Friday, 25 May 2012


Our time in Chile was largely spent with my biological family in Santiago, Concepción and Nacimiento. Interestingly, the names of the latter 2 cities mean “conception” and “birth”. Besides wondering what it may have been like to grow up in Chile instead of Belgium, I (Wim) had the chance to get to know my biological parents and half-sisters a bit better. It was good to see that they are doing fine, although Chile is going through a tough time at the moment. Communication was sometimes a bit difficult, especially when the conversation went to more complex issues, beyond figuring out what we’d like to eat or drink or what time the bus will leave.

It is difficult to describe the thoughts and interactions that emerge when people meet who share no joint history, no mother tongue, no upbringing, but only genes. When random people meet and show each other how they live their lives, it is normal that there is some overlap in attitudes, ideals, preferences and fears. When I was having conversations with my biological mother, biological father or half-sisters, or when I was just observing the interactions between them, I always wondered to what extent similarities with my own attitudes and behaviour were purely coincidence or a result of genetics.

Another train of thought that continuously ran through my head was how difficult it would be to stay connected with my biological family once back in Cape Town, when it is already hard enough to make sure I stay in regular contact with my family and friends in Belgium. I guess, until suborbital transportation becomes commercially available and affordable, a big part of the answer is setting realistic expectations and enjoying the moments spent together.

After about a week of meeting biological uncles and aunts and grandmothers and step grandparents (who own a farm and where we enjoyed fresh milk and got to help letting the animals out in the morning after staying overnight), we decided to spend 2 days in the South of Chile where the nature is quite beautiful. We rented a car and drove south for about 3,5 hours to Pucón, a little town nestled between a huge beautiful lake and a volcano covered in snow which is close to the border of Argentina. We stayed on a farm owned by a German couple with 4 dogs who treated us to hearty breakfasts and a fire in our cottage all day and all night. We took a walk in the rain on the first day, enjoyed hot chocolate in town  and on day 2 we were greeted with sun, blue skies and crisp mountain air with the most beautiful views of the volcano (no longer active and has a ski station). This was sadly all we had time for before we returned to the cities, but we will certainly be back to see more of the south of Chile...

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