didn’t want sugar because I was on a diet!

  89. I’ve waited a few days for people to state the obvious. If you really want to know how to alienate Chileans, just casually say during a conversation:

    Of course, what this country needs is another Pinochet.

  90. hahahaha, another Pinochet. Wouldn’t some Chileans agree with that though?

  91. Shark & Maeskizzle- yeah… that would get things going… one, because it’s a touchy subject for outsiders to get involved in and two, because it’s never been resolved internally either!

  92. The Pinochet thing can go either way.

    A far superior way to alienate a chileno is to sleep with his daughter.

    And then repeatedly say that you don’t believe in marriage and don’t want to have children. For about four years.

  93. Yeah, I suppose that would do the trick just about anywhere now, wouldn’t it!

  94. Yes, but it’s particularly effective with Chilean/Latin men.

  95. hahaha… my own very distinctly non-latino father would not have been too happy ’bout that either!

  96. Wow!!!!!
    Maeskizzle conoce usted el ternimo
    “Exclamo la princesa” ?

  97. And this makes 100 comments!
    And now a bit of news… I declared December 1 to be Cachando Chile’s Blogoversary. I had actually hoped to publish my 100th post today… but only made it to 98… so in some special way it is fitting that this should be the day that a blog post actually hits 100 comments!

    Now Mark- para volver a tu comentario… debes andar a ver un chorísimo blog que tiene Maeskizzle’s llamado: “Mejora tu Coa” y también como: “Welcome to Chile, Ahora habla chilensis” at http://mejoratucoa.blogspot.com/
    Es un blog maravilloso y lleno de chilenismos… se lo había descuidado un tiempo y hoy recibí las buenísimas noticias que ya está reactivándolo!

  98. Emily
    I had live in USA for several years, were more than the 65% of the population do not have education…
    At my son hight school only the 10% of the kids made it to college and I am not talking about not having money or the opportunity of having a better future.
    If you ask general education questions to a regular citizen more than the 80% do not know the answer.

    Education in USA is a very sad topic, day by day less kids make it to advance education … it is a privilege to have access to school a good school. Most schools had been closing several classes, like french, music, art,literature,science etc.
    Educations is only for a few ones.

    It is not new that when you move from USA to another country your child will be placed in a inferior grado or class … if your child is coming from a foreign country to USA your child will be placed in advance classes, and they will be labeled as smart kid.
    Sad to read, sad to see but it is a reality. meeting kid, bright kids with no much hope other than the desired of making quick money. not their fault they were on their own they were 18 those were their parents words.
    Happy day to you Emily.

  99. big sandbox. Mind if I bring my own shovel?

    Mine’s about never using the word no to reject a social invitation, even if you know there’s a snowball’s chance in hell that you’ll go. The post is snarky, para variar. I’m hoping you guys can recommend a good, open-minded, multi-cultural highly intuitive therapist to heal me of my snarky ways. Any thoughts?

    Here it is:


  100. Pingback: Finding your way into Chile « Cachando Chile: Reflections on Chilean Culture

  101. Franco
    about the education, I don’t think it’s right. As for what I know, education in the U.S. varies among the different states and cities. I had the chance to live in the U.S for a few years and had to go through some grades there in a public school. My father has a decent job in a company that tends to send people around the world and they usually pay the cost of their children’s education if it is necesary. As the place that I lived in had decent education, I went to a public school, and because of the difference in the language, I had to redo a whole year. After I got back to Chile, I had to go to a private school since public schools here are awful. I didn’t need to redo another year, infact, I got the chance to go back to my normal grade, there for I skipped a grade.

  102. About the manjar, I’m chilean and I do enjoy manjar but I don’t love it. Chileans (most, not all ofcourse) tend to feel the same way towards peanut butter! As for me, I enjoy it! (specially with chocolate… gotta love Reese’s)

    I think that the chance of growing up and spending part of my childhood in the U.S. has given me a bit of the foreign eye. I know what things my country lacks and what it haves!
    Though I might not agree with all of what is stated here, I still think its interesting to read! and there’s no need to get mad.

  103. Ale-my experience is much more in line with yours as far as education goes. As you say, schools in the US vary widely from state to state and district to district. And most public schools are quite good, in large part because every property in a school district pays taxes for those schools to operate. That said, with all of the financial crises and factory closings, etc., many districts have lost a great deal of funding and have unfortunately been forced into severe cutbacks in areas that may be important, but considered non-essential, such as sports and extra curricular activities, although that does not include major subject areas that are required, such as science and literature. There has always been talk about the sad (even infuriating) state of affairs in many inner-city schools and the efforts that have been made to give those children equal opportunities for education, but that is no cause for sweeping generalizations about the poor quality of education in the US.
    One of the other blogs has a debate about education going on right now (which one? Someone help me out here!), and the differences in approaches to teaching methods. The US system encourages critical thinking and problem solving skills rather than memorization of facts, which Chileans often interpret as an educational deficit. And that is a discussion for a much larger platform than this one.
    Thank you Ale for sharing your experience!

