Chapter Two: My Four Friends

When I was nine years old I had to say good bye to my home town La Serena. Even if I didn't like the idea of leaving behind my adoptive family, I had no other option but to go with my family. At the time I wasn't staying over with my adoptive family not even on the weekends, but occasionally I visited them and every time I did, felt great in my heart to be around them.
My whole bio-family had to move to a different city due to my dad Luis health complications. The only one who stayed behind was my older brother Fernando. My older brother at the time was already married, and he was supposed to rent our house and sent the money to my parents. My dad Luis has been battling diabetes since he was in his twenties, and now he needed a warmer and not so humid kind of weather. As the doctor put it, " he needs to move to a warmer weather or he could get a lot worse, and if he is not careful, he could even die."
We moved way north of La Serena to a place called Arica. A city just minutes away from the border with Peru, right by the Pacific Ocean, and on the outskirts of the driest desert in the world, The Atacama desert.
At first was very hard to get used to this new town, but little by little I became part of these melting pot of cultures. This city also known as The Eternal-Spring City is an oasis right in the middle of two River valleys. One is called The Azapa valley, and the other is called The Lluta valley. (Ironically Lluta sounds just like when you pronounce the name of the state of Utah)
In Arica never rains and is always sunny. No matter where you are located in this city, you are never more than a few minutes away from the ocean. In this town the temperature never gets below 55°F not even in winter time, and in summer time never gets hotter than 85°F. The weather is so good in this area that you can find fresh crunchy vegetables all year long. This town is home to The Passion fruit, Guayabas, and the best Mangoes you'll ever taste, just to mention a few. In the Azapa valley you can find a few small olives' plantations that produce a wide variety of olives, and olive oils. They are the most delicious and finest olives you can find around the world. My favorite olives are the Chilean style Kalamata olives. The Lluta valley is known for having the biggest, and the most delicious corn in my whole country. This valley is famous for a version of the Sheppard's pie, which instead of putting mashed potatoes on top, uses mashed corn. This traditional plate is cooked in a clay oven, and served on a clay bowl. Yum! Is delicious!
In this town we settled in a neighborhood a little away from downtown, but it was only two blocks away from the ocean. What a place! Especially for a super active kid like me, I couldn't be in a better place. I could go out and play all year long without having to be worried about the rain or the cold weather.
Here in this town little by little I met new friends, and I met some of them in the most unusual ways. When I talk about how I met my friends in this new town, the first thing that comes to my mind, is the time when I met for the first time my friend Christian Farfan. On a sunny day of summer after swimming and playing soccer at the beach, I was walking back home among my new friends, and I saw guy coming towards me. He walked straight up to me, and with no warning what so ever, he punched me right on the nose. For the first time in my life I saw stars blinking all over and around. He punched me so hard that I started bleeding badly, and I started crying holding my nose asking to my friends, "What was that all about? Why he punched me?" I was in disbelieved but that was the first time I met him. That same day late in the afternoon he came over my house, and he apologized for what he did. I accepted his apology, and since then, we became very good friends. He was very strong, and I was a very scrawny kid at the time. He actually later on tried to help me out to become a little stronger, but didn't work out. I remember at the gym that even a girl could lift heavier weights than what I could. To see that was so embarrassing that since then I stayed away from gyms, period.
At the time, there was not such a thing as cable, and we only had two TV stations, and the most popular kid's show on TV was The Aunt Patricia's show. The program was about the adventures of a first grade teacher, in a classroom full of kids and puppets. The show was a very good educational TV program, and we all used to watch it religiously. Aunt Patricia was great at teaching little kids social skills, and she did all that while having a great time along with the puppets. This TV show was so popular at the time, that all of the kids around my age in the neighborhood ended up being nicknamed after one of these puppets. My nickname was given to me after a puppet named Saturnian. He was an alien stranded on earth after his space ship broke down and he couldn't go back to his home planet Saturn. Every week Saturnian worked very hard trying to fix his space ship, and he would try to launch his space ship into space every Friday. Unfortunately he was still here on Earth, because every time he thought he has fixed the problem with his space ship, something will happen and the launch failed miserably every time. For one reason or another he could not get to launch his UFO successfully, and because of that, everyone would refer to him as some sort of a mad scientist. My friends use to call me a mad scientist too, and because of that, the nickname stock with me even to this day. I was always trying to fix broken stuff, and sometimes I was successful, and sometimes I wasn't. Anyhow I always had fun taking things apart, and putting them back together. Regardless of the outcome I always learned something new doing that, and I loved to figure out how they worked. Later on in my teen years, like everything had to be cool, they shorten my nickname to Satu.
