Saturday, May 26, 2012

Home is where they speak Spanish, everyday.

Not to be outdone, I will now tell you about the absolute best host family, any gringo could ever wish for. Let me introduce ya'll to the Agurto-Argandoña family!

Patty, Enro, Maka, and Enrique in Maitencillo. 

La Madre: Patricia (Patty)

My Chilean host mother is the sweetest person ever. She has never failed to smile and make me feel at home since the day I arrived. She always greets me with a beso on my cheek and every night before I go to sleep, she says "que amanezcas bien." (This translates literally to something like "that you dawn well," but of course she's always hoping that I get up well-rested and ready for another day in Chile.) Sweet though she may be, Momma Patty is not without her motherly instruction. More than once I've been reminded of proper eating etiquette at the table. Usually it's that I'm trying to saw a piece of meat in half with the edge of my fork and she gently (or not-so-gently) reminds me that knives exist with a strong "Hijo, un cuchillo por favor." (Son, a knife please!) And there's always the "¡No se hace aquí en Chile!" which means that whatever I'm doing at the time shouldn't be done in Chile.

Momma Patty works at La Universidad Técnica Federico Santa María as the personal secretary to some collegiate bigwig. I know she works hard because she always leaves before 8 in the morning and usually doesn't return until 7-8 in the evening. And she's always, ALWAYS dressed to impress. 

El Padre: Enrique

Perhaps my favorite picture of him. 
My Chilean dad is a neat individual. He's kind of like School of Hard Knocks meets ..... well, no he's pretty similar to School of Hard Knocks. Very often my siblings will begin a conversation from which ensues a quasi-argument between them and my Chilean dad wherein he has the benefit of experience on his side. I do a lot of listening when he talks, and from what I can tell he's not unlike any other dad: "back in my day..... kids these days..... why, my generation had to....." 
Firm hand aside, it's easy to see that Enrique loves his children and would do anything to see them succeed. 
He's always been nice to me and always tries to 
correct my only-to-often grammatical errors so 
that I don't look stupid in front of the rest of the world. 

Enrique has two jobs. He is a Veterinarian (dealing mostly with cats and dogs), and he's also a professor of veterinary medicine at La Universidad Viña del Mar. He leaves for classes at about 9 in the morning, coming home to have lunch with my siblings and me at 2, and then goes to his clinic every afternoon where he stays until usually 7-8 in the evening. 
Fun fact: Enrique likes spicy food and is always trying to get me to put some spicy sauce in my food. The one time he succeeded in convincing me it would be good, I felt like I had drank lava! Thus ended Colin accepting food suggestions from mi papá

El Hermano: Enrique (Enro)

My Chilean brother is awesome. The day I arrived he was the first person to let me know that if I ever needed anything, I could call him at anytime. Enro also speaks excellent English. During the first few weeks it wasn't uncommon for me to use him as a translator at times when I wasn't sure if my point was coming across exactly as I wanted it to, but things have gotten better. In fact, I usually try not to speak to him in English since that wouldn't help me learn spanish.

Enro is a whole month older than me and was very excited about this fact, since they've never had a gringo who was younger than him. He is also a university student at La Universidad de Andrés Bello. He was at a different university, but switched just as I arrived. I think he likes it okay. He is studying Ingeniería de Administración de Empresas, mención de Finanzas. I believe this is similar to Business Administration with a minor in Finance. 

Apart from school, my host brother loves soccer with a passion. He's also a self-taught guitarist and pianist, and like any college aged boy, he plays videogames. I really lucked out with having a host brother that is similar in age to me. When I arrived he spent two days showing me how to navigate the city's mass transit systems and labyrinth of streets, and never refuses to help me with my grammar as well. 

La Hermana: Macarena (Maka)

My Chilean sister is quite the character. They tell me she understands English and can speak fairly well, but she never does because she's a little embarrassed about her abilities. (I always think to myself "has she heard me speak Spanish?!") Either way, she's pretty fun. She's always very animated when she's telling us stories at the dinner table and she likes to mischievously pester her dad on a regular basis. Maka loves sushi! (Enro does too, he just doesn't mention it as much.)
Maka attends the same university where her mom works: La Universidad Técnica Federico Santa María. She's always telling me how bad the stairs are to get up to class, and after having walked down them once, I'm inclined to agree with her about the going up part. (No need to experience it myself, of course.) I do know that she is studying Ingeniería Diseño de Productos (Product design management?), and that the education riots last year put her behind a bit. 

Maka is the colorful one of the family. She always wears bright nail polish, an assortment of earrings and her fashion sense is always de la moda. I'm glad I have a little sister replacement here, although she's usually the one picking on me!

La Nana: Isabel (Nana)

Having Nana makes me spoiled. Well, the word used here in Chile is cuico, but let's not talk about that. I wish I knew a little more about Nana, but unfortunately I don't. I do know that she's been with this family for quite sometime (13ish years?) and she's part of the family. Now, I can't comment on what having a maid/nanny is like in the states but here it means that Nana works Monday through Saturday making our food, sweeping our floors, cleaning all the rooms, and doing laundry. My favorite thing about her is that she talks to the plants. When I asked my host parents about this, they assured me that Nana wasn't going crazy, rather just encouraging the plants to grow and be strong!

Like I said, I don't know that much about Nana since we don't talk very much. She speaks exceptionally fast and with a little bit of a dialect I don't quite understand. And for my part, my Spanish might as well be Chinese sometimes to her. We do manage to communicate the important things like "Do you have class today, should I pack you lunch?" and "Remember I change the sheets on Mondays so don't make your bed." (Yeah, I don't let Nana make my bed. I guess I'm not totally spoiled.) 

These are the people who I've had the privilege of living with and getting to know for about three months now. They're loving, zany, argumentative, and funny. They're my family.

And we won't say they're better than anyone else's host family-- or at least not out loud. :)



  1. EEEE. I still am so glad you got them as your family! I would still agree 100%, they are the best. (:

  2. "¡No se hace aquí en Chile!" I for one would love to see a list of those faux pas. :)

  3. "They're loving, zany, argumentative, and funny." They sound just like us!! I'm so glad you have a great Chilean family!