Her father was a first cousin of Salvador Allende , President of Chile from to Huidobro was a diplomat appointed to Bolivia and Beirut. In Bolivia, Allende attended an American private school; and in Beirut, Lebanon , she attended an English private school. The family returned to Chile in , where Allende was also briefly home-schooled.

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I can tell you that, because now you are like my own daughter and you have my permission to call me by name, although only when we are among family. You must be very careful with the names of people and living things, because upon pronouncing them it touches your heart and we enter your life force. We greet each other like this as blood relatives. I do not understand the ease with which foreigners call some others without a trace of fear, which not only shows a lack of respect, it could also cause grave danger.

I have noticed that these people speak with the greatest precision, without taking into account that to speak is also to be. Gestures and words are the thoughts of man. One must not speak in vain, that I have taught to my children, but my advice is not always listened to. Once upon a time taboos and traditions were respected. Nothing was going to change for them. But then came the foreigners speaking against the wisdom of the ancients and pushing us off of our land.

We go deeper and deeper into the jungle every time, but they always catch up with us, sometimes they take years, but finally they arrive and then we must destroy our seeds, lift our children up onto our backs, tie up our animals and go.

It has been like this ever since I can remember: leaving it all behind to run like rats and not like warriors and the gods who populated this territory in ancient times. Some young men and woman are curious about the whites and while we travel towards the depths of the forest to continue living like our ancestors, others take the opposite path. We consider those who leave as if they were dead, because very few return and those who do have changed so much that we cannot recognize them as family.

They say that in the years before my arrival to the world not enough women were born in our village and for that reason my father had to travel long trails in order to find a wife from another tribe. After a long time, when my father was beginning to lose hope of finding a partner, he saw a girl on foot on a high waterfall, a river that fell from the sky. Without getting too close, so as not to scare her, he spoke in the same tone that hunters use to reassure their prey, and he explained his need to marry her.

She signaled for him to approach, she observed him without cunning and the appearance of the traveler must have pleased her, because she decided that the idea of marriage was not at all ridiculous. My father had to work for his father-in-law until he could pay him the value of the woman.

After completing the wedding rites, the two made the journey back to our village. I grew up with my brothers under the trees, without ever seeing the sun. Sometimes a wounded tree would fall and a hole would remain in the profound dome of the forest, then we saw the blue eye of the sky.

My parents told me stories, they sang me songs and they taught me what man must know in order to survive without help, alone with his bow and arrows. In that way I was free. We, the Children of the Moon, cannot live without freedom. When they trap us between walls or bars we turn inward, we become blind and deaf and in a few days the spirit breaks away from the chest bones and abandons us.

Sometimes we return as wretched animals, but almost always we prefer death. For that reasons our homes do not have walls, only a roof inclined to stop the wind and ward off the rain, under which we hang our hammocks very close together, because we like to hear the dreams of the woman and the children and to feel the breath of the monkeys, the dogs and the macaws, who sleep underneath the same eaves.

On some occasions friends came visiting from other tribes and told us rumors of Boa Vista and of El Platanal, of the foreigners and their customs, but we believed that they were only stories to make us laugh. I became a man and my turn arrived to find a wife, but I decided to wait because I preferred to walk with the single men, we were happy and we were having fun. One day a group of pale men arrived at our village. They hunted with gunpowder, from far away, without skill or courage, they were incapable of climbing a tree, sticking a fish with a spear in the water, they could barely move in the jungle, always entangled in their rucksacks, their weapons and even their own feet.

We compared them with what they had told us about the whites and proved the truth of such whisperings. They moved in close to our village. Each one of them was like a wind of catastrophe, destroying in their wake everything they touched, leaving a trail of waste, annoying the animals and the people. At first we complied with the simple rules of courtesy and we indulged them, but they were not satisfied with anything, they always wanted more, until, tired of these games, we started a war with all the usual ceremonies.

We had received news that they are vindictive, and that for every one of them that died, even in clean battle, they are capable of eliminating a whole tribe including the children. We discovered a place to establish another village. At the end of a year, on an occasion in which I had travelled too far following the trail of a puma, I came too close to a camp of soldiers.

Instead of turning straight around when I perceived the presence of foreign soldiers, I started to relax. The soldiers captured me. They put me to work with the rubber tappers, where there we many men from other tribes, who they had dressed in pants and forced to work, without considering their wishes at all.

I remained only to see if I could learn something, but from the start I knew that I was going to return to my own. No one can retain a warrior for a long time against his will. Share this:.


Isabel Allende








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