Friday, July 06, 2007

Why We Love Our Host Family!!!

The first night we arrived in our home-to-be was such a wonderful affair. Our Spanish was incredibly limited; we were in a foreign country being placed into some stranger's home, and we were welcomed like kings. We talked for hours, only able to understand and speak minimal spanish, but they were so incredibly patient with us. Not only were they kind and patient, but also comical and silly. Their sense of humor right from the start, reminded us of our own. From our first encounter with these wonderful people, we could tell that we were where we're intended to be.

Camila is this wonderful light in the big blue house on the corner. She is a short (for American standards but still taller than me), very pregnant, silly, angel who shoots rays of happiness everywhere she turns. Walking with her in town, we are always bound to run into someone she knows. People are drawn to her, want to be near her energy, and to be touched by her goodness. The first day she picked us up from the prov, she was dressed in a very fashionable, sleek outfit with black slacks, black high heeled boots, and a long green pea coat with over sized buttons which added a sense of creativity. Her blond hair is not God given, but because her skin is light, complimented with green blue eyes, it looks almost natural. Her beautiful laugh, releases easily without timidity, and is cheerful and contagious. She loves to tell stories which make us laugh so hard our stomachs hurt. Her stories are emotive, colorful and are chock-full of funny faces, hand motions and gestures to help clarify empty Spanish words to the gringos. Every time, Camila says the word, “enojado” for example, she places her finger in between her eyebrows and
presses down to show the emotion “anger.”By now, we understand that word without the action, but she continues to explain anger in this manner. Several of her stories include her sister in San Fernando, Vicky, who is the youngest of three sisters and is the craziest. She didn't like school, was a terrible student, had too much energy and too many rules to break to be held down by the words of teachers or parents. She was such a bad student that because she continuously flunked her classes, she would change schools so that she wouldn't have to repeat the grade. (Another flaw to add to the Chilean school system.) Vicky, during college, had three boyfriends at the same time, who by some twist of fate found out about each other, and all came to confront her about it at the same time. Vicky came down the stairs to see all three of her boyfriends standing in her doorstep, demanding that she pick one of them. Without blinking an eye, she broke up with all three because the situation was all too complicated and she didn't want to deal with it. She walked back upstairs to her room, and called her fourth boyfriend to come pick her up!

After Camila is done with one of her stories, she laughs to herself, and continues on with the next story. With Camila, awkward moments vanish, because she always finds a way to fill the space with her presence. Sometimes she will call Kyle from another room, just for the chance to say his name. Kyle is an unique name in Chile, and a very difficult one to pronounce and because of this, Camila almost makes his name into a game she plays with herself. It also makes everyone laugh.

Jorge is a complicated yet simple addition to this family. Jorge, Camila's husband, is the Fiscal de Publico here in Pichi, which is the equivalent to a district attorney. He has a reputation as the lawyer with the iron fist. One of the first things we learned about our family upon arrival, was that Jorge was prosecuting the Mayor of Pichilemu. He was corrupt, a unique quality in a
politician, and taking money from anywhere he could, and pocketing it. Half of the town loved the Mayor because of the kickbacks, and rewards they received and half of the town supported the trial and the incarceration of their elected public official. The trial lasted several days, and was broad casted over the radio for all of the province to hear. It was exciting hearing Jorge's voice on the radio, and bragging to anyone who would listen, that the voice from the little black box was our host father. The trial ended on a Saturday, and the verdict was to be read the following Monday. We sat next to Camila, inside our living room, listening intently to the Judge presiding over the case, who had been in our house for dinner a couple of weeks before. The
verdict, which I missed because of my incredible understanding of Spanish, was guilty! His voice on the radio was cold, and hard, nothing like the Jorge we knew. Camila confirmed our suspicions, that Jorge has dual personalities, his lawyer personality and his home personality. Jorge loves his job, and is always excited to talk about cases that he is working on, including
showing pictures of murder victims. It is wonderful hearing him talk about his work, because he is passionate about what he does and I think he really believes in justice and the system. But when Jorge comes home and he sheds his work personality, child Jorge emerges from the ashes. Besides the fact that he is so excited by food, and while grocery shopping, will jump up and down begging Camila to make lasagna or hot dogs, he also exerts his childlike behaviors in other ways. For instance, he is never hungry in the evening unless the meal includes hot dogs or

