Pucón and the Pequod

Danika Odell
September 28, 2019

A note on the sketches: sorry for the white balance on the scans. Life is imperfect and fleeting. 

We were lucky to study abroad in Chile when we did, because the national holiday of the 18th this year fell at an odd point on the calendar, allowing for an entire week off of work and school. My IES Abroad classmates - companions I should probably refer to as friends by this point because they are lovely people to be around - and I decided to take a trip to Pucón. Two fantastical images had taken shape in my expectations of Pucón: there was an active volcano that you could ski down as well as a life-size chocolate fountain. I remain unclear about the fountain, but there was a high concentration of chocolate shops in Pucón’s tourist downtown. 

My last day in Pucón, I hiked to Ojos del Caburgua to see the waterfalls advertised on a billboard outside of our hostel. 

Waterfalls are hard to draw mostly because water has a visual connotation of blue, not white, so field note sketches look like indecipherable photo negatives. While walking downstream from the falls I did find the trademark Crayola blue that one irrationally expects. It was near the rapids, where iridescent streaks flickered between the bulging obstructions of water. The blue shades grew stronger towards the center, just like fire. 

The other difficulty with drawing waterfalls is that they move. I decided there are two ways to look at the water. You can mark a point of reference, perhaps it's captain Ahab drowning in his existential crisis and you follow this point through whatever course it chooses in the river, learning how the water moves*. This method may induce dizziness. The other option is to go freeze-frame mode where instead of a point that is allowed to move you pick a window frame to look through. If like Ahab you suffer from existential dread, I don’t recommend this option because you will soon find that the first particle to pass through the frame, that mark of autonomy you once believed was distinct, is the same as all other points*. Beyond that, patterns will emerge, certain shapes will repeat. Life and death and life and death and whales. Then you will have a good idea of the shapes you should draw. 

In the end, you will probably remain perturbed by your ill-fated attempts at drawing waterfalls, as I am. Unlike me, you won’t feel obligated to publish them on the internet, because you won’t be a month behind on your blog posts (as I am/will always be). 

Through my unnecessary Wikipedia-ing for this post, I learned Moby-Dick the book is based on the real-life whale Mocha-Dick, named after the real-life island Mocha -  territorial property of Chile! My K-12 education trained me to never accept Wikipedia as valid research so, like the dutiful academic I am, I consulted my anthropology professor. He explained the system where whales were named after the location and person associated with their discovery, in this case, Dick was on Mocha island and saw a white sea behemoth. Additionally, in Mapuche mythology, the souls of the deceased travel in the belly of a large whale*. I’d like to assume Melville was aware of this mythology. How metaphorically fitting for Ahab to be hunting a death vessel.

*Literary tangent, my favorite! I may not have understood all of Moby-Dick because I only wanted to read the book to say I had read it. But from what I remember, Ahab is representative of a certain machismo and existential dread, in that he thinks he can impose on the universe a form of lawful retribution, one where you can’t simply eat a man’s leg. And Melville, I’m assuming, is referencing masculinity as a dominance of nature and such. In conclusion, Ahab has some problems. 

Danika Odell

<p>Aside from art, I'm long-distance running fanatic. I live a short drive from Eugene, a name that has become synonymous with Tracktown USA. My family doesn't understand why I feel a deep emotional attachment to the old Hayward field stands currently under reconstruction. I don't either, really.</p>

Destination:
Term:
2019 Fall
Home university:
Occidental College
Hometown:
Mulino, OR
Major:
Spanish
Studio Art
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