Another of my best friends I met in that neighborhood, he didn't get named after one of the puppets, but because of his bad temper, and short temper we nicknamed him Bulldog. He was always grunting so we call him the bulldog at first, but later on our teen years, like everything had to be cool, we changed his nickname to "Perro" but we said it backwards "Ro-pe." He was never happy with his nickname, and everybody that dared to call him that will have to suffer the consequences. He was very short fused, and at the beginning when I just got to the neighborhood, we became archenemies number one. We couldn't see each other because every time we did, we started fist fighting right there in the spot. It was terrible! At a point got so bad that sometimes we even fought inside the city busses. I have never been the kind of person that attacked another just because, but with him I had no other choice but to defend myself. I had no choice. Our friends knew about this feud, and they loved to make us fight. They got together and divided themselves into two groups, one group will go to his house, and the other group went to my house. They said to me, "Hey Satu, Ro-pe called you Saturnian," the other group went to his house and said to him, "Hey Alvaro Satu called you doggy, dog." So will go out infuriated, met half ways, and started fist fighting until we were worn-out. At a point got so bad that we were fighting at least three to four times a week, at least. Most of the times he beat me up, but I didn't back down not even a bit. For sure I don't miss that time at all. That time was the most violent time of my life for sure, and the weirdest thing about that was the fact that I am a very peaceful kind of guy. He was the one with a very explosive personality, and with the short fuse. One of those days just like many other days we saw each other, we knew what was coming, but that day I told him very quick, "Don't you even try. I am sick of this." I asked him, "Why can't you see that the only thing we are doing, is giving them a good show for free. They always make us fight when they have nothing better to do. They are using us for their amusement, and you know that couldn't care less about us." He didn't stop and he just kept insulting me, and getting on my face calling me out. We started fighting like always, and we ended up in the ground. He got on top of me, and even landed a few punches on my face. I don't know what took over me at that moment, but I grabbed him in a way that I ended up being the one on top. I punched him a few times right in the face, and I don't even remember how, but I grabbed a big rock on my hand, and I was about to hit him right on the forehead. Fortunately I stopped the rock about an inch away from his head, and at that moment we both stand steal for a second. Instead of hitting him I said to him, "If you do not stop doing this to me I will kill you!" I stand up and I stretched my hand to him. He grabbed my hand and stand up. We looked at each other eyes, then turned around and went home. After that moment we became very good friends. After that we put those bad times behind us, and that was the beginning of our friendship with "Ro-pe." Of course he still calls me Satu, and I am one of the few that can call him "Ro-pe."
My favorite friend of all times was a German guy about my age that I met when he moved to the house right behind mine. His name was Manuel Paraigat and he was double the mad scientist that I ever was, and more. We use to talk and play hanging around over the fence that divided our properties, and one of the things that a like the most about him, was the fact that fighting was never in his mind, we never fought not even once. We were just a pair of mad scientist running our imagination wild every time we played together. We were always building something, never destroying anything. At first he didn't knew a word of Spanish, but soon he was communicating with us pretty well. He was a very smart kid, and as the time went by we became very good friends. I admired on him how fast he started to learn the language. On him I saw all the stages of a person learning a new language. I saw him going from saying a few words, to start talking broken sentences, and then in about a couple of years he was speaking the language with no accent at all. I was amazed to see how smart he was. He is one of the smartest people I have ever met. He loved Iron Maiden and I remember both of us trying to learn how to play on the guitar the song "Number of the beast." Unfortunately after a few years he moved to a different neighborhood, and then he returned to Germany.
