Advanced series 2
1: Chile – Una introducción
Spanish Obsessed advanced, series 2. In this series you'll hear conversations between native Spanish speakers from all over the Spanish speaking world. This course is designed to expose you to real, native level Spanish, as well as give you a taste of how Spanish is spoken around the world in all its guises. Our guests share their experiences and swap cultural notes with each other. How does a Mexican feel living in Spain? What were some of the biggest challenges for an Argentinian moving to London? And, why does everyone feel the Spanish are so rude? Each episode comes with a full interactive transcript and translation. We'll highlight interesting slang and phrases, and pull out language which we feel is useful to focus on further, as well as anything else which you need to know. You can access the first three episodes of this course for free, and the rest of the course is available for purchase, or through a Spanish Obsessed gold membership. I'll stop talking now, and hand over to Lis, with the first guest, Sebastian, from Chile.
Good morning. Today with a very special guest from Chile, and he is going to inaugurate our advanced level podcasts. I'm going to leave it to him, make him introduce himself and tell us who he is a little.
Hello everyone, my name is Sebastián, I'm from Chile, specifically the area called Patagonia, which is the southern cone of all South America, part of Argentina and Chile, I am from the Chilean side. I'm a Spanish teacher, I work mainly online, now for a couple of years, and now I live in Italy because I moved about two years ago.
The truth is not so different. Since, I don’t know, my area, where I live, was basically founded by Europeans or European immigrants, so the customs are not so different. There are areas of Chile that are very different, very different from each other, but I could say that at least the area that I am, I don’t feel as culturally different from what it could be here, I feel really comfortable, very good.
Sure, there are rumours. I was living more or less three years ago in Santiago, the capital of Chile, many years ago and had a fairly stable life, quite calm, a job of my own, I was doing well, but I always wanted to travel, to travel, I had that dream. And I just had a chance in between an end of a relationship, it's always like that, in the end it always has to do with love.\nIt was a very chaotic end, “I hate you,” then I said, “This is the opportunity before I have another girlfriend again and decide to stay here, I'm leaving,” so I sold everything.
One serious thing, it really is a serious thing. So yes, I had to escape from there and I sold absolutely everything. The apartment was not mine, but everything inside was mine, so a friend moved to my apartment, continues to rent and he bought everything I had inside.
Exactly, the apartment, we say apartment [‘department’] or apartment. Everything, from the last spoon, sheets, everything that was in the house, and motorcycles because I had a business with motorcycles, I loved motorcycles, so I even sold my personal motorcycle that was my daughter, I put the money together and I left to travel.
My father is adventurous, my father was like, “Go get it, son of a tiger, you can do it”, he was fine, but my mother wanted to hang herself, really.
I know because in Colombia also the families, I don’t know about Chile, but they are very attached, a son leaves the house and that is the end of the world and if you leave the country, that’s it, we lost him.[laughs]
Exactly, yes. Fortunately, my family was a little more separated because my brother lives in Buenos Aires, I have a sister in Patagonia, another sister in Santiago, so we are all separated in the end, so it was not so terrible. I think it was terrible for my mother that I broke all the stability I had in my life, that is, for her everything stable was good and that I sold that, I lost everything by my own choice. And, that for her was kind of a catastrophe.
To get out, yes. Yes, I think the same, also when I made the decision seven years ago, abandoning more my career, that was what most … And, well, my family and career was what made me think about the decision, but these days I say, “No. It was worth it, super, to take that step”.
I studied law, and that career is very absorbing, so it was almost seven years of studying, I enjoyed it a lot, but I felt very absorbed. When I finished the degree and kept working, I said, “It's like the same thing, but more intense”, well, now I get paid, but like the routine of studying, and studying, and reading and the computer was overwhelming me a little and I thought, “What's next? A specialization in law? Another two years?” It was like thinking that there must be something different.\nI wanted that, like a change, to explore and I also wanted to learn English.
