Some Final Words for My Beloved City

It was about 2 weeks before I left and I was already ready to leave my second home in Santiago de Chile.  I was anxious to see my family and friends and to be able to wake up under my own roof again.  As much as I loved living with a host family for my 5 months abroad, I really missed my family.  Quite honestly, it was the very first time I had felt truly homesick.  Maybe I had felt this way because the idea of returning was becoming so real to me or because I had been too busy to think much about returning home that I never felt the urge to go back.  At this point, I felt satisfied.  So much so that I was ready to say goodbye to a city that had given me so many wonderful memories.

So, on my second to last day of my stay in Santiago, I went for a hike on the city’s second highest mountain, Cerro Manquehue, and it was truly the most emotional hike I’ve had.  No tears, I promise, but it was just a reflective memory walk.  I remember the day that I moved in a day earlier than everyone else and I remembered the emotions I was feeling so rawly that it felt that I was feeling them for the first time again.  I remembered how overwhelmed I was moving from the airport to my hotel on my own speaking purely in Spanish without any help.  I remembered how alone I felt that evening as well.  The most alone I had felt in my life, but at the same time I remember feeling a sense of excitement and thrill for what I would be experiencing my following 5 months, and every moment of it was beyond what I expected.  So, as an ode to my beautiful city, here is what I wrote for her.

A note for my beloved city:

Chao, Santiago de Chile. No puedo decir lo suficiente cuánto te voy a extrañar. Gracias por todas las experiencias que me has dado. Desde las horas pico horribles en el Metro, temblores y días lluviosos hasta los cerros hermosos que abrazan tu alrededor y tu hermoso paisaje que me bendice cada mañana con tu cordillera y amanecer. Te quiero y ya te echo de menos.  La única cosa que te pido es que tus ciudadanos ayuden a limpiar todo el smog para que todos puedan ver tu belleza. Yo sé que ha sido una experiencia difícil a veces pero me ha enseñado mucho a travez de mis desafíos. Gracias también por haberme dado amistades fuertes en mis últimos meses en mi estadía. Aunque los meses al principio fueron muy arduos, a través de esa temporada me has enseñado a sentirme contento estando solo. Ahora, veo que hay algo hermoso en eso. Que nunca he estado solo, que siempre he tenido un compañero. Y ese compañero soy yo. 

Goodbye, Santiago. I can’t say enough how much I will miss you. Thank you for all of the experiences that you have given me. From horrible rush hours in the Metro, tremors, and rainy days to your beautiful hills that embrace you along with your beautiful landscape that blesses me every morning with your mountain range and sunrise. I love you and I already miss you. The only thing I ask of you is that your citizens help to clear your smog so that everyone can see your beauty.  I know that it has been a difficult experience at times but you have taught me a lot through my challenges. Thank you also for giving me strong friendships in the last months of my stay. Although the first months were tough, through this season you have taught me how to be content with being alone. Now, I see that there is something beautiful in this. That I have never been alone. That I have always had a companion and that companion is me. And for once, I got to know him really well.

First Birth – Appreciation for Life Forever Changed

One of my most impactful moments in Chile was during one of my shadowing shifts in a local hospital. I shadowed an OBGYN in a maternity clinic. Initially, I did not know what to expect but I must say that it was definitely a fast-paced experience. After we were shown around the clinic for a tour, we saw our first patient who was entering into labor. Walking in, I noticed blood on the floor in the corner by another bed and I asked the nurse about it. I was surprised that they had not cleaned it up yet, but he told me that it was an emergency and that patient was already being moved to another room to give birth. Right after asking, he left the room to find out if we could see the birth and within minutes he was back and excited to tell us that we had clearance to go to the birthing room. Breaking into a quick stride and light jog we were already quickly headed into the room where we met the mother and the father nervously gearing up for their life-changing moment.

