Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Son Turistas, my friend

Today I went to the doctor. I called the cell phone number of a boy that lives on my street to have him ask his mom for a recommendation to the nearest good doctor, as I wasn't gonna be able to make it anywhere further and don't hardly know anybody with a car. As I waited in this cramped little waiting room I was really nervous I was gonna get called in only to have to introduce myself, tell the doctor why I came to Chile and why I decided to come back to stay, I'd probably have to make some small talk about Chilean culture and language, etc.. I started getting a little anxious that after all my trouble the doctor would blame me being sick on something like a "traveler's bug" because in general everybody treats foreigners like they are passing through, even if thats not the case. I was imagining the usual situation of someone not being able to get past that and possibly having to ask some ridiculous questions like "But if I were Chilean what do you think my problem might be?" Yeah it sounds ridiculous, but experience is gnawing away at my ability to give people here the benefit of the doubt when it comes to this matter.

So I was pleased to eat my words (thoughts) when I walked in and the doctor said "Hello. So why do you feel sick?" right off the bat. And despite the fact he spoke to me slow enough that my I could've transcribed our conversation by hand, the fact that he was all about my health and didn't bother with chitchat about completos and "cachai" while I sat there uncomfortably and impatient put him a few notches up in my book. Heck, he didn't even ask me where I'm from!

My stereotypes of how Chileans treat foreigners reminded me of a scene in a movie I saw recently, "Turistas." The main characters are in a nature center of sorts at a National Park, and the park ranger is speaking in Spanish to the main character, Carla, a Chilean lady. As soon as the other guy, a Norwegian, opens his mouth, the ranger's brain goes into I'm-talking-to-a-foreigner mode and addresses the guy "my friend." He then asks if he should speak to the two of them in English or Spanish, to which they reply "Spanish." And the ranger immediately switches all communication to English, having not paid attention nor hecho caso whatsoever to their preference. (1:05 in the trailer) I laughed so freaking hard at this scene, especially embarrassing because I had gone to the movie alone, which is pretty much a social taboo/GASP! in Chile.

It was just that this single scene happens to represent a nearly daily interaction of mine that, while experiencing it triggers an eye role or a sigh on my part, upon seeing executed it so accurately portrayed in a Chilean movie made me crack up.

I'm not much into using my blog as a venue for reviews, but I will say that I recommend the movie to anybody who's spent time in Chile. The movie is actually good regardless, but I think having been here and personally observed and analyzed Chilean society really made it a lot more interesting on another level. I ended up adapting my opinion on a number of my comments and my major complaint as the movie progressed to the point I felt the exact opposite or was left completely confused on how I felt. I would love to elaborate but its only fair to give everyone a chance to see it first. What I can say, however, is I was please with the complexities shown in the way Chileans tend to communicate, for example avoiding saying "no" or making up answers just to be able to give one, which made me repeatedly think "that is so typically Chilean" over and over. I didn't, however, connect with the main character as much as I would've liked because she represented a type of Chilean woman that I don't see much in Valparaiso, both physically and in personality quirks.

I'm not sure how many revealing moments of the movie, if any, I missed when I got distracted by an absurdly drunk man and his friends, but I did walk away from the movie with a number of doubts and questions in my head. For the first time I personally felt bummed by the fact I had gone alone because I lacked someone to bounce thoughts off. But regardless if it were because I missed a couple moments, I think a large part of the intentions of the movie was to spark those reflections. In the end it was in just that where they succeeded.


