Tuesday 20 May 2014
As an aside, I was standing in a street in Valparaiso, eating an empanada, when three people came by – two women and a man. One of the women looked at me, looked down, pointed my toes out to her companions, said something, giggled, and walked on. I don’t believe that she’d never seen green sparkly nail varnish before.
Valparaiso, for the record, feels even grittier and more ‘street’ than Santiago. To all intents and purposes, Chile is not making itself an easy place to love. That said, once you get used to it I’m sure it’s perfectly possible to have a very enjoyable and ‘real’ time here. Again, the first sight that greeted me in the city was a large street market, and near to where to hostel Is is full of small corner shops for local people, even though it’s very central.
It’s also a great city for street art, like the parts of Santiago where my hostel was. Some of it is very intricate, much of it is very artistic – it’s very definitely street art rather than graffiti. I seem to be coming across a lot of it on this trip, or maybe I‘m just more attuned to looking out for it.
The hostel was a bit hard to find. Well, with hindsight that’s not quite true since I waked past it twice without realising, but it was on the opposite side of the road at a small square filled with local children playing football. The address of the hostel put it on a particular street, but it seems that’s just the name given to the terrace it’s in on a street with a different name. Hence the confusion. It did mean I didn’t get there in time to do the afternoon walking tour of the city, but that’s not a problem since they’re twice a day anyway and the 3pm tor would finish just in darkness.
It’s a nice hostel, a large common area and a large kitchen as well, but overall a small hostel in that there’s not many beds in it. It reminds me a bit of the one I stayed in in Vilnius, which was pretty nice, so here’s hoping. I’m in a top bunk this time, unfortunately, but I knew my luck wouldn’t last forever.
The journey to Valparaiso took just under an hour and a half. I ended up sat next to a man with a quite high-pitched voice who kept getting phone calls every few minutes; disturbing, The scenery was … rocky, with what I’d best describe as small hills covered in small bushes/shrubberies and worn-out grasslands. You could imagine it all becoming desert in the near future, I suppose.
Apart from a slight hope to catch the 3pm walking tour, I didn’t really have any set time to leave Santiago; the buses were regular (say every 15 minutes or so), from several different bus companies. You bought a ticket from the kiosk of the bus company you wanted (they’re all in a line down the side of the bus station) – it’s not a case of buying one ticket and taking the first bus. That said, on this journey, because they’re so regular, I saw that two buses were about to leave so bought my ticket from the company whose kiosk had the smaller queue (Pullman Buses).
I knew it was going to be about lunchtime though because this morning I’d planned to go to one final museum, one I didn’t even know existed until two days ago, and pretty close to the hostel, but had I known it was there I’d probably have gone on the Saturday I arrived.
This was the two-storey (the third floor usually has temporary exhibits but seemed to be closed – even so I still spent two hours in there) Museum of Human Rights Abuses; to be more precise it was a museum that went into detail about the atrocities committed by the Pinochet regime; whereas the Villa Grimaldi looked specifically at the way political prisoners were ‘handled’, this museum took a much more general overview of the whole period, and looked at some specific events (eg a couple of notable assassinations, the decrees that the government passed, and the eventual fall of the regime).
Lots of detail in certain areas. Lots. Even down to newspapers of the time, death certificates, objects made by prisoners, and lots of photos of dead/disappeared people.
I kept being passed by school groups, who were acting in general like school groups do (not paying attention, taking selfies in front of memorial walls, etc). This got me thinking; how much do modern generations care about what’s happened in the past, even in the recent past. Do they need to know? Do they need to know in much detail? Does it matter to them one way or another that their grandparents’ generation were directly affected? In a similar way to does my generation need to know in great detail about World War 2?
On a basic general level, obviously it matters as it explains a lot about how the country they live in feels, and why. But do they / we need to know any more than the basics?
Are school groups even too young to appreciate this kind of event (they were, I’d say, 14-15 years old)?
I don’t know the answers, I’m just musing,