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Earlier this year, Chile looked at its watch and realized, heavens, it’s been a long time since we counted our people. I wonder how many of us there are now? And what their floors are made of. And whether or not they compost.

So they suited up many, many (official count) people, in blue overshirts, and sent them out on the street with clipboards and número dos pencils. And they looked like a team, and they spread out all over the city, knocking on doors and ringing bells, because the census in Chile is done door-to-door. As in someone actually comes to your house.

The first time team census came, I wasn’t here, since it was a long weekend, and I went to Valparaíso and wine tasting and met a bunch of people and watched a beautiful sunset and ate awesome meals prepared by a great friend of mine, who I wish lived closer, but really, he’s only 1.5 hours away, so what am I complaining about.

Ahem. So team census came by, and I wasn’t here, so they left me a note telling me when they’d be back. And that day was today, between 3 and 9 PM. What is this, a cable hookup? Well, I guess they have a lot of people to visit, and they don’t know exactly how long each will take and well, I really wanted to discuss my religion and education level with a (sworn to secrecy) stranger, so I stayed put when the census lady was set to come. That, and another friend who lives on the coast had already missed two visits by team census, and was told that if he missed the third, there could be a multa (fine) involved. Though if they don’t know who he is or how to find him, it might be hard to levy.

Anyway, they left me a note. Sweet!

And I waited, and admired my newly-tidied living room, with nary a stray skirt or sock to be found (these fall out of my arms sometimes when I bring the laundry in off the line). And census person Maria with her very pale blue eyes came in and asked me questions. Among which were the following, in case you’re interested (and maybe even if you’re not).

What is your floor made of (laminate, wood, etc)?
Do you have domestic help?
What do you use to heat your home?
What does your stove run on?
How do you heat hot water?
How many bedrooms are there?
How many bedrooms are used exclusively for sleeping?
Do you live with anyone?
What is your marital status?
How many living children do you have?
What district of the city or country are you from?
What district of the city or country was your mother living in when you were born?
What district of the city were you living in in 2007?
What is your nationality?
(for foreigners) when did you come to this country?
Do you compost?
Do you separate your trash for recycling?
Are you from an indigenous community?
What religion (if any) do you practice?
What level of education have you attained?
Can you read and write?
Do you have vision/hearing/speaking problems? (three separate questions, including whether I suffer from muteness, which is a curious question to ask)
What languages can you hold a conversation in?
Do you work for money, for free, are you unemployed?
Do you have mental or psychiatric problems?
What is your first name?

All in all, a very strange, yet inoffensive set of questions.

And yes, I have seen the video of the pretend 42 census questions to be asked my the Chilean census, and yes, it is funny, but if you live here, you’ve seen it, and if you don’t, it won’t be funny to you. Ok, here’s a link if you insist. Que le pasa a Lupita? En que número estoy pensando? Cuál es el pájaro mas penca de angrybirds? Conoces a un colorín? What’s the last movie you saw on Cuevana? It really is funny. The itsy bitsy spider bit, included. Ok fine, here’s the video.

Which, to be fair, is much more entertaining than what really happened. But at least I got a sticker.