The following article was originally written in Spanish by Sebastian Delmont, a Venezuelan native who now lives and blogs in New York City. It was published in the first (and only) issue of Weblog Magazine, but is also available at Delmont's second blog, Zona Geek. Following the article, I will list various Latin American bloggers who live outside the continent. Translation by Linda Evarts.
For some reasons that I don’t pretend to know, a disproportionate amount of the most well-known bloggers are people who have abandoned their nations of origin in search of new horizons. Venezuelans in New York, Americans in Madrid, Ecuadorians in Mexico, Argentines in Barcelona, Spaniards in Montevideo, just to mention a few. And although I’ve already said that I don’t claim to know the reasons, this is no obstacle for me—as a good blogger—to propose a few crazy theories to try to pass the time.
If there is a correlation, there are three possible scenarios: exile is the result of blogs, blogs are the result of exile, blogs and exile are results of some other factor. (Those most knowledgeable about statistics will realize that I have omitted the possibility that there is no correlation at all. Those people are not able to see the irony inherent in this article or the absolute lack of scientific methodology despite the pseudo formal tone, and we are not going to pay attention to them.)
For many, blogs have become the door to the rest of the world. In writing a blog, you are inviting other people to know your life, and it is inevitable that this sentiment will be reciprocated. You ultimately read others’ blogs and discover their lives in other places. When you write something complaining about the public transportation in your city someone inevitably leaves a comment that could be summarized as “life is better in my city.” In the end, it becomes impossible for you to ignore the pressure, and you begin to feel curious about the world beyond your street, and without realizing it, some months later you’ll be moving to the other side of the ocean.
Others, however, were already curious before starting their blogs. Many moved first and then began to write. In the solitude of a new and strange city, blogs become the virtual connection to old friends, to family, to known places. Even those who are enjoying their new life find in blogs the perfect tool to maintain relationships with all the people back home. It’s not necessary to spend hours on the phone explaining to Mom how the new apartment is, only to then do the same with your uncle and later your old friend. You can simply put it in a blog and enjoy all the time you’ve saved going for beers at the café on the corner.
Maybe there is no causal relationship. Maybe blogging and exile are both results of some other factor. Maybe we blog to discover and we travel for the same reason. Maybe the same mental state that brings us to write about the weather or what we ate for breakfast is to blame for stimulating the enterprising desire to live in another country.
But after so much analysis I’ve arrived at a theory that maybe everyone won’t accept as valid, but if they leave behind their pride and look within themselves they will realize it is true. I believe that all bloggers living abroad leave in search of new destinations simply to have something to blog about, and because there is no better way to get new links than to make new friends in a new city. I dare to claim that bloggers immigrate abroad in search of new posts and a better page rank.
Latin Americans Blogging From Abroad:
Iria Puyosa: Venezuela -> U.S.A.
Vicente Ulive-Schnell: Venezuela -> France
Tiempo Conjugado: Peru -> U.S.A.
La Otra Orilla: Panama -> Israel
Marie Aiden: Costa Rica -> Netherlands
José Luis Orihuela: Argentina -> Spain
K-Minos: Venezuela -> Bangladesh
Martin Varsavsky: Argentina -> Spain
Día a día: Colombia + Venezuela -> Bangladesh
Julio Sueco: Mexico + U.S.A -> Sweden
Argenautas: Argentina -> Worldwide
Jonathan Molea: Venezuela -> Nigeria
Chilenos en Alemania: Chile -> Germany
Álvaro Ramírez Ospina: Colombia -> Norway
Afrael: Venezuela -> U.S.A
Juliana Forero: Colombia -> U.S.A.
Gedanken Bilingual: Venezuela -> Germany
Diego Sarraseca: Argentina -> U.S.A.
Rayas y Palabras: Venezuela -> Spain
Strolling Luna: Mexico -> U.S.A.
Almada de Noche: Bolivia -> France
Eduardo Arcos: Ecuador -> Mexico
Israel on the radiant first days of May 1966, at Mr. Ben Gurion modest home: his lady showed dislike for my long hair, the tripods and cables on the carpet and our interruption of the great old man retirement. I was afraid of the lady’s temper, but he smile and explained with humour: “She was a nurse…”
The old man asked about my impressions on Israel. “Mister President, it is the first time, outside USA, that I encountered such open racism, specially on the young military…” “Oh, yes, he said, that is a problem…”
Forty years after, that “problem” become a larger-than-life tragedy, in wich religious fundamentalism, Jewish people, Zionism and Israel-US military policy, pretend to be just one thing, and any dissent is labelled as anti-Semitic, i.e. the Chavez comment on those collaborationists who delivered Jesus to the to the occupation Roman army.
