Skiing in the Andes with the Annie’s

G and I have taken to completely regarding ourselves as avid skiers in the making. After some convincing from me on how awesome the ski/snowboard/general snow experience was and my repeated “OMG’s” on the fact that he’s never been skiing in his life, (considering the Andes are so close), he relented. He purchased new snow gear (at 50% off and still ridiculously expensive for Chilean standards) and this past Friday we were off on our snow bunny trek.

Obviously you know where this post is headed: the comparison between going to the snow here vs. going to the snow back home.

Let me preface by stating a couple of things. First, I’m using the term “going to the snow” in lieu of skiing or snowboarding because I want to encompass the entire experience AND leave room for a switch between skiing and snowboarding down the line. This time, G and I skied but next time we go (in about three weeks hopefully) we’re going to be snowboarding. Second, I recognize that skiing and snowboarding (mostly skiing) are not a cheap activity no matter where you’re located in the world. Considering gas involved getting there and back, gear involved, lift tickets, accomodations (if need be) and food, it’s pretty pricey to list skiing/snowboarding as a frequent activity during winter.

However, I learned that in Chile skiing/snowboarding is most definitely an ABC1 outing and I realized this mostly because of those around me that day.

Back in California, we used to head out to Lake Tahoe for our yearly doses of snow and this usually involved getting a group of friends together and 1) staying with friends who had houses there or 2) finding a vacation rental for 2-3 nights and splitting it across all those going.

Me and my friend Jen in 2005 or 2006, in front of the house 8-10 of us rented in South Lake.

Lake Tahoe was about a four hour drive from San Francisco, depending on traffic and velocity, so in our case, we always stayed at least two nights. Besides, being on the border with Nevada, there is definitely a nightlife and subsequent debauchery that one can partake in on the evenings when one isn’t philandering in the snow (skiing).

Also, there are SO MANY options for skiing, depending on which “shore” of the Lake you are staying, and because of this, there are also various options when taking into account the budget. This site gives you a very topline idea of the various prices of lift tickets in the Lake Tahoe area and seriously, the range is anywhere from about US$21 to US$90. And equipment rental prices? Anywhere between US$30 – $60 for gear and boots for the day. So on the expensive end, skiing for a day in Lake Tahoe could cost about US$160 at most … while here in Chile it will cost you about US$65 for a lift ticket and about US$45 for equipment rental. Taking into account the salary discrepancies in this country when compared to those in the U.S. AND taking into account how I mentioned in a previous post that only 10% of the population of Santiago has money to spend on these types of “luxuries”, you can imagine the type of people that one encounters on a skiing adventure here vs. a skiing adventure back home.

Back home, I remember the outings in the snow to be all about friends and fun. It was never about luxury, even if the place where we stayed was super nice. Yes, skiing is an expensive sport no matter where you are, but back home, it was more about being with friends than consideration of the fact that we were doing something very upscale. To most of us back home, “upscale” might entail First Class tickets to Paris and staying at the Four Seasons Hotel George V. And even when you were on the mountain you rarely noticed if people had more or less money … just like in the movie “Clueless” with all the groups united on one same high school campus, you had all kinds of people who enjoyed gallivanting in the snow, one right next to the other. In short, the differences are less obvious back home when compared to Chile.

And the culmination of our high society (“cuico”) experience in the snow last Friday, was overheard on our way back to the car after our time skiing. A blonde-ish woman, wearing a poofy North Face jacket, was walking around talking on her phone… in her very notable “cuica” voice she was telling the person on the other end of the line that she was headed “back to the apartment” (mind you, we were 2 hours outside of Santiago so obviously she had a place right there on the resort) and that “Annie” was on her way “to the spa.” The minute we had suffieciently walked past this woman, G and I proceeded to crack up. It was just so.typical.rich.Chilean.person. Obviously this now means that all the “cuicos” in this country are to be known as “Annie’s” from now on … and we’ve proceeded to exploit the term continuously since then. Feel free to adopt it if you’d like. I find it has less of a negative connotation too.

