Hace un año…

A year ago today, I arrived in Santiago de Chile for the first time—terrified, sleep-deprived, and elated. Living in Chile was one of the best choices I’ve made (thus far), and I am still so glad that I made that opportunity.

I look forward to the day when I may return, whether that ends up being months or decades from today.

View from Cerro Concepción, Valparaíso.

Official Chilean Round-Up

Hello again, my intrepid readers. I thought it might be useful for me to compile a post full of links pointing to a variety of Chilean things: all the trip photos, my favorite days in Chile, &c. So here we go!

If you want to see all the decent photos I took on my Chile trip, here is the Chile Trip Flickr set. Beware: it’s almost 800 photos. There’s a handy-dandy slideshow-view option at the upper right.

If you’d like to see just the photos from Valparaíso and its adjacent friends, there’s a Central Chile Flickr set. There’s also a special set for my trip to the Atacama Desert, my trip to Argentina, and my trip down to Patagonia.

If you’re one of my three faithful readers but you’d like to retrace my travels, or if you didn’t have a chance to read the blog the whole time and would like to read some highlights, here are some notable blogposts and things I did:

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V. and I wrote back and forth several times after my return. At the end of one of her emails, she included a sentence which I thought quite lovely: Algun dia encontranos nuevamente. El mundo es pequeño cuando hay amor (“Someday we will meet again. The world is small when there is love”).

Chilean Odds & Ends

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.

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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.

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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

Oda a Valparaíso

Here’s another round of translation, this time with a Pablo Neruda poem: fittingly, “Oda a Valparaíso,” from his Odas Elementales. (Follow the link for the full Spanish text.)

 

Ode to Valparaíso
by Pablo Neruda
(translated by Hermitina)

VALPARAÍSO,
what an absurdity
you are,
how crazy:
a crazy port.
What a head
of disheveled
hills,
that you never finish
combing.
Never
did you have
time to dress yourself,
and always
you were surprised
by life.
Death woke you up,
in your nightshirt,
in your long johns
fringed with colors,
naked
with a name
tattooed on your stomach,
and with a hat. Read More

January 21, 2012: Homecoming

[Here follows a tale of many airports. Now that I’m leaving Chile, I feel I must warn you that it may be exceedingly dull to read.]

Continuing in my lack-of-skill at sleeping on airplanes, I’m not sure whether I managed to sleep at all on the plane from Chile. I couldn’t find a comfortable place to store my legs, so I lay awake for a very long time, sporadically rearranging myself. When they turned on the lights for breakfast, about seven hours later, I un-reclined my seat and decided to finish the movie I’d started watching earlier. In my tiredness, I only managed a few bites of breakfast, but the tea was nice.

The Mexico City airport was a hellhole. There were a million people in line at customs (I counted), but no visible staff and hardly any ropes to show where the lines should be. Read More