  104. Ale- thanks for bringing up the peanut butter vs manjar aspect! I think both are culturally acquired tastes… and I agree with you, Reeses peanut butter cups are GREAT!
    Thanks for contributing to this inter-cultural debate. I think that any time we have the opportunity to learn about a different culture, we also learn much more about our own in the process… an eye-opening and mind-expanding experience that helps build character and resilience and helps provide us with a few more pieces to this puzzle we call life.
    I hope you’ll take a look at the companion piece to this post (the flip side: Finding your way into Chile)… I’d love to hear your comments on that with respect to your own experiences as an extranjero.

  105. Mark, ahora sí, lo conozco. Es una dicotomía machista, para variar.
    Acá el príncipe es un antihéroe resignado y el rol de la princesa sigue la pauta bosquejada en el link.

    El dicho viene de un cuento escrito por un autor bisexual que sufrió en varias ocasiones por amor no correspondido (por parte de ambos sexos.)

    Al parecer, la expresión fue aún más vulgarizada por poetas varios.

  106. Maeskizzle- gracias!
    yo no conocía la expresión (excalmó la princesa) y seguí los links para entenderla mejor, pero me quedo con la duda: ¿ de cuál cuentode Anderson viene? y ¿cómo sería la expresión en inglés?

  107. I’m going to guess The Princess and the Pea where only a true princess could feel a pea through 40 mattresses and thus resulting in her screams and a sleepless night……..or was that Grimm?

    What do I win?

  108. Ah! Good call! and yes, The Princess & the Pea is Anderson… but since this is Maeskizzle’s game, we’ll have to wait for her to reveal the answer and declare a winner!

    and, in the context of this story, I suppose the expression in English would be very literally “exclaimed the princess”…

  109. In the English translation that I saw it said “said the princess”, rather than “exclaimed the princess.” I believe the expression only works in Spanish, but I may be wrong.

    My understanding is that it comes from Andersen’s fairy tale “The Swineherd.”

  110. You know, I don’t think I’d ever heard that story before! Still working on the explanation of the expression though… something lost in translation maybe?

  111. I love your blog Peg!! I just wrote about ways to alienate gringos… maybe we can start a new round of community blogs. I would love to hear others’ opinions!!

  112. Hi there Abejita! Welcome to the group! I’ve added your link to the list… I liked the way you turned it around to comment on things that Chileans do that make US feel uncomfortable… it will be interesting to see what kinds of comments you get because I think many Chileans have no idea that certain types of comments and attitudes can have such an effect on an outsider.

  113. A few comments:

    Us Chileans are well know for being very concerned on “classes” (as in a Marxist concept…you know). Well then, I have the feeling some of you guys, in true gringo fashion, have fallen for the kind of Chilean you describe…and entered such families at that! jejjeje. Anyone believing the 18th century myth of the National Anthem just shows a cosmopolitanism that hasn’t gone beyond La Serena jajajja…Anyone not knowing a second meaning of cínico beyond the one cited, just shows very poor schooling and knowledge of their own language…Anyone living off BarrosJarpa…just shows very little knowledge of nutrition…kind of like your regular over-sized American, I think you’ll agree…
    As for alienating Gringos, here’s a few that won’t fail: Ask them not to be loud in any public place; tell them that Coke does taste the same everywhere (as a response to the typical dialogue ‘tween two Americans that have just met in any place other than the States: Ooooooh myyyyyyyGaaaaaaaad, Coke just doesnnnnnnnn’t taste the saaaaaammeeeeee. Followed, of course, by the typical cackle! jajjajaja). Oh…and the awful one: America has brought itself all the pain it’s gotten over the last 10 years, and no…noone really believes there’s a war anywhere…exccept the one Gringo presidents launch every so often to feed the nationalistic magalomaniacal thirst of a mostly uneducated population.

  114. oops! That was except and megalomaniacal

  115. Maxie-
    Bewildering class system and all, we obviously find y’all very charming… and that’s why there are so many of us here”

    And I can see you like to push buttons! Plenty of that going on around here lately!