Some might argue that in partaking in said activities, relatively speaking (i.e. for Chilean standards vs American standards as mentioned above), G and I are Annie’s too. I can respect that opinion but I would argue that the difference with us is that we don’t take our advantages and accomplishments for granted, nor do we act like it’s our God-given right to take trips to the mountains to go skiing. Realistically, it’s not like we could afford a week in the mountains skiing/snowboarding either. In fact, between one trip and the next, we’ll have another payday so that makes a difference with regards to how often we head to the mountains. Trust me, the Annie’s don’t think like that and I really can’t imagine them figuring out when it makes most sense to go, money-wise.

I like to think of us as ‘come-and-go’ Annie’s. When we feel like putting that particular hat on (and our bank account tells us it’s ok to do so), we do…but all the while making fun of ourselves because we know we aren’t “born and bred” into it.

G and I being Annie’s. Ya dig?

But that’s what makes it so much fun!!! Our ability to “blend” in with the Annie’s doing things like eating out at certain restaurants or frolicking in the snow … it’s like we’re Jack Dawson (Leonardo DiCaprio’s character in “Titanic”) when he’s eating with the First Class passengers …

“Nothing to it is there? Remember, they love money so pretend like you own a gold mine and you’re in the club.”

We don’t necessarily look like naturals but at least we’re standing!

Of course most of this blog post has been written in a tongue-in-cheek fashion and though some elements are somewhat exaggerated for your reading pleasure, the truth of the matter is that we had a lovely time at Valle Nevado and we are definitely looking forward to falling in the snow again very soon!

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4 thoughts on “Skiing in the Andes with the Annie’s

  1. what does it mean to be cuico/cuica? high class/low class? so hard to know. you might not see yourselves as "real" annies but, then agian, surely lots of others think that you are. maybe the chick you thought was a total annie is really just crashing w/a rich friend. or maybe not. i never think of myself as rich bc i didn't grow up w/ a lot of money but just yesterday a homeless guy asked me & R for money in the street and when we said we didn't have any change (we didn't) he yelled "BUT LOOK AT YOU, YOU ARE RICH!" so it's sorta funny to read this post today since we were just talking about these things last night. and honestly, having neither grown up in CA nor CO not VT to me going skiing was ALWAYS somethign for cuicos…the reality though is that if you're from one of those states or, in the same way, from Santiago, you have access to others homes in the nieve and you can borrow friends skis and stuff bc after all you're just going for the weekend and lots of people have those things so you dont need to rent. i always thought – and i think thsi is pretty universal – that skiing is an extremely cuico sport…period. in CA, in Chile. and to finish my post i will tell you that i learned to ski at the age of 21 when my Chilean then boyfriend was teaching ski lessons at Kirkwood in Lake Tahoe and i scrounged up just enough money to buy a cheapy ticket to CA to visit him and he got me free skis and boots and lift ticket bc he worked there (and lessons of course bc he taught me : )…) i now abosolutely love skiing and am so happy to have the money to do it and def want to go on ski trips and stuff whenever R& I have kids. sorry for random long post. go to la parva next time it's my fav

  2. Sometimes I feel like an Annie, but sometimes when I'm with other high-up Annies, I feel like they know I'm just a fake!

  3. Great post. I think who is "cuico" or not depends a lot on what your own status is. I have friends that my ex-boyfriend thinks are cuico. Then these same friends were talking about a wedding they went to and how the bride's family was SO cuico. So even the so-called cuicos can think other richer people are cuicos. But, I think what you said about not thinking it's your "god-given right" to have all that luxury is key. Maybe being cuico is related a lot to your attitude and outlook on life, not simply your salary or bank statement.

    I grew up in VT, you know, Ski capital of the East Coast, and I have NEVER been downhill skiing. Not once. I guess it's a combination of how expensive it is, and also that I'm afraid of heights and the chairlifts scare the bejesus out of me. All through high school I got a free pass to one of the mountains because I got good grades (there are a ton of programs in VT to give free/cheaper skiing to students, which is nice) but I never went. Maybe some day I'll pluck up the courage.

  4. Hahahaha.. I love the Annie idea.. especially since Pablo's Nana though my name was Annie for about the first 8 months I was with him.. She even put To: Annie on my xmas gift.

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