The six of us went for our first run in Chile this morning. Back home our neighbours have grown used to seeing us huffing and puffing up and down those torturous hills every morning. Here in Santiago, however, we were an unusual sight, running through the city streets in single file. We must be the only blue eyed, blonde haired people in the entire city. Locals stared at us, as we stampeded past them with an “Hola!” x6.
It is incredible how many times a day we are confronted with the choice between shaking our heads and giggling or a complete and utter meltdown. So many emotions as we experience the contradiction and reality of life in a third world country. Breakfast this morning just about resulted in the latter for our thirteen year old, as she discovered the best she was going to get with a badly damaged, very dirty pan without a handle or lid, was scrambled eggs. They weren’t going down sunny side up, anyway! Jarik and I chuckle as we constantly realise how spoilt our kids are and how much of an education the next eight months will be for them. Bring on the challenges!!
On a sunny day in an interesting city, exploring is key. If, however, you’ll be landing in freezing conditions the very next day, finding thermals might be of greater importance. So the six of us hopped on a local bus to the biggest and grandest shopping centre in the city. Two busses and a significant walk later, we find ourselves in the centre of the modern first world.
A bit disappointing, I have to admit. It looks like any modern, grandiose shopping centre in any first world country anywhere in the world. It dawned on me that one can actually travel around the globe and only ever find yourself in similar circumstances to your own. There are glamorous hotels and flashy shops in every country. But what a deception! The real heartbeat of a nation can only be felt and heard in and among the “normal” people, in a very real, often not so glamorous environment, where everyday life is celebrated and suffered by the majority of the population.
Santiago has its super modern and affluent areas and its slums. I prefer the latter where catching the eye of a complete stranger results in a precious exchange. May we have eyes to see and hearts to embrace and appreciate the great beauty in the people all around us.
Tomorrow morning, before the crack of dawn, we shall move on to Punta Arenas, down in the southern most tip of Chile. I cannot wait!!
– Mariza –