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Given the vast number of people that were taken and later disappeared during a very dark period in this country’s history, and the recent release of French/Colombian citizen and politician kidnappee Ingrid Bettancourt, it is surely in poor taste to speak of Chilean kidnapping in jest.

But so I shall. Chileans have this tendency to secret you away for longer than you were thinking of, or impede your leaving at the time you planned on. It’s motivated by togetherness and hospitality (I believe), but to an independent woman of my age, it can feel alot like being a caged animal. I have fallen victim to the kindakidnapping on a number of occasions, and there are now friends I will not go anywhere with unless I clearly have a way to get out, or a very empty calendar for the coming days. A friend of mine was recently invited on a day hike which turned into an overnight in the mountains. With (suspiciously) an extra tent, extra base layer, extra sleepingbag. Extra everything. Kidnapped, at 14,000 feet, no way out.

The other day I went over to see a friend who’s recovering from a bike accident (discussion of bicyclist-motorist relations and also on the genius that is worker’s comp that covers your comings and goings to work at a later date). I had about two hours to spare, and at the two hour mark, made my move to go. But so far? All alone? We’re all (two more people) leaving soon. So I sat. tick tick tick. And then I made my move to go again. But don’t go yet, they said. We have to leave in a minute. And then the visitee’s wife appeared with a tray of coca cola and cookies. Darnit. Undone by high fructose corn syrup (only here it’s still sugar). And then I had to stay for that. Which, by the way, does anyone really like those wafer cookies? But when someone is being hospitable, your job is to let them. And so I did.

By the time I got out of there, 3.5 hours had elapsed, and I was just feeling lucky that the sun hadn’t set while I was in the house, because surely pillows and spare mattresses would be pulled out of storage and I’d still be raring to go over breakfast of Nescafe and white bread with jam from a bag. Chileans are nothing if not hospitable.