About South America – II – First week in Chile!

Why Latin America? –

Hola amigos! Here is my second article about my South American adventures, whoohoop! Previously I wrote that I would have to explain to you the reasons of my trip before telling you more about the trip itself. So here it is…
I studied anthropology, History and sociology at l’EHESS, in Marseille (a beautiful gorgeous city in southern France). For my master degree, I had to write a 150 pages thesis. I decided to write and work on “Art and Feminism”. And I chose Mexico (cause I couldn’t write about the entire world’s feminist art in two years, you know?). And before arriving in that amazing city I had to do one very important thing… learn Spanish. Because as I said in my previous article, I barely knew a word before arriving in South America. And plus I thought… Well, I am going to cross the planet might as well see a few countries and get back on the road before starting my work in Mexico. It’s not the first time that I go off onto a long trip far from everything and everyone I know, and I kind of missed that so I thought it was a great opportunity to travel more. But I am getting off topic… (am I…?).

Chile –

Chile was my first choice because I had a very dear Chilean friend whom I met while living in the States when I was sixteen years old (maybe more on that later as well?). So I decided I would start with Chile, a country I didn’t really know, and I arrived in Santiago. I stayed only a few days there, but I really loved it. And then went South to see my friend, in Curico, a very little town.
During my time in Santiago I went to Valparaiso to visit that colorful artistic city everyone was talking about. Let me tell you more about that…

Valparaiso –

While waiting for the bus to get to Valparaiso, I met a Chilean family, three women; the grandmother, the mom, and the daughter. I loved them because they made me think of my own family right away. We talked a little (I, in a very -very- bad Spanish) and it quickly got funny, they were like “oh my! you’re going to Valparaiso alone? Can’t do! We’re gonna spend the day with you and take you to nice places!”. The mom was one of the most talkative people I’ve ever met. Let me remind you that it was my first WEEK in Chile, I couldn’t understand Spanish well (at all) and she was talking soooo fast. And she wouldn’t stop, I tried a few times to say « más lento por favor no hablo bien español » (like chill mate I don’t understand you). But she would not stop for a bit, she was like “oh si, si”, would repeat her last sentence and then start blabbering again. After maybe four or five « mas lento por favor » I just gave up and smiled. Honestly, I was just trying to understand what she was talking about and focusing on my « aaaah si si ». The grandmother was not so talkative and the daughter was smiling, listening to her mom and adding a few details to the stories. What was funny is that she said she would take me to a nice place because she knew Valparaiso. And wait for it. We walked on the side of the highway for about half an hour, I could see, on my left, the city. It seemed so pretty and I kept thinking, why are we walking here? I was politely trying to drift the attention to what I could see of the city and casually say things like « oh and what is this? A church? It seeeemms quite prettyyy to meeee» and every time she would be like yeah yeah and would go back to telling her stories. She told me that the city was very dangerous, so it was better to walk there. At the time I remember telling to myself ok okkk sure thing we’re going to arrive at a veryyyy typical and nice restaurant. So I walked. And hoped. And of course. Of courseeee. Of courseeee we arrived in front of…. in front of… A MALL! A mall… A mall…

The Mall –

So we went in and they took me to a fast food. In the mall… I don’t remember what it was called but it was like a Chilean Burger King. I just said oh here? Is the food good? (that was me politely trying to get away). But the answer was oh yeahhhh very gooood, and very cheap! So I sat and had my lunch with them. Because, you know, they were really nice. And here I was in a mall eating my french fries with three delightful ladies. One of them ended up asking me what I was doing here by myself, and I decided to go for it, I told them about my thesis and started talking about feminism. To see what were their thoughts on the question. And it was so interesting. We compared France and Chile, talked about the dictatorship and how women, at that time had to be back on the « stay home and raise the children » mode and had no other option. Then we discussed the election of a president woman in 2006, about the feminist’s movements and finally the fact that women were paid less than men for the same amount of work in both countries.
After lunch they took me to the tourism office so that I could get a map, I warmly thanked them for their kindness and we then went on different directions. And I started to wander in Valparaiso… One of the most beautiful cities I have ever been to in my life. And about which, I will tell you in my next article.
Until then, Paix & Amour, Toujours.

Julie Charlotte

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