I was nervous myself as I was uncomfortably close to the mother, who I did not know. I felt that it was a moment too precious to be shared with foreign strangers, but I was thankful that she allowed my classmate and I to observe. Once inside, we are given masks to protect our mouths and I already was breathing heavily as it was my first time wearing one and the room was getting exceptionally warm. It was a matter of minutes until she began and it felt like it all happened in just a few seconds but I was already seeing the newborn in the mother’s arms with her relieved and heart-filled smile. I look up to the father who had to step out a moment earlier to calm his nerves. His expression of relief was indescribable. It was a miracle. My face was a little damp from sweating and also from the tears that fell down my face. It was just absolutely beautiful how mothers can bring so much beauty into this world. It was at this moment that I started getting excited for when maybe I would see that beauty enter this world again and hoped that maybe that beauty would be my own child.

Un Paraguay en Chile | A Paraguay in Chile

 

Photo at our “Despedida Paraguaya” or Paraguayan goodbye party. In the back, we decorated the wall with a Paraguayan flag with Paraguayan jerseys against the wall on every chair.
Araceli, who always went by Ara, loved psychology, reading, and watching old movies. Fascinated with old film, she would always invite Vero and I to vintage film showings and we even had movie marathons. We always enjoyed talking about books, window shopped, had deep conversations about feminism and world justice and vented about our struggles studying abroad and our unreasonable amounts of homework.

As I blogged in one of my first blogs, “It’s Hard to Immerse And Why It’s Okay” I talked about my difficulty finding friends of my age that I could relate to other than my IES classmates. Though I was taking classes at a local university, I only really made acquaintances which was fine and to be expected. I was always told that making friends among local students can be sometimes difficult as friend groups are pretty much set while Chileans are known to be somewhat timid when talking with new people. Though I heard this many times, I didn’t think it would really be a problem and still to this day I still think the problem was with me. I was a little scared, to be honest. I have always put unrealistic expectations on myself to speak very good Spanish and I was nervous about being teased because of my American accent. Silly, right? But luckily, regardless of this fear I ended up meeting a great group of friends that I have stayed in touch with even after my program ended. I met two of them, Araceli and Verónica, in a volunteering meeting at the local university where I took my Religion course and they were super friendly and asked everyone around them for their names introducing themselves saying they were from Paraguay.  Right before I left this meeting, we ended up exchanging numbers to stay in touch about campus events that were coming up. At the moment, I didn’t think much of it since I had met many students from class and ended up forgetting their names or never hearing from them, but it was within weeks that I began to spend a lot of time with them, and eventually I began feeling like I was a part of something. They would often invite me and some of my friends to school functions and places around the city to explore.  I would always thank them profusely for extending their invitations because it really meant a lot to me and even more so when they began teaching me about their culture.

“Eventually I began feeling like I was a part of something”.

One of the first Paraguayan friends I met in Santiago: Verónica or Vero, we would always call her. She was always super energetic and loved ballet and was always down to go dancing salsa. Before I left to return to the United States, she gave me a keychain from Paraguay and mentioned that she had her own from Panama (where many of family is from) so that we remember that we have a home to stay at when we visit our family’s countries.

I learned a lot about their country’s second language, Guarani, which is just as official as Spanish and originates from its indigenous population. In Paraguay, these cultures are not separate but are one, as its blood flows mixed with the two. My friends Ara and Vero, who are Psychology majors, would often tell me that Guarani is important to connect with their patients. Sometimes when addressing a patient in Spanish, he or she can be closed and not as open to communicate; but as one speaks in Guarani, one can communicate more emotion and raw sentiment. It really allows for a deeper interaction. I also found Guarani to even be part of my communication with them as they taught me many words like purrete which means cool or maena which means triste or sad, or my favorite one, mopio, which we would always say after someone said something unbelievable or that was a lie. I still will never forget the first time I used it. One day I was invited to their apartment that they rented out along with other Paraguayan exchange students and they burst out laughing. At first I felt that my fear of being teased of language had been realized but they were actually laughing with me, so excited that I had been learning Guarani. At this moment, one of my friends, Sayra had clapped in glee saying that I had already become Paraguayan.

A parting gift given to me about a few weeks before I left for the United States to remind me that I will always have a home or many in Paraguay.

