The Hideout

 

“So mom, want to go with us to our hideout?”  – Sure.  “Yippee!”

My children have asked me to tour their hideout and I was always busy or honestly not that interested.  As part of my campaign to kick the kids out of my home for as long and often as possible I suggested they trek through our “backyard” which is not ours nor a backyard.  I had previously scoped out the area, but not in detail.  I knew it was an abandoned ranch and after today’s stroll, I must say a pretty nifty hideout.

Behold the entrance.

hideoutentrance

Please note that all of the stones you see in the photos are stacked and not held together by mortar.  This leads to many a rock slide under one’s feet at the risk of twisting an ankle and to my children’t delight the option to remodel as though they were Lego blocks. So for now it is a tie: Mom’s nerves 1 vs. Kid’s cool factor 1.

romana

We suspect “Romana” is the name of the horse who once rode with the cowboy in charge of this land; this land that in the last several years was literally split by a fancy new highway.  On the one side a hill and on the other side the ranch slowly being invaded by hundreds upon hundreds of new homes, including mine.

stonefence

When I first moved here the cattle grazed in this part of the ranch and still do nearby. The cowboys have had to be very creative in maneuvering around the construction boom.  It is not uncommon to walk right into some stray cows, leisurely resting on a freshly manicured lawn whilst cars zoom by.  As of late my kids have taken to bringing stray dogs to this spot so they can have some shelter.  Loose rocks, stray dogs… I know, I am keeping count.

        hideoutporch              sticksnstones         cattleentrance

“…and there is a basement.”  Mind you that “basement” was previously covered and like the great explorers that they are they found a way to get in.  So naturally I asked what exactly was down there, because you know, I was not feeling that adventurous.  No bodies, good, just don’t linger because you know, we have earthquakes on a regular basis here and mommy doesn’t want, oh you know the speech. So let’s review the count: Sprained ankles, rabid dogs and crushed children.

basment

As we strolled past the hideout onto the ranch the eldest reminded the youngest ones to watch out for tarantulas.  “You see mom  just yesterday we got to watch a full wrestling match between two of them right here where we are standing! ” He wasn’t kidding either, they are native to Chile and referred to affectionately as “Baby Chick Spiders” since they too are fuzzy and um adorable? Keep walking kids!

ranch

gateway        entryway

playing

Not only is this an escape for my children it is also for our dogs.  I love that my pets can also sneak away, off the leash and romp.  Somehow I know the “pack” is safer with the four-legged ones in tow.

obstaclecourse

…and now for the anxiety driven parent test. How many objects in this shot set off your “Hover Parent” alarms?

     Just in case you were wondering, note the rusty nails on the log, the coil of rusty barbed wire and the fresh pile of horse manure.  Yes, the cowboys, or huasos as they are referred to locally still patrol the area, but rarely by daylight.  They still herd the cattle by weaving them in and out of the suburban sprawl throughout the night when the traffic and pedestrians are least likely to get in their way.  We have learned to drive very slowly when coming home late in the evenings. Once we managed to get ourselves completely surrounded by a herd and all we could do was wait, they were here first you know.

Signs of life at the ranch featuring the unforgiving thorn bush.  It is absolutely everywhere and at all ranges of height. I ONCE made the mistake of zoning out while jogging in this area, not realizing the sidewalks were lined with them … at eye level.

barbedwire     horseshoetrack     wiltedcactus

     Like a moth to a flame the piles of dirt were calling.    We ran as fast as we could up those hills, yes we, I still find them irresistible.  Our feet sank in up to our knees, the shoes left buried underneath the freshly dumped earth.  During the week truck after truck from the new developments dump earth  once held together by the roots of this ranch to its new resting place. I doubt it is the final one.

dirtpiles

     The pleasantly cool part of the day was ending. The temperature here swings from sweater to shorts weather within hours.  Now how do we get out of here?  They had no clue, they had not dared stray so far from their hideout before. Point for mom.  So the kids found the space in the barbed wire fence where they agreed I would most likely fit and off we went down the somewhat beaten path.

limbo     offwego

     So the next time my kids ask me if they can go out and play what do you think goes through my head?  Sprained ankles from the rocks, rabies from the dogs, buried alive in the hideout by earthquakes, tetanus thanks to rusty nails and barbed wire , eyes poked-out from thorn bushes, bacterial infections from horse and cow feces and tarantulas swallowing them whole.  ” Yeah, sure, go out and play!”

hideoutexit

Quick question: Why Chile?

