Avocado Republic — 28 October 2014


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“The Avocado Republic of Chile, because it’s too Cold to Grow Bananas” is Chile’s ultimate tour guide.  Laugh-out-loud funny and insightful.  American writer Walker Rowe sick of the pollution and noise in Santiago moves to the country for peace and quiet.  What he did not know is when you move to the country, you exchange one set of problems for another. 

The Avocado Republic of Chile Chile Independence Day Dust and Dirt in Rural Chile
Chaos at the Local School The Market Earthquakes
Love and Romance in Chile The Chilean Concept of Time My Vegetable Garden
The Compost Pile There is no Heat in Chile Drinking Burgoyne
Chilean Food is Boring and Bland Rodeo in Chile The Caretaker
The Cactus Garden Watching the Southern Skies Oscar’s Adventures
Things Fall Apart Argentina’s Dark Culture Rene, the Communist
Chewing Coca Leaves The Mapuche Conflict Cuasimodo


Walker Rowe

I have never seen anyone with such bad luck as Oscar. He is also the laziest. If you think I am talking behind his back, I tell him this to his face.

Oscar, flojo de merde (lazy shit) broke his remote control key to the electric gate. Then I loaned him mine, since I have no car. My wife has a car. I use a bicycle, shared taxis, and the bus. Oscar then ran down the battery in my key. I told him if he did not go get a new one he would mess up relationship with my wife. Paola would have been highly agitated if we could not open the gate.

So he finally got a new battery for my key, but the flojo de merde did not buy a new key for himself. So he has resorted to lifting the gate off the gear that propels it forward and opening and closing it by hand. This is the first time we argued when I told the flojo de merde to buy a new key.

Oscar has two cars, but only one of them is running. I think his sport utility must be with the mechanic and he does not have money to repair it. So he is driving around now in his van that he uses for his business. The windshield is cracked and the passenger seat is broken free of its mooring. I cannot stand to ride in that seat, as trying to hang on hurts my back. Still he drives it back and forth to Santiago and to his house at the beach. I wonder if it is highway safe.

Oscar is building a new house in Curacaví on a lot that he bought with his mom and Felipe. I went there and gave him advice on what kind of plants to plant and, more importantly, what not to plant. He saw my garden sprouting vegetables and wanted to know how to grow his own garden. You see, he has always lived in the city and knows nothing about gardening.

So one hot day he planted a garden. Then he left for the beach for 5 days.  But first I had to help him dig his van out of the sand.  That took about 4 hours of merciless digging.

You cannot set lettuce plants and then take off for the beach. They will die if not watered, especially as this was January and the sun and heat are intense. So I took over his garden and watered his lettuce twice per day, his cherry tomatoes, and transplanted a zappo squash there. But it has gotten so dry that the birds descended on the garden and ate all the pretty lettuce plants. They did not eat my lettuce in the Spring, back then there was more for them to eat, but they devoured the second planting. So I have learned that you need to cover your garden in summer to protect it against the birds plus the sun. The sun is simply too strong to plant something like lettuce in summer here.

For a few days Oscar’s van broke down. So he then had no vehicle at all. So he asked me to loan him my bike so he could go to the store. This was at night. He’s nuts to take off in the dark with no lights. But he insisted. i looked upon this request with suspicion. But then I thought, who could break a bicycle? As you might have guessed, Oscar brought back my bike and one of the pedals had fallen off. I did not even think that possible. Sure enough he said he would replace it the next day. I pedaled around for a week with one pedal and finally went to the bike shop where they replaced both of them for $4. I would have grown old waiting for him to replace the pedals as he promised.

As I stood around waiting for the shop to fix my pedals I was eyeing this girl who was getting her gears repaired. Some fellow who suffers some kind of dementia was sitting on the stoop talking to himself. But he seemed harmless and no one paid him any attention. What I could not understand was why the two guys working at the bike shop were not paying any attention to the girl.

She was wearing spandex pants and a wrap around halter top. Girls dress like this in Latin America, not leaving much to the imagination. At the beach they let their fannies hang out. No one dresses like this in conservative South Carolina, where I grew up. I was definitely sweating as this girl gave me a glance. So I tried to talk to her. All I could think to say was to ask her if those hip hugging pants were comfortable. Obviously she now knew I had been staring at those.

Such guilt makes it necessary to call my wife now.  Her mom just got braces.  She’s 65 years old.  I asked Paola, “Why does a woman with no teeth need braces?”


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(1) Reader Comment

  1. I find compost great for water retention. That’s an important thing where I live (SoCal). Nice article.

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