Reasons to Buy a Fanny Pack and Get On with Your Life

My fanny pack has received varied reactions from my gringo friends that range from disgust to mild amusement.  And then there are those who don’t even question it.  It’s just me being me.

If you are one of those who are highly resistant to the idea of donning a fanny pack, I hope to convince you that they’re worth it… especially as a gringo in Chile.

Handmade fanny packs from !!

1. Reduce your chances of being pick-pocketed.  It’s harder to steal a wallet, cash, credit cards, or condoms from a fanny pack.  (I don’t actually recommend carrying condoms in a fanny pack… or a wallet, for that matter.  Too much wear and tear for that to be safe.  MOVING ON.)  First of all, a fanny pack is situated in a place most people aren’t about to grope for.  Moreover, it’s more visible to you.  And there are fewer easy ways to access the cash—it’s zipped up, to name one.  But one factor in the lowered probability of pick-pocketing may just be…

2. Appear more Chilean than you really are.  Believe it or not, most gring@s aren’t about to hop on the fanny pack bandwagon.  So you will make people question whether or not you’re a gringo just by wearing one of these bad boys.  Don’t get me wrong, you still have to rock a fanny pack the right way.  Get one that suits your style—they come in all different colors, fabrics, and sizes.  And I feel cooler with mine when it hangs to the side just over my hip.

3. They’re convenient, comfortable, and can be cool.  If you’re used to a purse, you don’t have to carry it around anymore.  Who wants to always be thinking about that thing hanging from your shoulder?  It’s much more comfortable to wear a fanny pack.  Or maybe you’re one of those people who wear a wallet-shaped hole into their pockets from always carrying their wallet in the same exact place.  Not anymore.  It’s fanny pack time.

So, recap…

Rihanna rockin it.Reasons to strap on a banano and move on:

  1. Travel worry-free in the metro, la vega central, patronato, el persa biobío, and beyond.
  2. Blend in with Chileans
  3. BECAUSE COOLNESS: look at Rihanna wearing one to the left.

That’s it for today!  I am now headed off to celebrate Chile at some fondas!  I just stopped by my house to drop off my backpack and load up my fanny pack.  AWwww yeah.

Fanny pack users:  what do you love about your fanny pack?  Those of you who don’t yet don the banano: what is taking so long?


English, Brothertrucker!… When Chileans use English

Welcome, aspiring Chilean-speakers.  This week we’ll take a look at how Chileans make it easier on gringos by adopting some of our terms.

Apart from the many academic or business-related terms that Chileans adopt from English, such as feedback or management, there are numerous everyday English words mottled throughout Chilean’s lingo.

Top or topísimo:  Chileans have adopted top as an adjective similar to excellent, as in “You’re the top; you’re the Louvre Museum…”  What’s more entertaining to me is the occasional addition of the superlative ísimo—to show just how excellent they mean.  The first time I heard this use was when a colleague informed me: Ese restaurante es topísimo.

Heavy: Something that’s grave, weighty, or impactful.  ¿Supiste que unas tres personas murieron en la huelga? Sí, qué heavy.  (Did you hear that three people died in the strike?)

Sorry: Exactly what you think.  Except with a Chilean accent and strongly rolled rrrrs.  Yesterday as I left the bus, a man stepped on me.  He turned around and, after a sincere “sorry!” was gone again.

Too much:  Basically the same use as Sassy Gay Friend in this video around 1:10… “That’s a little too much.”  Graciela Alfano, an Argentine model, demonstrates the use nicely here:

I don’t know what she’s talking about, but I can’t help but think the same thing about her hair and makeup…

Feeling: This is similar to onda; basically it’s used to talk about if there’s a vibe or click between people.  During the trial first class with one of my students, his mother assured me that “lo importante es ver si hay feeling.” (The important thing is to see if there is feeling.)

And there you have it!  Sometimes, just speak English and people will understand you.

