When I was little and my Aunt Lori would come over to visit she would chase me around and around trying to greet me with a shower (more like a bath) of kisses. From what I remember, I thought that this was weird and disgusting. I remember climbing a cherry tree in my backyard to escape her kisses -- but she just climbed up the tree and kissed me anyways. . . All that to say that in Chile, you greet everyone with besitos -- cheek to cheek with a kiss, only on one side, not both. You also say goodbye in this manner. I like this -- because it breaks down boundaries -- you kind of feel like you know a person after this sort of greeting and that now you can be friends. Handshakes, well, handshakes are stiff and do not break down boundaries between people like "besitos." I may have been that kid who climbed a cherry tree to escape Aunt Lori's kisses -- but I am liking the warmth of the people of Chile. For example, last week, the SIT group (18 students) met up with our director early in the mornng to head to the Red Cross together. Well, when Roberto (the director) arrived, he didn't just greet those near him with besitos or give a friendly, "Good morning." No, he greeted ALL 18 of us, one at a time, with besitos. (I think for guys greeting guys it's a kind of handshake-hug-pat on the back kinda combination.)
I have much, much more to tell and plan to sit down and do so this weekend. Quick Recap: I met up breifly with the lovely Kelly Gillean of Rhodes College who is also studying in Santiago. . . pretty crazy to see a familiar face in this Chilean city! I visted an orphanage last weekend and fell in love with the sweetest little 3ish year old girl, La "Mon-say" and today was a heavy day of visiting Santiago's cemetary and various memorials to those who were killed, tortured and who disappeared during the dictatorship in Chile from 1973-1990. Tragic. Tragic. Tragic. To be at a mass grave where unnamed bodies were dumped and to sit in front of a wall of hundreds of names of people's brothers and mothers and lovers and children and friends who were lost during this time because of the hate of other humans -- I don't think I can really describe or process that. I'll share pictures and stories soon. For now, I encourage you to do some googling on the dictatorship of Pinochet in Chile. Be prepared to be sickened-- and inspired to believe in peace and realize the need to fight for it. Part of this occured in my first two years of life -- how did I not know anything about this until so recently??? (did I mention that the U.S. had a pretty important role in helping to install the dictator . . . because the president, Salvador Allende, was a socialist? Yep, google that too. I let you make your own opinion.) In Argentina, even more people dissappeared under their dictatorship than in Chile. Anyways. . . .like I said, I need more time to express everything that was today. . . so more soon. Also, lots and lots of really strong "replicas" or, aftershocks, of the earthquake this week. Pretty alarming, but I am still safe and well. It's just a little disconcerting to fall asleep to the whole earth shaking. But, when there is a massive earthquake, the plates have to settle and with this comes a lot of groaning of the earth. It definitly reminds me how very little control I have over my life. Headed out early, early to hopefully see waterfalls and mountains! Peace to you all from beautiful, beautiful Chile!