Marmo said...
Ojalá te sientas mejor, al menos ahora para enfrentar tu malestar tendrás la opinión del médico y algunos medicamentos, en lugar de 10 kilos de ruda, xD. He descubierto que al menos yo, lo paso chancho escribiendo sobre las películas que veo. Antes no me había llamado mucho la atención la película de los turistas, creo que ahora la veré cuando pueda.
Kyle said...
Lydia! So did the doctor tell you what was wrong? And I am so glad you blogged about the annoying fact of going to the doctor and having them just want to practice their English or chit chat about what you like about Chile and how long you've been here. So freaking annoying. And I feel like people think I exaggerate when I tell them that. So I'm glad to have someone else to corroborate. Anyway, I LOVE Chiloe so thanks again for the words of advice! Heading out to go camping tomorrow and it's raining like a mo fo... Hope you're feeling better now.
lydia said...
It looks like there might have been another one by the same name, and the movie wasnt at all what I expected (from nothing more than the title...). I'm feeling somewhat better but still pretty drained, and with various things bothering me... but i'm not clenched up in the fetal position or anything haha (sure, i can laugh now...) kyle the doc wasnt sure at all. i dont think i've ever been poked as much, i think he was trying to eliminate some internal organ problems... he didn't know for sure what happened but from what i gathered it sounded like some sort of bacteria type problem that might have manifested in the heat, possibly from some well water that i drank or from fruit, were his top two guesses. The chit chat is so true. i mean, for one thing its the same convo over and over on my end, and aside from that with a doc it feels such a forced formality. A little is fine but when youre paying someone for a service too much feels like wasted time! Last specialist I went to in Vina kept changing the subject back to Halloween and gringas everytime I tried mentioning my health problem then suddenly without any discussion handed me a labtest paper and shoved me out the door!!! Chiloe is beautiful. I like the rain, sometimes its kinda like showers and might be bright and sunny again soon after... or, youknow, leave you shivering for days. Haha. I cant wait to see the photos.
Sara said...
Your post made me laugh. I needed that. I love how you have a really serious problem like "Officer! That man just ran off with my purse" and the dude in question turns and says "WHAT? A gringa speaking Spanish? What other tricks can you do little gringa?"
Sara said...
And I hope you are feeling better. It sucks to be sick :(
Tara said...
Hi Lydia, I hope you don't think this is weird/creepy/cyber-stalkerish, but I stumbled upon your blog while I was doing a little Chile research. I'm moving to Valparaiso in less than a month to teach English at DuocUC for (at least) a year. I read some of your posts and it was fun to see a little of what to expect when I get down there. And...random...I am also from MN. I grew up in Plymouth and went to the U. Anyway, just wanted to say I enjoyed reading your blog. Tara
lydia said...
tara- awesome. did you just graduate? i wouldnt be surprised if we've crossed paths before or at least know people in common. the world always turns out much (MUCH) smaller than i think. let me know if you need anything (packing questions, getting settled with something or other etc) or want to meet up or something. sara- thanks, i am feeling better almost.... haha. i feel like i just had one of those moments you describe too!
Sara said...
Tara, So now you both are going to think I'm creepy, but I'm from Plymouth too and I'm currently here until March then I'm heading back to Chile. You can let me know if you have any questions too!
Tara said...
I graduated in 2006, been moving around a bit since then but I'm in DC right now. Sara, that's so random you're from Plymouth. I went to high school at Wayzata, what about you? My family actually lives near Alexandria now. Lydia, where are you from in MN? I would love any advice you could give. A couple people told me to bring a lot of clothes because they're expensive down there...? Would you agree with this? And what kind of clothes won't make me look like a total gringa? Any suggestions on things I should bring? I will be in Valparaiso starting the first week of March. I would love to meet up, I really don't know anyone down there. Thanks!
lydia said...
not looking like a gringa is pretty much a lost cause. actually if you have dark hair you can somewhat blend in pretty well but the clothes still make it obvious, and i dont know if you'd really want to go to extreme extents to blend in if it means sacrificing clothes and style completely. i'd suggest bringing a good mix of the same stuff you'd wear in minnesota, but not much stuff thats super revealing. its not taboo but it draws a ton of attention and is only useful in summer so it doesnt get quite as much use. i agree- bring your clothes with you for the most part. anything worth it is really expensive and most stuff thats decently priced isn't exactly what im looking for and isnt as good of quality. and... i'll send you an email, lets definitely meet up when you get in town . hahah my last comment about a small world was a huge understatement, i even know your brother.
Eileen said...
Hope you heal up, quickly. That movie sounds hilarious, and yes, doctors can forget their professionalism and get star struck in the presence of gringas. I personally like how you are expected to disrobe while the doctor is sitting there. No music, I felt like saying? (see your other post about being called a puta).

Monday, January 11, 2010

Epilogue: Almost famous (Lydia as cheap labor/an extra in an Italian Commercial)

This one is for Marmo, who said he'd like to see the final commercial when I blogged about my bad experience being an extra in an Italian commercial here in Valparaiso a few weeks ago.

To jolt your memory, I was recruited to be an extra and started at 6am because I had a more "European look" and then took part in a second filming starting at 9am that, without knowing ahead of time, lasted until nighttime. We were misled not only about the time commitment, but about payment too, as in the end I got paid only $12,000 pesos for 13 hours, of which I had to be on my feet under the sun the whole time, and was told I couldn't sit, use the bathroom, etc... The shoot turned into a protest around 7pm when they let me go with the others that came for the 6am start time, and claimed the rest would stay just a little longer til 8:30 to film the remaining portion. As I expected, and you can see in the video, there is a take with lighters where it is dark out, so obviously they didn't end the shoot at 8:30 as promised either because its not even dusk yet at that hour.

So, the time you've been waiting for has come: the commercial is out!

....And it turns out... I don't even show up. So much for my moment of fame.

Well, when you see the commercial you won't think thats very surprising, considering the large number of people who do take part in the commercial. However, if you were there to see just how incredibly close I was to the people who DO show up in the commercial with somewhat notable roles, it is actually quite surprising I can't be seen.

