Flying over the Andes and it is absolutely beautiful. So raw and untouched by man. No ski resorts have conquered these mountains as the jagged mountain faces shoot up out of the ground serving as a memory of the explosive power of when the Lord breathed the world into being. Tall giants indestructible and unconquerable. True wilderness serving as the border between Chile and Argentina. Two cultures so close in proximity, yet vastly different; possibly due to the impassible barrier of the Andes mountains.
When I return to South America, I will come back to Chile first; such a warm, welcoming, and loving culture. So thankful for the short time I was able to spend there and I wish I had more time. Still, I became greatly inspired and my eyes were opened to the rich culture and history of Chile. My taste of Chile was being able to see the seaports on the coast in San Antonio and Varispo, visit Isla Negra, learn some local slang, listen to the natives about the birth of their nation and culture, and enjoy furthering relationships with my friends there.
My friends were extremely welcoming and made me feel a part of their family. On Friday, we packed into Oscar’s car and headed to the coast. The 1.5 hour drive flew by as we chatted and exchanged aspects of our cultures. On arrival, we went to have shrimp and cheese empanadas while looking at the sea lions in the harbor. It was a beautiful little harbor as we saw the massive cargo ships bringing good from China contrasted with rusty little fishing boats bringing fresh fish from the cold Pacific. I enjoyed breathing in the salty air as I took in this whole experience. After, we traveled to Isla Negra and learned all about the life and romantic poetry of Pablo Neruda. Poet, foreign diplomat, world traveler, and romanticist- this man left an inspiring legacy to live life to the fullest. I bought a book of his poems and have enjoyed reading his work and learning more Spanish while doing so.
For lunch, we ate the freshest Chilean salmon with a local handcrafted beer in San Francisco. This meal was full of laughter as my friends and I enjoyed each other’s company during the trip to the coast last Friday. We visited three different beaches, collected seashells, and had a car ride dance party with a mixture of kumbya and reggaetone. It was such a fun filled day and I am so thankful they took me along with them on this trip.
I loved getting to know Chile through true natives who could give me the truest perspective of the Chilean culture. They had lived through the different eras or had family members who did. They understood what it was like to be in a terrible earthquake and educated me on the procedures to follow in case one happens. This included flashlights on night stands, no closed doors to allow easier exit, and no joke policy about the “terremotos” or earthquakes. They told me about one minor one per month occurs and a major one every other year. They definitely enjoyed trying to scare me, but I was ready incase one were to occur.
My favorite times to learn more about their culture was over meals where we exchanged experiences, stories, and cultural differences. For example, they thought it odd that I did not have two last names (as it is normal for the children to have names of the father and mother). I thought it odd they had two last names. Yet, neither was odd just different. The Chilean history sheds light onto this as through the independence from Spain, the men fell to alcoholism at times and so the woman gained power in the family. Women are very independent as they work, take care of the family, and are generally more responsible than the men. Not all men or women are like this, but the two last names arose from their history. I also found it interesting how different the north and south cultures were different. They showed me music from the areas, told me various folklore stories, and cooked me different foods from the areas. We all laughed and had a great time over every meal getting to know more about where each other comes from.
It is ironic how Argentina and Chile are so close, yet very different culturally. This may be due to the grand Andes in between the two dividing them by land and by cultural boundaries. Words they use, food they eat, and their general demeanor is slightly different. For example, in Argentina, one says “Che” when calling someone dude. In Chile, it is “Po”. They also say “Catchii” for “Catch that” quiet frequently. It loved getting to hear and see these differences.
Although my time there was relatively short, I had an absolute blast and desire to return one day. Although their capital city of Santiago is so well developed, there are many rural places that could use some healthcare. I would like to return one day to visit these people and deliver some health care to them. Until that time, I have some great memories about Chile!