Category Archives: Chile

La Boca Chueca

I was sitting at dinner the other night wristing my fore-arms on the edge of the table while chatting and eating. And I got to thinking about where that habbit had comefrom. It wasn’t the tabboo etiquette of putting my elbows on the table, but my hands seldomly landed in my lap, even during conversation. That is when I remembered a very strict point of Chilean dinner etiquette: your hands must be above the table at all times. I can’t remember why, I think it meant something along the lines that if your hands couldn’t be seen your were shifty or less than honest, not trustworthy.

Another thing that I was told about was how many Latinos pointed with their lips. “How funny!” I remember thinking, “I will never do that.” Well, I am still a lip pointer, my husband has a good chuckle over it. It comes in dreadfully useful when my hands are full and I need to ask someone to do something or get something and I can just point with my lips and say, “over there” or “can you get (lip thrust inserted here) that for me dear?” Or I can wiggle my eyebrows playfully and point my lips in the direction of the bedroom. 🙂 I have even caught Paul pointing with his lips. Watch out, its catching, you might start doing it to! 🙂

One of my favorite ‘old wive’s tales’ in Chile was ‘la boca chueca’ or the crooked mouth. I was warned of this ailment shortly after my arrival. It was evening and we had been drinking Ecco (a hot drink similar to Postum that is a favorite there). Though it never got very cold in the Northern desert of Chile, it would get a bit chilly in the winter months after the sun had set. I finished the last of my drink and my companion and I got up to leave, it was getting late and we needed to get back home quickly.

“No, no!” the Senora told me, “You cannot go now, you will get ‘la bocca chueca’!” Looking at my mystified face she explained to me, “When you drink a hot drink and step out into the cold immediately your mouth will jerk to the side of your face and be stuck.” Of course I had never heard of this and decided to take my chances. I later found out that the same could happen if you drank a cold drink and stepped out immediately into the hot desert air.

You may ask, did it ever really happen? Well, my companion and I pretended it did with a few of the families we had gotten to know well, always with a firm scolding that it wasn’t a laughing matter. They always seemed to know someone with la boca chueca, though in the entire I was there I never saw it happen. 🙂

If you ever journey to Chile and find yourself with a crooked mouth, you can’t say I didn’t warn you! 🙂 heh

What are some of the ‘old wives tales’ or myths you have experienced or heard?

5 Comments

Filed under Chile

On The Road

PSHunt

Grab the Scavenger Hunt code.
Photo Theme. Join the blogroll. Visit participants.

Well here we are litterally on the road, or what was left of it after major flash flooding in Chile. This picture was taken in a town called Copiapo which is located in the northen region in the Atacama Desert. It was the first time it had rained in 30 years or so. All that was left of this road were the manholes. If you want to read more of the story you can read it here.

5 Comments

Filed under Chile, Photography

Old

PS Hunt
Grab the Photo Hunt code.
Join the blogroll. Visit participants.

Parina Cota, Chile (Northern Atacama Desert, Andes)

Click on photo for a close up

A little history: The Atacama Desert is the driest desert in the world and ranges from the northern tip of Chile down to about Vallenar. I spent 1 1/2 years in this region serving a mission for my church. This is a very old community, consisting of an old church and a few houses, pictured here, that we stopped to see as we traveled to the northern most lake, Lake Chungara. As far as I know it is still occupied.
For a little more information (and additional photos) about Northern Chile you can read this previous post: Phenomenon.

(also, I posted late in the day last week, so if you didn’t see the pic and want to, just scroll down below the pics of my daughter and you’ll find it. Or you could just click on silly in the recent posts over on the sidebar, heh.)

28 Comments

Filed under Chile, Photography

Congratulations

Weekly Anamnesis #15

I ran down the stairs and unlocked the mailbox one more time, sighed, and took the mail up to my sisters tiny Japanese apartment. It still hadn’t come. I had been checking every day for the past month with much anticipation. My parents didn’t know that I was having it sent to me in Japan, they thought they would be receiving it and reading it to me over the phone.

It was the one day I didn’t bother checking the mail, my brother-in-law came in and took of his shoes. “J you might want to go check that mailbox.”

The words were barely out of his mouth before my feet took off running with out me as I pounded down the stairs and arrived gasping at the mailbox. There it was in a large white, crisp, envelope, I had been waiting for this for days. I snatched it out and slammed the box shut and charged back up the stairs bursting into the apartment waving the envelope over my head. I sat down at the table as everyone gathered around me and my parents in the US were called.

