Monthly Archives: June 2013

Violeta Parra


When most folks think of Chilean artists, Pablo Neruda of course pops to mind, but frequently nobody else gets in there. He won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1971. 26 years before him in 1945, Chilean poet and author Gabriela Mistral also won the Nobel Prize. I’ll get back to them at a later date. In addition to these writers, Victor Jara and Violeta Parra are two extremely important musicians who have come to embody Chile in a way. For me and many others, these four individuals have become emblematic of 20th century Chilean artists. Their songs are simply stunning and the lyrics get me every time. They sing of life, love, labor and justice to name a few themes.

Violeta Parra is one of the, if not the most influential and important folk musician this nation has produced. She was born in the south, in the rural Chillán area to musical parents. She began singing with her siblings at a young age. One of her brothers, Nicanor Parra, is also a writer nominated for a Nobel a number of times. Anyhow, when she was young she began to travel around the countryside and collect folk tales and stories, and eventually, to record them at home and abroad. She spent a lot of time traveling and living in France, Chile and elsewhere in Europe. She has quite a collection of plastic arts with a large following. I personally find her visual art somewhat painful to look at. Childlike and honest, but with colors that make me sick to my stomach. Her music, for me, is the best. It is honest, lyrical, simple and beautiful. She led a passionate, and at times sad life. Andrés Wood directed a movie about her life called Violeta Se Fue a Los Cielos, 2011. I do recommend it.

Here is one of my favorite songs by Violeta Parra, Gracias a la Vida (Thanks Be to this Life). Its bittersweet overtone and simple realism are a potent combo. In public if this song is heard, I see Chileans kind of catch their breath, and their eyes dim for a second as they drift off, enveloped in a memory. It has the same effect on me. I’ll translate it soon in case you’d like to see the English version.


International Documentary Film Festival, 2013


FIDOCS, the International Documentary Film Festival in Santiago kicks off this year in 10 days. The website still says the info will be “available soon” with all of the specifics. Check it out! They show films from all over at a number of locations from the 24th through the 30th. Even once the information is up on the site, it’s not a bad idea to call the venue if there is something you are really jonesing to see, as the site can be unreliable. Woo! I’m excited.

Real Apple Cider Vinegar in Santiago

It's got the mother!

It’s got the mother!

My sorta libertarian part hippie dad (he’d shit a brick if he actually read that) insisted that he and my mom raise us seven on health foods, which was not my favorite thing as a kid. I do appreciate it now. Bragg’s Apple Cider Vinegar was always around and over the years has helped keep me cold-free for the most part. I couldn’t find any here in Santiago, or anything similar. I tried health food stores and they were mostly out of the good stuff because apparently they put it into capsules and people take them to lose weight. I read all kinds of forums with expats inquiring about the Bragg’s, and no dice. I love drinking the vinegar because it keeps the pH balanced in the body, which means the immune system works well (preventing cancer etc.) In a city this smoggy, the winter can be a real bastard. The vinegar in the grocery stores is so refined that it tastes like candy – shitty candy, not at all like quality stuff. I took to making my own. Well, I ran out early winter and since it takes at least six weeks to ferment, I have been searching to no avail for my required medicine. I’ve found it! Actually Marcela did as she is my favorite hunter-and-finder of deals, bargains and essential items. Really. She has a gift.

I have to pass this tip along, as I’m sure others are looking, too. It’s called Vinagre Natural de Manzana made by the Agropecuario Punucapa in Valdivia, Chile. That’s a great town, too. The bottle states that it is made 100% from apples that are naturally fermented. It is bottled raw and unfiltered. It tastes right. She picked it up in La Vega Central Market, which is huge, so here are the contact details:

Cell phone: 9443 4791 or 94682841

Landline: 56-63-257639 #512 or


Aside from drinking a tablespoon or two per day in the morning and evening in water or tossing it on a salad for its general alkalinity inducing quality, I like to put it in a bowl of steaming water and do “the towel over the head and inhale” trick if I get a sinus infection or bad cold. It seriously works wonders. Of course, I’m not a doctor, but a simple human being with years of data gathered from experimenting on my own body.


The easiest place to find it is a natural foods store across from La Vega. If you get off the train at Cal y Canto, take the “Puente” exit. Walk one block south until you hit San Pablo #921 you will be at La Tostaduría Puerto Rico. You can find this vinegar and a slew of other products there (tea, coffee, dried fruits, legumes, quinoa, coconut oil and many more). If you would like a visual go to their site and click on Donde Estamos.