The Phantom Mullet

March 8, 2010

I’m not yet back in Santiago, but there is something foreboding in the air, which is saturated with rapid-fire Spanish and fosters a remarkably high number of mullets.  A couple of mullet-donners animatedly discuss bacán happenings in Chile, po.

And so the second half of the journey begins.

I’ve become so accustomed to the accent and look of Chileans that I have to shake myself and say, “Wait, this is not normal here.  These are Chileans.”  One adolescent girl is wearing the large, faux-pearl earrings that I made a game of last semester, counting how many I saw each morning on the metro.  Their shoes are not the beat-up sneakers Americans might wear.  The name “Chile” is pronounced with that percussive “ch” (almost “ts”) that indicates higher classes in the country.  And you can be certain not a blonde or fellow ginger sits among us.  But really, the mullets give them away.  So many mullets.  I think two-thirds of the men around me right now have them.  And if I were to count only those aged 15 to 30… I’d say over 90 percent.

It’s been a stressful week, as I spent it in an unexpected country after an 8.8 earthquake hit Chile eight days ago.  In the meantime, classes at the Universidad Católica started today, which means I’ve had the startling opportunity to miss two days of classes even before signing up for them!  I pray all will work itself out soon.  While it does, I hope you all will be patient with me if I’m slow with communication; I promise I haven’t fled the country with the sole purpose of getting away from you all.

March 9, 2010

Upon arrival in Chile:

We were told that there were complications with getting through customs and had to wait for another half hour in the plane.  Once we did get off, the problem became clear: the airport had sustained damage in the earthquake, and so all checking and customs was happening outside in tents.  I lined up in the summer sun and heat for over an hour, made sure that alpaca goods were acceptable to bring into the country (I had noticed a huge bin with a picture of flames covering it; above was a sign saying LAST CHANCE that had pictures of honey, meat, artisanal goods, and other things unacceptable to take into the country. I was terrified.), and found a taxi to take me home.

The taxi driver discussed the earthquake’s damages with me, speculating about the time it will take to recover, especially because the copper industry has taken a big hit.  He pointed out a bridge that had been cracked open in the quake.  He described incredible beauty down in the seventh region of Chile and how heartbreaking it is that those cities are in ruins.  Despite all this, I was increasingly excited until we arrived at my house and were greeted by Susi’s enthusiastic yips.

All is well in Santiago. Send me your mailing and email addresses.

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