Since I had written the last post I felt like I had to tell Manuel, who is my Chilean friend who lives in Brasil, after all, I didn’t want to offend him. He was amazed that I had actually met people who he felt seemed like the upper class of Sao Paulo 🙂 He told me I should have told him I was going there not knowing anyone so that way he would have told me who I should meet. He immediately put me in contact with many of his friends. I smiled, was happy, and thought it seemed like a secret society. And I met his friend and his friends.
We took a bus to Vina del Mar. We were met by Matias who was a teacher in a school. He took us to eat and drink, got us bikes and we rode all the way to Valparaiso. Another friend had come to show us things. They were great people. And my favorite person was Mr. Moises Matias’father.
Moises was older and asked me to say what I had thought about Chile. I was concerned about what to say but was honest and said:
“I think people are apathetic to things here. I am sorry to say that. But it is so hard to get people to talk to us.”
To my entire surprise he replied by saying things like ….
“I am not a nationalist. And I agree with you. We are descendents of fear. My son, and his friends can speak. I grew up going inside of the houses of policemen , our family gave them sweets and then one day Pinochet came. They were no longer our neighbors nor could we ever speak. I am lucky because I was never arrested and tortured but many people that I know have been. So to this day many of us do not speak. We grew up to not trust not even our neighbors. Anyone could condemn you secretly. I prefer a corrupted democracy than any dictatorship. I also do not support what the USA does. It is true that Pinochet is associated with economic growth but the price we had to pay for that, cannot be supported.”
Moises is a shoemaker. His family hosted us. He spoke to us. He explained to me why people in the south wanted the death of the Mapuche. The Mapuche is an indigenous population. He knew way more about the cause than the younger boys. He admired the fact that the youth could speak. I am very thankful to Moises, Matias and Andres. They showed and told me a lot of things.
And then I had short time. Enough to see again an old lady in Santiago selling some cards. I offered her a meal. She cried. I was still doubting whether she was simply crazy but I invited her to seat with me inside of Juan Valdez. She told me her story never making a single mistake about it. Every single time I asked her the same thing. She said the same. She was hungry. She ate fast. She lived with two grandchildren. The mother had disappeared 7 months ago. And she was so shocked by it. And then her 41 year old son. The father of the grandchildren fell in love with another woman and left them. That had happened just 2 weeks ago.
“I am lucky that I have my own house. It is made by wood but it is mine. The school I cannot pay. I cried a lot and they let them stay there this month. In fact the only problem I really have is that my gas finished. So thought my neighbours have given me some food I can’t cook. I give them bread in the morning and while they are in the school they can eat. Thank you so much for this meal. I hope I can sell those cards now that is close to Christmas”. She never really asked me for anything. I believe she was lonely. Despaired and very hungry. No one has thanked me so much for a meal before.
That happened yesterday and we took the tube to go to the airport and suddenly we were trapped. The metro stopped and women dressed in red and yellow came running in the station. People around me were not too concerned and I was trying to pay attention and suddenly the speaker said that someone had tried to commit a suicide. The lady next to me asked me whether I had understood what had happened. I told her, I had barely understood it.
“The people you saw running outside is part of a special force there is there to pay attention on people in the platforms, they are there to prevent people from jumping in front of the metro. They are not always successful like today. It happens many times here in Santiago.”
I was rather surprised that such a service existed. I am aware many people jump in front of trains but I do not think it is so common to have people specialised to prevent that.
I left, with more cordial feelings to Chile, I left with friends. But I left thinking there are many people who are depressed, lonely. It was confirmed to me that the roots had to do with colonialism and the fear created by Pinochet. People do not speak that much. And to enter Chile, I guess it was necessary for me to actually tell my Chilean friend in Brazil. I wish I had told Manuel way earlier. Could have heard way more things.