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.

Sobreviviendo El Verano

El año pasado esta madre pasó el verano en Chicureo, Chile, error. Aunque tenía sus hijos en campamento por unas horas cada día no bastaba para la Madre. La Madre estaba eternamente cansada y sudada. La Madre soñaba con robarle la manguera a un bombero y pegárselo a su hogar para eliminar de una vez la Atacama, perdón el polvo y refrescarse.
La Madre se rindió ante la falsa esperanza de mantener un aspecto limpio con su auto. La Madre decidió que esa capa de polvo servía como un carnet identificándola como verdadera residente de Chicureo. Todo auto limpio era un impostor, un Santiaguino “escapándose” de la ciudad por el día.
Los malditos bichos: Escorpiones, grillos, hormigas, arañas de rincón, todos igual se refugiaron del calor en su hogar. Fumigar era inútil ya que el calor la obligaba a abrir su puertas. La Madre aprendió a convivir con las criaturas . El marido le preguntó si tenía algún remedio para los bichos y la Madre le contestó “Sí, se llama ‘ invierno ‘ “.
La Madre intentó refugiarse en el aire climatizado de sus negocios favoritos, pero los encontraba cerrados, “De vacaciones”. Un día mientras que esperaba que un muro de polvo cruzara la calle anunció a lo Roberto Durán “¡No más!”
Este verano renunció su fidelidad a Chicureo , empacó sus maletas y se fue con otro…. la playa. La playa se encargó de cansar, digo, entretener a sus hijos. La playa la refrescaba con su agua fresca y brisa constante. El polvo y los bichos se quedaron atrás esperándola… hasta otoño.