  116. Por lo que entiendo uno lo dice para no quedar mal por decir chuchadas.

  117. Hmmmmm, the mysteries of language!

  118. Maeskizzle
    Is a very well highly class lady!!!

  119. Why is it on the gift labels here (for putting on presents) that the From: comes before the To: ?? Is this another cultural difference? Anyone here got any opinons about this?

  120. You’re RIGHT! why is that?

    And while we’re at it… do you always get mixed up with calendars starting on Monday? but if you think about it… if you’re going by the “on the 7th day God rested”… then Monday WOULD be the 1st day… so why do we in the US (elsewhere?) start on Sunday and divide up the weekend?

  121. I’ve yet to meet an Englishman who likes warm beer!

  122. Except maybe the other one who now lives in your neck of the woods?

  123. Not sure he likes it, does he?

  124. Matt – what is now commonly called beer covers all types including what used to be called larger in the UK and this yes must always be cold but beer as in real ale this wasnt always served that cold – hence lies the myth. Things are different now though and all is served cold.

  125. Matt- take a look at Matt R’s comment (above ) on Nov 30 at 5:26! Surprised you missed that one!

  126. Hhaha Am not sure what “quite lovely” means?
    Sounds dodgy to me

  127. ha-ha-ha… something new for you two to debate!

  128. I will admit Matt is more adventurous with his beers. I own up to liking crap lagers like Stella, Tiger and Becks. He is right as well that my wife (unbeaten as she is) also has better taste in beer!
    However warm beer is still akin to drinking Madonnas urine. To some this would excite, but to me it is repugnant

  129. I have another one for your list:

    “Tell them you your wedding is not going to have a religious ceremony”

    I got engaged abt 3 months ago and we decided to have just a civil ceremony since neither of us to close to any church.
    Family and friends just dont understand this, they’ve askes my fiancee if we dont do it because I was previously married, they’ve offered to find a priest for us, said that our marriage will not be “blessed”, hence is due to fail…etc, etc, etc.

  130. Hi Rob- depending on the family and social circle, I could see how that would be a big problem! Someone I know just had her civil wedding and will have the church wedding several months from now. I asked if they were living together now or waiting and she looked at me in surprise, “Oh NO! I’m much more traditional!” For her (and many others) the real wedding is the church wedding and the civil ceremony is just one of the steps along the way.
    Good luck with your wedding (blessed or not!)

  131. You could do what I did and get a fake priest. We had our ceremony at a winery and I just gave a dodgy guy a case of wine to dress up and pretend to be a man of the cloth. No one was any the wiser. Catholics are not too bright at the best of times, so it’s easy to fool them.
    As an atheist I feel very proud to have fooled a bunch of Chileans with a silly religion

  132. Jeeze Matt- If you didn’t have people riled up before, you sure will now! I think you just hit a bit fat “alienation” button!

  133. Margaret: Me gustó tu blog, y sólo escribo este comentario para felicitarte por tu español (al menos escrito) que tiene sólo ínfimos errores.

    🙂 Me da gusto que te guste Chile.

  134. Hola Felipe-
    Muchas gracias. La verdad es que me encanta Chile. Es mi país adoptivo y siento un gran orgullo poder vivir aquí-
    Gracias también por tu elogio a mi español… me encantaría dominarlo mejor, pero cuando uno llega a otro idioma como adulto, siempre te cuesta más… pero aprendo algo más todos los dias (así es que imagínate como estaré en unos 50 años más!) 😉

  135. will be old and smart, hehehe! i wanna thank you beause of this funny monents (i can’t say the same of my english, too much time don’t using it) that you guys let me spend, i’ve been laughting all morning on my laptop because a gringo friend, too closer told me about a ouple of this blogs, he wanna live here, and we teach him about languaje, and few more stuffs!
    i really love it, ind AS A CHILEAN i share it, i don’t like nescafe, i ear “manjar” and we usually (gringo included) use “chuchadas” to talk.

    greetings for you spanish, our gringo speaks like that, but sometimes doesn’t understand what does it mean. jejejeje

    and finnaly, i’m quite shute that problably will fall this blog! i’ o nice and it said so many thngs about us.

  136. me equivoque!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! jajajaja bueno, lo seguire, mucha suerte y genial el blog, eso es mas comprensible, jajajaja

  137. Hola Isaac! Muchas gracias por tus comentarios (en cualquier de los dos idiomas–aquí todos hablamos Spanglish!)
    Me alegro que te gustó y que volverás a dejar tus comentarios!

  138. Hi Margaret.

    I’m not sure you fully understood Rob. There are two kinds of people in Chile:

    1) Those who think that the religious ceremony is the only important one. For them the civil ceremony is just a beaurocratic step prior to the real wedding. Some time ago Chilean law was changed, and now you can skip the civil ceremony altogether, provided that you go to register the religious ceremony to Registro Civil.