(As always, suggestions for future Chilenismos of the week are always welcome.  Don’t worry if it takes a couple of weeks to see your suggestions; I only do about five words a week and try to stay ahead of my game… so keep ’em up!)

How to Spot a Gringa

If you’re reading this right now, there’s probably at least a fifty percent chance you’re a gringo.  It’s a complex term, really, with a different meaning in every country; in fact many gringos don’t even know they are gringos.  Anyhow, in Chile, it’s basically anyone who is NOT Chilean… and sometimes if you look or act non-Chilean,  you’ll get stuck with the label, too.  ¿Cuál es la moraleja?  Be careful, it’s contagious.

So how do we protect ourselves?  And how do you know you’re not already a gringo?  Be informed.  This post aims to give you the proper information needed to spot a gringa—a gringo of the female persuasion.

Ok, we’ll start with the most obvious situation: you see someone who looks different.  Usually, it’s something obvious, like in her coloring or race.  She has blue eyes, is blonde, is black, is blindingly white, or looks another specific ethnicity. (I remember once I saw a woman in the airport that looked Irish… and therefore I knew she was American.)  So looks are usually your starting point.  How do you figure out if this mina is chilena or gringa?

One, if you’re casually walking through Santiago, there is probably a 75% chance that this person is gringa.  If you’re in La Universidad Católica, you’re screwed.  There is an equal probability of it being either.  That’s when you have to rely on the checklist.

¡Warning!  None of these factors can unequivocally and conclusively identify a gringa.  However, each of these factors is associated with a probability that represents a significant variation in the population**

Things to write off right off the bat…

  • Sports gear?  I don’t think most Chilean chicks would be caught in public dressed like that.  Moreover, if the gear is for a specific sport, it’s even more likely that it’s a gringa.  Soccer included.  Gringas play way more soccer than Chilenas.  A lot.  As in, we are number one in the world for soccer, and Chile is ranked forty-fifth.
  • Does she make you think: Woah, she’s tall.  It’s not a secret; Chileans (and many Latinoamericanos) are shorter than the average gringo.
  • Does she look confused? (Read: she is staring at some map in the metro while a sneaky Chilean is reaching into her purse…)
  • Do you recognize her brands?  American brands are usually a good hint, or rather, the presence of non-gringo brands will probably steer you away.  If she’s a student and has a backpack with the brands Head, Jansport, or Xtreme (or something else you don’t recognize), she’s probably Chilean.
  • Does she have thighs and/or junk in the trunk?  Probably not Chilean.  For some reason, Chileans tend to be petite and to have modest proportions.  It’s not the first time Chileans break Latino stereotypes…
  • Is she wearing bootcut or skinny?  Bootcut is a gringa, especially if they’re nice jeans.
  • There are just certain hairstyles that aren’t that common on Chilean gals (all of these rules are applied to the generic student population).  If her hair is all up in a messy bun, for example, that’s a gringa do.  Short hair, unless she’s clearly associated with a subculture that supports such a cut, probably indicates a gringa.
  • But the final and most telling check I make is: what do her shoes look like?  This has taken a long time to think about.  I remember always getting a definitive answer when I looked at her shoes, but it was hard to specify.  I mean, the most obvious footwear that just doesn’t make sense for a Chilean to be wearing is the flip-flop.  They’re hideous, let’s face it.  But gringas, especially some of the types that end up at la Católica, wear them everywhere.  Chileans are more likely to wear some ridiculous-looking thong sandal-type thing that crawls half-way up their calves than flip-flops.  “Regular,” athletic sneakers are also a no-go.  As are Uggs.  They’re gross.  Get over them.

That’s basically it.  Of course, any of these must be reconsidered if she’s also making out on the metro while donning a fanny pack, but hey, I do what I can.  Again, friends: knowledge is power.  Use it responsibly.

**This is a lie.  Not actually statistically or scientifically proven.  Kosher/Parve.