There are a number of things I meant to write down about Chile but didn’t; some of them seemed too everyday to mention, while others I just forgot to bring up. Here is a small compilation of some of these.
As you know, I made an effort to think in Spanish as I walked around the city. Since it was a very hilly city and my limbs are rather decrepit, many of my thought-conversations involved an inventory of which joints hurt today. While I can’t compare to my mother’s talent for recalling amusing linguistic difficulties, there was one error in particular that I made several times that stuck out to me. I would very seriously think, “Me duele la ardilla.” What I meant was that my knee hurt me, but the word for knee is rodilla, where ardilla means squirrel. I could never keep them straight, and thus, I constantly reaffirmed that the squirrel hurts me.
As with many Latin American countries, street harassment is a part of everyday life. It’s like smog in Los Angeles: you can learn to ignore it, and some days it’s less thick than others, but it still pervades everything. If you walk in the streets, you will inevitably be breathing it. On the bright side, it seems to be almost entirely verbal, at least in my experience: every third man in the street might eye me, but nobody tried to grab me (other than one eight-year-old boy in an Argentine supermarket). The constant male attention didn’t upset or bother me, but I didn’t love it either, since I felt I ought be more vigilant because of it.
Other than the occasional whistle or hiss, much of the street harassment was verbal, most commonly a single word that its speaker doubtless regarded as paying a compliment. Read More