    2) Those who will marry only by the Registro Civil.

    You seem to imply that there is a third category: Those who think both ceremonies are important. I think such people don’t exist. I know many people belonging to category 1 who have a small celebration the day of the civil ceremony, but people who marry religiously believe that God is the only one who can aprove their marriage. If you are going to live together only after marriage, that marriage must be the religious one.

    Bob is saying that some people belonging to category 1 don’t accept that category 2 exists. In their closed world all marriages are performed by a Catholic priest and are announced on El Mercurio. They know no groom who wears a three-piece suit, because they only have seen them wearing a tailcoat (chaqué). If you told them that you won’t go on a honeymoon they simply won’t believe you.

  139. Hi Pedro-
    Yes, I got what Rob was saying… although I had no idea that it was now possible to skip the civil ceremony and go straight to the church. Although I do think the people who have church weddings consider it an important step–one that falls between engagement and the “real” wedding in the church.
    In fact, I think church weddings deserve an entire post because there are many aspects that are very different here than in the US or UK… like no kissing at the altar. I’ve seen both here, but was shocked the first time the couple didn’t kiss, and was later told that it was considered “uncultured” to kiss in the church!

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  141. I am Chilean by birth but emigrated to the States at the age of six. The contrast was astonishing. In Chile, I went to Catholic school, the same that my mom and her sisters went to, and their mother and HER sisters went to. I ate with a fork and knife, every meal, and had te con leche for once (Manjar RULES! I miss it so much:[ ). I was taught not to be loud, and had play dates with cousins along with dance, art, and music classes 3x a week.
    I learned to eat with my fingers because if I didn’t the American children would stare at me, as would I when the teacher handed me a spork and I had absolutely no clue what the hell it was. I no longer had dance, music, culture, or art lessons of any kind because the Dept. of Education deemed it unnecessary. Once in class my professor asked me where I was from. I answered proudly, “Chile.” Without missing a beat she asked, “Well, where in MEXICO is that?” I wanted to punch her. By the way that was my sophomore year…. in COLLEGE. Once ceased to exist in my house (which was comprised primarily of my mother and I). My mother no longer cooks the wonderful Chilean dishes because she says American food is just corn and not what we had at home. She also blames the American diet for her lactose intolerance (even though I have it too). In order to eat peanut butter, my mother told me it was manjar on the toast….. it wasn’t. I lost 15 pounds in 3 months because I couldn’t adjust to American food. That’s just my first year here. All in all, every country has its adjustments. If you ex patriots didn’t like Chile, you would leave. If you don’t understand us, it’s the same when we come to you and don’t understand why berlins y los completos aren’t found in streetside vendors. Why tea isn’t a must or religious holidays aren’t actually holidays, and why family isn’t half as important as it it is to us (more than 80% of my friends were kicked out of their houses by age 18 to “prepare” them for the real world. I asked my mother about this and she said only two ways I’m leaving her roof, school and marriage. What the hell was I thinking?) Chilean culture is unique and beautiful. I love and embrace my heritage. In fact my family has been in Chile since 1538! *Sidenote: My boyfriend and I have actually gotten into a fight because of my chilenismos. He had the GALL to say it wasn’t real spanish. (He’s Colombian French, what does he know? lololol)* Enjoy the atmosphere, and when you tire of it move on. But please don’t criticize. If anything, know that Chileans love their country completely and fully, all of it’s good and bad decisions. When you say something mean, whether observation of trying to be “funny” it like if you are stabbing them in the heart. I’m sure many Americans would feel the same if a foreigner gave their two cents on American foreign policy or the War in Iraq and Afghanistan or on American culture or whatnot. Anyway, that’s just what I had to say. Enjoy Chile!!! I miss it every day I’m not there.

  142. Hi Bella-
    Thank you so much for your comments. What you are talking about here is precisely what Cachando Chile is all about… recognizing, exploring, and celebrating the differences. Just as you don’t like everything about US culture, there are things about Chilean culture that are hard for outsiders to adapt to. That doesn’t mean that we don’t like it as a whole. In fact, MOST of the gringos I know here in Chile really love living here-
    And as far as how American’s feel about negative comments… believe me, we are used to it… doesn’t mean we like it, but it seems that every culture in the world feels the right to malign the US.
    I hope you get the opportunity to come back to Chile often and am also glad that you are sharing your culture with people in the States, where, as you have pointed out, there is considerable ignorance about world geography!