If I ever felt like I had found friends before, I felt like I had found something greater, like a second family. I truly felt home. It was where we would all vent to each other, share our dreams, bake our own pizzas, dance and watch movies until we were always reminded of the homework that was due the next day or the test we had to study for. Like all my family reunions that scheduled for a time, we would always gather at least an hour late and leave hours after we say it’s time to go. We loved food, we loved to dance, we loved to eat, and we loved to talk. To be honest, their apartment was something that of a symbol for me: that whenever I felt I needed a friend, it would be there on Calle Paraguay. To this day, I think it so ironic that the very street they lived on is named after their country, but it made it easy to find and I never had to look hard to find it. It was truly a home a way from home. It was my Paraguay in Chile.

 

 

 

Chi Chi Chi le le le, ¡Vamos Chile!

I’ve never been prouder than when I saw Chile make it all the way to the finals of the Russian Confederation’s Cup. It was a Sunday morning full of excitement as all of the streets were full of vendors selling merchandise for the game. The game was scheduled at noon so I thought that I would make it to church right before the game so made sure I caught the earliest bus headed towards Quinta Normal about 10 minutes away from my church. To be honest, I did not expect anyone to be at the service but it was the most full that I had ever seen it and everyone were dressed in red and white with team-wear. I was not able to stay for the sermon but only the worship and prayer which prayed over not only the game but also the primary elections which were taking place that very day.

So, after the prayer I quickly left so that I could beat the traffic before 30 minutes before noon to make it back to my host family’s home and help prepare lunch before the game. On my return with a newly bought jersey and team scarf from the streets, I found the house unrecognizably reorganized as my host dad was cleaning frantically around the house. The TV was blaring with the pre-game interviews and analysis while I heard chanting and screaming outside. Everyone was ready and excited for the match. And within 30 minutes, it all began. All was clean and all food was set. Not a movement was made. Everyone was glued in front of the TV. Every minute was more painful than the next, giving all who watch much anxiety with every silly mistake that the Chilean team made against their young Germany opposers. Unfortunately, it all ended in a loss. It was not a shoot out like Chile’s prior match but it ended with dirty and rough play by Germany. I was crushed. I honestly wanted to cry. Never have I ever been so emotionally invested in a game. I truly felt like I was a part of it, that I would be able to witness a country that I had grown to love so much make and write its own history.

My Documentary: “Solitude: A Companion Abroad”

As mentioned in my first blog, I had been planning on filming a documentary for months and had many difficulties such as lack of money for equipment (tripod, camera and lenses) and losing my iPhone 7 that had taken the majority of my shots.  Despite these set backs, I was able to produce something that really captured the emotions and experience I had abroad.  Thanks to the help of a classmate who helped co-direct and write the documentary, Kyle Arnold, we were able to submit it for the IES Abroad film festival.  The message that it carries is simple:

We always talk about the glamour of study abroad, but once abroad we find out that it is only a façade; about how often times, on the Instagram post, it looks as if we are having the times of our lives, but really behind the camera is a lonely traveler much more lost than clear about what he or she is doing.  We are left to our own thoughts as we constantly question our own selves.  Why am I even here?  Will this help me decide my major?  What will I do after?  These questions eat at us and often go unanswered even as we return abroad; however, there is some solace in that.  While we believe we are alone, we have never been alone.  It is solitude that joins and accompanies us in our most isolated moments.  I hope you who are reading this and are hoping to study abroad or are already studying abroad know that it is okay to be alone, because when you are abroad this solitude is the greatest teacher of your time away from all that is familiar to you.

This video was inspired by the solitude that I often felt during my study abroad program.  From the first day of my stay in Santiago, I really felt that I was leaving a lot home: people that I loved and everything familiar to me.  But it wasn’t that I missed home that made this solitude, it was that I struggled to find a home a way from home in Santiago.  Immersing myself into the culture and finding Chilean friends was always a difficulty because everyone seemed to have their own schedule and meeting up in the city often times hours across it was always a barrier to making strong friendships.  At first, I saw this struggle negatively but as time went on, I began to embrace this solitude and take advantage of it.  So I used it to get to know my own self and really challenge myself.  In this solitude I discovered many things that I would not have about myself if I had had the distractions of those who are very dear and familiar to me.  I needed to be uncomfortable and I needed to grow.