Yes, it was very interesting … Something very bad, I don’t know if in your case too, but it was mine, that I didn’t know any other country in Latin America before leaving Colombia, I left Bogota-London.
I didn’t know any other neighbouring country, which is very sad, but well, I think that happens too. Rob told me that there are people here in England who also know London, but have never been to Scotland, things like that.
I think it's quite common in South America. I think they are also a little more geographical characteristics because it is much bigger than Europe, and another thing, that we, at least in Chile, I believe that also in Colombia there are no low cost airlines like here that you take a Ryanair flight for € 20 and go anywhere in Europe, it’s is much more expensive to travel in South America.
Imagine that from my hometown called Punta Arenas, it is the last one in the South American continent, there are a couple of islands below, but nothing more. If you see on the map, on the mainland it is the last city in the world, basically.
It’s called, Punta Arenas, exactly. For me to arrive from Punta Arenas to Santiago is three and a half hours by direct flight, only to the capital and generally if you find it very cheap-
From my city to Santiago, which is the capital, it's three and a half hours by direct flight. Imagine, when you have a layover, four, four and a half, but only to get to the capital. So, if I want to go anywhere else because the airport in my city is not international, then if I want to go to Buenos Aires or Bogota or anywhere else, I have to leave from Santiago.\nThree and a half hours, or four, to Santiago, and generally €150 or up to €200 on average, and from there I have to pay the other ticket which is even more expensive to be able to go to another city.
I didn’t really have the spirit of exploration there, maybe because of the European dream, and also because of the language. In Chile… I don’t know much about Chilean culture, more or less one can distinguish between Latin (cultures), like, “well, the Argentinians are like that”, but I don’t have many reference points for the Chileans. What characterizes them, and what are the stereotypes of the Chileans, which are true, and which aren’t?
Look, I … The first thing I can say as a Latin stereotype, is that you are much more Latino than we are, like the stereotype of the Latino personality, of happy, or most of the stereotype that most of the world has, I think it is based more on South America in Colombia, or in Brazil, or in Central America in Mexico, which are the most famous. Chile is much more low profile, it is smaller, it has fewer people, so it is like lower profile in that sense. People also have a Latin soul, they are warm, friendly.
That's one of the things, the Chileans are very bad at dancing, they are extremely bad at dancing. If you put a Colombian or a Brazilian, that is … the Chilean is nothing compared to them, nothing.
Generally those who dance well, salsa, bachata, are people who have practised and like it, but we don’t have it from the culture, that everyone dances well or some salsa, or bachata, we are not that kind of Latino, let's say. Most of our parties are with reggaeton, and we drink a lot. The Chilean drinks a lot, the truth is, usually pisco, it is the most famous drink that is also Peruvian, it is like a brandy, I don’t know if you know it?
What is a party, for example? “Carretear”, how do you leave, at what time? Is there a dinner? For example, here in England people go to dinner first and then to party, or “party”, however, how is it there?
Yes, here in Italy it's the same, they have an aperitif and afterwards, but in Chile the we do “la previa” [warm up, “pre” drinks]. It’s called “previa”, but really, before the party, you drink in a house or sometimes a cheaper, quieter pub, then you take a few drinks to warm up.
Exactly, starting the engines a little bit, it’s called “previa”. After the “previa” comes the real “carrete”, which can be in a club, in a pub, in a house, it depends on the type of party and it also depends on the people, usually there is “after” [after party], it’s called “after”, so, later, “the after party”
Ah well. Do Chileans speak English? Because in Colombia, well perhaps in Bogotá, yes, but the bilingualism thing, I think that in Colombia it’s not so good, what do you think in Chile?
No, Chile neither, in Santiago a little more, and in the regions. In Chile it is divided, there is Santiago in the centre, and the regions, or in any other region, but Chile is divided into that, Santiago and the regions, because everything is centralized in Santiago. There is no other city as big as Santiago, not even half of Santiago, in the rest of Chile.
