The New Normal

Rudy and I have moved to Cerro Blanco, a campo a few kilometers from the pueblo of Codpa Chile... this is our story.


Monday, March 2, 2015

Hillbilly Spanish

A little over 8 years ago I came to Chile with very little Spanish and learning the language has been the bane of my existence the whole time. In Arica, many people adapted to how I spoke (I imagine it is the same with parents of toddlers who are learning to speak and only they can understand what their kid is saying), and I began to understand more and more of what they were saying to me.

Enter Codpa.

No one understood me. I understood no one. Are we all speaking the same language? I was once again forced to adapt, not only to a different lifestyle but to another language.

Then it hit me: The people in Codpa (most especially out on the farms) are Chilean hillbillies! Down here, they call the farms "campos," but up there they call them "chakras." They have their own sayings and idiomatic expressions...just like the rest of the world.

This got me to thinking about how even in the States, groups of people who live in different areas of the country have their own language. Granted, most of us who grew up there can understand what the others are saying--unless they live in the bayou, in which case you need a translator. Seriously. Have you ever watched Swamp People? Often times they'd have to include subtitles, hahahahaha.

Anyway, I have decided to include a few really good Appalachian sayings so that those of you who may not be native English speakers can see what I go through:

Better put on your boggin.
If I had my druthers.
Graduating second grade was duck soup. (hm, does this mean it was hard or easy?)
Cotton pickin' minute. (is that faster or slower than a NYC minute?)
I'd like to buy me a flivver.

Membrillo Madness

In February we celebrated the harvest of the membrillo. I had no idea what a membrillo was, so I looked it up. It's quince. I was still kinda clueless since I'd never had quince, so I picked one, washed it and tried it. Weird. Kind of like an apple that is slightly green, with a hint of pear and lemon. Raw, it is also a bit chalky, which is also strange to me since it is very juicy. Turns out, the chalkiness dissipates with cooking and the weird blend of flavors goes away by doing the same. It makes great pies, although the average person here only uses it to make juice (yummy) and a paste (too sweet even for this girl). I also like it finely diced and put into my salads.

Anyway, the membrillo is a big deal here, and the harvest is a huge deal. An entire week of celebrations is dedicated to it. Carnival is what they call it and I don't wish to sound critical, but--one day is enough in my opinion.

I have some videos but I forgot to bring the pen drive with them. Story of my life. I'll post the videos and photos next time.

So, essentially what happens during Carnival is that a dude with drums and all the farmers go around from farm to farm, singing ancient songs, and tossing a lot of confetti and flour all over the place. There's one dance in which the men smear flour on the women's hair and faces and the women to the same to the men. Then, there's another in which a man and women throw these membrillos at each other. The women try to hit the men's knees and the men try to strike the women's feet.

They also carry around a stuffed man and he is given a seat of honor. You are supposed to take a glass of wine, pour a bit on the ground in front of the stuffed man and then take a sip. After, you burn a few coca leaves at his feet.

Honestly, I don't know how all this is supposed to bring rain or good luck, but like I said--one night is enough. Let's face it--flour, confetti, and smashed fruit make a huge mess, and for this to happen during a time when we have no running water BECAUSE we've had so much rain that the river has turned to mud and it is unusable, doesn't seem advisable to this girl. I know, I know--traditions. Anyway, after the first night I decided that was enough for me. You can call me a party-pooper only AFTER you've tried to wash that mess out of your hair with only a gallon of water.

Two New Additions

Next week (I hope) I will be able to bring home Oliver and Lisa. They are two black lambs, and since they will be for breeding they get to have names. I've already picked them out, negotiated a price, and made a deposit. The owner told me that they should be ready to leave their mother in a week or so.

Most of the livestock that I get will be purchased as babies. This way I will always know how/what they've been fed for their whole lives. I research each type of animal to find out the best living conditions and foods to give them so that I can get the best meat possible--or the best, healthiest offspring.

Los Camarones!!

Camarones means shrimp. In the States we call them crayfish, crawdads, or mud bugs, depending on where you live. They are freshwater crustaceans that are more closely related to lobsters than anything else. The best thing about the muddy river is that it is filled with these tasty critters, and we have gorged on them. That is the only thing that really takes the sting out of not having running water. It is only while you are eating them (steamed, not boiled) that makes you forget that your life has been utterly disrupted and made horribly difficult and that you may not have clean underwear tomorrow.

Question of the year

I have been trying to puzzle out some signs that I've seen on the road to Codpa. Don't get me wrong, I know what they say, but I don't understand why the second of the two exists. To me, it's a no-brainer.

Sign #1 reads: Property of the Army--Live Land Mines
Sign #2 reads: Entry prohibited

They got me at sign #1. If you need sign #2, well, there's just something wrong with you. My thoughts on this: Take sign #2 away and let those who would enter a mine field with live mines take a walk and eliminate themselves from the gene pool.


Time to head out to get my money and do my shopping. It was (and always is) strange to awaken with the realization that I don't have to do any chores.

Until next time.