  143. **Comment removed at author’s request**

  144. OK Shark, you’ve finally gone over the top… you don’t like it here, we know that, but it’s one thing to express dissent, and another to be offensive. I’m sorry to say that for the first time ever I have actually CENSORED someone’s comment! I hate that!
    Cut Bella some slack. Sure there are inconsistencies in her arguments, but she has every right to feel pride and nostalgia for a country she left behind many years ago. I don’t know how often she gets back, but it’s generally the case that expats tend to be very nostalgic and more than a bit defensive of their homelands.
    While I basically agree with you on a number of your points, can’tcha just lighten up a bit? Please?

  145. Do me a favour Margaret when you get down off your high horse. Either post my comment in full or don’t post it at all.

  146. I would imagine there are not too many horses as high as yours Mr Shark.
    As someone who knows Margaret pretty well, I can tell you she is hardly the “high horse” type.

    I suggest you go back and very carefully read her words. She was very uncomfortable at censoring your post. She was just cutting out your personal attack.

    My own view is that you are actually a cyber bully, and like all bullies you are a weak and insipid.
    I have many problems living in Chile, but the good things far outweigh the bad

  147. Shark- as you wish. The comment has been removed. Too bad. As I said, I agreed with much of what you said, and although I personally didn’t like the tone, I only really objected to one particularly nasty part of it. I originally considered the all-or-nothing approach that you have just requested, but felt that 99% of what you said deserved to be said.
    But have it your way.

    Matt- thanks…

  148. Well decision time, Margaret. Did Matt just personally attack me? I think he did.

    It’s okay, Matt. I don’t actually mind what you said. I just wanted to point out Mag’s hypocritical censorship policy.

  149. 1-Matt can speak for himself about his comment, but since you seem to care little about what other people think, I don’t suppose it matters much.
    2- I am not “Mag.”
    3-There is nothing hypocritical about insisting on a certain degree of civility and restraint from obscenity.

  150. I love my tea with milk and honey and unfortunately that has gotten me into a little bit of trouble. Firstly the fact that I ask for milk with it. Then once I let it slide in conversation that I disliked the honey in Chile because it tastes weird and I couldn’t wait to get some real Australian honey. It was dumb, but I was really sick at the time and I just wanted some good tea and honey.
    Others are:
    my permanent request for diet coke over normal coke (I prefer the taste) and not buying any if they only have normal.
    Refusing ‘dressing’ on my salad and topping it off by saying that lemon juice isn’t a real salad dressing.
    Asking to choose your own fruit/veg at the Vega stalls.
    Going out with wet hair. I did this once, because my hair dries super fast and my Chilean friend decided to tell me how shabby I looked.
    Wearing flip flops any time outside the middle of summer. Unless it’s steaming hot, they look at you like you’re crazy.
    Telling them that yoga isn’t exercise. Or that it’s useless, you dislike it or anything else negative about it.
    Saying you hate poodles and that *insert dog here* is much better for so many reasons.

  151. ha-ha… good ones Lisa-
    I’m not big on honey myself (anywhere really) and find that it is particularly strong here (which I suppose is a good thing if you’re a honey lover!)
    And yes, that thou shalt not touch the produce commandment (or worse, trying to read publications at a kiosk!)
    I suspect the poodle business is a big city thing–I could be all wrong, but have always thought of them as citified dogs…

  152. Wow. I have had very different experiences with the wedding thing here in Chile. My husband and I just had a civil ceremony, but we celebrated afterward, like a regular wedding and I didn’t have one person suggest we should do it differently. The only thing that people had doubts about was how dressy to be. Most people just treated it like a regular wedding and dressed formally.

    It was also a small wedding of like 70.

    I have noticed several gringos say that the typical Chilean wedding is with 300 people, and while I’ve been to at least 7 weddings here, not including my own, all have them have had 70-150 guests.

    Perhaps this is because we gringos move in different social circles though.

    And as far as I’ve noticed the bride and groom always kiss at the end of the ceremony in the church.

  153. Hi Heather- there are all types of weddings- There were just 16 people at mine- including ourselves and our collective 3 kids, but in general, most of the Chilean-Chilean weddings I’ve been to have been quite big 200+ (the entire extended family on both sides are considered a must). I was very surprised the first time I went to a wedding where there was no kiss, and have since been informed that–ahem–es muy mala clase to kiss at the wedding. It’s all a matter of social class and religious values… some do; some don’t…

  154. I came here to say that censoring a troll (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Troll_%28Internet%29 ) is not really censoring. And luckily the troll’s comments were already censored.

    Then I read everything and realized I had skipped the “exclamó la princesa” part.

    I’m sad to tell you the truth, but what the princess said normally goes with asterisks in some prudish newspapers.

