Thoughts on the World From the Stillness of a Chilean Village
Talking to the World Project
I started this project in 2014 as a personal challenge. I wanted to see if it was possible to speak to one person in each country of the world. Talk to them about their daily lives. Our commonalities, rather than our differences. I assured them they could respond in any way they chose. Because the focus is on their words, I only identify them by their first names. To date, I have spoken with people in 60 plus countries with the help of friends, family, neighbors, and colleagues. I still have a long way to go.
From Hungary to Chile: How I Found Carlos
I barely knew my Hungarian grandmother. By the time I met her, her mind had already begun to unravel. Sadly, that was my only memory of her. Then, this past month, I joined Ancestry.com. Plugging in my grandmother’s name, I was surprised to find her image on a stranger’s family tree. The owner turned out to be an unknown cousin, Karen. With her help, I am digging deeper into my Hungarian roots.
But Karen has gone beyond helping me with family history. Responding to my call for new interviewees, she offered to put me in touch with her friend, Carlos, who lives in Chile.
I am so grateful to her.
Carlos was born in Viña del Mar, Chile, South America.
After finishing three years at the Chilean Military School, he took a job with Shell Chile Ltd., where he worked in sales, plant operations, distribution, procurement, foreign trade, customs, and insurances. After 42 years he left that job and worked for ten years at the Chilean branch of Cytec Industries.
Now retired, Carlos lives in El Monte, a small agricultural town located thirty miles from Chile’s capital of Santiago. Fishing along Chile’s numerous rivers and lakes is his main hobby.
All photos used in this post were taken by Carlos and used with his permission.
My Interview With Carlos
Please look out a window in your home and tell me what you see.
I see a nice garden, flowers, trees, a swimming pool, and a lot of green around everywhere. (my house is built on a piece of land 1,521 square meters).
Which languages do you speak?
I speak Spanish and English.
Is there something unique or unusual about where you live?
Where I live you may say is a typical country-side small town of Chile. Agriculture is here the main activity (no industries). You can still see some Chilean “Huasos” (traditional horsemen) riding along the streets.
Life is quiet and still, and nobody seems to be in a hurry.
What would you like the world to know about your country?
That we are a friendly and peaceful country, that we are happy to welcome visitors, and have wonderful places to show them. We also have nice food to offer to foreigners, especially delicious fish and seafood, and local dishes. We also have, of course, wines and fruits.
What is a myth or stereotype about your country that you would like to correct?
Chileans are famous abroad as pickpockets (robbers), but I consider that the number of felonies they are responsible for are similar to the ones made by citizens of other nationalities.
What is your favorite time of year in Chile and why?
Spring is the season I like here most. Everything starts flowering and growing. Pastures become green and new leaves start to be seen on the trees. Climate also improves with mild temperatures, so cold and rainy days are something of the past.
If I came to your home for dinner, what would you serve me?
A cold starter of abalones (seafood) with mayonnaise and salads and the main course consisting of roasted beef and saultéed potatoes. Papayas (fruit) with cream for dessert.
Who is a famous Chilean you admire?
I admire Mr. Guillermo Parvex, a Chilean writer who has published several books regarding our past history and almost forgotten military actions. Unknown and surprising details can be learned by reading his books.
What brings you joy?
Sharing a barbeque with my family and friends.
What frightens you?
Losing my mental lucidity.
What does your country do well?
What could your country do better?
Increase or encourage promotion campaigns to develop more new products for export. Use raw materials (which are now exported as such) to be locally incorporated as the added value of new finished products.
What is your opinion of the United States?
It is a great example for the world of how a free country must be.
What would you like to say to the American people?
Try to learn more about other countries and understand their sometimes different cultures.
Is there a cultural work that best describes Chile?
The song “Si vas para Chile”, that tells visitors that they are always welcome here.
What one word best sums up the people and culture of Chile?