Locations

Seen at a Chilean university

As I walked down the stone-ladden stairs from the road to campus, groups of students crowded a single doorway. peligroso tape blocked off its entryway and through it lay a complicated contraption of strings similar to a laser beam security trap. Above the doorway, a sign begged the question students to choose between the hard way or the easy way in life. I, for the moment, was choosing the objective way.

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Upon completion of the “hard way,” students received sandwiches and juice from their peers.

“Excuse me, why is this going on? Is this a promotion for something?”

A Chilean student poured some more jugo into plastic cups. She smiled.

“No, we’re just doing it because we can.”

Just because they can.

As the day progressed, an inflatable rock climbing wall was set up in the middle of campus. Mats, blankets and pillows were spread in a large alcove for students to sleep. Triangular, colorful paper flags flew across the main building of campus: in between the labyrinth of walkways and staircases that is UAI.

A band of drummers came onto campus. A crowd surrounded the group and then dispersed as the music ended.

Giant banners hung from the ceiling in one of the buildings told students to follow sus sueños. 100 percent organized by the students and performed simply because they could. Viva Chile.

 

peligroso – dangerous (peligroso tape is the equivalent of caution tape)

jugo – juice

sus sueños – (their) dreams

 

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A glimpse at artisanal fishermen in Valparaiso

 

 

 

Carlos – Charlie – fist pumps me. His only two scraggly teeth are decaying but still his smile to could light up a city. He fears shaking my hand for he has been working with murky water and slime since before the sun rose. I ask him about his life as a fisherman – or, as I was corrected, un pescador artesanal.
Soy el primer y ultima,” he says. His eyes are deadlocked with mine and just to make sure I understand, he repeats slowly. “El primer y ultima.” The forefinger shakes for emphasis.

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I ask him about the future of the fishing industry in the once prosperous port. He’s not hopefully. Within the next five years, the outlook is grave. Overfishing is a large problem across the planet: there is a high demand for pescado.

Enter Andrés Silvia. his skin leathered from years of daily hard work: In the sea, on the port, under the sun. Around his eyes, harsh wrinkles turn soften into laugh lines. He is an old soul, he understands that despite the hardships (syn) this life presents him, everything will be okay in the end. His eyes are kind. It is with him that I learn the term pescadores artesanales.

Chile, is the number one exporter of salmon, and according to some of the fishermen at the mercado, there is unfair competition (of sorts) between the artisanal fishermen.

This partially fueled a protest on the July 2.

 

As I walked down the stone-ladden stairs from the road to the campus of Aldofo Ibañez, groups of students crowded around a single doorway. It was blocked off by peligroso tape.The entryway had been rigged with strings in 1000 different directions and a sign asking students if they take the hard way or the easy way in life.

Upon completion of the “hard way,” students recived sandwiches and juice from their peers.

“Excuse me, why is this going on? Is this a promotion for something?”

A Chilean student poured some more juice into plastic cups. She smiled.

“No, we’re just doing it because we can.”

There you have it: just because they can.

As the day progressed, an inflatable rock climbing wall was set up in the middle of campus. Mats, blankets and pillows were spread in a large alcove for students to sleep. Triangular, colorful paper flags flew across the main building of campus: in between all the labyrinth of walkways and staircases.

A band of drummers came onto campus. A crowd surrounded the group and then dispersed as the music ended.

Giant banners hung from the ceiling in one of the buildings told students to follow their dreams. 100 percent organized by the students and performed simply because they could. Viva Chile.

I walked, slipped down the hill and the man — Juan Urrea, 32 — grabbed my hand to help me. He motioned me to watched my step. “Caliente, it’s hot there,” he said. There was still steam rising up from the broken china plates. I looked around, taken aback by the charred hills, asked him how he was effected.

We were standing where his house once stood.

Valparaiso fire victims return to destroyed homes, fire

You could feel the heat rising, melting your soles. The Urrea Family stands in what was once their home, they pick through the destruction. There is a small box where they have been collecting peso coins found in the rubble. One of the men used a hose to rinse off most of the area — steam was still rising from the area.  “Es terrible…terrible,” Juan Orrea Sr. said. He looked at me straight in the eye. He described the night, hand-gestures starting low then rising up to the sky. His pupils dialated – “todos los partes, acá” – the fire was everywhere.  According to El Mercurio, a Chilean news source, over 10,000 were evacuated. 11 people died.

