“Holy crap. What the f*ck have I done to myself?” I asked in my head yesterday just after the 73-year-old matriarch of my new host family greeted me with a string of sounds that not only I didn’t understand, but didn’t even sound like Spanish. (Kudos, jacked up Chilean dialect…)

My only response? Smile and nod. Looking back, I smiled and nodded so much that Juanita could’ve asked me to sell a kidney on the black market and I would’ve agreed.

But the more time passed (that is the more I smiled and nodded), the less I thought Juanita would trick me into selling various body parts to the highest bidder and the more I thought maybe she was just really nice. Or maybe she just won me over with her Tuna Cake.

Wait, what?

Rest assured. Although that sounds like the dirtiest euphemism you’ve ever heard (if your mind didn’t instantly go there, well, it’s there now and you’re welcome), I’m actually talking about a Chilean dish called torta de atún, which translates ever-so-elegantly to “tuna cake.” I don’t know exactly how to describe it, except that it seemed like some quiche-frittata hybrid fried in a pan with tuna (duh), eggs, onions, potatoes and enough grease to cure the next week’s worth of hangovers. In short, it was delicious.

And as I was indulging in this culinary creation the size of my face, the rest of the family trickled in, including an 11-year-old girl, a 19-year-old boy (with a tight euro-mullet, I might add) and their 53-year-old mother. Now, I could be imagining this next part, but I swear I heard one say, “Shh! Don’t scare the gringa!” Suddenly, things got a lot easier. Although I loved Juanita’s enthusiasm, as well as her tuna cake (yep, still sounds dirty), the rest of the family approached me with less vigor, and more importantly, slower Spanish. I’m guessing the young’uns can spot a moron when they see one.

And now, as I sit here in my new room typing this out, I actually feel comfortable for the first time since I arrived on Thursday. Maybe it’s because I quadrupled my Spanish vocab in one night (which would be impressive if my vocab hadn’t consisted of two words before I moved here); or maybe it’s because I like the people I’ll be living with for the next month; or maybe it’s the tuna cake. Whatever it is, it’s got me feeling good.

Now I find myself saying, “Holy crap! I’ve done f*cking great things for myself!”

I guess I’d forgotten what this feels like. It’s like the world’s one big tuna cake and I’ve got the only fork.

(Oh, I’m not finished yet…)

And this fork’s ready to penetrate!

(ZIIIIING!)

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