Although I like to think of myself as in may ways invincible, I will now reveal to you the sad story of what happened to me this week. I got a rhinovirus. That’s right, a rhinovirus. I would have preferred any manner of hippovirus, (though not an armadillo virus because it turns out they carry leprosy-ick!), but one was not to be found. So I wasted much of my week lying around, sneezing, willing the propolys (bee product, a local immuno-booster) to work, blowing my nose and enjoying Margaret Cho and Vanessa Hidary videos on YouTube when I could be bothered to sit upright, and occasionally eating tasty “ethnic” (to me) meals with friends around the city, hoping some of that old fashioned curry and spice would make its way to my rhinovirus and knock its rhino ass out.
This brings me to the issue of nose blowing. It’s kind of vile, I mean, here you are, a person, collecting your bodily waste in a thin piece of paper and stuffing it back in your pocket. In Spanish it’s called “sonarse la nariz” (to “sound” your nose), which given the associated occasional honking, does seem appropriate. In Chile it’s considered rude to use a napkin from the table to blow your nose, but you are not necessarily expected to turn away or leave the room to do so. Maybe not in the states either, but I try to, because it just seems rude to be all honkey (and not that honkey, which, in my case is somewhat unavoidable) while everyone is trying to eat.
Sniffling is also verboten, and if you do sniffle, people will offer you a “pañuelo desechable” (tissue), which nearly everyone seems to have a pack of in their purse, pocket or backpack. But tissues, though a simple enough issue in the United States can be fraught with danger and challenge here in Chile.
For one thing, women routinely carry them to sub in for tp (confort), which is often not present in public bathrooms, or is hanging outside the stall, and woe is she who forgets to bring some in. But tissues are often scented/flavored (sometimes the aroma is so strong you feel you can taste it), with scents such as coconut and lime, vanilla, watermelon, lavender, and the one to watch out for (and be careful of), menthol. I suppose any of these might be nice to press to your face to catch an errant sneeze (to which no one will say “salud” (because it is not done here, though that is what you say if someone sneezes, at least in theory). However, I have it straight from the source, that some of these scented tissues are not to be used in case of toilet paper-lackage. Menthol, I’m looking at you.
Another curiosity about the tissues is the number of ply. If you buy tissues in a box or a smallish pack, they are two-ply. But the “purse” (or backpack) packs come in three-ply. And while that makes a softer, thicker (and perhaps, smellier) tissue, it also seems to remind people of poorer times, when they walked 10 km uphill to school both ways in an earthquake and tissues were not made so wastefully. So many people, upon purchasing a packet of tissues, will take one out and separate out the ply, turning one tissue into many (or at least two).
The most effective tissue-separating technique involves moistening the fingertips of the nondominant hand (pointer and thumb, or índice and pulgar), and patting them against the center portion of the tissue (the edges are embossed to prevent them from falling apart), that makes a ply each stick to one of the fingers, and then grabbing one of those ply with the dominant hand and pulling that ply apart. It is then used, or folded back into sixths and inserted back into the packet. Repeat as desired, to triple the number of tissues in your packet.
I have no word yet on whether people also separate the ply to use in the case of the missing TP. Anyone care to weigh in?
There is definitely a sniffly cold thing going ’round at the moment. I think you are about the 10th person I’ve heard [about] sniffling, me included.
As for the tissue issue, I was wondering what the official Chilean position is on using toilet paper as a tissue? I mean really it is most convenient, cheap and fairly endless…only downside is having a toilet roll hanging around the bed, lounge, depto, handbag can be a bit, well, unsightly and may even embarrass some folk, no?
Personally, I don’t buy tissues so this is a current concern for me!
And what about hankies? Are chilenos for or against them?!
Hope the sniffles end soon for you.
On my first visit here, I lived with a host “mom.” She was extremely protective of her paper products. There were no tissues (kleenex) nor paper towels anywhere in her house. TP and paper napkins were doled out, grudgingly and sparingly, only when absolutely necessary.
