Day 6 – James Blunt

Not a great day for me, after the worst pizza ever last night. The orchestra show ended at 10 pm and we were rushing to leave the areas of the protest, which meant eating at the first place we saw: Telepizza, a Pizza Hut look-alike. I paid for it all day today.

We did make it to the Museum of Memoy, focused on the Pinochet era but also took a larger perspective of the human rights abuses worldwide. I was surprised to see nothing on the US involvement, perhaps Chile taking responsibility for what happened. I was surprised to learn that in 1989, after 16 years of repression, executions, exile, torture, etc, 42% of the country voted to keep the dictatorship in power! That was the vote that changed it back to a democracy, but it is scary to think almost half of their country wanted no change. 42% sounds like the approval rating of Trump, though thankfully he has a long wait to go before he earns a museum like this.

Our other event today was the soccer game. We chose to see La U because they play in the Chile National Stadium that holds 50,000. However, it was a mess and we never went. It was the last game of the season, with La U in second place, with the first place team Colocolo also playing, across town, trying to keep their 2 point lead in the table. There were seats available, but I was never able to buy them online due to errors, likely because it required my national Chile ID to buy them. I went to a ticket outlet this week, and they said online only. I some some available online, so I figured we could buy them there, but it turns out the team rents the stadium and there is no will call, box office, etc. Just security at each gate letting people in with their already purchased tickets. I asked a few people to find this out, though one did agree to sneak us in after the game started.

The only positive from this was the 30 minute Uber drive to the stadium, with the first driver who was social. He was older, whereas the other 5-6 we’ve had a young men who didn’t say a word. Every one of them listened to romantic and emotional songs Spanish-language songs on the radio, with one even signing along with James Blunt came on in English! Finally, Michele found another fan. I knew the country tends to be more introverted, unlike the rest of the continent, but this was extreme. It was fun to hold a conversation for the 30 minutes, talking about soccer, families, vacations, etc. Verb conjugations are still hard for me, so I say a lot of “en el pasado…” and “vamos a…” He questioned why we would want to go to a La U game, which is a team followed by the common folk of Santiago. Unlike his team, Colocolo, which has a new stadium, peaceful experience, and attracts more of the upper class. I told him La U seems like “el equipo de la gente” and we want a typical, even if loud, experience. The hard class divisions in Chile were apparent here, with the foreign tourists choosing one game, whereas the full-time Uber driver with an old car, seeking experiences of the upper class.

In the end, we saw no game, and couldn’t even get on the subway to get home:

  • Buses and trains do not take cash here
  • The re-chargeable transit card I had could not be recharged in the automated machines due to no chip reader
  • We took out cash and tried to use cash, and it would not accept a $10 bill, only $5 at the most
  • The staff behind the register were not authorized to give cash

Crazy! Maybe points to some of the inefficiencies in a country bouncing back and forth between extreme economies. We see a lot of road construction workers with shovels, but the pace is slow without many trucks and machines. Even though it a modern country with industries, Chile is not considered a developed/industrialized country. Chile and Argentina are the top two on the continent. There are many positives about Chile, like a murder rate nearly half of the US. We feel safe walking around, and I see young women walking alone after dark. I found this description online which sounds about right.

We’re walking 5-8 miles per day and I can count the number of homeless I’ve seen on one hand. It’s unbelievable that the number here is the same as in Denver.

  • Denver: 700,000 people with 5,000 homeless
  • Santiago: 6 million people with 6,000 homeless
  • New York City: 8.5 million people with 65,000 homeless

I’m not sure why, other than the programs like Operation Chalk that gave away land in the city to the homeless to build on, similar to the Homestead Act in the US. One homeless problem they do have is the dogs, which wander into restaurants on their own. Referred to as “quiltros,” it is estimated that half a million live in Santiago, and there are some interesting programs underway to reduce the number. One group tied balloons to the dogs and made a video of it to improve awareness.

I am “Tro” today.

Today was Sunday. They close a bunch of streets to let the bikers ride on their own

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