How can I forget or not mention my best friend for a while Alvaro Rivera. We use to play on his house for hours at the time with his many, many toys, and his little dog named "Pichichu." On his house we used to have sleepovers, and his dad used to take us out for dinner to expensive restaurants. He was always welcome at my home too, and my mom Mercedes really liked him. His dad was the Captain of a big commercial fishing boat in which we went out to sea a couple of times. He was the only child so he was a spoil rotten kid. He was spoiled but very respectful and a good kid too. I had great times playing with him.
In this new town for me I had a very rough start, but little by little this new town became my new playground. In this semi-tropical playground full of sunshine with my new friends, we started growing up in a very healthy and happy environment. Together we practiced many sports including soccer, bicycling, tennis, and my favorite of all Water-polo. Practicing Water-polo is how I went from being a scrawny kid, to be a normal skinny kid.
Living only two blocks away from the ocean was a real blessing for me. Every summer I had the opportunity to wake up early in the morning, and run for the beach with my friends. That beach in the morning had crystal clear waters and the nicest waves you can imagine. like in the morning was always a little chilly, we used to play beach soccer until we started sweating, and right after the game was over, we run as fast as we could and dived into the incoming waves. On a hot summer day, that beach was all you needed to have the best times of your life. I have so many great times on that beach, that those moments will always be a happy place in my mind. I will always treasure those moments dearly, and as the time goes by the more precious they became.
On that house just like in the house in La Serena my dad Luis had a little shop in the backyard. He was quite the inventor and he was always tinkering with his ideas in that little rudimentary shop. The main pieces of his little shop were: A wooden lathe, a welding machine and more than a few mechanical tools. Here in this little shop is where I learned as young boy essential wood-working skills, basic plumbing, welding and more than a few things about car mechanics. All those lessons were giving to me mainly by my dad Luis and my two older brothers. I was always tinkering around in my spare time with these tools, doing some of my little carpentry projects, and some of my mad scientist experiments. I had a lot of imagination and this little shop was one of my favorite pass times as a teenager. In this little shop my skills as a carpenter started to take shape, and looking back I think is worth to mention that when I was only thirteen years old, I got stuck on the idea of building a full-size replica of a professional foosball table including the token mechanism. Of course I didn't have the money to buy all the materials at once and build it, but little by little salvaging wood and other materials, I gather all I needed and I built it. I did a pretty good job but I wasn't totally satisfied with the results, because I wanted to do better. It wasn't perfect but was more than good enough. Actually after I finished it and played in it with my friends for a few weeks I sold it to Mrs. Virginia-the owner of a minimarket-and she put it to work. As far as I remember it was a success. I remember little by little gathering all the materials, and building all the parts one by one all by myself. My older brother Luis laughed at me after he learned what I was trying to build a foosball table, and he told me over and over "You don't know what you're getting into. Are you going to build the mechanisms for the balls to come out and the token system release for them too? You are way out of your league my friend." After about six months I had the satisfaction of proving him wrong.
About that time in my life one of the moments that I recall clearly, is a conversation among my friends. We were talking about everything and nothing at all, when we suddenly found ourselves talking about religion and God. Most of them agreed that believing in God was just like believing in Santa Claus. I have never been much of a talker but that time when it was my turn to talk I said "No! That is not true! God does exist." They laughed at me and said "If that's true, prove it!" I said "I cannot prove that God exist. I have no proof of it, but I wish one day when I grow up I'm able to put this puzzle together and find out why if God exist we cannot see it. There must be a reason. Maybe we as humans are too dumb to understand God. Whatever it is I know one thing for sure, and that is the fact that you can feel God. I know that if he created the heavens and the earth following the rules of reverse engineering, there must be clues everywhere. God it is everything!" They kept laughing at me, and one of the smart ones said "if God is everything like you said: What about that piece of turd in the grass. Is that God too?" I didn't know what to say, but I told him "I hope one day I'll figure it out, and I will prove to you that God exist." Sure, sure he said and along with the others they kept laughing to my face. As they were laughing at me, something very special happened in my heart that stock with me. I know for sure now, that in that precise conversation my true self was starting to take shape. From the moment that I said those words something happened inside of me, I felt something very special, it was just like being around my daddy Oscar when he prayed to God, and I was by his side. That is the moment I believe is where my life quest started-that life quest of trying to find out the reason why we cannot see God. Since that moment I started to pay attention to every word that was said on his name, and I used to wonder about them, sometimes for hours at the time. In my beliefs old people were already the future, and I used to love to talk about the meaning of life and God with older people. Most of them were so surprised that a young kid like me was so interested about what life was. In my mind I was just looking for clues, I was looking for the trail that will lead me to God. Like they say, "All the roads lead to Rome."

