It's hard for me to even write in English anymore, so bear with me por favo...please. Gracias. Just kidding, the Español is still terrible, still speaking a mix of Spanglish/Frenglish and general nonsensery (#DanQuayle2016). Three weeks down and Johnny law still hasn't been able to touch us. The adventure continues...
Last we met, we were in the throes of Chilean cuisine, VW-finding, and overall exploratory pursuits...and not much at all has changed. Well, actually, I recant, much indeed has changed but not much to report back aside from we found, procured, purchased, and now are proud owners of our very own VW kombi.
That's right haters, we did it, so get ready for many kombi pictures, status updates, and many many many more pictures of foreign mechanics with crucial mustaches (#Movember). As my mother always told me, "anyone can drive through random countries in an ill-procured vehicle, but not everyone has the gumption to waste their time getting grifted by sheisty mechanics." LOOK AT ME NOW MA!
Side note: autocorrect only took issue with my use of "sheisty"
K, so down and dirty—we're in Santiago, and the city is still living up to it's official slogan as "South America's Version of Beige". I've implored Shannon to find the men here good looking, I've salted the food beyond normal reason, and I've drunk enough to think it wasn't Coolio's "Gangstas Paradise" AGAIN on the restaurant music selection, but hey—sometimes you can't fake the funk on a nasty dunk. Listen, I been done some traveling in my time, and can say with all honesty that Chileans are as genuinely lukewarm in their everything as they are unimaginative about culture, and that's not such a gosh darn bad thing dontchaknow! My time in Russia was punctuated by bribing officials and fending off unfriendliness, much of Asia was arms length at best, India was very....India (go there, you'll see), and Africa was just about the warmest and friendliest place you could imagine (think Kathy Bates in Fried Green Tomatoes). Santiago is downright OK, in the biggest sense of "OK" you could imagine. Please, anyone else: prove me wrong.
I've purposefully, in my thinking and writing, kept from extrapolating "Santiago" into "Chile", likewise "Paris" into "France", or "London" into "England" (even though we ALL know England is complete shit, except for London), which is the reason this paragraph will exist. For the Americans reading this, the United States ones, it will come as a real chuck to the chin, an attaboy to the whole Marshall Plan, and all that. You know what? Dictatorships are real bad for culture. You also know what? Cuba, when I visited ten years ago nearly, had more culture going in Havana (1/3 size of Santiago) after decades of communism than this place after a US-approved military coup. Here in Chile, the smarties were exiled, assassinated, or killed. The arties went to Germany or the US and did some amazing things. The best and the brightest were car bombed. Education was oppressed, the military took over, and basically nothing above average happened for 20+ years. I feel this in the food, the art, the culture, the people, the embraces here...it's systemic, and it's dangerously mediocre.
All that said, AND STUFF, you guys—I recommend coming down here for the same reason I recommend going anywhere. See things. Meet people. Experience a post-dictatorship country. Just do! That will be good enough for when you are being a human-doing. Make that choice and be a fundamental, awesome, existentialist without all the preoccupying baggage.
NEXT POST, we'll talk about cars and engines and numbers and stuff...