We’ve been in Chile seven months now and we love it. As a Brit I find Chile sunny, friendly, fun… and at times rather weird.
Here’s a top ten of things I find funny, unusual or downright hilarious:
- When born, babies often have their heads shaved. I’ve asked why… some have told me it makes the hair grow back differently, others say for hygiene reasons (seriously, is this a joke?) and one friend suggested it was to keep their heads cool. One Expater friend even had to sign a hospital form to opt out of administering the Bruce Willis look on her kid. And if you’ve got a girl you’ll be (strongly) encouraged to get her ears pierced. ‘Because how else will you know she’s a girl?’
- Avocados are a fashion food in many countries, but here in Chile they’re much more. One guy actually bought a mobile phone in avocados. Also, once when there was a frost and the avocado supply ran low our nursery was apparently forced to close its doors. Tough times.
- The smell of a freshly bathed newborn isn’t enough here it seems. For the true Chilean experience, slather on specially branded baby perfume (they call it cologne) complete with alcohol and artificial scent. They do it to kids too, including at my boys’ nursery. I’m not complaining though – they love it and it makes me giggle to see them come home with slicked back hair reeking of eau de Spiderman.
- Our apartment is fitted with suction vents throughout, so you sweep the mess to one corner and it shoots off to a bin somewhere in the sky. A genius idea, although the noise is terrifying.
- In Chile it’s a legal requirement to hang the national flag from your building on 18 and 19 September. These dates celebrate the founding of Chile, a ‘free and democratic country’. Umm.
- If you have a pure breed or cute dog in the UK or Switzerland you might be warned about leaving your pooch unattended on a lead while you shop, for fear of ‘dognapping’. Here in Santiago it’s a normal sight to see Golden Retriever, Poodle, German Shepherd and other lovely puppies which cost a fortune wandering the streets. In fact 40% of dogs here are abandoned, mostly in parks, malls and on the street. OK, this one is not funny.
- It’s recommended for the husband to register the birth of a new child. If the mother does it alone, the child will be logged as coming from a single parent. As my husband was at work at the time of registering, Annabelle’s mummy (that’s me) is officially a single parent.
- To buy coconut oil or maple syrup at the supermarket I need to ask a security guard. It’s rather pricey. (Don’t tell my husband I enjoy both in my porridge on a daily basis).
- It’s 25 degrees Celsius. My kids aren’t wearing overcoats, gloves and woolly hats. I’m nervous that I’ll be reported to social services.
- Apparently you can catch influenza from going barefoot around the house. I’ve been warned about this on several occasions and when I did catch mastitis (from a blocked milk duct while breastfeeding) I was told off by a friend, ‘well I did warn you’.