The things which cannot be photographed.

Yesterday at noon my host mom came into my room and spoke words in Spanish. All I understood was “lunch” and “going out.” So I deduced that we were going out for lunch! At what hour and where and with whom, I had no idea. So I waited. At three she came upstairs and said, “Ready? We’re leaving now!” And thus I embarked on a grand adventure.

I squeezed into a jeep with Rossy, Manuel, their grandson Bastian, and two random older ladies and we drove to… a cemetery. Yeah you heard me right; they took poor unsuspecting me to a viewing. It was incredibly awkward. I just kind of stood in the corner staring around the tiny room and up at the coffin and the morning relatives and friends and made myself as small as possible and hoped that no one noticed my extreme discomfort. I also was half smiling to myself because of the hilarity of the situation. I thought I was just going to lunch but somehow I ended up at a funeral.

Apparently, the deceased was in his late seventies and died of stomach cancer. He was the neighbor of either the two old ladies in the car, or of Rossy and Manuel. I wasn’t sure cause of the language barrier but I do know he was Someone’s neighbor. After Rossy prayed, we walked back outside past some doors through which mournful music was drifting.  Manuel said to me, “In there is the church where the funeral service is. But we are not going in there, we’re leaving now.” Thank the gods! hahaha I was so relieved to hear that.

Before leaving, however, we drove through the cemetery to where Manuel’s mother was buried. We paid our respects and stood silently for a moment. I took the time to look around the burial grounds at all of the people visiting the graves of their loved ones. 

It is a beautiful day. The sun shines in the brilliant blue sky illuminating the green grass and a peaceful pond. The landscape is carefully cared for and all of the graves have flowers placed on the tombstone. The beauty of the place stands in sharp contrast to the pain in the eyes of the people. Families stand by the grave of their son, or sister, or grandfather. A woman in her thirties kneels at the side of a grave as four men of different generations stand around silently. Two little girls with ice cream cones jump out of a car and skip across the road to catch up to their mother and older brother. Two cousins smile and greet each other with a kiss. An elderly lady holds her head in her hands with her grown up children standing over her. A father stands by a grave with a baby strapped into a stroller at his side. So much grief and so many bitter-sweet reunions. I was struck by deep thoughts about how death is universal and affects everyone who is left behind.

Rossy crossed herself and Manuel looked up and turned back to the car. Then we left for reals and went to lunch. So I did understand that part right! I just didn’t hear the part about the viewing. It was an experience. 

On that really sad note, I abruptly and unceremoniously move to a much happier topic; the beautiful drive between Viña and Horcón where we had lunch. There are some things which cannot be captured with a camera even when you are stationary so it’s even more impossible from the other side of a dirty window in a moving car. I just stared out of the window and soaked in the beauty of the country’s coast. 

I’ve been keeping a journal of words to document the things I see and hear and experience in my adventures. I wrote down some of the most memorable things from the drive and from the outing. Here is a page of my awful handwriting for your enjoyment. 

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Here I shall interpret some of the chicken scrawl from the picture above:

We drove by the dunes of Concón. They are huge! Mountains of sand stretching as far as the eye can see. Absolutely beautiful. People ride horses along the coast and a hang glider glides over the waters. 

Trees lined the road and the leaves are green even in the winter time.  We pass pastures of sparse bushes and lush grass where hundreds of cows graze and a black horse stands alert staring out into the valley. 

There is a bay called La Ventana, which means “The Window.” Rossy told me that it’s called that because of the huge rock with a hole in it. I wish I could have got a picture of it because I can’t really describe it in words. It was beautiful. 

And the houses! They are so cute and colourful with all different styles of architecture. Every house is unique and lovely.  I got three of them from the car window, so they aren’t the best photos but they’re decent I suppose. 

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One house had armchairs on the porch. Like two legit arm chairs with two old men just chilling in them. 

A Chilean cowboy dude went riding by bareback with a rope halter and leading another horse behind. It was epic. 

Then we entered Horcón, in which we ate lunch. I wrote a separate blog post for that because I took lots of photographs and this one is getting really long. But anyways, fast-forward to the drive home, which was excellent as well. 

The sunset over the ocean was breathtaking. As the sun fell lower in the sky it grew huge and red and the misty clouds ate it from the top down instead of disappearing under the earth like you would expect from a sunset. It was incredible. 

On a rock cliff overlooking the ocean and the sunset was a bench. A boy sat on said bench with his girl laying down beside him with her head in his lap. He was reading a book and it was a beautifully romantic moment. 

The people are beautiful. Rollerskating teens and kids on tiny skateboards. Cute couples walking hand in hand and an old lady in a yellow skirt sitting on the steps of a house. An old weathered man trudging down the street with a newspaper in his hand. A young dad with his five year old on his shoulders. A girl wearing green standing by the road looking for something in the distance. I really want to photograph these people. I want to capture these moments but I can’t because as soon as I know it’s a moment worth capturing, the moment is gone. The car has passed by, the person walks away, changes expression, or makes eye contact. It’s frustrating but also shows how precious moments are because they only happen once and only occasionally and sometimes accidentally can they be recorded. 

I also don’t know how to ask if I can take their picture or use a picture I’ve taken because I don’t speak Chilean Spanish. Maybe it’s okay to just not tell them I took a picture? I don’t really know anything about photographing etiquette. Do you? 

Anyway, it is late and my thoughts are becoming unusually pensive and deep, which usually means it’s time for me to sleep. So I will post this blog post tonight and then finish the one about lunch in Horcón tomorrow after church.

Buenas noches mis amigos!  

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2 thoughts on “The things which cannot be photographed.

  1. I heard they did a psychological test on people at an art musuem. One group was asked to take pictures and another was told to just take it in. The picture-takers remembered very little, while the taker-inners, could repeat a lot of what they saw. Keep soaking it in! In the end, that may be more important than taking pictures.

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