Recommencement of Essay Season

Danika Odell
August 22, 2019
Seed pods and sunset by Danika Odell

There was an unremarkable amount of snow on the mountains, so we bought lift tickets to commemorate the end of summer and the start of classes. Skiing on the red (intermediate) slopes is a lot like speaking Spanish for me at the moment. I can get down the mountain, but I’m not in control and will likely crash abruptly. 

Relying on my limited Spanish has felt like a cognitive relapse of about fifteen years. I had to resort to pantomime to reference a horizontal line with my art professor today (only to find out the word is a cognate. Love when that happens). My perception of my abilities to communicate depends largely on my mood, a factor that is in greater flux when in a different country. One day I’m on the slopes of the Andes skiing and the next I’m struggling to buy the basic materials for a sandwich. 

While walking to Lider (Walmart’s Chilean cousin I am told) one afternoon for the sandwich stuff, I passed a child crying to his mother about an unfulfilled desire for ice cream. It was the type of sadness that comes from defeated protest: I’m tired, hungry, and in need of solace that the world refuses to provide me. This brought an inward smile on my part - that child was the most relatable human I had seen in weeks. 

There were several moments during orientation where I considered rolling into a self-pity ball, because Santiago is big and there are a lot of walking tours involved. We had an unexpected two-hour hike through San Cristobal one day, but Chile is sort of beautiful no matter where you are so the excursion was worth it. The statue of the virgin at the top seemed like a topically relevant object I should catalog. 

Similiar touristic impulses led me to draw a picture of the cathedral at the Plaza de Armas. This is the point where, if my European art history were still fresh, I would write an essay on the architecture of the cathedral. I think it's enough to simply highlight that this building has withstood a lot of earthquakes, along with the majority of anything built in Santiago. There are so many earthquakes here that there are actually two subcategories, most of which fall under the apparently innocuous temblores.

I went back to the plaza this weekend to sketch a tree and decided I wouldn’t be doing that again until it warms up.

The last drawing is of the seed pods growing on a tree outside my homestay. I’ve spotted others that I think grow in Los Angeles as well. There is a striking similarity between Los Angeles and Santiago - palm trees were a weird concept for me when I moved to Los Angeles, but it's even more peculiar to see them set against a snowy mountain range. This conjoining of landscapes isn't helping me at the moment. Classes at Occidental start this week and I'm trying to stay mentally present in Santiago, because that seems like the healthy thing to do. 








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>

2019 Fall
Home University:
Occidental College
Mulino, OR
Studio Art
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