You may have heard that there’s a new pope. To you, maybe, it’s important. Or maybe it’s not. I don’t have much of a horse in this race, as I’m not Catholic. But I live in a Catholic country, and I think it’s fair to say that people are definitely paying attention here.
For one thing, he’s not European, but Latin American, which should make Chileans happy. On the other hand, we have this sometimes playful/sometimes not rivalry with Argentina, which, as far as I can tell, has to do with Chileans perceiving Argentines (well, actually, Porteños, people from Buenos Aires, but this easily extends to other parts of the country as far as Chileans are concerned), with taking up too much space, whether it be auditory (said to be loud), physical, (gesticulate more than Chileans) or any other. This is often shorthanded by holding one’s hands up like there’s a casserole dish in them, shrugging the chest forward and upper arms back, nodding one’s chin up imitating (perhaps poorly) the Porteño accent and intonation, and saying (at great volume) “che,” which is kind of like “dude.”
And while this reminds me of the ’80s (probable misrepresentation) of Valley girl speak in the US (or at least in Brooklyn), I do think it’s fair to say that there are nationwide profile differences, and Argentines tend to be grander, in voice, stature and (public) ego than Chileans.
So I was in the elevator at a friend of mine’s apartment. What’s different about this elevator from most other elevators you go into these days, and any other one I go into at all in Santiago, is that it has an attendant. He (always he, but many different hes) sits on a stool and you tell him where you’re going and he pushes the button. Some of the attendants read, some listen to music on their phone, and some just run the elevator up and down, and I guess they’re developing a life philosophy, as they don’t really seem to be doing anything else, though I wish at least one would write a book about his experiences.
The presence of the ascensorista (elevator attendant) means that people have to talk when they get in the elevator to tell him what floor they want to go to, and this means rather than being in the dome of silence, that the people in the elevator (which fits about 8 people) actually tend to talk to each other more than is normal (for Chile) in such a small space. There’s also the camaraderie of living downtown, which is no small factor, and there are a lot of foreigners and other people that are somewhat outside the Chilean norm (sex workers, for example) living in this building. For Chile, it’s downright chatty.
So what does this have to do with Argentina and the new pope?
“Pues, tenemos Papa Argentino,” (So, we’ve got an Argentine Pope). This from a 40-something man who comes up to my shoulder.
“Ahora van a ser mas agrandados aún!” (pronunciation note, this sounds like: a-OR-a van-a-SER MA-a-gran-DA-o aOOn, Now they’re going to be even more full of themselves.”
And everyone snickered and laughed and smiled. Because maybe Argentines (from the Chilean perspective) are full of themselves, but Chileans (from my perspective) are buenos pa’ el pelambre (really good at making fun of people, though generally in “good fun,” not cruelly).
Which is perfect, giving the unfortunate typo in the screen capture posted above (see red banner at bottom). From a national channel, and it’s streaming through on Facebook every five minutes on my feed, and I’m sorry I cannot give credit where credit is due. Turns out that r and l are not interchangeable in many languages, including Spanish. I can’t wait to see what kind of meme this spawns.
Oh Eileen! Too funny. And my neighbor said that she heard this on the street yesterday, “¡AL FIN DIOS Y EL PAPA TIENEN LA MISMA NACIONALIDAD!”
oh. my. god., Sally, that is funny! There have been some comments along the lines of “now Argentina has the best carne and papa,” but these are actually much funnier!
The typo notwithstanding, lo cual me dió risa, I was part of a similar convo with friends here in Bogota. While there was pride that the Pope was from Latin America, it was balanced with comments along the lines of ¨…porque ya son muy creidos. Y ahora, pues, aja.¨ Like you, I don’t really care who got the votes. But, it was interesting to hear the reactions.
yeah, agranda’o, creído, it’s all the same. Poor Argentina, everyone thinks they’re all puff and no substance. Please don’t get me started on Tango (Uruguayan?), beef (ok, you’re famous for dead things), pasta (Italy!), etc. At least they have Malbec. Oh, and the ego? It’s actually kind of strangely nice to be around sometimes, given the whole foot-shuffling, nobody loves us Chileans do at times.
I was a fan of the Huffington Post’s cover headline “The Holy SI!”
As for Argentine stereotypes… really?
I love the Holy Sí! And well, in Salta, you may as well be Aymara/Bolivian/Chilean as far as Porteños go, no? I have seen it in people from Córdoba, too, but never really elsewhere. Salta Salta, man I want to get up there! Will keep you updated and seek advice, for sure!
Oh. God. That typo. I’m dying.
As far as I’m concerned this pope was from an immigrant family, had privilege, studied abroad (in Chile and Germany, I think), is theologically conservative, and on the wrong side of the Dirty War. Not much is going to change.
you’re more informed than I am, Sara. People are making a thing out of the fact that he’s from a country where both same-sex marriage/unions and abortion are legal, but I don’t have great expectations of changes from within, either.
“humor” about the pope from this side of the equator have tended towards wondering if he was going to belt out “Don’t cry for me Argentina!” from the loggia.
Oh, and from my facebook feed, a friend (who I would say means no disrespect, though I suspect he meant plenty of disrespect) suggested that with the white smoke coming up from the Sistine Chapel one wonders whether they have chosen a pope or whether they’re having “a big gay meth party” in there.
oy re: meth party. I know nothing of such things. Also, the loggia here is like the laundry room. Maybe that’s where the white smoke is coming from? the dryer steam?
Well, that is indeed an unfortunate way of communicating the news. Notice that the word “erección” is probably correctly used in this context, because it means that somebody was lifted to a higher position (I’m not ignoring the obvious sexual reference, but the word erección means many things).
In the case of the Pope, I’m not so sure if it is right to say the he was “elegido” because that would mean that he was a candidate in a somehow open election where no divine powers interfered (which according to Catholic tradition is required to find a new Pope). Maybe the right word is none of those two but another one, which is “consagrado” (noun consagración) o quizás “ungido” (noun unción), but that is too technical for my loooooooong time ago religion classes at primary school.
oooh, Carlos, giving the semantic smackdown. I knew I liked you!
From what I have seen so far, the guy has a lot more charisma than the previous one. Not expecting much change either. I am also hearing a lot about his stance during the dictatorship. Then again, the whole Church remained quiet and simply stood aside.
The Chileno commenting in the elevator is really funny.
Hi Eduardo, thanks for popping in. The truth is, the actual papal passing-on of the scepter is of minimal interest to me. I am also becoming jaded in believing that anyone who has actually stood for good in the long term never gets into any position of power. However, the Argentine-Chilean (and apparently Argentine-Brazilian, and Colombian, and every other nationality in South America) relations I find a little bit hilarious.
Yes – unfortunately there is a lot of ethnocentrism and stereotyping all over the world. I have even seen it in Costa Rica when they speak of their neighbors the Nicaraguans.
On another subject, just saw in the news that Michelle Bachelet will be running for president again. I always liked her. Never understood why she left. She will win again.
She left because Chilean presidents cannot serve consecutive terms. And central americans have a field day with each other, it’s true. Thanks for jumping in.