How I Got Lost in the Atacama Desert

Saturday morning started like any other would in the driest desert in the world.  Yes, I was in the Atacama Desert of San Pedro.  It was as if the desert had a thirst so severe that could never be quenched even by its recent heavy rains.  Its travelers feel the same as water is hard to come by if you aren’t in its main pueblo, San Pedro de Atacama.  If the aridness wasn’t enough to make you fatigued from thirst, its high altitude would sure make you winded and short of breath as it made me on my ill-advised biking exodus on that eventful Saturday.  So let’s begin my journey at 7:00 am when I woke up that morning.

7:00am – Alarm blares loudly on top of the night stand below me by the lower lower bunk in my two bunk bed hostel.  Disoriented and unable to see, I stumble down my bunk and turn off my the alarm jamming my finger all over the screen until I diffuse its annoying ring. Remembering what I had woken up so early for, I quickly get ready and quietly walk out the hostel room so as to not wake up my friends sleeping.  Still moving at a slow pace, I was not dressed until 7:30 am and I was out the door by around 7:50 am with my bike that was rented out until 1:00 pm that day.  So, the idea was that I would be finished with my biking route at Catarpe park by 11:00 am with time to arrive back at the pueblo and return the bike and make it back for my next tour to Valle de la Luna.  So according to the map, it would take me about about 3 hours to visit Pukara de Quitor and about 2 hours to visit Petrogupos 8 km north from the entrance.  But my time estimations were completely wrong.  I was barely able to get back on time.

Rough map of Catarpe park drawn for me by my hostel host
  1. Pukara Quitor 
  2. Túnel
  3. Quebrada Chulacro 
  4. Tambo de Catarpe
  5. Capilla San Isidro
  6. Cuchabarche
  7. Petrogupos 

 

 

 

So I started biking that morning, heading for Catarpe park and the very first thing I was greeted by were a flock of sheep following a man on a horse.

He greeted me with a nod and I biked in front of them.  And so I continued for a brief 30 minutes until I found a fork in the road.  At the fork, there were signs to head to either “el Tunel” (tunnel) or towards the chapel.  So caught in between heading towards the tunnel towards the Wide Rock or Piedra de Anchos and headed towards the Saint Isidro chapel (Capilla San Isidro).  And so there, my real journey began. After I followed that path, I ran into what looked like a red chasm.  My curiosity peaked as I though this was the tunnel but I would later find out that it was not.  At this point, the soil began to turn powdery and I was surrounded by tall red walls.  Suddenly, I heard galloping noises in the distance and I scurried off my bike to find the source of the noise to encounter 4 horsemen.  After taking a brief snack break, I jumped back on my rented bike to catch up with them but just as I began continuing my journey the steepness of the path began to dramatically increase making the biking unreasonably difficult so I decided that I would go on foot until I found the tunnel.  Given how exhausted I was, I decided to leave my bike and lock it to the rock as I was not sure if I would encounter more steep trekking.  After clearing the long dark tunnel, I see a large opening that took me about 2 hours to clear and finally find the Wide Rock which was just as underwhelming as it sounds. Disappointed by this landmark, I continued walking north until I found another opening that allowed me to see a freeway in the distance with moving dots distorted by the sun.  Around me, I also found destroyed Chilean PDI police cars that seemed to have been blown up.  Although wanting to continue, I decided to head back as I had a scheduled a tour to make it to.  After returning to the Wide Rock the opening looked completely different and in a matter of minutes I was lost.