The santiaguino [people from Santiago] can speak a little more English, and the regions … If someone works with something related to English, tourism, etc., maybe, but in general English is not very good. We are very far away, you are a little closer perhaps to the United States, to Mexico. We are far from all the rest, we have the Andes on the right, Peru, Bolivia, also the jungle and all this is almost like an island from the rest of South America.
Yes, in Santiago. He has been there many years, he has been in Santiago for six years and he has a daughter there, and everything, with a Chilean girl, but yes, he is a very good friend, really a close friend.
Drinking. I think the fact that they drink so much, and people are impressed that, I don’t know, even a girl, you see her as thin, pretty, and you think, with this girl she has two drinks and she is ready [drunk], and no. An average Chilean can have six drinks, eight drinks, strong, and still be upright. That's not good, it's not something to be proud of, but yes, unfortunately the culture is very based on that, the “carrete”, the party, rather than dancing is to drink.
Yes, pisco with Coca-Cola, but yes, people dance, but not so much, let's say it is not comparable to what would be more like you, closer to Central America, for example, the north of South America.
Is that true in Santiago? In the regions how is it? I imagine that perhaps it’s calmer, what differentiates the regions, perhaps, one from the other? Is there any characterization between regions? For example, did you just say your paisa friend, or from Medellín?
In Colombia, those from Medellín are the paisas, and they have very particular characteristics in their way of speaking, idioms, well and many people know the paisa because of Netflix.
But, Colombia is not just Medellin, [laughs] there are many regions, and each region is also characterized by different things, what are those regions and how are the regions in Chile characterized?
Look, I think first of all it would be super important to point out that Chile, from north to south, is 4,300 kilometers, it is very long, and as it goes from north to south and not from east to west, everything changes geographically.\nThe north is the Atacama Desert, which is the most arid desert in the world, the driest in the world, and the south is Patagonia, which has penguins, whales, glaciers.\nSo, they are two completely different worlds, it's as if we compare Norway and Morocco, for example. You have the desert that is the other way around, the desert in the north and Norway to the south would be Patagonia. So, it's very different, lifestyle, also accent, the Spanish also changes, people [change], how people look, the physical features are very distinctive.
To the north yes. If you go to the north, in the first desert regions of northern Chile, they are very similar to Peruvians and Bolivians who have very marked features like the native, or indigenous people, very marked, in fact there are northern areas that speak their own language, dialects, and the Diaguitas, I don’t know, even Quechua, but there are different mixtures, because there is a small one, let’s put it like this, a small influence of the Incas in the north of Chile, little, not much, but it was there, and if you go to the south, or from the south of Chile, because they exist [in the] north, center, south and Patagonia.\nPatagonia is more to the south than the south, because it is so long that it has to be divided. The north is basically the desert, the center is where Santiago is, Valparaíso, Viña del Mar, which is the most famous part, the south.
Exactly. Viña del Mar is beautiful, it's like a mini Miami, let's say it like that, a mini Miami, and to the south of Chile not. The south of Chile is very similar to Tuscany here in Italy, very green, a lot of rain, but very green, very beautiful, and in that area, there is the largest aboriginal part of Chile, which are the Mapuches, which is the largest town that was in that area of Chile, which are called the Mapuches or Araucanians. They are concentrated in that southern area, and it was also the largest European immigration of Germans, of Italians.
Yes, the same area. There are villages that you see and all the people are [have] very strong indigenous traits, and you go to another town, and there are people who seem to have just arrived from Germany.
And, [in] Patagonia there is a mixture of everything. [In] Patagonia you go more to the south, and there is absolutely a mixture of everything, Spaniards, other types of Europeans. There is a lot of Croatian mix.
Exactly, it is thought that 60% of the people who are originally from the colonization of Patagonia, have mixtures with Croatians, because they were the largest migration that there was at the beginning, at the end of 1800.