That same day I had that conversation with my friends about the existence of God, at supper time my dad Luis started talking to me about an article in the Reader's Digest. As he started talking to me, I said to myself "Great?! Here we go with another boring story." After a few minutes into his monologue, I realized that this time he was actually telling me a great story. The story was about how to win one million dollars, and that caught my attention really quick. My dad said "They have offered a million-dollar reward to anyone who can build a perpetual motion device. "What's that?" I asked him, he said "It is anything that you can build that can stay in motion by itself forever. You can't use any fuels, batteries or a winding mechanism, and has to work just by itself with no outside help of any kind. That is a perpetual motion device or mainly known as a PMD"
"How interesting" I said to him, and honestly I did mean it. He started talking about some ideas of his own, and I did get really interested on those ideas. One of the things that got stuck in my head was the definition of energy that he mentioned: You need energy to create energy, and he added "That is the actual definition of Energy, so if someone were to invent or discover a PMD it could change the very meaning of energy."
Next day thinking about that conversation I had with my dad Luis at sapper time, going to the beach that was right in front of my neighborhood like usual. I was walking and thinking-one of my favorite things to do especially right by the ocean-and I was looking at the horizon while thinking about what my dad told me and I concluded that in order to understand God you needed to understand what Energy was. If everything is made out of energy, understanding energy was crucial to understand God. If you could understand energy you can get closer to know what God is. At that moment I came out with one hypothesis a very complex one "If God existed energy could not need energy to create energy, because in that case there would be no beginning." If God were to exist that definition of energy where you need energy to create energy must be wrong. So I thought and that's why in my mind I knew that a good step forward to find God, would be creating a perpetual motion device. That type of device for certain would be like a formula of energy, a true step forward to understand God. What does make the difference between matter and spirit? What is the difference between matter and being alive? I came up with the idea that our consciousness was the only thing that separated us from being just matter, or just energy. How matter from just being matter could be awakened? How consciousness can declare freedom and independence from just being matter? Fascinating! I thought that thinking about these things was the way to rationalize all the things that we cannot. Every time I thought about these ideas, there was a feeling present, something special about it. Made me feel like I was not alone, made me feel like I was part of something greater than our self, and part of everything that was around me, including all what I was able to see at night, like the moon and the stars, the bugs and the ants, I was fascinated by them, they were alive too, just like me.
The Bible says "Spirit over matter" meaning that whatever you are in spirit is far more important that what you are in your physical body. Your spirit must be the seed of matter. The Bible says about God something that I took to heart "I am who I am. The Alpha and the Omega. The beginning and the end"
For some reason God was to me not a magician, God was to me the ultimate master carpenter of all. If God was to exist, God had to make perfect sense with science, because he created it.
It is known by history that God has talked to men before, and God has been guidance on times of uncertainty, and just like in the story of the Ark of Noah or Moses, those men who have found the way to talk to God, found the way to God and heaven here on earth. How did they reach the glory of God here on earth?
The Bible says that by faith and by faith only you reach the glory of God, and I did believe that. I knew right then that when it comes to God, is not about being the most educated or the richest. So like, I was poor and not precisely the number one in my class, I thought maybe here I have a shot, maybe I'm on to something, so I thought. That's how I found the Quest of My life. At a very early age in my youth, I found a quest that I have carried with me since then, and I can say even to this day that I'm still working on it.