What it means to be ABC1 in Chile

Chileno – “You cook?”

GringaDchicureo – “Yes, but not well.  God bless my family for eating whatever I put on the table.”

Chileno – “, but YOU cook”

GringaDchicureo – “Well yeah, no gourmet here, but I try.”

Chileno – ” Nobody cooks for you?”

GringaDchicureo – “Well the husband is too busy, but I am teaching the kids some basics so they can help out.”

Chileno – “Doesn’t your nana cook for you?’

[ Sound of vinyl record getting scratched as GringaDchicureo’s thought process comes to a screeching halt.]

GringaDchicureo – I don’t have a nana.

[Sound of a vinyl record getting scratched as the Chileno’s thought process comes to a screeching halt.]

It has taken me a while to adjust to people’s expectations of me here in Chile.  My Europoean features and proficient English have branded me an ABC1. Our actual financial status is weird to be frank.  On the exterior we lead quite a comfortable life. We do have all of our needs met and yet are drowning in debt. Yep, definitely a member of the middle class.

Regarding our official status as ABC1

Wikipedia on ABC1 http://bit.ly/XfH4K1

What do you call a person who graduated at the bottom of their class in medical school?” Answer – Doctor.

It isn’t enough that I look the part, but we live the part too.  We live in the infamous suburb of Chicureo. What do I mean by “infamous”? Last year the international media had a field day with the residents of  Chicureo’s   treatment of the service industry aka “The Help”.

Huffington Post http://huff.to/WNT7n4

I  have a friend who resides in the condo at the center of the controversy mentioned in the article. She, her nana and I  had an open and honest discussion about their relationship and  compared it to that of other employer/employee relationships they were familiar with. As expats new to the country we wanted to know if what we were seeing in the media was the standard or the exception.  There was no consensus other than we , the ABC1 ladies of Chicureo, were perceived as “cuicas”.  In Chile “Cuica”  is a derogatory term which loosely translates to “snooty b****”, in Puerto Rico where I grew up it means  “jump rope”.  Yep, that was quite a leap.

Well brace yourselves Chile, this “cuica” cooks, cleans, raises children and as of late has held her own with some new found plumbing skills.  Do I want a nana? No! I want a team of them and a chauffer and a tutor.  Someone to cook for me, clean for me, drive for me, do homework with the kids for me so I can…. I don’t know… whatever it is that those giant billboards claim my fellow ABC1 ladies do all day.

Back To School in Chile

jumbo

I would love to compare notes with fellow expat parents in Chile.  People often ask me about the education system here, which are the best schools and how to handle many dilemmas. Of all of the adjustments I had to make to a new culture, life as the parent of a school-aged-child was the most challenging.  I still can’t answer questions about the schools here because I am but one parent with kids at one school.  This time around I  do have a much better understanding of how my children’s school functions after getting a degree at the ” University of Trial And Error” consisting primarily of errors on my part.

Within one household my relationship with the school was totally different based on which of my children was involved.  On the one hand everything was smashing and on the other a nightmare.  This is to be expected anywhere as each child’s personality and academic ability present a totally different picture of life at school. Never had I felt so isolated or at times insane, because quite frankly I began to think it was all in my head. Nobody else seemed to have the same problems, then again nobody else had the same child.

Over time I slowly started to learn which circumstances were unique to my child, my child’s classroom or my child’s school.  Now I want to know what is unique to our school population’s social circles, our geographic location, ethnicity and generation (Remember our fellow Chilean parents grew up under Pinochet).

Whenever something comes up over the school year please share it with me in the comments section below.  Any questions, complaints or anecdotes i.e. Supply lists requesting “jockeys”and “panties”. It’s all good. Gracias.