Chills in Chile

The recent cold snap in Santiago was quickly snuffed out by blazing heat, reminding us that being near a western-facing window from 5pm to 8pm is like stepping into an inferno. But in a few months, as this inferno fades into memory, we will be in the midst of winter that on paper should not feel as miserable as it is. Continue reading

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Smoke Gets in Our Eyes

Dear Princess Chelsea: I think I can settle this debate once and for all. Move to a dry climate. If you lived somewhere with forest fires, ideally a valley, you’d be guaranteed a steady supply of smoke all day and night. So much smoke it will make your contacts burn and turn your curtains grey. Maybe your fella can accept that. Best of luck, me.

Ladies with Lots of Last Names

ca. 1860-1873, Santiago

ca. 1860-1873

In Love in the Time of Cholera Gabriel García Márquez’s heroine faces discrimination due to her less than stellar origins: though Fermina Daza’s father is a mule driver, he dreams of catapulting her into the elite through marriage. Fermina’s father succeeded, much to the surprise of the other young ladies vying to be Juvenal Urbino’s bride. Especially since many of these ladies were actually ladies, and part of Juvenal’s social orbit by virtue of their multiple last names. García Márquez communicated this subtle critique of class politics through a lovely visual, like a string of pearls (how suitable), and I was reminded of it today when I read the third installment of “La Mujer Chilena en la Memoria,” a series from the Society section of El Mercurio. Continue reading

Microbus Art

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One of the best things about living in Chile this side of 2007 is that the yellow buses are gone. When I first lived in Santiago in 2005 I avoided this mode of transport: not only were there no formal bus stops, but the buses rarely stopped. Also, people called them micros. Not autobús as I had obediently learned sometime in high school; you could fill tomes with Spanish I thought people spoke. But I digress. This is an important anecdote because in Chile a city bus is called a microbús, abbreviated simply to micro in commuter-speak. Somewhere in this abbreviation this critical terms jumps gender and becomes “la micro,” which to my institutional Spanish sounds like cats screeching every time I hear it. All of this is mingled into my loathing of the yellow micros and all the commuters with nostalgia for the old system are sentimental loons. Continue reading