Tomorrow I will have been in Santiago, in Chile, in South America for one month.
I'm finally feeling human again, after a difficult adjustment, traveling some 10K KM /6K miles in 11 hours, and arriving before departing. This kind of travel MUCH MORE difficult for me, than pushing 300lbs through the air (on bicicleta).
Some observations about Santiago, after one month, as I haven't gone more than 30KM from Central Santiago:
It's madness here, but I suppose not much different from any large city in the world. Now, at 72-years of age, and much changed from youth it's abhorrent to me, the traffic, pollution, noise, and general mania. The masses accept it as normal, I don't! You can see it on the faces of people here, rushing around, Mad Hatters, and all por dinero!
There are too many people in the world chasing dwindling resources! Why do you think there's so much violence, killing, war in the world? Nature's dealing with this over-population. Why are there so many earthquakes and natural disasters? Gaia, is trying to rebalance 'Koyaanisqatsi,' the Hopi word for a 'life out of balance!' But, we ignore, distracting ourselves in a variety of ways, mostly with electronic screens: TV, computers/Internet, and dumb-telephones (now our masters rather than servants). And thus things get progressively worst! And I'm glad! I'm glad because I know that the only way to correct the 'problem,' is for it to get so bad, you'll not be able to ignore, and we'll all have to change, or succumb. Simple! I'm not a Christian, but I know the worst (whatever word you want to use) is coming, before things start to move in the other direction (12.12-21.12). Thank God, we've only to survive 6+ months more of this! But, then it's only going to start back in the other direction, no great salvation immediately coming!
In the meantime, dystopia in Santiago…
The younger here, at least, deal with the madness by plugging their ears with music or conversation from 'friends.'
The students in Santiago are demonstrating for free University education, as Chile is the only major country in So. American that doesn't offer such.
This is a Spanish-Catholic land, although the churches are essentially moribund. I suppose, however, couples still get married in a Catholic church.
There's much public display of affection (couples kissing, etc.), just the opposite from China, where couples hardly ever even touch. Here, when people greet they kiss on the cheeks, thus I'm getting kissed by pretty girls. But, men 'kiss' too as in Europe, or Moslem cultures.
But, Spanish/macho culture dictates you can't look poor. Thus, the poor people try their best not to look like they are. It's all then, superficial.
The nouveau-riche, are hip now to using plastic. So, only if you're poor (like me) do you use cash. But, if you use your plastic card, there's a 06% fee on top.
Santiago, is relatively expensive. I've just spent $1,200U.S. for one month in a hostel, where the facilities aren't worth it. The workers are good, but the owner won't spend a centavo! I've been looking for a less expensive room, but so far I've only seen one and that one was over-priced.
Seems since the BIG earthquake three years ago, everyone wants to live in a house (low to the ground) versus living in a high-rise building. Me too. At least I'm on the ground for $1,200U.S. per.
The dogs here, mostly run wild on the streets, just like in China. They must be nocturnal as well, as you see them sleeping during the day. I took a picture of one who was sleeping on newspaper (warmer) in a depression in the sidewalk with hundreds of bipeds hurrying past (to make that dinero). The dog slept soundly!
There's an incredible amount of artistic talent here, e.g., the wall art/murals I've discovered (check out at www.cyclingpeace.org GALLERY. I'm thus trying to 'drum up' some interest in a Festival that would celebrate the artists.
The weather here in Santiago, at least, not all that great for me. Too cloudy, too humid, too polluted and cold in these concrete and/or brick buildings. Michel was explaining the weather basically comes from the South Pacific Ocean (west to east). Thus, it's drier on the east side of the Andes, or Argentina. So, I may end up living in Argentina.
But, in the northern part of Chile, in this 'finger-like' shaped country (4300KM in length, and only 200KM wide at the widest point), the Atacama Desert, is supposedly the driest place in the world. Someone said there are places in the Atacama that haven't rained for 1K years! Trust me, I'd like to be there right at this moment, sounds like my kind of terrain!
But, I'm dealing with my teeth, getting a contact lens replaced, waiting for La Mota, and buying things I'll need. I"m also upgrading some parts of Mr. Fetes!
I think once out of Santiago, at least going north, there isn't much in the way of esoterica until Lima, Peru (2.500KM to the north). I hope I'm wrong about this, that La Paz knows Shimano!
I've made some good friends here in just one month, almost too numerous to mention but those who come to mind: Paulina, a wonderful Chilean woman who's helped me so much (her husband European), Gary up in Concon, Seth and Kirsten (baby Indica), Ximena, a Chilean girl who's tried to help me find a room, Michel and Queca (at the El Arbol Restaurante), Noelle, an American woman who translated my resume, Ron, a cyclist from Canada, Jose, who I met the other day on the highway who worked at the Broadmoor Hotel in Colorado Springs. Then Roxanna came via the Internet, a Chilean woman I've met through Gary. She seems so helpful and friendly! And, of course, the people who work here at the Atacama Hostel: Olga, Jose, Estrella (means 'star' in Spanish), and Luis.
It's always the 'little people' (generally poorer) that have good hearts!
Then finally, I've met a young Chilean man named Sebastian Yaru, this a couple nights ago right here at Atacama. He offered me dinner and wine he'd cooked for his girlfriend. From Switzerland, 'Judith' and I discussed Carl Jung. Sebastian, as a younger man, lived in New York State (something Falls adjacent to Poughkeepsie?), his father moving the family to avoid Augusto Pinochet (the ruthless Dictator, 1964-1986). Thus, having spent time in the U.S., Sebastian's English is very good. Best of all, his offer to help seems genuine! You get so, with experience, you can tell who is genuine, and who is not. Many people say they will help, but then disappear... I don't think this Sebastian will!
Additionally, from my discussion with Sebastian, and interesting 'aside,' about what we've come to call, '9/11:' Seems the only Chilean killed in the World Trade Buildings his family knew. The guy was a delivery person, and that morning just 'happened' to be in the wrong place at the wrong time!'
Think about how capricious life is, and how much we assume! Any of us could die in the next five seconds... We don't know!
P.S. An interesting thing just happened, typical of living in a foreign country. A loud knock at my door. Olga, the Atacama Hostel housekeeper hands me a mobile telephone. A Spanish voice goes on and on after I ID myself. She stops, I say, 'gracias,' she voices 'prego!' We hang up. I have no idea what it was about!
'Spanning the globe to bring you the constant variety!'