Technically, if you’re from Concepcion, you’re a Penquista. But there’s so much more to a person, let alone a collection of people. So who really are Penquistas and how can you become one?
In my words and from my perception: they’re a bunch of well cultivated, relaxed, musically cultured, artistic, pisco loving, wine producing, acrobatic and experimental youth who make up a large portion of the population in Concepción. There’s universities everywhere, street performers on most big roads or practicing in the park, a range of bars in the centre, a scent of something herbal in the air and a variety of music festivals in summer. So what did I do to blend in and learn to live like a Penquista?
1. Musical Festivals
This is one of the first things I did when I arrived since it was just as summer was ending. Each weekend had a different festival featuring and the best part was, they were free! The first festival we went to was called Rock in Conce and all the Mexican exchange students were particularly excited for this one since the lead was a rock band from Mexico – Molotov. There were plenty more electronic festivals, reggae festival and a range of singers throughout the rest of the season that we didn’t quite make but at least heard about.
I took up acrobatic classes! I’m not even sure what it’s exact name is in english, but we learnt tricks and flips through a hoop hanging from the ceiling. (Best description I can give.) Mel and I kept this up for most of the year, so after a while I got the hang of it, or at least got over the fear of flipping upside down.
The national spirit of the country. It fuelled most of our parties and was the main drink in the clubs. Chileans are super generous with their portions in the club. They’re going to fill up your glass almost to the top and give you the mixer in a can on the side. So you spend the first 4 gulps sculling the bitter sweet pisco before you can make it a sweet tasting piscola.
Wine is super cheap in Chile. Even something cheap as chips is reasonably good quality – 2L for $4. The two main cheap wines were Gato and 120. Another of their national drinks is called a Terremoto (literally meaning earthquake), which is white wine, syrup and a dollop of ice-cream – great for a sweet tooth. Okay, sounds like to be a Penquista, you’re an alcoholic. Almost but not exactly, although my appreciation for wine did increase.
5. Lakeside relaxation
Chile has beautiful countryside and just 20 minutes from the centre you can find the beautiful lakes of San Pedro de la Paz. For two different weekends we took a trip about two hours from the the city to Quillon and relaxed by the lakeside, took out a boat, went in for a swim and just relaxed by its shore.
6. Australian alternative music
It was the Chileans in my class that taught me about Sticky Fingers and Tame Impala – two alternative bands of Australia. One guy even said when he listens to Sticky Fingers he thinks of me, yet I had never even heard of them. Penquistas have a range of music tastes and show interest in the world of music.
7. English teaching
Penquistas like progress, and part of their idea of progressing as a society, is learning English. So, I taught English for three months. However, learning English and practicing it, are two different things. While almost every Penquista going through school has learnt English, some are a little shy when it comes to speaking, but they definitely know the basics.