To name a few points,
  • Right at the beginning a man with a briefcase comes across the street. Right after the cut, he and I cross paths alone. (Filmed on calle Arturo Prat near Urriola, close to the Plaza Sotomayor)
  • At 22 seconds into the film I was one of the girls that had to walk right in front of the camera by the car mirror, and usually started walking right after that girl in white with the sunglasses hanging from her shirt. (Filmed on calle Blanco just West of Plaza Sotomayor)
  • At 34 seconds, every time they reset to call "ACCION!" I started out directly in front of the guy in the wheelchair, who was in there just for diversity, as after the zillion takes of that shot, he just got up and walked away. (Filmed on calle Blanco just West of Plaza Sotomayor)
  • In the other takes I might have appeared, for example at 39 seconds, there is a huge crowd and picking me out would be near impossible... assuming I wasn't sneaking a moment to sit on the pavement jejej. I'm near the street pole in the back left corner which is the intersection of calle Blanco with the plaza Sotomayor

Also, note that some of the shots are very obviously Chile. Not that most Italians would notice or care, but still odd they would shoot a commercial for an Italian bank so far away. (Then again, not so odd, as obviously Chileans and gringa expats are CHEAP LABOR to the Italians! ugh) The commercial even opens with a view of the street Arturo Prat probably filmed from somewhere near the Lord Cochrane house above the Armada, whose blue and white paint you can see in the tower in the foreground, and the white building across the street is easily identifiable as the Consejo Nacional de la Cultura y las Artes. Some other takes are in Santiago.

Anyway, enjoy!


Marmo said...

There´s still some hope. Sometimes filmakers make 2 spots from all the takes they have. If they were shooting fom 6am to midnight, they have enough material for sure. So, who knows, you could be the star of the next commercial, when they show their new mortgage rates xD.
The commercial looks great, there was a LOT of people.
It´s actually strange that you didn´t appear in this version, that´s why I think maybe they are saving you for other chapter of the same campaign. Just a theory.

Ps: Thank you for remember about the commercial, I know people that will love to watch it, because they love Valparaiso, and seeing this will surprise them.

lydia said...

youre right, maybe they would use it for something or other someday.

hahhaa... they probably ditched any footage of me after realizing my neon red sunburned face was too much evidence of their bad treatment of the extras that day.

there were definitely many many people. there were at least 600 extras in valpo, and i heard something like 400 or 500 in Santiago. plus some of those takes don't appear to be from either shoot (like the ones of individual people)

Marmo said...

This is not related with the commercial, but when I saw it, I thought you would like to see it with your boyfriend:

I would love to see something like that in Valpo xD

lydia said...

bahha... you know, i think he's seen it, or part, because he showed me the trick with the pringles can top. hah, that makes it sound like he actually did he showed me the part of the video with the pringles can lid. i dont think he can actually do most of that stuff, just some of the flips and whatnot. maybe juggling...but that guy is nuts!
i liked how he somehow stacked the dice inside the cup.

there are a couple people who do stuff like that in valpo... one guy thats really amazing Ricardo("pulga") is great with all thouse parkour tricks. he's even been in a couple commercials and such. but mostly i think everybody focuses on one or two talents while this guy in the video does a bunch.

thanks for the video, (maybe itll give me something to practice when i'm bored hahhaa)

Camping, Electronic music, and Woods Circus...

I was only back in Chile for a few hours when my boyfriend announced that the next morning he would be going out of town for the next 4 days. After traveling and everything, I really didn't want to go anywhere, especially when I learned it involved sleeping in a tent. But at the same time, being back in Chile would mostly suck if the person I was most excited to finally see wouldn't be around, so I asked what the deal was.

The response I got consisted of nothing more than this: "We're going to a techno rave in the woods and everyone performing in the circus has to drop down out of the sky as elves..." and although my mind reacted "what the...?" the words that actually came out of my mouth were "I'm going along!" Because, really, that seems too bizarre to pass up.

You know when sometimes what you picture in your mind before an event was completely different than what it turned out to be? Well I was totally preparing for that. I was also preparing for the worst in a number of ways, but turned out to be pleasantly surprised. What I didn't realize was that the woods we camped in were on the edge of the ocean. Actually, I didn't realize until I woke up and saw this...

(And jumped at the chance of this for lunch!)

I also didn't expect I would get along with the other people there pretty well, which I did, nor that we'd get to do the road trip in a car (drastically changes a roadtrip), and I would pretty much get to entertain myself by making fires and taking pictures for days on end.

(obviously straining for self-entertainment)

In the end, my mental preview of the event wasn't as far off as I'd thought... as my boyfriend really did dress up as an elf and come down from a tree in the woods to do a circus show in the middle of a multi-day electronic music festival.

Now that its 2am on Monday morning- I have no idea if I'm more excited to finally sleep on a comfy bed, or get a break from the thumbing bass beat I've heard and felt non-stop since Thursday.

It'll probably be there in my dreams regardless...


Kyle said...

...and I thought my life in Chile was weird!

Marmo said...

Valparaiso people is... different.

dregonzrob said...

This has got to be the most entertaining "piece of life in Chile" post I've ever read. I might have to share this with my gringa friends back home... so that they can think Chile is even weirder than I make it out to be.
P/S - good to have you back in the Southern Cone.

lydia said...

kyle- haha...that's good right? to realize your own life might be more sane than you originally thought?
(unfortunately doesn't say much for me..)

marmo- true. very true. i'm pretty sure the techno rave in the woods was the doing of santiagiunos. ...but i guess the circus elves were a valpo thing.

dregonzrob- hahahha go for it. whenever someone asks you one of those funny "third world" questions about your life in Chile like "so do you live in huts?" you can just tell them "no, its much, much stranger than that..." and send them over here.

i feel a little lost being back in chile. partially because i'm pretty much without work at the moment and don't know what to do with myself haha.