jueves, agosto 25, 2005

Francisco Coloane, " Let us come back to the sea"

Dibujo de Erwin Salinas

(Translated by: Fernanda Manzano and Claudia Pérez)
version en español
Francisco Coloane was born with the waves. In the little harbour of Quemchi in the Chiloe Island, in " in the earth of the spear ", in a house built over wood tarred columns. His mother, Humiliana Cardenas Vera, gave birth at five o’clock in the morning, on July 19th of 1910. In those days, his father Juan Agustin Coloane Muñoz was sailing, since he was the captain of a coastal sailing ship, pilot of the Yelcho scout.
In the house there was a bridge of planks to go from the dinner to the kitchen. In the high tide the water reached right under the dormitories. The voice of his mother and the sea sound lulled him. At dawn she would yell at him: "panchito, get up, the boat is ready!" And Coloane would reluctantly get up for having breakfast and boarding a grey boat, of four oars, made of Cypress planks and Cachigua frames. His mother would sit in the stern, put the rod in the wheel and take the end of the ropes to navigate.
When he was 9 years old, among whalebones, he saw his father die. "Let us come back to the sea" were the last words for his son. Many times he dreamt he was walking in the hills of Chiloe and suddenly his father would repeat, "Let us come back to the sea!" That is why he always wished, as something very special, very intimate, to come back to sea.
Then he studied in Ancud and Punta Arenas. And, it could not have been in another way, he boarded in a whaler.
Coloane is one of the best Chilean storytellers. With a vibrant, vital and imaginative language, he shows us the southern most end of the Earth, namely, the Magallanes province, especially Tierra del Fuego. In 1945, 3 of his works: "The Conquerors of the Antarctica" (a novel for youths), "Gulf of Pains" (selection of stories), and " Tierra del Fuego Extinguishes" (a drama in 3 acts), premiered in Santiago in 1955, and filmed in Argentina). He received the National Prize of Literature in 1964.
Coloane shows the different accidents of this barren geography, the coast of Tierra del Fuego and its numerous islands, and mysterious canals, which lose themselves in the end of the world, in " The Devil’s Grave". Coloane assures there, in Cape Horn a tragic promontory which beholds the ceaseless duel of the two biggest oceans, the Devil is hidden with a couple of tons of chains, which he drags along and creaking the shackles in the bottom of the sea during stormy and horrendous nights.
Coloane tells about bold otters and sea wolves’ hunters, of different races, brave men who face the sea in a shaky boat with 4 men and only 3 return. Or about a gloomy place which has the name of Jail of Ushuaia. The bloody convict escapes flooded the island, sometimes among the Indians, men who gained freedom at gunpoint.
There is a poetic chant to nature along his works, "to the sea of Chiloe and the Patagonia", that also is a poetic chant of his youth and childhood. He is a writer of trips and adventures, of navigation and discoveries.
Coloane has become an ecologist. He has reached the conviction that he loves animals, "because life is the main thing for me, it is more important than anything else. It is the first and also the last".
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