I´m still a little taken aback I guess. I´m finally getting a real looking into Chile, its identity. Away from my fellow extranjeros and my party hostel house and a look into the real lives of Chile.
Here in Valdivia there´s a varied view of the country and Santiago, as the principal city. One couple spoke of the centralization and she spoke of trying to force some decentralization by moving out of Santiago. It´s true, that more than 1/3 of the entire country lives in this one city.
I spoke to a guy early on who told me there´s a saying, ¨Santiago isn´t Chile¨. And living there I´ve grown to understand that. It´s quite obvious at least in downtown center, where it´s basically like any other consumerist, materialist society. Mall after mall, people walking to work and school and nowhere else. Where is the damn culture?!
I have found it, venturing out of the center, to barrio Brasil, Maipu, and I´m starting to meet some genuine people who give me an idea of the place. I´m still looking to see more and with time I suppose I´ll understand this city, this country more, as I´ve only been here 3 months. That´s nothing really, I didn´t quite identify with SF until a good year and 1/2.
Today I had a really affecting encounter with a man. He stayed in the house I am couchsurfing at and he accompanied me to a movie. We began talking about Chile and how it doesn´t really work as a whole or separate. (the other guy mentioned that each province really has no legitimate representation and that everything is feeding to and from Santiago). But I was interested in this guy because he´s from Valparaíso, lived in Santiago for 4 years and now lives in Ricavilla, near Pucon and right in the mountains, very close to Argentina. He´s obviously lived a good part of the country.
But now I´m still dazed because I thought I understood where he was coming from. It seemed he had a positive outlook on Santiago versus the more pesimistic attitud of others. He spoke of how there´s an immense history in the city (that of the dictatorship) and how there are barrios like Brasil, like Yungay, where you do find an identity. He spoke of a synthesis, and I thought I knew what that meant (I go to research on Wikipedia), okay I think I did understand. But he seemed so positive, that Santiago is very fragmented as I suggested, but there´s also a synthesis of the people of Chile. That seems positive right?
But then when I brought up the idea of positive thinking, that I need time to appreciate Santiago. He asks me what I mean and I say, because of what you said, to think more positively. And he says, no, I was being negative, synthesis is negative. What?
And this is the last thing we talk about as he says ¨You can see it. The people of Chile are sick. Their culture, their people.¨this isn´t word for word but basically what I got from our conversation.
I´ll have to give this more thought.