8.0 earthquake hits Iquique, Valparaiso receive tsunami alerts

In Chile, terremotos and temblors are a way of life. Here’s the difference, you’ll wake up in the middle of the night to feel your bed shaking, or be walking to class and feel small rumbles in the ground. It’s normal, it’s a temblor from tectonic plate movement or from an earthquake somewhere else. Chile sits on a tectonic plate making it incredibly active for earthquakes.

In Iquique, though, there was an earthquake measuring 8.0 on the Richter scale. It was strong, and many people were effected. There was a lot of destruction and afterwards, a large evacuation due to the possibility of tsunamis. Thousands were displaced for the night.

The tsunami alert spread all the way to my home here in Viña del Mar, in the Valparaiso region of Chile, about 90 minutes from the epicenter of the earthquake and about a mile from the beach. Around 9:30 p.m., my host madre knocked on my bedroom door and told me to get dressed – rápido – there was an earthquake and we had to leave the house because of a possible tsunami.

Good news: there has never been a tsunami in Viña del Mar.

Many residents evacuated their homes for safer ground, and one of my chilean friends sent me this evacuation route just in case. At the same time, many residents didn’t, and exchange students were left wondering about the level of threat of a tsunami. According my host family, it was precautionary in Viña del Mar. If the ocean had started to recede, we might have been in a bit of trouble (but not much). From where I live, there would have only been about six inches of water.

There had also been waves of “six feet or higher” reported on the beaches. But, according to another local friend, “this is Chile. [earthquakes] happen a lot. We are used to it, and know how to handle it.”

So around 11 p.m., my family and I returned to our house and I was welcomed to a sea of messages asking if I was alright. I am.

More good news: Classes are cancelled for today. In New Hampshire, we have snow days. Here, we have earthquake/tsunami days.

Welcome to Chile. 

terremoto – earthquake

temblor – tremor

madre – mom

rápido – quickly

The Mapuche of Chile

Mapuche’s are some of the indigenous tribes of Chile.

When I was in Pucón, we visited a Mapuche village to learned more about the indigenous people of Chile, some customs, history and current struggles. One of the women there explained facts, customs, cultural aspects of the Mapuche. One of the difficulties of touring in Chile is that the tour was in Spanish, so I had prestar mucho atención. If I didn’t, everything would turn into gibberish again.

An elder explaining the customs, traditions, culture of the Mapuche. One point that stood out was the significance of thanking Mother Earth.

An elder explaining the customs, traditions, culture of the Mapuche. One point that stood out was the significance of thanking Mother Earth.

From what I could understand, there is a large emphasis on natural elements in their world. The Mapuche people make sure to thank the world around them on a daily basis. The colors they wear, as well, show respect to this. For example, in the picture of the Mapuche woman, each color she is wearing represents something different: azul for the sky and water, verde for the earth, rojo for the blood and bravery of their people.

Once at the Mapuche village started with a drink common to the Mapuche made of trigo, azucar, y agua. Before taking a sip, we were instructed to pour some to the Earth, thanking nature.

Inside the Mapuche house for Once – teatime. The meal consisted of coffee, wheat cutlets, breads, salsas and honey.

Inside the Mapuche hut, a large room filled with more or less 15 mesas to fit our group of about 80, we sat. Our meal consisted largely of wheat. In front of us, we were presented a spread of different items. One plate resembled breaded chicken cutlets, but were instead wheat cutlets.

A Mapuche woman who served coffee, explained its preparation process. She later bagged the roasted wheat so that I could make the coffee independently.

A fresh salsa and honey accompanied the meal as condiments along with a coffee that I later bought to bring along with me. As I learned, it is made from roasted wheat and contains a “pulp” or “grain” in the liquid.

More seriously, the Mapuche people are in deep conflict right now with Chile. According to the Mapuche village and my tour guide, they are fighting to keep their ancestral lands while being pushed away. The Chilean government, from what I understand, is denying them their full identity.

prestar mucho atención – To pay a lot of attention to, to focus

azul – blue

verde – green

rojo – red

trigo – wheat

azucar – sugar

agua – water