I live with a host family. As do the six other individuals joining me here in an attempt to find out what happens when they stop being polite and start getting real real real. Therein lies the problem. Reality hits during a 5 AM beach jaunt or when the sun goes down on our caged basketball courts, both situations which could be used as justification for a bootknife purchase in the near future. But as for bringing the real to these real folks housing me for a solid four months, keeping things PG is my only interest and concern. Showing up at Colin's house with an entire night's preparation to watch an unknown tennis match at 3:30 that morning has tamed us a tad after his family sat in awe and watched our own personal attempts at verbal volleys. Unforced errors galore.
Norma is my new mother. Surrogate mother of the ghetto side of town, she's retired but still housing, educating, and feeding the Iquique youth in ways that would shame the local orphanages. Her English suit is not the strongest and with this she holds firm to the idea that the louder the words are spoken, the more sense I will make of them, whether be it Spanish or English. Along with our Bolivian maid (I guess is the right word?) she's a cullinary wizard. I've yet to have the same meal twice since I entered the home and comida complaints are at an all time low.
Next up is Juan. Serbian roots and a love for poetry has created this clean shaven 65 year old gentlemen I spend morning van rides with. While a solid average of two sentences are shared per ride, I cherish the way he follows my form by spending every other day at the gas station pushing that gas needle up to a sixteenth of a tank. Awkwardness abounds during most meals where the women of the household basically spoonfeed, bib, and wipe the two of us traditionally dominant males. At day two here I hit the end of new conversations to bring up to Juan so my daily queries to fill the everlasting silence that our meals consist of have come to attempted would you rathers involving walls, newborns, and puppies. Well, not quite yet, but we're closing in on it.
And then there's Ilona. A sixteen year old Catholic school girl who I imagine the nuns have already pegged as a future replacement. Ilona delights in Saturday mornings, where she receives math tutoring and later joins her local church group in the evenings. She brings the most personal amusement in the household due to her incorruptible attributes. I've yet to beat her at a board/card game where I haven't cheated and I've at the very least attempted to warp her impressions of American cultures with fables about daily activities. Hot tea must be drank with two hands at all times, it is acceptable for me to currently have more than one wife because they share the same name, and a popular condiment is freshly ground bar soap.
So that's the fam. Although it's a trip back to age 15 with weeknight curfews and daily "how was school" interrogations, I'm enjoying the experience that comes with spending a signficant time period within the walls of a local household. My spanish has no choice but to improve along with bedmaking skills and table etiquette. And they still keep things fresh. Last weekend, after visiting and feasting at the masonic lodge father Juan is a proud president of, our car ride home took a turn for the what the hell is going on as he and his lodge companion Dario decided to pull over on a random side street without a word. They then proceeded to surround a red Hyundai station wagon parked on a dirt patch in front of a small home. Eventually the home's owners noticed two senior citizens ravenously circling and prodding their car and went out to investigate. Three minutes later, Juan and Dario have acquired the keys and taken off in the Hyundai to locations unknown, returning roughly fifteen minutes later. I'm on my fourth game of cellphone snake at this point, which I was using to keep my mind off the possible hijacking I just witnessed. Two minutes upon return, Juan has his checkbook out and is dotting i's and crossing t's on his one million peso purchase, which was as simple as three glasses of wine, one candy red station wagon, and twenty minutes of consideration.
Understandably, each of here are getting our own unique taste of family life. Bree has siblings who insist on being our own personal weekend chauffeurs, Kristen has a swimming pool, MacKenzie has Lola, and Annie has a fetus. As for Colin, a few days earlier I asked about his current state of affairs and when he'd be ready to head to a soccer match. His response, "Actually, no not yet, probably not for a little bit. My host dad has just taken over my room and is playing a flight simulator on the computer in there." Well, he has that.