Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The rest of our weekend: Making Chilean Friends, and It's a Small World When You Are American in Santiago

I mentioned in a previous post that we had a fun and busy weekend, so here's the rest of the story.

Friday night
When we were in Cambridge, Caroline had found an MIT language connection website that helps people find a language practice buddy so they can meet up and practice. Not only did Caroline find a good spanish buddy, but she even happened to be Chilean! So over last winter and spring Caroline met about once a week with her Chilean buddy, Ana. I met her once, and she was very friendly and eager to tell us all about Chile.

After arriving here, Ana was very nice and emailed with Caroline to see how things were going. Caroline - as her usual bold self - decided to ask Ana if she had any friends here that wanted to be friends with us. A few rounds of emails later and we had dinner plans with Claudia and Alejandra for Friday night!

We were a little late getting to the restaurant (of course), and a little unsure how we would identify them when we got there. Turned out to be no problem, because they were seated at a patio table right near the entrance and easily recognized us as the two gringos they were waiting for  :)

Caroline's emails with them had been in Spanish, so I was a little nervous that we were in for a whole evening of speaking Spanish, but fortunately they both spoke very good English. We had a great time with them, and ended up staying out much later than we expected because we were having so much fun! They are both very worldly, and have traveled to some cool places. They gave us some suggestions about India, if we do end up traveling there.

I suppose it should be no surprise that they were both excited about the chance to practice their English with us, so they actually proposed that we should meet regularly here. They can show us cool places around Santiago, and we can help them with their English. Sounds like a good deal to us! Hopefully we will have more stories to share soon about our new Chilean friends.

Saturday night
I know what you are thinking. "What?! You guys had social plans on both Friday and Saturday night?"

That's right, we are moving up in the world here! We have started to make enough friends with Americans and Chileans that we actually had plans two weekend nights in a row for the first time. Obviously I was very excited about that.

Saturday night we were invited to the birthday party of a fellow American traveler named Jenn, who we met on our trip to Mendoza. She was in Mendoza with a group of folks from her program, and we all ended up getting dinner together. They were fun and we got along well, so we were excited to go to her party. At the same time, we were exhausted from our Yerba Loca picnic that day, so we almost didn't go to the party.

Her apartment building is one of the zillions of high-rise residences in Santiago, and those buildings often have roof decks for social events. This party was on the roof, with a BBQ and a great view of the city. And luckily, it was the warmest night we've had yet, so being outside was quite comfortable (even Caroline agreed she was warm enough).

Well, we found out that Jenn is VERY popular. I was extremely impressed, because she probably had 40 people at her party, Chilean and American, and she has only lived in Santiago for about 6 months. She is a good friend to know, because we had a really fun time at her party and met a bunch more cool people. We also had a "small world" moment, because we were chatting with two girls here on an exchange from their US college, and we realized they were on the same program as Sarah (the girl that Caroline used to babysit). I think these two girls were sort of blown away that they had just run into their college friend's babysitter.

The party was scheduled as 10pm to 3am, so we had intentionally arrived around 10:30 because we figured we were so tired that we'd probably want to leave early. We ended up having so much fun that we stayed until 1:45am, much later than we expected! It was a great cap to a weekend of busy plans and tons of fun.

And on Sunday, we just stayed inside and rested all day :)

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