“Hey, mom, I received this funny looking envelope in the mail today, it says it’s from the presidency of the church, I was just wondering what I should do with it?”

“You brat!” my mom exclaimed jokingly. “Open it! Open it!”

I tore the envelope open and read aloud, my voice shaking with excitement, “You have been called to serve in the Chile Antofagasta Mission.”

Shouts and congratulations went up all around, and my 4 year old nephew full of exuberance and joy, jumping up and down, “Happy Birthday!!!”

Well, what else would be so exciting to a 4 year old. His form of congratulations made the experience even more memorable.

6 Comments

Filed under Anamnesis, Chile, Family, Japan, Religion, Things Kids Say, Writing

Phenomenon

Glug! Glug! Glug! I think I should refer to my kids as swimmers this year instead of walkers. The rain just keeps on coming, and so I thought another rain blog would be suitable. I figured I’d share the story I referred to in a comment I made on the “Thunderstorm” blog.

I was visiting my sister in Japan (it rains a lot there too, hee hee) when the letter arrived. I excitedly ripped into it as the family gathered around and we called our parents in the states. “You have been called,” I read, “to serve in the Antofagasta, Chile Mission.” Squeals of excitement exploded and I realized that my two years of French in high school were really not going to do me much good. Dad was excited and immediately located as much information on the area he could find and mailed it to me. One thing stuck out the most: my entire mission was located in the northern region of Chile in the middle of the Atacama Desert, the driest desert in the world. Driest desert in the world? Oregon girl, lover of the rain, going to a place where it doesn’t rain for years and decades on end.


I remember stepping off the plane in Antofagasta and seeing nothing but brown as far as the eye can see. It wasn’t pretty shades of red like Arizona, it was just plain brown. How many shades of dirt can you get? Nothing grew unless they forced it. I came to love that area and it became beautiful in a fascinating ugly sort of way. (even the Chileans agree that it is ugly) 🙂

This story takes place after I had been in Chile for over a year. I was serving in the southern end of the mission, don’t be fooled it was still in the middle of the desert, in a town called Copiapo. In my mission we lived with families and we called the parents our “papitos.” Houses were small and crowded but the people were happy, loving and kind. We had a small room in the back of the house. The bathroom belonged to the family and we ate all our meals with the family.

It seemed like I had just barely drifted off to sleep when voices and shouts invaded my dreams. One of the sisters ran into our room, “Hermana! Hermana! Esta lluviendo!” “Sister, Sister, it is raining!”

“Yeah right,” I say, “you are playing a joke on me.” and I try to roll over to sleep, when another sister runs in, “come see the rain!” Now I am convinced and my companion and I run out to see this strange phenomenon. The rain is coming down in droves. I run out, being from Oregon, and do my “excited to see the rain for the first time in over a year” dance.
“This is the first rain in over 30 years,” they tell me and I am amazed.

A number of hours later we are awakened again by voices. This time they are unsure, frantic voices. We rappidly emerge from our room and begin to help the family mop up water flooding into the home. Papito is outside with his army buddies digging a trench so the rain will have a place to go. It is still dark and we can not see the street, but we can hear the water.

Morning comes and it is still raining. The street out front is a wild rushing river. There are no drains, there is no need for it never rains. The water has but one course as it rushes toward downtown. We leave to visit people we know may be having a hard time, our feet slugging through the muck. Many homes have leaks in their roofs and we help them set out pots to catch the drips. Children are mystified, they have never seen the likes of this before. The rain finally stops after it is dark again. We fall asleep to the sound of a rushing river.

We emerge the next morning to find the sun glaring down once more and mud everywhere. We are called to meet at the church to be sent to places where we can help. First we dig an adobe house out of the mud so it won’t collapse, then we build small houses for those who lost theirs. They don’t seem like much, but they are nicer than what they had in the first place.

We go downtown to help clean up garbage and debris. With no place to go the water completely wiped out the streets. Just small pillars remain where the man holes were. We can sit with our legs dangling down into where the street should have been. We also work in the destroyed cemetaries; repairing sepulcures and cleaning off mud.

A week later there is another amazing phenomenon. You are considered lucky if you see it; after all it only happens once every 30-50 years or so. It is called, “El Desierto Florido”, the “Blooming Desert”. Seeds from all over are carried to the desert but never take root because there is no rain, but with the rain they take root. The desert thrives and becomes a blooming thriving thing.

8 Comments

Filed under Chile, Personal History, Religion, Youth