April 2023 Chile
Not all campsites have beautiful views and fantastic surroundings. This time we squeezed in to a spot in a neighborhood behind a busy hospital. We are in the bustling capital city of Chile, the beautiful Santiago.
During the day these streets are filled with the vehicles of hospital workers. Nurses, techs, doctors and other medical specialists enter and exit from here. But at night, check out what happens to the street.
We came to Santiago to meet up with old and new friends. Our dear traveling companions https://secondtimearoundtheworld.wordpress.com/ were in the city to sell their rig and wrap up this part of their trip. The buyers are our new friends that we have been communicating with online for some time. It was fun to enjoy time with everyone together, but sad to say goodbye.
We met Thijs and Rieneke in Cusco, Peru. Then we travelled with them as we exited Peru and entered Brazil. You can read about that if you click on this link. https://slowcarfasthouse.com/2020/01/08/brazil-the-amazon/ They also visited Isla Anihue with us and stayed on the sheep farm. You may have read that popular story at this link- https://slowcarfasthouse.com/2023/08/18/an-island-opportunity-isla-anihue/ The four of us shared many miles and many meals. If you ever have a chance to meet them, please say hello for us!
While camped in the city we had the opportunity to visit a couple of museums. The largest of which was a wonderful aeronautical collection. You can view more about this museum if you click on this link https://museoaeronautico.dgac.gob.cl/ or you can just enjoy these photos of Mike grinning at this collection. Mike is a bit of an airplane fanatic, so museums such as this usually result in him smiling, reading, roaming and wandering around and around. Geneva eventually gets bored and finds a seat somewhere in the shade! The pattern was repeated here in Santiago.
Back at the parking place, we spent some time hanging out in the yard of the neighbor. You see, we were not just pirating a space on a city street, we were there visiting a wonderful host. She loves having guests, and operates a hostel in her home. Many foreign visitors have enjoyed Claudia’s hospitality, including us. The dogs enjoyed hanging out in her yard, and we usually found them in this patch of dirt! Claudia’s dog, Negrita prefers to sit in the furniture!
One evening, while the streets were empty, Mike moved the camper closer to the yard and used the water hose to fill the tanks and also wash the solar panels. The lighting in this photo is from the street lights, city lights and moonlight combined.
From our cozy city campsite we could walk to many places. Nearby was a Taco Bell, which is no big deal to the readers in the USA. But we have not seen one in quite some time- it was a terrible version. We also sampled a rare Dunkin Donuts. That was much more delicious.
When the Uber dropped us off we spotted an Ewok with a machine gun standing on the sidewalk. We were startled when the Ewok turned to look at us with a blacked out face mask. We were truly alarmed to see this, as guns are NOT part of the culture in Chile, regardless of the setting. We checked in with a security guard nearby and were informed that the movie theater was hosting a movie release party with costumes and this was one of the characters. Whew! Well done, Ewok!
After some grocery shopping, we enjoyed delicious smothered hot dogs. These have cheese, bacon and fried potatoes on top. Even this was tastier than that Chilean version of Taco Bell.
If you are familiar with Chilean history you know that there were several horrible years of dictatorship. President Pinochet and his military minions were leading the country with a heavy hand during the years of 1973 to 1990. Some of the crimes of the government included torture, which was referenced in our post about the German cultish camp that we visited. It was supposedly a place used by Pinochet for torture and disappearance of citizens. You can read about that place if you click on this link. https://slowcarfasthouse.com/2023/08/26/nazi-germany-in-chile-but-was-it-a-cult/
Much of this history is explained and memorialized in a beautful building in downtown Santiago, Chile. The Museum of Memory and Human Rights is a tender and heartbreaking montage of items from this difficult period in Chilean history.
This hand made quilt top is a collection of embroidered squares made by women who lost someone during that period of history. Thousands of individuals disappeared during this time. Many were found murdered, but most were never seen again. These were people who spoke out against the dictatorship, fought the censorship, resisted the extreme loss of human rights or were accused of not fully supporting the Chilean government. The process of ruling by a dictator began with control of the media and censorship of books and spoken word. Then complete control over education, television, radio, libraries and private collections. I found this to be alarming, as I watch the efforts towards censorship and control in the USA. These quotes really struck me as I walked through the museum.
Women who lost a husband or son were seen carrying these cardboard “men”. The statement says- “I am a victim of the dictatorship. I was tortured, I was murdered, I disappeared. And you forgot me?”
This was a part of the movement to increase awareness of the crimes being carried out by the government and the military. It has been said that the women were the ones that defeated dictatorship, by their powerful campaigns in the period leading up to the election.
It was called the “NO Campaign” and it was taken to the streets by the efforts of many of the women of Chile. There are many references to the campaign on the internet if you wish to research more, and there was a movie made about it, titled “NO”. Here is a link to a quick summary by NPR (this link is an article that can be read or played as audio) https://www.npr.org/2013/02/15/172040656/the-story-of-no-is-the-story-of-modern-chile
It was a very difficult time for this country. The scars are apparent in thousands of missing family members who are still unaccounted for. It can be seen in the eyes of those who lived through it and realize that they could be just one election away from losing their democracy again. And much of the history of Chile is lost to the fires that burned books and erased the events that the dictatorship did not want to remember. A sad era for Chile, but an important lesson for democracies around the world to learn from.
I will end my story of Santiago with a typical lunch menu which is called a Plato del Dia. Today the special was a delicious, tender roast beef served with either rice or french fries. It is common for meat to be served with a fried egg on top (as seen in the top plate) Accompaniment included shredded cabbage, grated carrots, a chicken broth soup with small noodles and sauces to top it all off. This meal would cost about $4.00 (USDollars) per person.
We enjoyed Santiago, but we are not really city dwellers. So we took periodic breaks to roam around the nearby areas and see some interesting sites. Keep watching your emails for the next places we explored- salt beds, vineyards and hot springs all lie ahead!