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Diego Gomez | Chile



There is a short story, my favorite, by the Chilean writer Baldomero Lillo, where he tells about a shellfish worker, the sea and her baby. The story has an ending worthy of Poe, but with the subtlety of a well-executed poem; in short, one of my favorite stories (read it if you haven't already).

That story always interested me and made me reconsider many things, among them the fact that I met Viviana. She has been a shellfisher, since she was 7 years old, and all her life has been spent at sea, from which she cannot separate herself even for a day, because she says she feels lost and sick when she doesn't see it. For her the sea has been everything, source of love, sustenance for her family and also place of loss of friends and loved ones.

I dared and spoke to her. I asked her if I could go out with her on a work day, because I always wanted to know what a shellfish worker did on a normal day. We went out. 

It was a wonderful day!

On that day she simply collected "cochayuyos", a seaweed from the Chilean coasts, rich in protein and often underrated. After hours of work, under the direct sun, which burned our skin, I can say with total clarity that yes, the cochayuyo has been wrongly underestimated. So has been the work of the shellfish gatherers.

And this is what I wanted to do. To portray the beauty of the everyday. She does not usually smile, the sun has burned her skin and she is not so open with her expressions or her ideas. But with me she wanted to do it, we walked, we talked about everything: life and death, love, hate, hunger, religion, the sea and politics.


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