Roy Penny is studying in Chile at Pontifical Catholic University of Valparaíso (Católica for short) in Valparaíso (Valpo) and Viña del Mar (Viña). Valpo is ~76 miles to the west of Santiago on the coast line and is a well known port throughout South America.
He will be returning around the 15th of December.
“My goal is simple, I will learn to speak Spanish. Pues… ¡Te hablo pronto!”
[Originally posted Sunday, September 22, 2013]
I would like to start with the significance of my title, to anyone who does not understand, it means “I was born standing.” The phrase itself is in fact a common Chilean phrase, much like the “luck of the Irish” that I am so used to hearing back home. I have come to embrace it, and will have to check with my mom, but I’m pretty sure that in my case it is accurate.
After a conversation with a friend of mine the other night I realized yet another extent of the luck I have taken for granted my entire life. As today was the first official day of spring, I had been wondering, “When will it get warm?” My friend replied, that “It has! By almost five degrees!” While Celsius makes that slightly more than what it sounds, I realized how awesome Colorado is (which is also Spanish for “colored red”). We experience shifts of about 100 degrees in six months. Our seasons are powerful and drastic, here they are marked by subtle changes in the winds.
The flight to Chile last July.
Chileans are somewhat poetic with much of what they do, I attribute this in part to Pablo Neruda, but even in their must vulgar phrases they use symbolism than specifically ugly or harmful speech. I notice this in the Spanish language too, ‘lo siento’ which I’m sure you all know, translates literally to mean ‘I feel it’ not ‘I’m sorry’ a phrase that hardly has meaning in my generation. The Chileans laugh at the same jokes, call each other all sorts of things, and shake it off like it is nothing. They love to laugh at themselves, and hate to be taken too seriously. When talking with Chileans I feel much more as if it is a meeting of the minds rather than a meeting of faces. Their ability to laugh at life makes me wonder what I have been doing wrong; as lately I have not felt comfortable in myself and the reasons behind that are not apparent. Perhaps it marks a middle ground in my metamorphoses into a beautiful butterfly.
Unfortunately I have noticed an undercurrent of United States consumerism here in Chile that is all too reminiscent of a not so distant past. According to my family, Chile was not hit very hard by the Financial crisis in the late 2000s. In fact, they have been experiencing a bit of a baby boom effect after Pino Chet’s dictatorship ended in 1990, which some would call a necessary evil. Many of the people in their mid 50s to 70s are enjoying the spoils of a healthy and hard-won economy. This also has brought much development to infrastructure and transportation, as well as buildings and technology, that doesn’t feel like it fits in among the magnificent history and art on display throughout the city. Obviously there is crime, stemming from the trodden lower class that had no education to compete when the jobs came, and I hate watching them fight a loosing battle to keep education public. Another friend of mine categorized it as “the united states in the 90’s with a Spanish accent” and this is very much how I have come to see it. However, romantic views of a peaceful, rural, hidden gem on the pacific are a reality too luxurious to ask for today.
It is hard to believe that I have just passed the two month mark, partly because I still feel as if there is so much to do and learn and to see, but also because we just completed a week of fiestas and I am wondering where all of that time went. An interesting development this week was the feeling of breaking a shell and really settling into my family. I have begun to feel like a presence at the table rather than just an observer. I can hold the attention of a group of people and managed to succeed in making them all laugh on a few occasions. My life lately has been marked by a sloth-like joviality that I can only seem to describe as Chilean. Eat(red meats), drink(pisco), sleep(when you can), and be merry(not too hard). After living my life half during the day and half during the night for about a week I have to say that getting back into a school mindset will be both refreshing and slightly difficult. Although, I am looking forward to challenging my brain in other ways than its ability to overcome the effects of alcohol.
Well, it is now two in the morning and I am going to call it a night. Until next time, Chau.
I like this phrase that my mind spit out of nowhere while writing and had nowhere to put it.
Immortalize yourself by giving your life to that which is timeless. (So diamonds, definitely diamonds.)