Friday, December 23, 2005

Hot Christmas

The sun is shining,
the grass is green

The orange and palm trees sway
There's never been such a day
In Beverly Hills, L.A.

But it's December the twenty-fourth
And I am longing to be up north

Who can tell me what follows here?

Chilean Christmas is a deeply religious holiday. Normally, you´ll attend mass at least once on the 24th and 25th. And were talking long bench-sittings. There is music, candles and prayers to the Lord. So far, all is good.
It´s when you enter the shopping centers that things get really perverted. Where to start... The Christmas tree is at least 10 m tall and with enough blinking lights to give blind people epilepsy. It´s surrounded by red carpets and drapings, weird interpretations of the reindeer species, and finally a live Santa, swetting away in full costume as he receives the young consumers-of-tomorrow. To his aid, some petite girls in short Christmas dresses. Add to this the catchy pop/rock versions of Holy Night. Just horrible.
If you for a moment felt swept away by the festive ambient, you´ll be abruptly deprogrammed the moment you step out the automatic doors. Swaying palms, the sun at zenith and reggaeton spilling out from every car around you. Talk about culture clash.
Ok, so the Christmas spirit is totally messed up, but you can lie in a swimming pool all day if you want.
So maybe it´s not so bad after all.

... but, come on, Santa selling Bar-B-Ques?

Merry Christmas

It´s Christmas, a time of generosity and solidarity.
Being so, we went to give breakfast and spread the holiday spirit to the people that sleep on the streets. You don´t see them very often, but there are plenty.
We concentrated our efforts to those lying under the roofs of a large fruit and vegetable market, La Vega. The trick is to get there early, before sunrise and before the people sleeping are ousted by the merchants.
The first we encountered was a family with two teenage daughters. We gave them coffee, sandwiches and fruitcake. A few paces away was a mother with her 8 month-old infant. Sleeping on cardboard.
Our usual route ends in an alley with several clandestine pubs. When we are all out of givings we stay and chat with the residents. They are always keen to make conversation. My uncle Luchin, who is one of the organizers, enriches our presence with his violin playing.
We found one man lying on his side. When we left he was sitting on a chair, with coffee and a sandwich in his hands. That´s what this is about.
Not to change their lives, but to give them a break.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

For the Organ

The Organ. You see it in the back of the church,
always with a broad, metallic grin.

It´s celestial harmonies can soften your emotions.
It´s trumpets and bass pipes can knock you off the bench.
It can decorate or dominate.
What can´t it do?
Be ignored.
The Organ is the King of all instruments.

I started taking organ lessons in April, and this Friday we had our latest presentation. I performed three pieces by Matthew Locke, entitled "For the Organ", a toccata by Buxtehude (BuxWV165) as well as a piece written by myself, "Variations of a theme".
The organ in question is located in the chapel of Hospital del Salvador, a public hospital. The chapel is seen after by a religious community of nuns. The poor souls have to bare with our constant organ practising, which at times is far from heavenly.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

I live here

You must have Quicktime installed to see this 360-degrees image.
It was assembled from 37 photos, which is way more than needed...

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Santa Lucia

Don´t they look sweet?

Swedish traditions reach as far as their followers, and Lucia is no exception. It´s normally celebrated on the morning of the 13th, but the Swedish community in Santiago had chosen to hold it today since it´s a national holiday. It took place in the German church "El Buen Pastor". I went as a mere spectator but was called in for duty and soon found myself in the traditional outfit: white cape, cone-hat and star-on-a-stick in hand. We sang the usual tunes, accompanied on the piano by a very skilled guy. I really enjoyed the songs, the candles and everything. Christmas is a-coming!
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Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Three days by the sea

Last Thursday Macarena and I set sail to Viña del Mar and the Pacific Coast. Already there were Patricia, my mother and sister. We had been invited to stay in Patty's apartment in Reñaca for a few days, and naturally we accepted without objection.
We watched the sunset from the beach, how the sun slowly drowned in the horizon to the immortal sound of dying waves. (Sorry about all the death metaphors.)
Only Isabel dared to enter the water, and she stayed for about one second. You see, it can be really warm and nice on the beach, but the water is cold as ice. This is due to a current coming from the Antarctic. Further north it gets a lot nicer.
One night as we dwelled in the apartment, peacefully watching television, we were startled by the sound of AA-guns. We threw ourselves to the windows and saw tracer rounds lighting up the bay. Apparently they were practising their aim on beacons in the night sky. So much for the Pacific coast. It was quite entertaining though. We also saw a lot of helicopters hovering over the beach. It seems the Chilean Navy's very motivated these days.

Alas, this dream came to it's end, we returned to the capital and the next day my mother boarded the plane back to Sweden. One day later she reported gloomy weather from Eriksberg, Uppsala. She had travelled around 13 000 kms in 24 hours, that gives an average speed of 541 km/h.
Quite remarkable.