    Here is the full answer: http://es.answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20081117170449AAqVAnH but please note that the asker already knew what the princess said.

    I thought that this saying was truly Chilean, and then I found a Mexican blog dedicated to it (beware, coarse language in Mexican Spanish). http://exclamolaprincesa.blogspot.com/

  155. Hi Pedro-
    Thanks for the comments (I got the other 2 direct-to-me comments to). I had never heard “troll” used that way!
    For others who don’t know and who haven’t followed Pedro’s wiki-link, the exact quote is: “In Internet slang, a troll is someone who posts inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community, such as an online discussion forum, chat room or blog, with the primary intent of provoking other users into an emotional response[1] or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion.”

    What happened was I had originally approved his comment minus one offensive line. Several days later he expressly said “all or nothing”… so I obliged…
    So your comment here is correct–there WAS a censored comment and now there is not.
    In reference to nuestra Princesa… Well this sure changes the story, doesn’t it? Although this version makes more sense to me than the reference to Hans Cristian Anderson (although maybe there’s some older relationship between them??) Anyway, it seems now that it would be used a bit like “Pardon my French”???

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  158. Loved this post. I may have to do a Salvadoran version! 🙂

  159. Can’t wait to see it–be sure and let me know when you do!

  160. Es interesante vernos al espejo me reí mucho con tu post, aunque de todas formas me sentí un poco ofendido que alguien escribiera acerca de como enfadarnos con nuestras cosas. igual me gusta tu blog, saludos.

  161. Hola Ricardo-
    Gracias por tus comentarios… creo que el título pierde algo en la traducción, porque la idea no es que QUIERA que alguien enfade a los chilenos, sino es más bien una advertencia de que si uno hace tal o tal cosa, es bastante probable que va a molestar a alguien! Son cosas que he aprendido (por error) en el transcurso de los años y, si al contarlo ayude a alguien evitar (o entender) un error semejante, sería caso de misión cumplida.
    Muchos Saludos!

  162. Great Post!
    I had a good laugh, and didn’t feel insulted in the slightest way. The national anthem and flag thing (which is said to have received an international prize as the most beautiful ever… how funny is that?) is something I don’t relate to at all … maybe the military dictatorship years made unconsciously reject everything that was associated with “patriotism”, so I enjoy making fun of such nonsense.

    I guess we are a bit insecure, because we live in this small, isolated country at the end of the world, hence we want the world to know that we “exist” and we are a bit over-sensitive when someone doesn’t like something about us. Of course I love my country BUT I know that Chilean Cuisine is basic and boring for the most part (see Perú, for example); Argentina wipes the floor with us sports-wise, etc, etc, etc. (now go ahead, crucify me)

    On the other hand, the cool aspects of being from Chile are often unnoticed by ourselves, for obvious reasons. Thats’s why it is so interesting (and sometimes really funny, like in this post) to know the vision from an outsider (or like in this case, not-so-outsider).

    Now, what’s your problem with my SÁNGUCHE??????



  163. BTW, My girfriend and I (both 100% chilean) don’t want to have kids; just want a simple, small civil wedding at some point… and although our friends and family seem to be accepting it with time, it’s been quite a struggle. Everybody thinks we are from Mars.

  164. Well Thanks Igor for not hopping onto the crucify the gringa bandwagon! Happy to hear I didn’t manage to insult you…and honestly, I love those big fat sloppy sandwiches, like chacureros, once in a while, but sorry, I come from a culture where cold white-bread sandwiches are what you eat when there’s nothing else to be had.
    Good luck with the whole not wanting kids part, but I hear people from Mars are like that (just kidding of course!)…

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  166. I never noticed the sandwich thing, even when I’m Chilean, guess when you’re part of a culture you just can’t see everything. Your blog is quite interesting, Margaret. I have this “gringo” teacher, we always talk about how we Chileans are more sensitive, and that pisses him off, for example, we Chileans have this tendency to hug friends when greeting, and if a foreigner doesn’t do it we feel offended hahaha. Every time we talk about Chilean human relationships and sensitiveness my teacher makes his “wtf” face lol.

