...except for me and my monkey! "Everything we see hides another thing. We always want to see what is hidden by what we see." -Rene Magritte

Monday, July 25, 2005

I´m not much for carreteando

´´Carretear´´ is a Chilean verb that means ´´to go out at night and bar-hop.´´ The last gringa who lived with my host family, La Julia (when Chileans talk about someone, they refer to him/her with articles: La Emily, El John, etc) went out six out of seven nights of the week, often not returning home until sun-up, and I think sometimes they expect me to follow in her footsteps, even though they confessed to me that they thought it was too much. I guess I worry that they'll think I´m lame or boring if I prefer to stay home once in awhile.

That said, I do enjoy going out, and last week I went out Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights, returning home between midnight and three in the morning every night. So, you know, it´s not like I´m just sitting around. But I have noticed that I have a different style of going out than some of the other North American students, and that´s what I want to talk about in this entry.

The thing is, I love going out to a bar, cafe, or restaurant for a few drinks with a small group of friends to listen to music or to have an in-depth and increasingly emphatic conversation. Or, for that matter, staying in or going to someone´s house for the same. I would count it among one of my favorite activities. That´s why I loved Friday night so much: a group of us made specific plans to meet at a certain place at a certain time, and after meeting and realizing the group was too large to stick together, we split in half. Carla, Alisa, Jake, Jon and I went to a bar called El Irlandes for a couple beers and then went to this awesome artsy cafe/bar where the floor was covered with mosaics and there were sculptures everywhere. We had fun, we laughed a lot, we had some great conversations, blah blah blah. It was, like, one of my top ten college nights, probably.

Saturday night was totally different, and kind of typified what I don´t enjoy about going out. Jon and I had made previous plans to meet in Viña, where we both live, to go into Valparaiso to a bar where Kristin´s host brother was playing the guitar. When I got to our meeting place, he told me that he had talked with Kristin and the plans had changed, okay, no big deal. About ten other North Americans from our group were there and we decided to go out with them. We all went to a bar/restaurant near the Plaza de Viña and had a drink. But because it was such a comparatively large group, and since everyone in the group wasn´t friends with everyone else (I didn´t even know the name of one of the girls), the conversations were fractured, stilted, and shallow. After awhile, two people decided that everyone had to leave to walk to this discotheque about a mile away, so we left. As we walked, Carla told me some super-sketchy things she had heard about the place we were going to from Mariel, who was in Valpo last fall. Neither of us really likes to dance, or at least not discotheque/club-style, so we kind of decided that we would walk with the group and check it out, and if it looked sketchy, we would leave together right away. When we got there, it was in a kind of scary part of town and there was a huge crowd of people in front, waiting to get in. Not our scene, and anyways, I didn´t want to drink anymore that night and we both wanted to be home before 1:30 or so. So she, Jon, and I decided to leave, and some people got a little pissy.

I know some people really love going out carreteando, club-hopping, dancing, whatever until the wee (or not-so-wee, because seven am? Not wee) hours of the morning. I respect that. But I´m not one of them, and I think I should be able to assert that without being made to feel like a child or being told ´´We´re in a foreign country, everything´s going to fucking look sketchy.´´

I like to sit and talk with friends and maybe have a couple drinks and listen to music. I don´t like putting myself in situations where I don´t feel safe and where I feel forced to do something I don´t enjoy. And that´s my main point, I guess. I just hope there are Chileans who feel the same way I do.