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Tuesday, February 28, 2012


I believe that the adventure has finally begun.
It's like this: even if you've traveled geographically, you haven't really traveled to a place until you've caught its pulse. I think I'm finally catching the Viña/Valpo pulse. Ayer my brother Francisco taught me how to use the micro--the bus system--to get to my school from home. The micro confuses me, in that there are no route maps, and if you want to get off at a stop, you have to run to the door to make the driver pull over. Well, as we drove to and from the university, the sun was setting over the glossy blue waters, and Valpo's nightlife was beginning to bloom. Yes, the dream has finally come true: sunsets on the beach, anytime I want.
Also, I adore riding buses and going on drives with people beacuse it's a great way to get to know them. Poor Francisco: he thought he was only getting a housemate. Oh no, sir, you just got a sister and we're going to be the best of buddies. So we chatted the valpo twilight away, me in broken Spanish of course, as I stared out the windows with wide open eyes.

This morning I woke up and caught the micro to school, where I was surrounded by more gringos than I've been around since December--a tad overwhelming if I do say so myself. Then me and a couple other girls walked around Valpo before we had to head back. Imogen took us to this really cool hill, where all the buildings were painted with beautiful, beautiful murals. We sat in the shade, on a colorful mosaic bench, staring down at the rows of murals, at the sparkling ocean, and I thought to myself, yes: this is why I chose Valparaiso.

After a really wonderful nap, I spent the afternoon with my parents on the porch drinking coffee and talking. My mami is loca. I think she's in her late sixties or so, and she's this funky little woman who says whatever pops into her mind, which quite often has to do with the heat, or how I'm going to find a pololo (boyfriend) in Valparaiso very soon. (That's my favorite Chilean word so far. POLOLO! Kind of reminds me of pollo loco, not gonna lie.) At one point she told me that her favorite gift is soap, an she pulled out a ziplock bag filled to the rim with little soaps, which she would pull out over and over to take a whiff from. She said she collected them not to use them, but because she loved their smell. My Chilean dad is also really awesome. He's one of those very quiet men, who commands all the attention in the room, even though he speaks very, very softly. He also collects things. A lot of things. Like ships in glass bottles and electric train models: I could write a poem about him. He's my sage papa. So, we all ate chocolates that I brought from Infusions at home, drank coffee, and just talked for a few hours. I like that. I like that Chileans can just talk and be with eachother.
Tonight, I'll probably go to a gringo party thrown by one of the guys who's been here since last semester, so that should be fun. And Saturday, I am invited to attend a wedding! One of my friends needs a date, and who would pass up a chance to go to a Chilean boda?


Saturday, February 25, 2012

And All the (Wo)men Shall Be Sailors Until They Are Freed

I am terrified of rollercoasters. It's a dreadful feeling, being strapped into those seats, locked in with your legs or your arms dangling, watching as you climb up up up the tracks, listening to every slow, mechanical step of the climb and knowing that as soon as it slows to a stop at the very top, the descent begins and you will have no control over it. I usually cannot remember what the giant drop of the roller coaster feels like, i can never remember if it feels good, or horrible, I only remember screaming and laughing at the same time. I remember in middle school, standing in line for the Medusa at Six Flags theme park, my head going crazy and my stomach a box full of rabid butterflies. I remember knowing that backing out was simple and not simple, because I had to know what it was like to ride this thing through--had to. I mean, by stepping out of the line, I could easily cure myself, feel like a normal human being once again, as opposed to a bag of untameable electricity, about to explode into a million lost molecules. But I didn't step out of the line.

Rarely have I felt this feeling outside of theme parks. This strange, potent mix of terror and excitement that can only come from the absolute unknown. I felt it today. Days ago, saying goodbye to my parents, I didn't feel it. Even landing in Santiago, it hadn't come. Not until I was on the bus from Olmué and I looked out the window to see a sign reading "Viña del Mar" did I feel it. That terrible feeling of "Why am I doing this?!" mashed violently to it's own answer, "Because I must."
I can't explain it to you. I can't explain why the idea of living with a new family for 4 months makes me terrified me in this way, when backpacking alone with no sense of direction in Europe gave me no such waver.
I can't tell you, but I feel like the next four months will be an opportunity to figure that out.

Where I am

Oda a Valparaíso, Pablo Neruda

qué disparate
qué loco,
puerto loco,
qué cabeza
con cerros,
no acabas
de peinarte,
tiempo de vestirte,
te sorprendió
la vida,
te despertó la muerte,
en camisa,
en largos calzoncillos
con flecos de colores,
con un nombre
tatuado en la barriga,
y con sombrero,
te agarró el terremoto,
te quebraste las uñas,
se movieron
las aguas y las piedras,
las veredas,
el mar,
la noche,
tú dormías
en tierra,
de tus navegaciones,
y la tierra,
levantó su oleaje
más tempestuoso
que el vendaval marino,
el polvo
te cubría
los ojos,
las llamas
quemaban tus zapatos,
las sólidas
casas de los banqueros
como heridas ballenas,
mientras arriba
las casas de los pobres
al vacio
como aves
que probando las alas
se desploman.

te olvidas
de las lágrimas,
a colgar tus moradas,
a pintar puertas
lo transformas en nave,
la remendada proa
de un pequeño,
La tempestad corona
con espuma
tus cordeles que cantan
y la luz del océano
hace temblar camisas
y banderas
en tu vacilación indestructible.

de lejos,
en la altura de la costa
y pronto
tu escondido fuego,
el vaivén
de tus sordos callejones,
el desenfado
de tu movimiento,
la claridad
de tu marinería.
Aquí termino, es esta
tan pequeña
como una camiseta
en tus ventanas harapientas
en el viento
del océano,
de todos
los dolores
de tu suelo,
el rocío
de los mares, el beso
del ancho mar colérico
que con toda su fuerza
golpeándose en tu piedra
no pudo
porque en tu pecho austral
están tatuadas
la lucha,
la esperanza,
la solidaridad
y la alegría
como anclas
que resisten
las olas de la tierra.


This is the first post in my blog. It is worth revisiting as my newest travels begin.


We were anointed cartographers.
confused; pens and tools sprouted from our palms.
We cried out, 'but we've no eyes, we've shaky hands',
but still, they demanded maps.
How could we trace the things we'd seen,
how could we know the scale of the mountains-
we get altitude sickness from the size of our dreams.
The storms we've seen have washed away kings,
The terrain we've trekked has been forsaken.
How can we measure the depths of those rivers
that left currents in us, leading to what?
Charybdis-eternal starvation?

What can we make of the places that made us-
How can we explain to you of the paths we have taken?
We followed the glint of a golden spool that pulled us
From our minotaurs and from our mazes,
That is all that we can say.
And from this grew tracks,
But maps?
Perhaps we can hold you in our eyes until you
Get a glimpse of what you're looking for,
But we cannot show the way.