WHY I AM CHILEAN - Contributed by Matias Turteltaub
My father, Samuel Turteltaub, was born in Sierpc approximately on 1894. When he was seven years old, a family that had emigrated to Galveston, America came back for a visit. The family, which included a boy of his age, wore rich clothes which sharply contrasted with the simplicity of the Sierpcers.
That day Samuel decided that he too wanted to be dressed that way.His decision meant that he had to go to America, wherever that was.
At age twelve, he began working in a printing shop. When he was fourteen, he moved to Plocz, a few miles from Sierpc. With 30,000 inhabitants, Plocz was the "big city". It offered him the opportunities needed in order to prepare the Big Trip.

When Samuel turned 15 he already had the means to undertake his adventure. He knew how to live alone and take care of himself. He had the money for a ticket. Thus, he said good bye to his parents and begun his journey.

He arrived to the port and went to buy a ticket to Galveston, America. Two ships were ready to leave, one to Galveston and the other to Argentina. There was a small detail. In Galveston they spoke English, whereas in Argentina the language was Spanish. Samuel couldn't care less. He knew neither. He really wanted to go to Galveston, but the ticket to Argentina was five rubles cheaper.
At that moment he made a decision which marked the rest of his life. Why not go to Argentina and use the five rubles to buy a bicycle? He could then pedal to Galveston. Thus, he would arrive to his final destination anyway, and would be left with a bike.As it turned out, the bike ride from Buenos Aires to Galveston wasn't a good idea after all. Thus, my father stayed in Argentina, picked the Spanish and learned commerce. bike.gif (3476 bytes)
A few years later, he was sent by his company to Cochabamba, Bolivia, in order to do some trading there. He then decided to introduce the first car to the town.
My father imported the car, which came with a high level mechanic chauffeur. He parked the car in front of the local Club and stayed playing cards with his friends. A landowner saw the car and decided he would buy it. His only condition was that the car had to be able to take him to his ranch
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The party left Cochabamba and drove to the ranch. The engine heated. Consequently, they stopped several times during the trip to fill it with cool water. The car finally made it to its destination and the buyer paid the price.

Two days later, the landowner came back, screaming that the mechanic was a thief. Samuel told him that it was impossible. The man was of a high level. The accusation made no sense. So he asked the landowner why he thought he was being robbed

"This thief is continuously asking for money. He says that the car needs gas. I know that is a lie. When we went to my ranch, I noticed that the car moves with water."

The stories just told are true. I have made an effort to record them as faithfully as possible. My father stayed a few years in Bolivia. He saw how the engineers built the railroad. He dreamed that his son would be an engineer. He exercised such an influence that, with the exception of my sister, all his Turteltaub descendants are engineers.

While living in Bolivia, my father contracted malaria, a tropical disease. His friends recommended him to move to Chile. He moved and got married to my mother, Manuela Fridman, whose grand-parents and parents arrived to Chile at the turn of the Century. My father spent the rest of his life in the country. That explains why I am Chilean.

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Samuel Turteltaub
1894? - 1974