Perhaps that also explains why you are very good with everything about wines, perhaps, is that influence there, right?
No. You are lucky, the desert is not too hot, it is quite temperate all year round, but it changes, wave in the morning, early in the morning it can be -10ºC. during the day at noon it is 40ºC.
It changes a lot in the desert, to the coast where the cities are because in the desert it is not very good to live, the cities of the coast are quite temperate, in fact, there are cities that are said to have eternal spring because it’s always 25 degrees all year round.
In the north yes. If you go to the center, it is a very mild climate, there is heat in summer, cold in winter, the seasons are quite marked. In the south it is very rainy, in the south it rains all year round.
Of course, from the centre downwards, the seasons begin to be marked, of course. But, if you go to Patagonia, Patagonia is marked in the opposite way, instead of always being temperate, it is always cold. In my city for example, in summer there may be 18, 20 hours of light and in winter 18, 20 hours of darkness.
This is new for me because to be honest I thought that in South America the subject of darkness and the change of time, that was a thing of here, European. Now, on reflection, yes, it is more only of the countries of the equatorial line and you are below.
It's just that Chile is now more famous for Patagonia, trekking, hiking, tourism, more than all tourism author[R2] , but before that Chile, to be honest was super unknown.
What do you recommend in Chile? If someone wants to know, “Oh, he's from Chile, I want to know.” What is there in Chile that you would like people to know? What is interesting or what is there to do that is not elsewhere?
I think that, the mixture of different worlds of nature, is really a unique mixture. It's like the United States, but traveling from Alaska to Miami is not easy as well, and the United States is more expensive. Chile still has many very authentic things, if you go to the desert you will really see people who grew up in the desert, that there are still native people who live there.\nYou can see really real things, not only the thing that we say, “They sell you the ointment”, it is when they tell you that something is a certain thing only for you to go, for tourism, but deep down it's all a bit fake. I think that, fortunately, there are still many real things.\nYou can get to the capital, Santiago, a big capital like the rest of the capitals in South America, with parties, with culture, with shows, events, a couple of days there, perfect. You go north, to the desert, beautiful, really another world, it's like being on Mars, doing a few tours, if you like hiking, trekking. If you like wine [there] is the downtown area too and Patagonia.
Yes, everyone. The thing is that indigenous groups are very concentrated, there are some in the north, in the desert and there some are in the south in some communities, you have to go specifically there and speak Spanish, yes. In the big cities that was lost, but in the desert and in the south of Chile that authenticity still remains.
What are the traditions? Which traditions are the best known? For example, now Christmas is coming, what is traditional for Christmas in Chile?
Unfortunately, I would say that traditions have been lost a lot because we are very Americanized, much influenced by the United States. Many things that were lost, that are imitated from the United States, of the North American culture.
What I most recommend about Chile is nature, the natural part because unfortunately there are many things that have been lost from the culture, maybe there are other more interesting countries, more authentic, Peru, Bolivia for example, for me they are wonderful in that sense.
The biggest one is September 18, they say, “Independence Day”, but it was the first time that there was talk of a provisional government in Chile, and we believe that it is independence, but it is not. Everyone calls it “Independence Day”, it’s celebrated a huge amount. Usually there are four or five days off for holiday.
It's wonderful, yes. 18th and 19th officially are holidays, then the government always helps a little, say, if it falls just on Saturday and Sunday they say, “Okay, we’ll run the 18th and 19th for Thursday and Friday,” then you'll still have four days. I think this year, I was obviously not in Chile, but this year it fell just on Wednesday and Thursday, so they threw in Friday as a holiday as well and they had all of Chile free from Wednesday to Sunday.
Ultra mega party, “carrete”, party, dance, eat, drink every day, all day and all night, that's very entertaining. If someone wants that, it is absolutely recommended to spend a September 18th in Chile.
