Tuesday, September 4, 2018

So Your Character is From Chile ... Featuring Camila @ Letters in Bed

It's time for this week's So Your Character is ... Post! This is a weekly segment where I interview lovely volunteers from around the world to give you a firsthand account of being a citizen of their respective country or having a disability. I'm hoping to encourage international diversity, break stereotypes, and give writers a crash course on how to write a character from these different places on our planet. If you haven't checked out last time's So Your Character is from Latvia ... be sure to hop on over there and give it a read!

Disclaimer: The content below may be culturally shocking to some. Each of these posts is as uncensored as possible to preserve the authenticity of the cultures of each of the interviewees.

(None of the Images are Mine)

Hello there, I’m Camila but I prefer ‘Milla’ as the nickname here on the Internet. Am from Santiago, the capital of Chile, so, many of my answers will only represent this city because Chile is sooo long that even the Chilean people don’t know things about other zones. I’m 24 years old and I have a minor in Linguistics and Literature. Now am taking Japanese lessons to improve in that area because my dream is work in that. I have a blog for Japanese literature so you can check it. Nice to meet you all!

What do you feel is unique to your country? Landmarks? Celebrations?
Our landmarks and food are things that we all know we’re very lucky to have. We also live in a very special zone of the globe that almost always shaking. Because of this, we are very chill with earthquakes. You know that people scream with a 5 o 6 grade Richter? The Chilean is laughing and even still sit in their seats. 7 grade Richter? Lmao somewhere is happening something we say. 8-grade Richter? Ok, now we need to run away. It's something that we always noted about us. 

We have a lot of religious festivals, even if our country is laic (doesn’t have an official religion). Catholicism is very strong here. Religious Chilean people love La Virgen del Carmen, the mother of Jesus is very important here, sometimes we have more festivals for her than Jesus.

And of course, is very important to note that in the late years, Chile had changed a lot culturally. Now we are passing for a decade where public protests are a thing. People are getting the confidence to protest for their rights and there are MASSIVE EVENTS here in Santiago. I know that isn’t very common in other countries or even in other regions of Chile. We have protests almost once in a month. 

Tell me about your country's environment. What are some of your favorite places?
As I said, Chile is so long that we usually forgot the thing that we have. It is very easy that a northern person has a completely different life than a southern person. The longitude of Chile gave us a lot of landmarks, we have deserts (Atacama Desert), glaciers (Pío XI Glacier, Grey Glacier, Balmaceda Glacier, Italia Glacier), even a long chain of mountains (The Andes). We have at least 4 climates thanks to our long territory, so ask and probably we will have it. The South of Chile is so pretty, and my favorite place is from there, is Torres del Paine.

 Tell me about your country's food. What are some of your favorite dishes?
Our climates (because we have more than four) give us the chance to cultivate many things, so almost every season we have things that are for that time of the year. We have many fruits and vegetables, fish, and seafood. We’re lucky and even if Santiago isn't by the coast, we can buy sea products very easy or even go to the Mercado and order dishes from other parts of the country.  Famous dishes are Carbonada, Pastel de Choclo, Cazuela, Curanto, Humitas and Empanadas.  My favorite is the Humitas, they’re a summer dish. 

Humitas, they are like steamed fresh corn cakes
We also love sweets: chocolate, cream, custard cream and our famous manjar (dulce de leche). We put manjar in everything, really, all the time I know someone that put manjar in something new. Also, we have our famous “sopaipillas”, they’re primordial for winter and you could almost buy one at every bus stop in the downtown. 

Panqueques con manjar, a typical dessert here.


Tell me about any different speech patterns in your country. Slang? Idioms? Words for things such as “biscuits” instead of “cookies”?

Oh boy, Chilean Spanish is known as the final boss of Spanish for something, you know? Tourists almost everytime are surprised because we talk so fast and so weird, omitting sounds, vowels, consonants, a lot of things. It is probably that you’ll need to ask to slow down to try to understand and we’re sorry for that, but don’t worry…even Chilean people have problems trying to understand other Chilean people. Each zone of Chile has their unique words, sometimes I don’t even understand the north people with their slang, is very fun to try to guess.

We also use a lot of bad words, words that if you translate them to English are terrible and omg how dare you to say that to a friend. We curse for every little thing. It is so common that even children or old people do it. People could misunderstand that we’re angry or something but nope, we’re like that. Better to ask if you have a question about that, is hard to grasp.

