La Serena Travel Blog› entry 3 of 8 › view all entries
So, at the bus station at Santiago I ask a man if I´m at the right stop. Well, ask is a bit of an optimistic word for it; I shoved my ticket at him and raised my eyebrows, to which he spiels off some incomprehensible Spanish (not that there´s any other sort at the moment). One eyebrow scurries up to meet my hairline, and he shortens it down to ´Feefteen meynoots´. That´s more than good enough for me.
Turns out he´s going to La Serena, and is in the seat next time mine, and from that moment on, he adopts me as his little non-Spanish speaking gringa, helping me through the bus formalities
´Nombre?´ asks the bus driver.
´No nombre´ say I. Look, it sounds like ´number´, and that *was* the next question he´d been asking people, a´ight?
´Naaaame´ says my adoptee.
Oh. Light dawns.
The next seven hours are spent swapping my meagre dictionary between us, our efforts at communicating yielding some interesting results.
´No me gusto´ he says, pointing at my hair ´Por Que?´
Ah yes, good times!
During the drive, his wife rings him up, and he tells her all about the Nuevo Zelandia with no Spanish, and his daughter sings to me. After he hangs up, he invites me to meet his family.
Yeah, ok, no harm in that, right?
We get to La Serena, and meeting turns into dinner, at which point my stomach is ready to implode, so I accept rather readily. I get my first taste of Mango Sour (!) and Chillean wine (!!), and then they ask me to stay the night because by now it´s about ten. Tired and mildly intoxicated I say yes. Now, any logical person would say that´s a recipe for disaster and even I, as I luxuriated in my private (!), hot (!!) shower, felt the pessimist within start banging on the walls and demanding to be let out. Then I wandered back into my bedroom, and the sight of the Highschool Musical sheets I was to spend the night between made the pessimist shut the **** up, but not before pointing out that Highschool Musical sheets might mean Highschool Musical DVDs somewhere in the house ... not a pretty thought to be left with before sleep.
Today I got ferried through Valle de Elqui and the centre of La Serena, which were very beautiful, and my host family and I later discovered the joys of online translators. Their daughter, who is very patiently teaching me Spanish by repeating things until I get it, wrote out ´I love you, and I want you to stay. You are a very good person´. *gulp*. I think that´s one of the most beautiful things that´s ever been said to me!
My host family is also very, very concerned for me travelling solo. I had to explain many times in broken Spanglish that yes, my parents do love me, and are concerned for me!
What has completely overwhelmed me is the magnitude of these peoples kindness. They unquestioningly took in a rather dishevelled looking foreigner, fed her, gave her full use of all amenities and showered her with love and kindness. I´m still struggling to take that in, and it´s made me realise just how closed off most people are. Is it a cultural difference? I´d heard that Chilleans are very hospitable, but this is above and beyond mere hospitality as I know it.