  167. Your posts are so great! Its 2 AM here and I’m just reading away..
    I should let you know, I’m in your same situation except the reverse. I’m Chilean born but have lived in B.C. Canada for about 10 years.. and I have to say your posts are hilarious!
    It’s interesting to see your side of the story, because I feel like you do in so many ways, being a foreigner.. I should add that according to all my Canadian friends that status expired a long time ago, I always feel and probably always will, that feeling of being a foreigner.. Regardless of whether I master the language and have managed to completely immerse myself in the culture.
    oh, and for the record.. I ALSO do not feel offended one bit by your post! How tragic some people can be so narrow minded, to me, this shows the lack of life experience.. For us that are foreigners trying our best to adapt to our new home country, having the time to not necessarily complain but rather, vent.. in a humorous way the differences we see between our cultures should be mandatory! very therapeutic..
    if I could write a book about how to annoy Canadians, I am sure it would provide quite an interesting read.
    All in all.. we both have something to say about the culture we live in.. and that should be embraced. I know this post was written a while ago, but i feel the message is so important.. it needs to be shared! i hope you keep sharing your stories.. it makes me feel like im not the only person out there who feels that way.. and I might just call you my twilight zone twin 🙂
    Thought I would try , to summarize a few:
    not having alcohol until you are 19? What? I had my first beer at 12!
    you mean they teach sex ed in high school? shouldn’t you speak to your parents about that?
    Frozen fruit? What is THAT? Haven’t you heard the concept of freshness?
    and last but not least.. Root beer? You mean.. Toothpaste cola? I have yet met a foreigner who likes it.

  168. Ahh! Dear, dear Patty–you just really made my day–THANK you for your comments! Me estái cachando po… REcognizing difference is not criticism… but wait a minute… are you saying that root beer is our manjar? As in that universally loved from the inside but sorely misunderstood and under-appreciated from the outside? It never occurred to me that someone might not like root beer! Although that could certainly explain why I’ve yet to see it for sale in Chile!
    But ok, here’s one–where do you stand on peanut butter?
    I’ve mentioned before that years ago, when El Mercurio first launched its Saturday supplement Sábado, a Chilean journalist named Samuel Silva wrote a weekly column about his experiences living in the US, and like you with Cachando Chile, I sooo identified with him al revez. There’s just something shared about that special insider-outsider status–and if you can’t scratch your head in wonder sometimes–and laugh at yourself most of the time–you should probably think about going home…but if you can, oh what a wonderful experience it can be!
    Thanks again for writing–and I look forward to your comments on other posts!

  169. Why any of these ways to alienate a Chilean make me angry? and I’m Chilean. i’m really surprised, i mean, i didn’t know there were so many blogs about Chile, and all them are funny hahahaha, some of them have a lot to say and are so true but i disagree with these “ways to alienate a chilean”
    If you tell me you don´t like sandwiches, it’s not a big deal… i barely eat them so.. what’s the problem?
    The thing about “onces” it’s just an hour for eat, why it’s called once? i do not know ahahahaha
    And maybe you talk with a Joan Manuel Serrat fan, cause i don’t like either, i don’t even know his songs…
    Tell them that they, or someone they care about, is “cynical” everyone gets angry when they say unpleasant thing about you or someone you care.
    And the thing about the anthem… there is someone that really like it? :s

    At least, i will never get angry with these actions…really!

  170. Hi Camila-I can see you’re a very reasonable person–and of course not everyone has the same reactions to situations, but these are things that have happened to me personally–more than once–and that took me by surprise… so the idea is to remind people that sometimes, you’re just going along minding your own business, and suddenly you get whacked up side the head with some cultural difference or other that provoked a very unexpected reaction. I’m sure that this sort of thing happens to everyone who ever travels outside their hometown environment.
    And by the way– the bit about “cynical”–of course no one likes to hear unkind comments–the problem here is that it means something entirely different in Spanish, and English speakers will be in for a shock if they use it to say what they THINK it means…

  171. Oh my, this is like a radiography of my culture. I don’t take it too personal, its kinda funny and whoever that found it offensive just had no sense of humor. Every culture is unique and any foreigner will see things that seems ridiculous for everybody but the inhabbitants, if we Chilean want to ennumerate the way to piss off an American there’ll be a list as long as this one.

    Another thing to annoy a Chilean (or at least create an argue) is asking about Colo Colo. Or not to like “completos” (sort of hot dog with many other ingredients

  172. Nice article. It does round the whole thing up in a nutshell. However, your comment on the fact of it being generational (regarding Serrat) is totally correct and you will see many differences in the younger ones.

    As for the sandwiches, we do get a tad over the top with that. But you must agree that the bread here makes it worthwhile. Also, when backpacking in a large group where the great majority are Chilean, then you will witness the warrior or “guerrero” within us. Usually we go “aperrados”, with a survival instinct on costs to eat and drink, but maximizing the fun factor whenever oportunity comes.

    As for “once” or “onces”, there is a popular explanation for this -although its veracity I cannot prove- is that it comes from the phrase “la hora del té”. This does not point to 11 o’clock, but to the fact that the phrase has 11 letters, hence its name.