Describe briefly a regular day in your country.
In Santiago, most people start their day very early, like 6-7am. Then they take Transantiago (our public transport system) and go to work. The usual is like 8-10 hours per day. The usual is people take lunch at 1 or 2 pm, but many people doesn’t even go to lunch and take dinner at 8-9pm. But don’t think that people don’t eat. We have “once”, is a meal around 5pm, that consist in tea with bread. Well, when work hours end, people come back to their house and have family time with their family. Sometimes people go out with them, but tbh isn’t the usual. 

Weekends are mostly familiar, Chile is a very family-oriented country. Young people go out mostly at night and return almost morning, here is very usual to stay out in friend’s houses.

 How does your country compare to others, especially the States since my audience is primarily American? Environmentally? Politically? Culturally?
Oooh, this one is hard because I felt that we have a lot of differences, but I don’t know if I will be capable to resume it. To be short I will say that our structure for regional land is very different. We have “regions” that would be like states, but all has the same laws and their political-head is selected by the president. We could vote for mayors and their committee by the way. 

We also are very invested in religious things, at least older people or north people. I think that is something that many latinoamerican countries have in common. Mmmm I could add that Chile loves soccer too much, always that “La roja” (our selection) have a game is like all the people go crazy with adrenaline, don’t even mention things like the Mundial or big championship, that looks almost like a big party. 

These are from Plaza Italia, a central place here in Santiago. All the hinchas (fanatics) are here celebrating

Briefly describe three of your country’s historical events that you feel are important.
1.- The Independence (people thinks that was in 1810 but nope, the official declaration was in 1818). Many many Chileans think that our independence was in 1810 but that is not true, that day was the first step that starts our independence war. Was an almost 10-years war that has many historical figures that are very loved by Chilean people. Many of them are romanced by people.  

2.- The 1907 Santa María School massacre. This choice is more personal because when I was a child and listened to this…I was shocked. I couldn’t understand how people could kill like that. Many saltpeter miners, along with wives and children, where killed by the army in the middle of their pacific protest. 

3.- The 1973 Chilean coup d'état and posterior dicator. It’s a very important hit in our history. This terrible event was forced by the army and broke our society, even to this day are people think that was correct to take the country by force and always is a very serious theme to talk. The dictatorship was horrible and you could search about it, but warning, there are so many tragedies to count. 

What are some stereotypes about your country that irk you? What media portrays your country badly be it a movie, a book, or a TV show?
Mmmm, to be honest, I didn’t even see a foreign film/book/tv show that portrays my country. I think that the only things that people know about us are earthquakes, wine, and soccer team. I hope to watch more for us from an outsider's eye. 

And about stereotypes… I think that people always say that Chileans are thieves and please watch out. Even Chileans say that you know? I know that my country isn’t the best but omg don’t say that about everyone.  

What media portrays your country well be it a movie, a book, or a TV show?
Here in Chile, we have a looots of 'teleseries', like long-tv-drama-series. The usual is like 2-3 teleseries per tv channel and you have many options to watch. In these tv shows, you could see the daily Chilean life. The pattern of speech, clothes, stereotypes (like we have a very very marked social class) and things like that. 

At this moment I think that "Amores de Mercado", a 2000-ish Chilean teleseries is a really good portray. I would totally recommend it.

Who are your top three favorite fictional characters native to your country in books, movies, or shows?

Perico from Perico trepa por Chile by Marcela Paz & Alicia Morel, Rompecadenas from Memorias de un perro escritas por su propia pata by Juan Rafael Allende, and Rafael San Luis from Martin Rivas by Alberto Blest Gana. 

Thank you, Camila, for this very informative post! Come back next week for a post all about Colombia!

Are you interested in participating in this project? Check out the tips archive to see which countries have been filled and if you're from a different country, shoot me an email at howellvictoriagrace(a)gmail(dot)com. I'm especially looking for Cuba, Venezuela, Belarus, Zimbabwe, and Iraq.

Do you have any characters from Chile? Did this inspire you to write a Chilean character or set a book in Chile? Are from this or been to this country and you have further input? Feel free to share! Do you have any questions for Camila? Be sure to thank her!

You may also like:
So Your Character is From Latvia ... Featuring Anna @ Anna's Little Thing
So Your Character is From Albania ... Featuring Xhorxhina @ Inner Exploration
So Your Character is From Bosnia & Herzegovina ... Featuring Azra @ SimpleSerenity
So Your Character is From Bahrain ... Featuring Marwa @ Adoreabook
So Your Character is From Israel ... Featuring Zoey @ Magiverse

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