I also had some sort of rhino-thing (think it’s the Santiago air) during that visit. So I ended up buying my own box of tissues. Since I’ve been old enough to carry a purse, I’ve had tissues in it, and no, I don’t divide them for future use.
Much like yawning and rubbing the eyes, the mere discussion of certain topics elicit the same manifestation by the reader. I am right now, sniffling like a 3 year old who just rolled in a dandelion patch. Mind you, my nasal passages were complete clear before clicking your Facebook link. Who knew the rhinovirus could be passed on without face-to-face contact from a sufferer a few thousand miles away? Hmm… half a dozen jokes regarding computer viruses just popped into my head but I’ll suppress them for now. As far as separating tissue ply, that would not fly with my honker. Just ask Heidi or any of my neighbors in a 3 house radius. I’ve been accused of channeling Titanic both in timbre and decibel level. Feel better soon!!!
well, that certainly wasn’t my intention. I can bring you some Chilean 3-ply tissues if you like. Just name your flavor!
No menthol please. Papaya should be pleasant. Thx!!
papaya?! We definitley don’t have papaya! but I’ll find you something. No menthol. I don’t blame you.
A word of caution to delicate Chilean nose-blowers – hold tight to your 3 ply tissues in Vietnam, where it is common to blow one’s nose without a tissue of any kind nor a receptacle in which to deposit said nasal contents… the floor is just as good 😉
I have seen this done, and may be guilty of it on the occasional long-haul bike ride with no humans in sight, but I would never admit it in public. Except I just did. And yes, I agree that the Chilean take on nose-blowing is more culturally familiar (for the most part) than the one in Vietnam. I wonder if the floor is coconut-aromaed.
I hate that they don’t say salud in Chile. I always sneeze twice and the only thing anyone ever says to me (sometimes) is “Te falta uno!” As in I’m missing the “amor” part of the “salud, dinero, amor” trio. But it’s dumb because no one says that anyway here so I’m not really missing anything.
I hope you feel better soon!
Hey Abby! A mi me sobra uno! I always get salud twice, because I usually sneeze 4X! And my friend Claudio says the whole little thing, so I will introduce you so he can say it to you, if you like!
In the States, you can get kleenex with lotion in boxes, but not in pocket packs. But in the UK/Europe, you can get kleenex with balsam (lotion) in pocket packs. So for years, I have routinely had my tissues imported from the UK (when Tim goes on business, I have him bring back several multipacks). He couldn’t find any when he was there in October, so round about February, I ran out. I did consider separating them, and maybe I should have. I did resort to some re-use (if you stuff it back in your pocket and it’s dry next time you pull it out it’s much less gross). But I also resorted to what can be called a “snot rocket” or a “farmer’s blow” while cross-country skiing. In March, Tim went back to the UK and brought me some, and a friend sent some as well. So now I am well stocked, and every coat and jacket I own has a packet in the pocket. Not to mention my purse, my bike bag, my car…
Hope you are feeling better.
Hey Sarah! Great to see you over here. I don’t know if the smelly tissues have lotion on them, as I can’t stand the smell, either in my bag or near my nose. It’s so funny what we all import and export. I will probably bring back “real” dish sponges, for example. The ones we get here are too airy, and I prefer the more spongelike ones we get in the states. And you make yourself a very economical giftee by asking for tissues! Hope you get to go with him sometimes, too. Let me know if you want tissues from Chile, and I will oblige!
Ummm… salud/dinero/amor — does this mean in Chile it is expected you will sneese 3x? 3 is still my norm, but 6 is becoming more common than I’d like.
I can’t STAND the lotiony tissues… slimy, I guess. Smell would be bad, too.
my friends just cycle through the words again and again until I stop. But I usually sneeze 4 cat-sneezes in a row, as you know. Hope the spring allergies aren’t too bad in SF! see you soon. And no slimy tissues, please!