In Valparaíso the new year is wonderful. Viña del Mar and New Year. From Viña del Mar to Valparaíso they are, you can arrive in half an hour walking, they are stuck, one next to another. They do a mega party, especially in Valparaíso, but in Viña del Mar also, which is a mega party, “carrete”, party on the street, everything is public, they begin as at 8:00 in the afternoon until 8:00 in the morning of the next day.
Exactly, on December 31st. They make fireworks in the thing, in the sea, beautiful, a giant “carrete” in all the coast, in every corner of the street there is a party. That is the only day or one of few days that it is allowed to drink, do everything on the street and nobody tells you anything.
One last question. We in Colombia have many parties related to saints and religion, does the same thing happen in Chile? Say, they celebrate the theme of Holy Week, San Ignacio, San Antonio, San I don’t know what and there are many holidays related to that. In fact, I miss them a lot, we call them, “Bridges”. So … In fact, my sister was here a few days ago and said, “Today is a bridge in Colombia, when is a bridge in London?”, We, “No, next year”.
Yes. It is strange because there is so much influence of the church in politics, on holidays, in a lot of things, but culturally people are all going to tell you that they are Catholics, but nobody does anything about it. My family, for example, I am baptized, my family also declares itself to be Catholic, but I don’t even remember the last time they went to church.\nA holiday for them is a holiday of rest, but they don’t even know it has to do with religion and that's almost the whole country. Most of the country claims to be Catholic, but the truth is that all the traditions have been lost, everything.
Yes, in fact yes, very Americanized or Europeanized. In the north maybe a little bit, there are some regions of the desert, more of the north that have a little more influence with Peru and Bolivia, they do have more marked religious traditions, but the rest, not the rest at all.
Yes. I was two years ago in the south of Colombia, near the Amazon in a city called Mocoa, there I had the opportunity to approach an indigenous group and unfortunately they influenced children with the Catholic theme, so they are like a mix because they obviously had their gods of the sun and the moon, but at the same time the Catholic influence.\nFor me it was interesting to see how they believed in both with respect to both, not in their religion, but in their ancestors, but they also prayed the Lord’s Prayer, and things from Christian traditions. So, I said… It's a bit sad, because anyway they lost what they were. That is the story of all our indigenous people in South America, I believe.
Unfortunately, very, very few are left. In fact, in the “land of fire”, which is the last big island in southern South America, after that it’s the cape of furnaces and Antarctica below, then it is the last thing there is. In the land of fire there were some aborigines called Selknam, they were one of the last nomadic peoples in the world, they were among the last. Southern Patagonia especially, Northern Patagonia not so much, Southern Patagonia was colonized very late compared to the rest of South America.\nIn fact, the majority of colonizers arrived in the late 1800s, we are talking about Patagonia is 120, 130 years old that area, so it is very young. When they arrived there were aborigines who still walked barefoot in the snow, imagine in Patagonia with the cold, the ice, everything, they walked in the snow, they grew up hunting guanacos, which are like the llama, but from Patagonia it is called guanaco. Like the llama, but in Patagonia.\nIt is really an origin town, but unique in the world, the colonizers arrived and as they create problems around hunting, for animals, they hunted them all, they exterminated them. They paid hunters to kill the aborigines, not even to throw them out, to move them, to hunt them.
No, nothing. Selknam, S-E-L-K, Selknam. All the culture was lost, all the beliefs, it was a really very interesting thing. And to exterminate in 20, 30 years, they practically disappeared.
The little they managed to rescue, the most part is in a museum in Punta Arenas, which is part of the Salesian museum, of the Salesian College of the Italians , because the Italians were the only ones who intervened to try to help, they could not do much, but try to save a little what was left of that town.\nThey collected the few things they could and that is still there on display in a museum in Punta Arenas. If someone goes to Punta Arenas, absolutely recommended, the museum is called Maggiorino Borgatelli.