Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Gauchifying the Huaso: an NYT Misidentification


Once a year or so, The New York Times travel section condescends to publish a Latin American issue, devoting its 12 pages to a region that, south of Mexico and parts of the Caribbean, gets barely a mention the rest of the year. Last Sunday’s edition features a photo essay on Santiago’s newly fashionable Barrio Italia, an area that also includes the Museo Frei and Puerto Perú, one of my favorite restaurants in the city (I’m planning a future post about Peruvian food).
It also includes a longer article on Pichilemu, the Chilean surfing capital that's just a short drive from the Colchagua wine district. That’s good as far as it goes, but author Ondine Cohane stumbles when she inexplicably refers to Chilean horsemen as “gauchos” when she attends a local rodeo. “Gaucho” is properly River Plate Spanish (Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay and Brazil, where it’s gaúcho). It’s also used in southernmost Chilean Patagonia but, in the Chilean heartland, her “gauchos wearing different striped tunics” are in fact huasos dressed in ponchos, and she fails to identify the traditional dance she views as the cueca, the staple of Chilean folklore (as depicted in the 19th-century painting below). It’s not surprising that Cohane, an editor with the Euro-centric Condé Nast Traveler, might oversimplify regional details, but the Times’s own fact-checkers clearly failed here.
Romney Nui
Recently, I wrote a post about Chilean icons in the current US presidential elections that included a New Yorker cartoon caption contest that caricatured the current opposition nominee as the face of the stationary moai of Easter Island (known as Rapa Nui to its Polynesian residents). The link in the previous sentence will take you to three wryly clever reader-submitted captions, with a choice to vote for one. I’ve made my choice and, when the winner is announced next week, we’ll see if other readers agree with me.
Tango by the River - Postponed
As announced earlier, I will give a digital slide lecture on Buenos Aires at Tango by the River in Sacramento, but illness (not mine) has postponed the event. It will now take place Friday, October 26th.
Limited to a maximum of 50 people, the event will also include tango performances; admission costs $10 at the door, or $8 in advance. I have spoken here several times before, and we always sell out, so plan in advance. Signed copies of my Moon Handbooks on Argentina, Buenos Aires, Chile and Patagonia will be available at discount prices.

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