Educated on anti racism with Ana Frank, “Exodus”, “Mila 18” or the revolt of the Warsaw Ghetto, I resents the blackmail of being called “anti-Semitic” because I disagree with Israel being the violent Curator of the Museum of Horrors of Underdeveloped Arab countries.
Let’s stop the universal paranoia: it is false that Chávez or the Venezuelans hate Jews. But it is a fact that most of the people of the world, left, or right, oppose the Bush Administration and the State of Israel Palestinian policy.
I dream of a non religious Israel-Palestine Nation (not a State) with equal rights for everybody (including today’s segregated Ethiopian Jews) and full respect for all human beings, including those who worship their gods.
Eduardo Arcos, Ecuador Mexico.
Martha Beatriz, Venezuela ->U.S.A.
Ya cumplí 9 años afuera y estoy escribiendo desde antes de salir. La bitácora es solo una parte de como expreso preocupación y nostalgia. Saludos!
Editor’s Translation: I’ve now been abroad for 9 years and have been writing since before I left. A weblog is just one part of how I express worry and nostalgia. Salutations!
Several people have commented to me that “exile” is a bit of a strong word. I agree; I assume very few of these bloggers were, in any way, forced out of their home country, but I think the general idea gets communicated and the word “exile” has a long literary history, which may be why Sebastian used it.
I relate to a lot of what Sebastian says here. And as someone who reads through about 500 blogs every day, it’s impossible to not notice that the most highly regarded bloggers (and the most prolific ones) tend to be living in a country where they were not born. In fact, half of the regional editors here at Global Voices live in countries where they were not born.
So I think that Sebastian did the blogging community a big service by trying to understand the correlation between living abroad and blogging extensively. I also think that he was very right to note two intertwined possibilities: that 1.) bloggers have a distinct personality which drives them to experience new lands and cultures and that 2.) new lands and cultures inspire a sense curiosity and nostalgia that motivates them to blog. It seems to me that there is a third trend happening as well and that is bloggers using the medium as a way to connect to their roots. I see it in American-based blogs like Loteria Chicana, Barrio Flores, and Visulumbres.
Personally, I can easily identify with both of Sebastian’s suggestions. In fact, I recently wrote that the reason I love to travel and the reason I love to blog so much come from the same characteristic of being a curious person who always wants to learn more about the world and people around me. But his second point – that living abroad is painted in nostalgia – is also true. While living in Monterrey, Mexico, my blog became a central part of my life because it let me stay connected to my friends and culture in California. But also, because it allowed me to enter a community of like-minded people in my new city and to learn from them about the people, culture, and customs.
The word the word “exile” could be perceived as a little strong but nevertheless I believe many of us living outside our homelands often feel alienated and at those times we may feel we are in “exile”. As someone who has lived in three continents and 4 countries (Nigeria, UK, US and Spain) as well as travelled extensively I feel very much like a global person. Like David I am very curious and interested in different places and people. Many of the happiest times I have had have been on my travels. Sometimes I wonder where exactly I am “exiled” from – maybe just my last home!
My last home was London, an ethnically diverse and cosmopolitan city where I felt very comfortable and at home. Moving to Spain particularly rural Spain was not easy especially with the added issue of language (I spoke little Spanish at the time – not that it’s great now!). Though I enjoyed living in a quiet rural environment I found that I very much missed the vibrant African and African Caribbean community that was part of my London life. Living without some kind of connection to my own ethnic, cultural and political background was difficult. Blogging was a way for me to reconnect to all of those and to the world in general in indulge in some of the “nostalgia” that Sebastian and David refer to. I find that in some ways the blogosphere replicates travelling as it provides the opportunity to meet new people and connect on different levels.
I started to write my blog to connect with the family. I abandoned it and restarted again as a way to discipline myself to write often, but at the end the sense of being “connected” with somebody somewhere similar to me that feels a lot of nostalgia of something is what really drives me. I agree with Sebastian in what are the reasons to blog, but you can be an “exiled” person in your own country also. Much of the venezuelan bloggers feel that way. The sense of nostalgia not necessarily is caused by travelling to exotic and/or foreign places where you are an outsider. You can be an outsider anywhere… but I am not sure if I would blog if I had stayed if Venezuela. However if I go back surely I will continue.