After frantically looking for the path I took, I found a man striding speedily in the distance with a hiking stick.  He had been moving so fast that I thought that he had been going at a biking speed.  Afraid that I would get lost without his help, I ran has fast as I could to catch up with him.  He stops as I he hears me yell for his attention and looks shocked to find another traveler on his path.  He welcomed me with a hearty handshake and invited me to walk with him.  As we begin walking he begins to tell me his life story, beginning with telling me that his name was Hugo and that he was lost as well.  He was on his way to Alaska from the south of Argentina as a year journey and sabbatical from his life as a video-gamer in Spain.  He said he was tired of his life as a gamer and wanted to pursue adventure and take advantage of his youth.  He had a cheap budget that consisted of spending a few dollars a day on yogurt, water, and ham and cheese sandwiches and was hoping to make it last for the entire trip towards Alaska.  I told him about my reasoning for being in San Pedro and explained that I was studying abroad and that I wanted to go on one last trip.  And so, we continued talking for the next few hours until we began to find ourselves even more lost.

Certain that we could find the way back to the tunnel, we were even more lost within an hour so we tried several times to climb up higher points to scope out any other travelers.  Luckily, we found something in the distance on a high path.  Shouting loud for help, it stopped moving. Jumping down from where we saw it, we ran up to whom we found out to be be a traveling woman.  It was my hostel host.  I could not have been so relieved and surprised.  Calling out my name before I could make out her identity she asked if I was lost.  I answered with little breath, yes and that I needed to take Hugo to the tunnel and she just pointed to her right as the tunnel was sitting right below us.  And that is how I was saved from desertion in the desert.

 

Health Studies Program in Chile

As I blogged in a previous post, I was part of a health-studies clinical observation program as a part of the IES Abroad program.  In this program, we have a Medical Spanish course that meets 3 times a week, a biweekly public health seminar course and a weekly field placement.

My field placement was under Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile’s School of Nursing.  Initially, I wanted to sign up for public health placement for health education but due to limited spots, I did not get the placement.  Luckily, the clinical observations placement that I was put in was much better than I expected.  Rather than only shadowing nurses and doctors, we were able to assess several health systems ranging from substance abuse rehabilitation homes to visiting indigenous Mapuche machi (Mapuche healer).  It definitely sparked an interest in both medicine and public health for me as it allowed me to even co-write an article on alternative and complementary medicine implementation in Chile’s healthcare system.  But if I were to state some of my most impactful experiences of the program, I would say that witnessing my first birth, visiting a Mapuche ruca and a woman’s abuse rehabilitation home, along with watching 4 surgeries in one day were some at the top of the list.  To those who are interested in medicine and are hoping to study abroad, I would highly recommend doing this program as it will also give you tools to serve patients in Spanish and gain a global perspective on medicine. Below, I have some miscellaneous videos and photos from the program.  For privacy purposes not many could be taken during my experience.

Visiting the Mapuche ruca where we were shown many medicinal herbs that are used to alleviate certain illnesses.
Visiting a dialysis clinic. Met a patient that visits clinic for his dialysis regularly and returns home after. Unlike him, many other patients are on dialysis permanently and are unable to leave the clinic.

 

My Pluscuamperfectos: Si Hubiera… “If I Had…”

So one of the tenses a Spanish student will learn is called the Pluscuamperfecto which is as complicated as it sounds. The structure of this tense usually requires that the user use the past perfect tense in the first clause (I would have…) followed by a conditional perfect tense in the second clause (If I would have…). In Spanish if one wanted to say that they would have gotten an A if they had studied it would be said like so: “Si hubiera estudiado yo habría sacado una A”. But why am I even writing about this? Well, sometimes this sentence structure is used with sentiments of regret, when reminiscing and thinking about other possible outcomes. As it has been the last few weeks for me in Santiago, Chile, I have been having many thoughts in this tense. Si hubiera sabido cuánto me costaría para vivir en Chile habría ahorrado bastante más dinero. Si hubiera tenido más tiempo… Yo habría recorrido más si… Pucha, también habría conocido más chilenos si… And my thoughts continue.

I’ll explain what I am thinking. So I have written down a list of things I wish I had known or done during my time here in Santiago. I also wrote this for those who are hoping to study abroad in the future so that they would not share my same regrets at the end of their program, so I have written some advice for each one.

