Vicuña, Chile–One of Those “Magical” Places

Valle de Elqui (The Elqui Valley)--if you look closely you can see the tops of some of the buildings of Vicuña.

Valle de Elqui (The Elqui Valley)--if you look closely you can see the tops of some of the buildings of Vicuña. It may not look "magical" but it is.

I was sorting through the box of photos that I have, both tonight and last night, remembering old friendships and re-visiting past trips.

It makes me wonder, in these digital days, whether in the future people will be able to enjoy this kind of collection–either in the hodgepodge of envelopes still from the developer like I have or in nicely arranged albums that others have. I just can’t see much pleasure involved in pulling out DVDs and slipping them into the computer as a way of enjoying photos. And what about all those images that just got deleted? My photo box contains lots of “mistakes” that I can enjoy today and some, not necessarily mistakes, but ones I might like to cut someone out of. But this dilemma is not really my point here. Let me share some of the photos from my box.

Grape vines and the Andes Mountains near Vicuña, Chile.

Grape vines and the Andes Mountains near Vicuña, Chile.

Amongst all the others, I have a couple of full envelopes from trips to Chile. I’ve been there a couple of times, the last in 2000. Chile, that long thin country in South America, has as its border with Argentina the Andes Mountains and its other limit the cold Pacific Ocean. Because of its geography, it’s an absolutely beautiful country, which goes from almost arid desert in the north to cold and wet the further south you go.

Chile is a country with so much unspoiled nature that it’s almost hard to believe. I was fortunate enough to have friends whom I had met through internet chat to welcome me there and show me around.

There is a place there that has to be one of earth’s “magical” places, something like what I’ve heard about Sedona, Arizona.

Vicuña is a town that lies a good day’s bus ride north of Santiago up in one of the many valleys of the Chilean Andes, where the run-off from the snow flows from the mountains in a westerly direction, eventually into the Pacific. A lot of this water is used for irrigation. In the Valle de Elqui, where Vicuña sits, much of the water is used for the grape vineyards, but other fruits and vegetables are also grown in the area. Vicuña is a center for the production of pisco, a brandy-like liquor that is processed in several distilleries in the area. I had a chance to visit the Capel pisco plant there. I still can make a mean Pisco Sour, one of those drinks that tastes so good, but might have your socks knocked off after just a couple.

The church and the old German Bauer Tower sit in the center of Vicuña.

The church and the old German Bauer Tower sit in the center of Vicuña.

But let me get back to the “magic” of this place. I don’t think I’ve ever experienced anything like it before. I guess I might attribute this feeling partly to the quaintness of the town itself. It has a unique old tower that was originally built in Germany but was brought in pieces by immigrants and re-constructed in the center of town. But I’ve been to many other quaint towns, so I really don’t think that’s it.

It could be because the sky there is absolutely clear, and the view goes on for miles. In fact, there are at least two observatories that have been located right in the area just because of this clear, clean air.

Maybe it’s the quiet, slow-paced atmosphere of the place, where even the dogs on the street couldn’t be bothered to lift their heads to bark at an intruder trudging down their narrow street.

One of the quiet streets of Vicuña.

One of the quiet streets of Vicuña.

I really can’t say what gives Vicuña this special feeling, but I do know that I felt it when I arrived and felt its absence later. I doubt, too, that I am able in any way to convey this magic through a few photos, but I remember it well and I have the urge to experience Vicuña’s special magic again.

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“Chiki Chiki” or “Chiki Bollo”? Make Your Choice Whatever It Is, But Come On, Y’all–Let’s Lighten Up For Awhile

Rodolfo Chilikicuatre

Rodolfo Chikilicuatre

The world can get a little “heavy” with people thinking about the swine flu, the economy, a couple of wars going on, and who knows what other worrisome things. Sometimes it feels like we all just need to “lighten up”, step back, and maybe dance.

The Spaniards have always been people who know how to help the world to have a good time. After all, they were the ones who brought us “The Macarena”. And not so many years ago, out of Spain came the Ketchup Girls (Las Ketchup) with their pig-Latinish hit “Asereje”.