    That our national anthem and flag being the most beautiful in the world, even we Chileans know its urban legend. But it does kick up our pride when we are talking to a “gringo”. We like to take the mickey at times.

    Football, “Fútbol”, soccer, etc, who cares. Its all under the same context. But its the meaning and its etymological root that comes into play. This is just a “why” conversation in the end, according to my experience.

    As for words that are similar in both languages, but have a really different meaning, is true. Unfortunately, there is nothing to do here, but learn from your mistakes.

    In all, I had a great laugh with this. More than piss us Chileans off, we laugh at ourselves quite a lot. The only thing that makes it different is that the comment comes from a foreigner. It is in that moment that we become nationalists. I think everyone in the world is proud where they come from in one way or another. By the way… our completos are better than your hotdogs anytime LOL. Keep it up!

  173. Thanks Brian–you really got what I was going for here–right down to the difference between Chileans laughing at themselves (yes, a lot), but getting very defensive if it is perceived of as criticism by outsiders… but the key point in ALL of this is… just as you said WE NEED TO LEARN FROM OUR MISTAKES… and if someone can learn from MY mistakes, then this post has served its purpose! thanks for dropping by–hope to see you round here again sometime!

  174. I’ve heard Joan Manuel Serrat, but is not like something very “popular”, maybe in some specific generations or political tendencies.
    And related with the national anthem, that’s like an urban legend existing in a lot of south-american countries, everybody has the best national anthem, even in some chilean tv shows laughs of that, like http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hEX-I7VuAf4
    About cynical, that’s a good thing to know, at least I know that cannot use it in a bad way in english, damn!

  175. Yes, I’m sure the the Serrat thing is more for people who grew up in the 70s and maybe the 80s, but it’s a sticky area I’ve fallen into more than once.
    Loved that National Anthem video! I had never seen that before–and this is the first time I’ve heard that the Chilean anthem was second!
    Yes… cynical is a tricky one! Frugal is another–although it won’t really get you into trouble. See “Flirting with Frugal” and “Speaking Chilensis: Beware the False False Cognates

  176. Saying that you don’t like sweetcorn or sweetcorn dishes much brings a bit of a hush.

  177. Hi Jack- ah!- I love corn, but am not wild about pastel de choclo, humitas or pastelera, which people have a hard time fathoming. But then, I love peanut butter… what can I say? to each her own!

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  179. In fact, if someone says “I don’t like Serrat”, I would congratulate him (I’m Chilean and Serrat is shit)

  180. Hi Margaret
    thanks for writing this blog, it really made me laugh. I am a Chilean living in Switzerland since 6 years, this time abroad made me more aware about how the chilean society is, with the good and bad things. I don’t think at all you are frustrated or something, like some guys were writing here, the opposite: I see you like Chile and its people. I go a bit farther, I think these guys are really the frustrated ones, thinking Chile and its people are perfect and nobody should say a critic word to them…
    Anyways, keep writing about Chile, you made many people smile, including myself 🙂

  181. Hi Pedro- Thanks! And I bet you have some wonderful stories to tell about cultural differences you find living in Switzerland too! It’s all about trying to “get” (cachar) what the heck we got ourselves into! I hope you enjoy Switzerland as much as I enjoy living in Chile! Saludos desde la Madre Patria!

  182. What an AWESOME and funny read! If you are chilean and do not find this funny and full of truths then you are probably Argentino!!! Chaaaaaaaa!! Broma! Viva Chile! I miss marraquetas!

  183. hello Margaret, interesting blog…I was just going to say, on the ‘ nescafe ‘ crappola, that finally, at least in Santiago, there is a move away from that and more real coffee…now you can easily find espresso, capucchino, cortado.. 🙂 I love coffee and I drink at least two cups a day at work ( I work in NYC). Not a huge tea fan, but in Chile everyone drinks earl grey…not sure if other varities have finally made inroads.

    As for Joan Serrat couldnt name any of his songs, from what I know he has simpatizers from a certain era and political tendency…so this would not really offend many people in my opinion.

    If you really want to make Chileans angry, vociferous, loud, etc…is to talk politics…not just about Pinochet, but also Allende, Frei jr, any modern politician of left and right should incite ire and a heated discussion to say the least…just when foreigners do, they should be aware…that they are opening a pandora’s box and might affect their future friendships with that person.

  184. Cesar Bañados Eisermann

    Hey not sure if someone already said it but I’ve also encountered that calling manjar dulce de leche gets Chileans pretty riled up as well. I was born in the states but my parents are from Chile and I found this to be true at times in restaurants when my friends would order food!

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