  • Study hard but make sure you leave time to explore. Study abroad is what it sounds like. Yes, you will study. But you are also abroad, so take advantage of it! If I had focused a little less on my studies, I would have had more time to travel. Nonetheless, I am more than satisfied with the amount of traveling I was able to do.
  • Spend more time with people your age, get to know the youth culture, learn what is in, and find a group of friends that live and know the area. If I had taken more courses at the local university, I would have met more Chileans of my age. I would have been able to practice my Spanish with them more.
  • Be wise with your money but don’t hold on to it to the point you miss out on priceless experiences. If I had worried less about how much everything costed, I would have focused on what I truly wanted to see and do and go ahead and do it. Stretching your dollar abroad is taxing and stressful.
  • Spanish-majors, try to spend less time with your American peers, especially the ones who only speak English. If you are going to, hablar en español, really. It will not only help you but those around you who want to practice. Fortunately, I was able to meet a group of Paraguayan foreign exchange students that I am proud to call some of my closest friends during my time in Chile. I was not able to see them all the time but it was extremely invaluable to be able to spend time with people who spoke the language and talked about the same age group things. But at the same time, be balanced. I am also guilty of speaking in English with my American friends. Overall, if I had spent more time with Chileans and less with my American classmates, I would have improved my Spanish even more.
  • And on learning the language, I wish I had not put so much pressure on myself to become fluent. Any linguist will tell its student that it is impossible to become fluent during a study abroad semester even in language immersion for 5 consecutive months. Instead, I recommend focusing on your weaknesses, the technical errors that need to be addressed and learning a few words a day writing out their different applications. Take your time. Breath. Tranquilo.
  • Do what you are passionate about, what you would do at your hometown or university. If I had done more extracurriculars, I would have been more integrated into the community.
  • Journal. I wished I had journaled more. If I had, I would have documented more of the emotional journey I’ve had while being here. Write down the strong emotions that you experience during your time abroad. Sadness, excitement, inspiration, loneliness, everything. In the moment, you might be so joyous that you don’t even have the time or reason to stop and write it down or so depressed that you can’t even muster the energy to pick up a pencil, but let me tell you in hindsight those emotional moments teach you many things. For me, my excitement taught me how much I loved pediatrics and maternity when I shadowed at my local hospital. My loneliness also taught me how to entertain myself and develop my spiritual life. My frustrations taught me patience and control.
  • Ask questions. I wish I had done this more. Ask without shame and do not be satisfied with just one answer. Learn about everything you can. If you do not know about it, don’t just nod your way off until the topic goes away. Ask about it. Go on the internet and then go back and ask informed questions.

Though I have many pluscuamperfectos, “what if”s and “if only”s, I have many more “I’ve done”s.

So these are some of the many pluscuamperfectos that have been occurring in my mind. As the day of my flight back to the United States has been approaching, I have been tempted to do everything I haven’t done yet but I have not. I have decided that I would leave Chile, having done what I could, and what I couldn’t do or just didn’t do, I am confident, will be done in the future. The experiences that I was simply unaware of or refused to take advantage of I know will be available in other opportunities in the States, even in my hometown and college.

I have decided that I would leave Chile, having done what I could, and what I couldn’t do or just didn’t do, I am confident, will be done in the future.

Though I have many pluscuamperfectos, “what if”‘s, “if only”‘s, I have many more “I’ve done”‘s. I have been able to see almost all of Chile’s geography from its driest desert in the north to its beautiful marshes in the south. I have been able to co-write a public health article that is on its way to being published. I have made many strong friendships that I believe will last a lifetime even across borders. I have been able to improve my Spanish to point of functional fluency. I am making less errors and am more conscious of them when I make them. Though my phone was stolen in the beginning of my program, I have been able to film many short projects with borrowed equipment and will be submitting one for a film festival. And this only scratches the surface. I can continue to even list off more of my regrets, but I can say with confidence that I am truly satisfied with my time here in Chile.

Chile at Surface Level: Modismos

So after being here in Chile for so long, I though it would be appropriate that I write an article on some Chilean slang.

