I’ve been camped in a hostel in Santiago's Bella Vista district for the last few days, a leafy graffiti laden suburb where the affluent (young and...erm…me) come to eat, socialise and get absolutely paralytic. It’s a very cool area though. I’ve been practicing my Spanish and trying a few local dishes, although am yet to try casuleh, essentially a hunk of meat and vegetables delivered in a dish of steaming broth slightly warmer than the sun. When famished I did undertake the manhandling of a huge local burger, and thus my appetite was truly satiated, my wallet parched of $20 US (holy sh*t!) and yes, my soul entirely abandoned. Still, I didn’t go and ask reception where the local Starbucks is, so that’s got to be a win.
The top four highlights this week have been the cemetery, learning about the coup d’etat, and the domestic violence protests. Looking at it, it’s not exactly a jolly start, is it? I’ll just round the blog off by kicking a puppy and that’ll be me set.
The cemetery is good, in fact it’s so good its counted twice. I have been to a few in my time, but clearly attending them for funerals is just weird, but I’ll get to that. For a start, take a stab at how big it is? Let’s talk football fields. 50? 100? How about 117, packing in 3 million people. I’ve since wikipedia’d (new verb for you) and they believe it’s closer to 85 football pitches, but still....HUGE! The biggest interest though is not just the amount of burials but how they’re buried. Remember in mortuary scenes in films where they slide out the cadavers from a chest of drawers of people? Well imagine that, but buried. Thousands upon thousands buried as unceremoniously as slotted into a wall with nothing to show for it but a small plaque or in some cases just handwritten scrawl. If that wasn’t enough, you pay rent on the place of about $100 a year. Yup, rent. If you don’t pay? Well the bones of your beloved are amassed, put together in a small pot and another body slapped in on top. Sometimes, whole families have been in the same space. Amazing. And to top it off, the cemetery is treated as a park by the locals and so, according to the guide, first dates in the cemetery aren’t uncommon. Wow. Just...wow.
The third choice was the Human Rights Museum detailing the period of unrest during the junta era and General Pinochet’s reign. It will need a much lengthier read, with the museum providing confronting images and stories of the interrogation, torture and butchery. It’s pretty savage, but certainly worth reading considering it was just over 30 years ago.
Domestic Violence & International Womens Day
To continue the theme of a fairly serious post, which is completely unlike me, my other one in the top four was the domestic violence protests, where thousands of women and men protested in the streets with banners and drums to celebrate International Women’s day on Thursday. It was really fantastic to see such a passionate and mixed crowd of all ages getting behind such a great cause, with banners and protestors highlighting the recent domestic violence case of Concepción Arregui, known as Conchy, that was apparently killed by her former partner. I say it’s fantastic, but at the same time it saddens me that people have to protest at all – come on society, equal pay, equal rights, equality, saying no to violence of any kind . . . lift!
To end on a slightly lighter note, I’ll be picking up my uncle soon from the airport and travelling to the coast at Valparaiso, and in the coming week hopefully picking up my beautiful machine Izzy and meeting an incredible inspiring woman in Lucy Barnard from tanglesandtail.com. And talking of inspiring women, check this wonderful clip out. "...if there’s something to be done, I'll do it". What a woman!
The blog will be a record of everything - from idea conception to old age in making this adventure happen
You can find the excellent 2006 Antipodean Adventure blog by Dwyer Rooney here