Somehow I missed it, but Spain’s entry in the 2008 Eurovision contest has to be the follow-up to “La Macarena” and “Asereje”, but it still has a chance of making it across the Atlantic, as a lot of European “summer songs” take a whole year to become popular in the U.S.

Most Americans are unfamiliar with the Eurovision competetion. It’s something like the World Cup of music for Europeans. Every country has a national competition and sends its best competitor and song, usually pop or ballads, to the big European finals.

In 2008, Spain’s entry was Rodofo Chikilicuatre (who is really the  comedian David Fernández) with the song “El Chiki Chiki”. “El Chiki Chiki” is actually one of those spoof songs (sorta like “Grandma Got Run Overy by a Reindeer”–I say “sorta”) that got very popular. This guy will make you laugh if nothing else. Check out the tranlation into English here. There’s even been a gay version called “El Chiki Bollo”.

We all get too serious sometimes. If just one or two of you get a little chuckle or get your feet moving, it will be worth trying to finish this post late on a Sunday . . . oops, already Monday. And hey, it doesn’t matter whether you’re bilingual, trilingual, or even “no lingual”, you’re going to like these.

In case you forgot, here’s the Ketchup Girls:

And “El Chiki Chiki”:

And “El Chiki Bollo”:

Here are the words to “El Chiki Bollo”, which I got from a Spanish lesbian blog, I’ll try to translate them later, but basically, the idea is to dance your way out of the closet. You gotta love it!

Bollera! Bollera!

Salir del armario cuesta mogollón

No salen en la China y tampoco en Alcorcón.

No salen las ministras, no salen deportistas,

no salen periodistas, ni tampoco las artistas,

y del armario se sale así:

Uno: abre la puerta (One: open the door)

Dos: salte pa’ fuera (Two: jump out)

Tres: respira hondo (Three: take a deep breath)

Cuatro: ponte a vivir (Four: start living!)

Bollera, bollera,

Sal mi hermana, sal mi hermano

Sal del armario con las bragas en la mano

Las hay en la ciudad, las hay en los pueblos

las hay en los desiertos

y también en los conventos,

y del armario se sale así:

Uno: abre la puerta

Dos: salte pa’ fuera

Tres: respira hondo

Cuatro: ponte a vivir

Bolleras, Pa fuera, pa la calle

“We all are equal and we all are different”

I’m not a movie goer. Maybe because I’m such a channel flipper. When I get into that theatre, there are no remote controls, so if the film is less than exciting, I either have to sit there waiting for something to happen, or if the whole thing is more than I can stand, I just walk out. So I’m not a movie goer.

I don’t really like Hollywood movies much either. No matter what the story-line might be, most American movies follow a predictable pattern: introduce the situation, bring in the conflict, resolve the conflict; audience goes home.

The movies I like are generally in the “foreign film” genre, and many of them never make it to the local theatres, so I have to hunt for them. I found this trailer (When did they start calling them trailers instead of previews?) for a Spanish film shown at a sneak preview for the 2009 Latin Gay Film Festival in Miami. (Take a look at the site. If the festival is as attractive as the site, it’s sure to be “festive”.)

The trailer for Spinnin’ (6000 Millones de Personas Diferentes) is almost like a short film itself, and definitely worth the 6 or 7 minutes it takes to watch (sub-titled for the Spanish-impaired).

Watch E-namorarte–the Spanish Soap Opera Made Just for the Internet Right Here on My Vid Box

Puedes ver la cibornovela, E-namorarte, aqui en mi Vid Box. Hecho en España especialmente para la red, cuenta con 40 capitulos de 3 minutos cada uno. La trama contiene conflictos generaciones, muchos tipos de gustos sexuales y otros temas. Puedes ver todos los capitulos dentro de mi Vid Box. Empieza con el primero 1×01 aqui a la derecha.

You can watch the soap opera, E-namorarte, right here in my Vid Box. It was made in Spain specifically for the Internet, and it’s composed of 40 short episodes of 3 minutes each. The story is a comedy centering on the lives of various characters of a variety of sexual persuasions. You can see Episode 1×01 by clicking on it right here on the right; then go inside (click at the bottom of the box) to watch the others.