14 Reasons I love being Chilean

It was tough for me to keep the reasons as to why I love being Chilean to just 14! Even though I've lived in this country most of my life, my Chilean heritage, values and traditions are an integral part of my identity; what defines me and what makes me unique.

I married a gringo, stayed in the U.S. and have raised two beautiful gringuitos. However, the minute that I became a mom, my pride and desire to pass on my culture and traditions to my kids intensified. Like so many latinas who come from other Latin American countries, Chileans share a heightened sense of familia, spirituality and passion for life so I decided to focus on other aspects that are unique to being Chilean and here they are:

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1. Chilean culture is picaresque (playful and naughty): The comic series Condorito, its main character and the "Picaresque Mapuche Indian" (a handmade, wooden statue that when lifted shows a giant penis) are just some of the country's symbols and embody the naughtiness of the Chilean people and culture.

2. Dishes that are unique to Chile include cazuela (Chilean version of chicken or meat stew),humitas (corn cake dish similar to the Mexican tamale), pastel de choclo (corn pie dish); sopaipillas (fried pastry) and my favorite drink in the world, mote con huesillos (boiled wheat with dried peaches).

3. Solidarity is a key part of the Chilean character: The notion and importance of unity among Chileans gained international recognition with the rescue of the 33 miners who were trapped in the San José mine in 2010. Everyone, including foreigners and complete strangers, can count on the support of Chilean people. That's their character!

4. Chile's resilience to powerful earthquakes: Chile and the Chilean people have become famous for their resistance to earthquakes and tsunamis that have are frequently striking our country with force.

5The amazing quality of its wines, fruits and seafood: Chile has become a leading exporter of wine, fruit and seafood. My gringo only buys Chilean wine. Santa Rita and Concha y Toro are his favorite brands. They're good and cheap. Chilean fruits such as grapes, peaches, avocados as well as chirimoya and lúcuma can be found in more supermarkets throughout the U.S. Finally, Chilean fish like sea bass and salmon are served at many restaurants here although centolla (king crab), locos (Avalon) and erizos (sea urchin) are less readily available.

6. El Dieciocho: For several days around September 18th, Chile's Independence Day, our patriotism unites a politically divided country.

7. The Chilean police is recognized as trustworthy and not corrupt.

8. Women are valued: In comparison to other Latin American countries, Chile is not as machista and women have reached high social and political status. Our president is a woman and women in general are attaining high-level positions in most areas.

9. Most extensive usage of the word huevón: This "Chilenismo" (pronounced Weón) has become the most commonly used word by Chileans with many meanings that go beyond the connotation of a man who is lazy (because of the size of his testicles).

10. Two Nobel Laureates in Literature: Two Chileans, Pablo Neruda and Gabriela Mistral, were awarded this prize and they and their accomplishments and works are the pride of all Chileans. Also, Chile (along with Argentina and Uruguay) has the lowest percentage of illiteracy in Latin America.  

11. Gorgeous and diverse landscapes: Each verse of our national anthem, "Puro Chile," is an ode to the beauty and diverse geography of our long and narrow country.

12. To the North, the Atacama Desert has some of the starriest skies in the world and after a little rain the most arid desert in the world becomes a huge garden of beautiful, rare flowers.

13. In the Central region, you can have breakfast in the capital of Santiago, and an hour later you can be at a world class ski resort and enjoy your lunch with spectacular views of the Andes (the majestic, longest and tallest mountain range in the world). That same day you can have dinner by the shore of the seas that bathe our entire coast.

14. To the South, you can spend weeks exploring the Patagonia region. Its beautiful lakes, volcanoes, glaciers and Torres Del Paine, one of the world's natural wonders.

 

For these and so many other reasons my family and I try to go to my homeland every year and we meet in different locations in Chile. I hope you make it to my beautiful patria someday! 

Image via Thinkstock

Topics: culture  hispanic heritage month  hispanic heritage