New Friends and Memories
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Around 3:30pm I hear a knock on the door and it is Rorry and Andy coming to pick me up. I thought I was going to their house to take pictures because Andy asked if I wanted to go to the "House of Police." Instead we went to the Police Station. I was given a tour of the station, going from office to office meeting each officer and learning their specific jobs. Andy does not know a lot of English but he has been practicing more since I have been here. When he noticed the DUMB FOUNDED look on my face he would translate in SPANGLISH. Immediately I was asked questions about the United States, How is Chile different from Chicago (like Chicago is a country), If the men in Chile are better looking, and what is my favorite Chilean dish
I must admit that these Police Officers are more laid back than I expected. They work, joke around and pose for photos as if it is a natural part of their work day. I also thought it was very kind of them to try to speak English to make me feel more comfortable. Truthfully it was easier to understand them in Spanish. I informed them of my upcoming trip to the south of Chile in Puerto Montt. They gave me a lot of helpful safety tips as well as emergency numbers to call, just in case I needed help. They said most police officers do not speak English but if I am in trouble do not hesitate to call the police and together we would figure the language out.
Isabel, Andy’s wife and Eliana’s sister, works as a Medical technician at the Police Station and she shows up to give me a tour of her office. She is so sweet and tries very hard to speak with me in English. Sometimes she will chat with me on Facebook to practice talking in English. Every time I see her she is always equipped with a smile and her Spanish/English Dictionary. Sometimes I can imagine what she was like as a child. Her eyes are round and Doe-like; full of curiosity and wonder. When I speak she hangs on every word; recording the experience to memory forever and I get the feeling that every word I say is truly important to her
The tour continues and it leads to an open courtyard where there is a full court basketball court. Rorry is playing a quick game of basketball with an off duty officer. It never fails, when I say that I am from Chicago they always assume that I can play basketball. As if Basketball is the national game and everyone in Chicago plays like Michael Jordan.
In the USA Most Police Stations have a fleet of vehicles, but this station has only 4 patrol cars, 2 patrol motorcycles and 2 horses. Two of the cars and the horses were out on patrol when I arrive. Juan the off duty police officer asked if I wanted to see the mounted police and within 10 minutes they were waiting for me at the front gate. They were a happy handsome duo, and seemed to be more interested in being photographed than being on patrol anyway. They even offered to let me ride one of the horses. I could not believe my luck, and was eager to get back in the saddle again, however getting in the saddle proved to be an event within itself. Being deficient in height and abundant in BOOTIE is truly a recipe for comedy. I even think I heard the horse SNICKER a little. After a few attempts, I was sitting tall; the sun on my face and a western wind blowing in through my hair (it could have been a northern wind I am not that good with directions). With my Faithful Stead, all I needed was a sombrero and the music from “RAW HIDE” playing as I moved toward the setting sun. Move over JOHN WAYNE there’s a NEW SHERIFF in TOWN!!
When I thought the day could not get any better the Three Legged Dog shows up
The day was long, the sun had set and it was time to go to Andy and Isabel’s house for dinner. It was is always good to hang out with them because they are a very fun and loving family. After dinner we watch the Chilean version of “Dancing With The Stars” Baile de Fiebre (pronounced: By-lay Day Fee-ay-bray =means Dance Fever.) It was the worst display of dancing that I have ever seen. The winner receives a gift certificate for $600 (USD). I have never seen so much gyrating and silicone flying all over the place; like a train wreck I couldn’t stop watching. At the end of the show Raul calls, around 1:00am, and says it is time to come home. I have to get up early in the morning to go out to the country for a BBQ.
The next morning Raul and I will travel alone to Eliana’s brother Juan house for a BBQ
We arrive to Juan’s house around noon and as usual the turkeys are patrolling the front yard like guards at Rikers. I notice one of the Turkeys is missing, which is strange because these birds of a feather always stick together. We are greeted by Pamela, Jaun’s wife, with a big hug and a mega-watt smile. This is the first time I have met her because she works as a social worker in another town and only comes home on the weekends and holidays. Crossing the threshold was like stepping into an alternate universe. A rustic wonderland wrapped in the aroma, of grilled meat, wild herbs and fresh bread. The air engorged with savory fragrances teasing the senses.
Later their friends, Juaquin (father), Gabriela (mother) and Javier (son-15yrs old) arrive is a thunderous blaze of laughter, kisses and bear hugs. They were a happy friendly bunch, and were very interested in getting to know me
Dinner was served; a simple salad of lettuce, celery, and olives tossed with lemon and oil, a Turkey Cazuela, Turkey Asado served with warm spiced apple sauce, and fresh warm bread. It now accrued to me what happened t o the missing Turkey from the front yard. I felt a bit sad for the old bird, and mourned the loss by dipping fragments of her deliciously grilled carcass in apple sauce.
The conversations flowed like honey; discussing such topics as family, travel, wine and the difference in lifestyle of Chileans and Americans. I am happy to be an American but our values and not consistent with the principals we claim to hold dear. I watch as Javier hugs his mother affectionately and help her clear the table. Not many teenage boys in the USA are so attached to their mothers and willing spends their day off of school with a house full of Grown Folks. He is a good boy and the beat in his mother’s heart. Juaquin says, “We Chilenos live a simple life, third world to American standards
After a wonderful dinner it was out to the back yard to help plant eucalyptus trees. I am eager to feel the cold earth between my fingers and feel the sunshine on my face. Everyone helps and the process in somewhat archaic; using a straight sick and a long string to measure and devide the rows. One person would place a small hole in the ground so the planter would know where to place the eucalyptus stalk. Another person would fill the hole with a powdered substance to help keep the soil moist to allow the plant to grow. With all hands on deck the process did not take very long. Juan says, ”Nakia if you come back in 10 years this will be full of tall fat trees.” To know that I was a part of this process sat heavy on my heart. One day his home will be warmed from trees that I planted, their shade will give him shelter in the harsh Chilean summers, and one day his grandchildren will play in this grove of trees filling the air with echoes of laughter. These are my GIVING TREES; a gift I did not expect to receive on this warm winter afternoon.
Finished with planting we go for a walk to work off the rest of my Fine Feathered Friend. Juan shows me how far his land stretches out. The setting sun casts a golden mist across the horizon. The earth is calm and the winds breaths through the open field. In the distance the snow capped peaks of the Andes is a compass directing us west
After a long walk, we had all worked up an appetite and back at the house an appetizing helping of warm bread covered in butter and drizzled with honey served with hot tea and milk was waiting for us. Time is fickle and slips away too quickly, before long it was time to travel the dark dusty road back to Parral. Juan gifted me with a few stalks of dried wheat to remember my visit, and his wife Pamela invited me to visit her father’s farm when I came back from working in the south (Puerto Montt).
We drive away and I watch as the Little House In The Country, is swallowed by the darkness and I recap the day in my mind and tuck them away in my memory. Until next time my friends try to do something meaningful with your day, cherish every sunset, and create a memory that will last forever.