A day walking by the ocean looking at the horizon, recalling the conversation with my dad I said "That's it! That's the answer I've been looking for! The first step on finding God is to create a perpetual motion device. If God exist this device must be possible. This is the only way to break this infinite loop of energy needing energy to create energy."
Since then I tried many, many ideas with not much success I must add, but every time that I thought about how to build a PMD, and that idea didn't work, I found something new, something I didn't expect, something that would help me to improve my next idea. Sometimes ideas work in your head very well. Inside your mind everything works just the way you want it, but reality is what it is, and you have to learn to work with it. At a very young age I learned a very good lesson about what matter is, and that is: Every piece of matter it has its own properties, and you have to learn how to work with them regardless of what you think. That is tricky very tricky, because is hard not to fool yourself. Understanding what worked and what didn't, and learning the properties of matter, for me was like getting closer to God.
Growing up in this new place made me understand what is like to be an outsider, what is like to have a little accent, and what is like to be the one that looks different. At the end I realized that growing up as a person doesn't have nothing to do with how you look, is all about what you are as a person and how you feel. What you truly believe in your heart is what does really shapes you as a person. You cannot tell what a person has taken for truth to his heart, but by their actions, you can have a very good idea what's inside of their heart. I love that saying that was said by Mr. Kimball long ago, "A person speaks of what his heart is full of."
When I turned 15 years old my dad sat me down and said to me, "now that you have turned 15 years old, I know that no matter what I said to you, you will do whatever you want to do. I can't be there watching over you every day and every minute of your life, that is the truth. I do not want you to grow up lying to me. I don't want you to grow up being a hypocrite. Before I talked to you I talked to your mom, and she does not agree with me all that much, but so far the same thing I'm going to tell you, is the same thing I have already told your older brothers when they turned fifteen. From now on if you want to drink alcohol you can do it here at home. If you want to smoke you can do it, but outside the house of course. Nobody is going to punish you for doing that. I am not telling you that these things are good for you, because they are not. In my beliefs for you is better to taste them here at home, instead of getting them in the streets with your friends. In my own experience and for what I've seen nothing in moderation is bad. If you have a glass of wine with supper might be even good for you, and I wish you never become a drunk, moderation is my advice. As far as I have seen there is nothing good about smoking cigarettes, no other animal in nature does that. Those who smoke you can smell them, and you have seen them spitting their lungs out. Your mom and I we have never smoked in our lives, and we're not drunks. We only have one body, and you have to care about your body, because you only have one. Eat healthy like your mom said, and understand that food is not just something that you put in your mouth to please your butt tastes. Every cell in your body needs vitamins, proteins, fibers and many of these vital nutrients you will find them in fruits and vegetables. Do not eat too much either, especially if you don't want to end up having diabetes like me, I did eat in excess and look at me now. Nothing in excess is good for you son. Be smart you only have one body and one life. That is my advice, and I'm telling you this because I know that from this moment on, no matter what we tell you, you will be doing what you believe is the right thing to do. Now that you know what I think have my blessings, and I wish you become whatever you want to be in life. Know that you can be whatever you want to be, and remember that if another human can do it, you can do it as well. In my opinion this world is upside down, but I don't want to bother you talking about that, anyways one day you will understand what I mean with that. About God and religion I only believe in what I can see, and most likely I will go to hell, but if it is true that you are a free person, you should be able to believe whatever you want to believe. Don't forget that life is not free, so learn to make your living in an honest way, be useful to society, and don't ever believe that drugs are going to make you rich, remember that. Remember all the stories that I have told you about strangers luring people to carry packages for them offering you a lot of money. Most likely they are going to use you as a bait, and while you are being detained they will pass a lot of drugs through another side while they are busy arresting you. I love my freedom even if sometimes life is hard, there is nothing like being free to go and do whatever you want. Be respectful of the law. That is my advice to you son, you can take it or leave it. In my beliefs nobody can teach you how to become a man, because that is something that you'll have to find on your own."
