My Friend, Marta Nicolai Erazo

Marta opened her home and heart to me in September 2017, just as I was seeking a home in Chile. This weekend, she left this world in a tragic accident. A vibrant, beautiful soul who was always seeking life’s next adventure has departed far too early. We will miss her joy and spirit, forever fortunate to have experienced her love. I offer this post as one small testament to her life, and as a thanks for all she gave me (us).

Life consistently amazes me, with all its twists and turns and connections that lead to the unexpected. I met Marta via another Chilean friend. I had been looking for a new apartment, but was stymied. I had exhausted my expat resources, and was at a loss with the local real estate agents. He recommended an apartment finder website. Eureka! Finally, someone showed me the way that locals found apartments. Immediately, I discovered several rooms for rent in the Viña area.

Marta’s apartment looked the most promising. So I visited her first. She was an English teacher at the local university! And she regularly hosted students from a school that taught foreigners Spanish.

Wait a minute . . . that was the same school that I attended when I was learning Spanish! As Marta and I continued talking, we found that we were both friends with the same person – Maria. She had been one of my favorite fellow students. Maria had lived with Marta while at the Spanish school. In fact, Maria had raved about the lady with whom she lived – how helpful she was in practicing her Spanish and how friendly she was in welcoming her to the city. And Marta had thought the world of Maria. After that, Marta and I felt like we were already knew each other. I told her that if she had any questions about me, she should just ask Maria. She would be sure to offer her sincere opinion. We would become fast friends.

Our lives continued to intertwine and make each other richer. Marta had another American living in the apartment, a college exchange student named Sean from Arlington, Virginia. He was such a fantastic young man. Together, we made Thanksgiving dinner for Marta (pictures below). What a treat to share our American holiday with her!

Marta returned the favor at New Year’s, when she introduced all the Chilean traditions surrounding the holiday. I enjoyed New Year’s Eve so much more in Chile, where it signified more a celebration of family and friends than a kiss at midnight. We shared dinner with her family and friends, drank champagne on the beach at midnight and watched fireworks over the Pacific Ocean. I wore my newly gifted yellow undergarments (thank you Marta! Another Chilean tradition) to the after-party.

She joined the Internations group and the Intercambio language exchange. We made new friends together, and explored Viña and Valpo in the process. She welcomed my friend Jamie to Chile (picture below) and I found a new roommate! Ryley joined the apartment early in 2018. (picture below) An exchange student from San Diego, California, she had come to Chile as part of a study program not officially part of her university. So, she had to find her own housing. A quick Facebook search connected her with me (and Marta). Marta called us her Viña family – her Viña family in 2017 included me and Sean; her Viña family in 2018 included me and Ryley.

We cannot forget Lulu and Junior, of course. Where would we be without our furry companions? Lulu is fearless, and ruled the apartment inside and out. Junior is a bit shyer. This very handsome Persian cat looked positively terrified of any person entering the apartment. I could literally see his eyes go wide with fear and then watched him flee for the hills (or the bed). Any advances of friendship we celebrated as a tremendous accomplishment. When Junior started hanging out in my room, I rushed to tell Marta. Over time, he became positively outgoing.

My heart warms with these memories. Marta, you will be dearly and intensely missed. Thank you for everything you have given us, for making our lives better because you were part of them, and for improving the world around you. We love you, and will treasure you forever.


  1. Beth
    I am so sorry to read about Marta’s death. You wrote a beautiful testimonial about a special person that touched many lives. I never met her but feel like I knew her through your blog and letters.
    Sincere sympathies

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