Cachando Chile readers have noticed an unusually long quiet spell of late, and some have written to ask me why. To date, my answer has been the same: cosas personales / It’s personal. For now, let’s just say that my family and I have been hit by a series of our own personal terremotos in the past month or so that I am not ready to talk about publicly.
I’ve thought about it. I confess that writing has always been very cathartic for me. As a teenager I spent hours pouring my heart out in ridiculously long letters addressed to Ann Landers. But I never sent a single one. The healing process was in the act of writing. And that has me thinking about why I blog.
Blogs, by nature, are personal, and there are many reasons to have one. For some, it’s a way to lend a personal touch to their businesses. For others it’s a way to keep their friends and family informed of what they’re up to. Some blogs are personal diaries left open, with the most intimate details exposed. There are an infinity of blogs that aim to bring people with similar interests together (expat blogs, travel blogs, food & wine blogs, mommy blogs, dog-lover blogs, victim blogs, you-name-it-it’s-out-there blogs).
So where does Cachando Chile fit in? The project began, almost two years ago, as a complement to a book I was (and still am) working on, and I never dreamed it would come to be as important to me as it has. It has allowed me to bring many of my favorite things together in one place: Chile, my beloved adopted country; Culture, a kind of popular anthropology sort of way to draw upon the career I gave up to live here; Language, exploring the uses and abuses and ins and outs of life in my non-mother-tongue; Photography, portraying in images glimpses of the world I am immersed in; Writing, using words to order my own thoughts and, when successful, evoke interest and response in others, Teaching, because writing is a way of sharing information, which is what teaching is all about; and Community, yes, Cachando Chile has its community of people interested enough to read, think about, comment on, and engage in conversation about the topics that appear here.
The full name, “Cachando Chile: Reflections on Chilean Culture,” is still appropriate (See “About” for more on this). “Reflections” is a key word. I am reflexive by nature (I am an anthropologist after all), and while Cachando Chile is a personal blog, it’s not a blog about me. My goal is to show others a bit of Chile through my eyes in a way that provides insight into life here in Chile that is hopefully interesting and useful to other expats (whether here in Chile or elsewhere), travelers, people who just want to know a bit more about life somewhere else on this planet, and to Chileans both here and abroad who are curious to know what a gringa thinks about their country and culture.
I don’t always get it right, or only partially so. Sometimes I don’t see things the same way as someone else, and other times I nail it so smack on the head that it snaps a few new pieces of someone else’s personal puzzle into place. Sometimes I push buttons that motivate people to leave comments. Many posts have generated dozens of comments, and the all-time kicker has more than 150. Some real exchanging of ideas grew out of that discussion. I love that.
I never run out of things to write about for Cachando Chile. That would be like saying I’ve run out of things to think about. Not likely to happen any time soon. And usually, when there’s a lag in posts, it’s because I’ve been inundated with work (the kind that pays the bills), but sometimes, like now, it’s because I’m being inwardly reflexive, thinking about the very personal aspects of life that touch us all at some point or another—the loss of loved ones and aging parents—issues that are still too raw, too unprocessed, to expose here. I do know though, that with time—and distance—these topics will work their way into posts that reflect upon aspects of culture and life as an expat without feeling like I’ve handed over the keys to my diary.
2010 has been a year full of earthquakes and aftershocks, and there is much to be learned here.