I’m sitting in a tiny town in the region of Aysen called Cisnes, where I just received a meal and housing for the night from the rain out of pure hospitality. There’s music and meat and conversation and community, and Calle 13’s song Latinoamérica plays in the background. Listen to it to feel, to connect. Preferably in Spanish to really get the impact. Most times I’m called “gringa” lightheartedly, out of teasing or affection or purely becasuse I’m foreign. But oftentimes I feel a twinge of responsibility for what my country gets itself into. Here are some thoughts, and a translation for the English speakers which I did with the help of LyricsTranslate. Check it out.
Latinoamérica’s culture is mystical and infinite. Here in Patagonia you feel it’s presence in every corner.
It’s in the antiquity of the alerce trees
It’s in the rustic unity of the Carretera Austral
It’s in the traditions of the gauchos
It’s in the unpredictability of the climate
It’s in the gastronomy
And the community.
It’s in the Mapuche and the Kawésqar
And the Mapurungu.
It’s in the sense of endurance and revolution,
The clash between government pushing forward in time and culture pulling it b a c k.
Here the people are still connected to the Pachamama and not to their screens.
I’m sitting here crying because this music and these lyrics,
They’re powerful on their own.
But when you’re surrounded by the people who sing it,
Who believe it,
THAT is culture.
You can’t read about it,
You can’t write about it.
You can only experience it.
That’s why I’m here, and that’s why travelers who come here get stuck here–ensnared, enraptured, enchanted–
By the magic of South America.
I am what they left
I’m all that’s left from what was stolen.
A village hidden on the peak,
My skin is from leather that’s why i withstand any weather.
I’m a factory of smoke,
A peasant working hand for your consumption
Cold Front in the middle of summer,
Love in the Time of Cholera, my brother.
The sun that is born and the day that dies,
with the best evenings.
I am developing raw,
a political speech without saliva.
The most beautiful faces I’ve met,
I’m the photograph of a missing person.
I’m the blood in your veins,
I’m a piece of land that is worth it.
I’m a basket with beans,
I’m Maradona against England scoring 2 goals.
I’m what that holds my flag,
the backbone of the planet is my Andes.
I’m what my father taught me,
Who doesn’t love his homeland doesn’t love his mother.
I’m Latin America,
People without legs but who walk.
You can’t buy the wind.
You can’t buy the sun.
You can’t buy the rain.
You can’t buy the heat.
You can’t buy the clouds.
You can’t buy the colors.
You can’t buy my happiness.
You can’t buy my pain.
I have the lakes, I have the rivers.
I have my teeth for when I smile.
The snow that puts make up on my mountains.
I have the sun that dries me and the rain that washes me
A desert intoxicated with beautiful drinks of pulque
To sing with the coyotes is all that I need.
I have my lungs breathing clear blue.
The height that suffocates.
I’m the teeth that chew the Coca.
The autumn with its falling leaves
The lines written under the starry night.
A vineyard filled with grapes.
A sugar cane plantation under the Cuban sun.
I’m the Caribbean Sea watching over the houses,
Doing rituals of holy water.
The wind that combs my hair.
I’m all the saints that hang from my neck.
The juice of my struggle is not artificial,
Because the fertilizer of my land is natural.
[chorus in Spanish, then in portuguese]
You can’t buy the sun
You can’t buy the rain
(we are drawing the way, we are walking)
You can’t buy my life.
MY LAND IS NOT FOR SALE.
Working hard but with pride,
Here we share, what’s mine is yours.
These people can’t be drowned with big waves.
And if it collapses I’ll rebuilt it.
I don’t blink when I look at you.
So that you’ll remember my name.
Operation Condor invading my nest.
I forgive but I’ll never forget!
(we are walking)
We breathe struggle here.
(we are walking)
I sing because you listen.
Here we are standing.
Long live Latin America.
You can’t buy my life.