My Experiencia of living in Crispulo Gandara
Chile is a wonderful place. I have talked it up a lot. Right now it is in a terrible spot. I'm not an expert but it looks familiar because it's a fight between the left and the right. Same as it ever was. It looks like Kent State footage. People with long hair and bell bottoms scattering from olive clad men with machine guns... late model cars. Its times a 1000 though. Imagine Kent State happening today when everyone's got a cellphone recording. How much airtime would that get? Would we ever not see it in reruns after that?
Concepcion had 40,000+ people in the streets during the day, peacefully banging cookware and waving Mapuche flags. I've read in the history books they have a habit of doing this. I immediately developed an affection to this atmosphere of living history.
The feeling of a peasant class is palpable. Not heavy or oppressing. Almost embracing, like the wood smoke hanging over the neighborhood on a chilly night or the clip clop of the horse cart passing in the morning selling milk from a 10 gallon milk can. Theres an ever present sense of reality... a real-ality. Those folks in my neighborhood are just like another maybe 75% of the population. Even the "campesinos", literally the peasant class, are just like the people in my neighborhood. Just some own farms and some own butcher shops or ferraterias, hardware stores. We just call them the working class here.
If I need dog food? I walk 3 doors down, Manuel's got a whole pet store.If I need human food there's 3 convenience stores and atleast one bakery. within a block. Every three days theres a giant mobile flea market including farmers and fisherman passing by. It stretches atleast 300 feet down the street. It's quite a pleasant way to shop. And not just for the unbelievable value and variety.
Take everything at Giant Eagle and add things like burlap bags of cacao husks for chocolate tea, a large cardboard box full of skinned rabbits, exotic fruit like chirimoya and bags of roasted coca leaves for whatever medicinal remedy that is, all while a man assaults your ears at an impressive decibel yelling, "PAPAS PAPAS PAPAS!" like it's a sport! You can literally sense the man turning his head to follow you to direct the sound waves against your scull for maximum effect as you pass by ignoring him. You have to chuckle. Picture this and you have a sense of the Feria Libre.
I see the same weatherworn old grandmother at the market selling bull kelp as I saw in Chome Struggling among the granite boulders dragging that same bull kelp in between crashing waves. And I swear shes in the same apron. How can you not look upon her and that bull kelp shes selling with a little more respect and admiration when you've witnessed that? Like a honored feast almost.
If you ask any random kid of any age in my neighborhood a question, day or night, that kid will stop and answer you in great detail. Basically even the adults do this. You can always find a person willing to talk. It can even become a problem when asking for simple directions. But how can you be bothered by friendly people? Its near impossible to feel lonely there. The capitol Santiago and the big cities are a different story like any city anywhere. In the countryside or rural settings I wouldn't describe anyone as suspicious. You are greeted with a smile everywhere you go.
Chileans have the immediate habit of introducing themselves with a handshake and in most all social settings you greet the ladies and girls with a kissy greeting where you press your cheeks together. That took me a minute to get used to but also that you are expected to do that to everyone upon leaving too, that can take a minute... I never would have guessed that the division between left and right could widen so quickly . The history of the name Piñera in Chile is as complex as the name Kennedy here. It's a history that has made enemies of many of the working class. From the outside, President Piñera seems to be allowing excessive force to be used. Atrocities is the only way to describe it. Soldiers shooting non resistant people in the legs before jumping on their backs as the lay on the ground to handcuff them. Is that what some extremists welcome in the US? I think that number is not 0.
It's almost exactly the same sides in opposition here, that's the scary thing. Both sides are heavily armed here. That definently would NOT make Chile a better place for the situation right now. I cant imagine anyone could argue that point very committedly. Chileans seem content on the path of least resistance. Following the path laid down by Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr.
Maybe some day in the future the US will be broken into armed geographical factions? How amazingly unnatural will our situations become?