hamburgers. He has a motorcycle, dresses up in his motorcycle outfit, and makes excuses for outings just so that he can ride his favorite toy. His laugh, is that of a little boy; he laughs often, and at his own jokes, looking around to see if anyone else found it funny. He loves to joking, to the point where sometimes we don't know what is a joke and what isn't. For instance, one time, Jorge mentioned that he was going to go to Argentina, but I called him a fibber and continued
on my way. On a different occasion, it was mentioned that they would be gone for about a week, which wasn't abnormal since they both had been leaving quite often for work and the baby. When they returned they explained that they had been in Argentina. It was such a shock, I couldn't figure out what had happened. When Jorge had said he was going to Argentina, I assumed he was joking, because so much of what he says is false; like how he said we were going to cook cat for dinner, and that someone in Pichilemu had been decapitated. More than just words fall through the cracks in different countries, and words aren't enough to understand.

Rodrigo is another interesting character in our family. He is not actually a part of the family, but we call him our almost host brother, because he lives in the house for weeks at a time. He is a good friend of Camila, from law school. She is a lawyer as well. As a law student in his last semester, he evidently has a lot of free time, and chooses to spend it at our house. The
relationship between Camila and Rodrigo is that of best friends; while the relationship between Rodrigo and Jorge is that of brothers, wrestling, riding their motorcycle, and constantly making fun of each other. Rodrigo came into our lives one day during Semana Santa as were sitting down to eat Easter dinner with Jorge's family, after riding three hours on his bike from Santiago. His hands were shaking so that he couldn't hold his full glass without spilling the content. I thought this characteristic was from nervousness, or possibly the long drive, but we were to find out later, that is Rodrigo. He claims it is genetics and says his entire family shakes. He is timid, a couple a years older than Kyle and I, but with boy like features. In groups he hardly speaks, but will talk freely after he feels more comfortable. His personality is sometimes hard to read, but it only takes a glance in his eyes to know that his soul is warm and welcoming.

Jorge and Camila are also pregnant with their first child. Jorge is in love with their child to be, dubbed Dinosaurio, because of his appearance in the sonagram. As fetuses, babies look like creatures from the beyond, and Dinosaurio is no different. Even after they had decided on the name Pablo, he is still referred to as Dinosaurio. Another reason for this nickname is because of his voracious appetite for food, and his propensity for moving and kicking his mother, especially during the night.

Arriving here in our beautiful mansion of house, especially for Chile, we knew that we had something special, but it was even more clear after the coincidences that were left as buried treasure for us to discover. Our first discovery was the name of the neighborhood, Villa San Antonio. The name of our beloved city in Texas was the first thing we noticed as we turned onto the street heading towards our new home. After meeting Rodrigo, we quickly unburied the second coincidence, we shared the same birthday. And as if the first two weren't enough, we hit gold with our third discovery; their exquisite and lovely dog. Not only did we love her right off that bat, but her name is very special, Canela. Kyle's childhood dog, and amazing pet Cinnamon just recently passed into doggy heaven. Cinnamon was beautiful, loving, faithful, a talented jumper and was very special to Kyle and his family. We didn't make the connection of Canela's name right away, but when realized that Canela means cinnamon in Spanish, we knew we were where we were supposed to be.

It must be hard for our family to know what words they should try and explain and what words we already have driven into our memories. But they are always patient with us, without under estimating or under appreciating our intelligence. They talk and treat us like adults, but at the same time mother us. When Kyle was sick, Camila made kyle lunch in bed and made him lemon tea with honey. The time we spend with our host family is delightful and we couldn't be more pleased with this wonderful quirky pair.