Soon after that talk with my dad I organized a camping trip, and I invited my three best friends. Unfortunately only two of them were allowed to go. Sorry about the other one because we had a blast.
The story of forgotten music
Music is not just a song. You might love a song with all your heart, and that song that you hold so dearly inside your heart is not yours. That goes to show you that in your heart not everything inside belongs to you. Music is neither the guitar nor the strings. Music at the end is the result of you experiencing the beautiful miracle of being alive, and we realize at that moment that we are interacting with the universe. Just outside of our selves is where the universe begins, and from you to all eternity as far as you can see, you are the center of the universe. Music is not just a song, music is the beautiful analogy of what life is, and if the Universe were to be nothing but music, then God would be the rhythm.
On that trip Manuel-the German, Alvaro-Rope-and I went to the Lluta Valley. My dad Luis gave us a ride and dropped us off for the weekend in a place along the river, but not too far from the road. This place is a true oasis right in the middle of the desert. Ancient goeglyphs of aliens looking like figures stand out over sandy hills of this valley, and they let you know that you are in an ancient sacred land.
The ones going have to bring their own food and "plus" enough for three days. That's was what we agreed upon, but at the end we had nothing but a loaf of bread, some fruits, and "plus" that was a five litter bottle of wine.
We set up camp by the river and we started setting up the tent, a very old tent which we had to apply a lot to of imagination to make it look like a tent. Then we started collecting firewood while exploring around the camp. It was fun to set everything up, and we were happy that we had no adult supervision. I guess that made us feel like adults and not just kids.
We entertained ourselves hiking and exploring around until sunset time. Soon after the sun went down the grey desert hills started turning black, letting the stars dominate the landscape. In the horizon the blue sky little by little got illuminated by stars revealing the shape of the top of the hills all around us. There were so many stars that was hard to believe how many of them they were. Especially when you live in the city and you are not used to the rural scene, to see so many stars in the sky is for sure a show like no other, and that was the perfect time to start the campfire.
We sat around the fire and started talking a little bit of everything. We opened the bottle of wine and before we started drinking we dropped a little bit of wine to the ground saying, "Pa'la Pacha Mama"-for you Mother Earth-and we started drinking and talking for a while.
This saying is typical of the natives of the land. The natives of this land are the descendants of the Incas, and in their native language Quechua, that is what they say to mother Earth before they start drinking. Their connection with the Sun-the father-and Earth-the mother-is very strong, and is deeply rooted in their beliefs.
Being around the campfire and drinking wine was the perfect time to start talking about UFOs. Right in the middle of nowhere with clear skies, and darkness all around us after drinking about half of the bottle of wine, we were begging for Paul the alien, to land in his flying saucer right in front of us. That was the king of conversation we were having after drinking all that wine. I don't remember how late it was, but in the middle of all that my friend Manuel had an idea and he said, "Let's go and trick the drivers of the passing cars by making them believe that we have a rope across the road. Let's see how many fall for it." Then I said, "I don't understand." Manuel said, "We pretend that we are holding a rope on our hands, and we place ourselves on both sides of the road, and as the car approaches we pretend that we are pulling the cord very hard. Let's see how many drivers will fall for the trick." I don't know how much to blame the wine, but we said, "Great idea!" Then I did ask "But we don't have any ropes, where are we going to get a rope?" Manuel said to me "A pretend rope you fool." I said "Oh, now I got it." And so we did. We went to the road and started to pretend that we were pulling a rope when a car was about to passed us by. For our surprise almost every single one of them stopped slamming on the brakes, and as soon as they saw us laughing our butts off they curse us and left. Some of them just shook their heads in disapproval, and continued ahead embarrassed because they fall for it.
Next day we woke up with a massive headache, and we spend most of the day just recovering from the hangover. At the end we had fun just hanging around the camp, and when it got really hot we jumped in the river, a river that was right in front of our tent. It was a very good time, we had a blast. Being in the country is the perfect time to realize how simple life could be.