Proof: It really is a small world -- and dads can be right
I experienced a little taste of home when I spent this past weekend with my family at a lake in Santiago. This lake is one of the few recreational lakes in Chile, so I felt pretty darn special that I had the chance to go there.
My host dad's cousin owns two lake houses on this lake. (Which puts the count of how many get-away houses my family has to a total of five.) The whole family stayed in these houses. We had cousins of cousins, cousins of uncles, and even my grandpa's brother staying in these houses. It was quite the shin-dig!
Most of the time was spent enjoying each other's company and eating. (We tend to eat a lot here in Chile.) I was very surprised when my host dad's cousin and his children greeted me in English. It's not very common to find people who speak English here. The three of them spoke almost perfect English -- no accent at all. To make it even better, the girl's name was Emily, so non-Chilean.
One relative that I met was quite the interesting character. His face is cemented into a crooked smile, he walks -- no, leaps -- around from one place to another and has the funniest laugh I've ever had the pleasure of hearing. I have no way to describe his laugh other than to tell you that it sounds like the stereotypical witches cackle.
Or, I suppose that it could also be described as an impression that my real dad does of one of my actual cousins. (You know which one I'm talking about, Dad -- "Barbies!!") The high-pitched screech filled our lake house from morning to night.
Before we left home, I hoped that this weekend could result in some good sister bonding time for my host sister Magda and me.
You see, in the more than two months I have been here, Magda and I haven't really seen eye to eye. At one point, a group of us five girls were talking about my Spanish speaking skills. I mean, my Spanish isn't bad, but it isn't great either.
So the girlfriend of one of our cousins asked Magda and me, "Well, how do you two talk then?" You could almost see the cloud of awkwardness hanging over us all when we had no other choice but to answer with, "We don't."
After that, I think Magda started to try a bit harder to be nice to me because she actually talked to me. I've now gone three and a half days without receiving one of those signature looks from behind her hair.
The two of us went tubing together and we actually had a lot of fun! Well, I did -- laughing at the expressions on her and my cousin's faces. The boat driving put my boat driving to shame, although it is very hard to be worse than me. We weren't going fast at all, but Magda and Elo (my host cousin) were screaming and hanging on for their dear lives the whole time. It was hilarious.
During our tube ride together, Magda and I had our second conversation. We talked about the water -- interesting, I know but at least it was a start.
While I was reading an issue of National Geographic, my host grandfather came to talk to me. I learned some very interesting things.
When I first met him, he told me that he had lived in Michigan for a year while he was studying at the university. What I didn't know was that he had been to Minnesota, let alone Minneapolis.
This weekend he told me all about how he rode some special car for tourists around the Twin Cities and how much he loved Minnesota. Once he was done with his special car story, he excused himself to go eat.
As he left, I was wondering to myself, "What if he knows where Detroit Lakes is!?" So I followed him to find out.
I was already about to pee my pants out of excitement with the knowledge of him spending time in Minneapolis, but when I asked him if he had visited Detroit Lakes, his response nearly took my breath away. He replied, "Of course I have!" I just stared at him in shock.
When it actually set in, I started crying. My host grandfather has been to my hometown. He had been to the Lakeside Tavern. I couldn't stop crying and making this extremely awkward half laugh, half dying cow noise. It was quite the production.
As if my weekend wasn't good enough, my Monday was even better. On Monday evening, a friend of my host father came to my house to fix some electronics. He asked where I was from and we went through the whole, "I'm from the States. I'm from Minnesota" thing.
Usually when I inform people here that I'm from Minnesota, they have no clue where it is. He surprised me by saying, "Oh Minnesota! Yeah, I know where that is. I lived in Seattle for two years."
Naturally, I asked what he was doing in Seattle, and he told me that he was working at the University of Washington in the science lab. I thought to myself, "Oh hey! I've been there. Wait... I know someone who works there! I wonder if he knows Eddie?"
I started smiling like no other while I explained the situation to him. He replied with, "You know Eddie Mulligan too!?" Again, I wanted to cry. I couldn't believe that this random man knows one of my dad's best friends from high school. It was just too much of a coincidence.
This week has definitely been filled with tons of excitement. I can honestly to say that it was one of my favorite weeks in Chile so far.
My dad always told me that I would find this to be a small world. Hard to admit it, but he is right.
Berit Ramstad Skoyles is a junior at Detroit Lakes High School but is studying abroad this year in Chile.