Phrases

Some words in Chile do not exist in Spanish for other countries. Such words make what Chileans call modismos or chilenismos, in other words Chilean slang. Let’s take a look at a few:

  • Cool bacán
  • Expensive restaurant – pirulo
  • You know? You understand? – ¿Cachai?
  • Snobby – cuico 
  • Baby – guagua
  • Belly/stomach – guata
  • How does that sound? Would you like to…? – ¿Te tinca? 
  • Boring – fome/ lata “Qué lata”
  • Party – carretear/ el carrete 
  • Boyfriend/girlfriend – pololo/polola
  • Dude – weon
  • 1000 pesos/money – luca
  • Traffic – taco
  • Right away – al tiro
  • Rock paper scissors – cachipún
  • For extra emphasis: + po 
  • “Chill” – tranqui

Pronunciations 

In Chile, some Chileans will conjugate some of their verbs differently when addressing someone who they are familiar with or is of the same age or younger, using the form.

Estar = to be        Querer = to want

Normal tú form: estas         Chilean tú form: estay

Normal tú form: quieres    Chilean tú form: queri

So that is what to expect when hearing Chilean Spanish. Even for those who speak Spanish as their first language find that there is a slight learning curve to understanding and even feeling comfortable using slang within everyday conversations. After a lot of TV shows and spending time with Chileans one will eventually cachar all of the slang that they use here. So if you want to visit Chile and are overwhelmed by the enormous amount of slang, tranqui. Don’t be worried; you will learn a lot of slang to the point you will feel like a local!

 

Chiloe Made Me Fall in Love with Nature

Before you begin reading, I invite you watch this video first. It better explains the title than what I have written below. I always say that a video speaks a million words. I must say that I have always appreciated nature but never was really enchanted as I was by it when I filmed this video. Enjoy.

So, it’s been about a few months since I was able to to visit one of Chile’s most scenic places, Chiloe Island. The farthest I have ever been from the hustle and bustle of Santiago where I am living. It doesn’t get any better than the tranquility of only being able to hear my breath in the silence of the shores of the island or even to appreciate the unhindered sun rays penetrating through the thickets of green on afternoon hikes on its moderate hills. Prolonged hours of walking and trekking forgiven by the scenery that it all provided. My filmer-self wanted to capture everything and was frustrated that even what I caught didn’t capture the fullness of what I experienced. But I had to try to film what I could up until I got overwhelmed by it all, put my camera away and just took it all in. Somethings, however, I had to film. Like watching waters by our hotel ripple right under the dock taking the breath away from my friends was a shot that I couldn’t miss.

My filmer-self wanted to capture everything..up until I got overwhelmed by it all, put my camera away and just took it all in. 

Or the wandering cat in the forest that became our ambivalent companion our trek. Or the horses on the plains that seemed overly indifferent to our presence than they were focused on their grassy lunch. Or even just the creativity that seven dandelions, a sandy cliff, and a still puddle of the Pacific’s water can inspire. What did we learn from running around Chiloe’s shores? That nature provides us with flowery diadems, earthy mattresses, and water playgrounds. But how could I have not seen this before? Has the life of a busy college student killed the childlike spirit within me that I have forgotten what it is like to be a child? To explore? To question? To play? Questions like these began flooding in my head as I experience this all and with another one being “Where can I go to experience this again?”

“Nature provides us with flowery diadems, earthy mattresses, and water playgrounds.”

I wanted more. It was certainly something that I would make sure that I would dedicate more of my time to in my stay in Santiago be it hiking the cordillera or exploring the areas most untouched by the metropolitan influence in the country. My next stop, I decided, was San Pedro de Atacama. With only 20 days left until I visit the world’s driest desert where the stars are so large and clear that they almost seem reachable. I only hope that when I visit that I take in the experience for what it is and not for what it could be like in my next Instagram post or documentary. But I admit, that will be difficult for me to do.

“Ser sólo con la tierra, vivir en consecuencia con la tierra solo como hermano” / “Be with the earth, live accordingly with her, like siblings”

Below are some small videobits and photos that were left out of the montage above. It will say each video is 0:00 but you will have to press play until the white bar goes all the way through and it will play.