Pepe’s Chile: Thanks to my Chilean mothers
Sunday was Mother’s Day and hopefully you told your Mom that you love her!
As I reflect on my early days and months in Chile, it was Chilean mothers that made me feel at home.
I lived with several families during my first two years in Chile. Each had a caring and loving mamita that seemed to adopt me and take me in as if I were her own son. The love these mothers showed to me was manifest in their kind words, caring actions, and ever cautious worries for my safety and well being.
My name, Pepe, was even born from the first family I lived with. Once they realized my name was the English equivalent of José, they immediately dubbed me Pepe and the name stuck. So just like a real mother, I was even named by my Chilean Moms.
Another mother called my roommates and I “bebitos”. She watched over us like a mother hen. Plus I think it was easier for her to call us “bebitos” than try and pronounce our gringo names.
Chilean mamitas are always ready with a homemade remedy for any illness or ailment. The first time I was sick in Chile, my mamita brought me a cloudy white liquid in an little cup and told me to drink it up. It would help me feel better. I dutifully drank it and it was nasty! I’m not sure what was in there or if it made me feel any better either. Nevertheless, it did show that my adopted mother cared for my health.
As a young and naive gringo, I was always willing to go places or do things that weren’t always the best idea. Dear mamita was ever-willing to counsel me on my actions and tell me what I should or shouldn’t do. Thanks Mom!
One Chilean legend that still baffles me is the boca chueca (crooked mouth). I had several mamitas that would yell at me or even block the door so I wouldn’t go outside in the cold after having a hot drink: “No! You’ll get the boca chueca!” I don’t think they knew that Gringo’s are immune to the boca chueca.
Thanks to my many Chilean mothers who adopted me as their own, cared for me, and loved me as another son. I survived my initial time in Chile thanks to you. I grew to love Chile and the Chilean culture because of your example and generosity.