It's HOT in CHILE !!

Trip Start Jan 04, 2008
Trip End Apr 08, 2008

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Flag of Chile  ,
Monday, February 11, 2008

HOT  HOT  HOT !!!  and dry...this place gets 2 mm of rain each year...that's about the smallest distance you can make between 2 fingers... not much rain.  I'm glad the hostel is cool...if you're in the shade and there's a breeze, it's manageable.  But don't try to spend time on the beach between 1 and 4....we did yesterday and never quite recovered.  The sun saps the energy right out of you.  All evening we tried to rekindle that energy...with a nap, food, sugar, coffee....but it never bounced back.  So it's either early AM or evening on the beach.  Today is the day to go to visit the Hare Krishna encampment nearby.  I hear they've got an eco-community so I want to see what they're doing out there to live in an environmentally sound way.  The directions I get from the hostel people are...take a collectivo to Pocon, Chile and ask anybody there where the Krishna camp is.  I ask three times for more specific instructions but I basically get the same response 3 times so it must be simple. 
We head out to the main road to wait for a collectivo, a little minibus that has a route and collectivos people along the way.    But nada that are going our way....and let me remind you it's really hot to be standing on the side of the road waiting for one.  We wave a few down to ask more precisely the number of the collectivo we're waiting for.  But I've found that people will generally just give you an answer whether it's right or wrong... even if they have no real idea.  Finally, in desperation we call over a taxi...ask him the price to Pocon, Chile...takes him a few minutes to recognize that I'm saying Pocon, Chile but he then waves with great reassurance...he'll take us there for 400 pesos each (that's about one dollar each).  So we ride with him for a bit....he's carrying on in some overfriendly way...I'm this guy saying inappropriate things or does it just seem that way because I cant understand him well?   I'm wondering if he's been drinking so I try to smell him but I'm not sure if it's alcohol or just plain old too much body scent.  But I keep reminding him where we're going....the Hare Krishna place near Pocon, Chile.  No problem, he carries on in endless too-loud conversation and we end up on some street...who knows where....and he's telling me it's Pocon, Chile.  Well needless to say, he doesn't really have a clue.  He tries asking some bystander for directions and then indicates that it s WAY further than now it's pretty apparent that he's not going to get us anywhere we want to go.  Got to make a decision...get out right here and say adios to this guy or go back to start.   Not feeling particularly unsafe, so I tell him, just bring us back where we began ...very explicitly, back to the landmark Coca-Cola soccer ball near the train station.  Still waving his arms in an exaggerated fashion, he seems to understand what I'm asking and starts driving...all over the place...felt like we were driving in spirals....  I keep reminding him where we're problem...we're apparently headed there.  But we're definitely taking the long way back.  Probably 3x as long as it took to get there....with him telling us how it's going to cost all sorts of money to go both ways and us trying to explain that we told him where we wanted to go and he told us a fare...he agreed to take us there.  Well clearly this was one of those situations you can't avoid once in a while as a traveler.   FINALLY, we get back to the Coca Cola ball, and, a few pesos later we're on our way to soothe our frustration with some magic mango licuados in the shade....the Krishna camp is clearly not on our itinerary today. 
Life improves in Arica...and it hits an all time high when we stumble across the drummers and dancers in the central part of the city.  There are at least a dozen drummers and probably 50 dancers, ranging from young girls to women in their 70s.  The drummers are really tight and the dancers are full of life.  I've got some video for my drum people...just takes too long to upload on this blog.  But the rhythms totally suck me in...I try to vibe someone to hand me something to play with them.   I guess one of the dancers intuits my desire for inclusion, and even though dancing within the circle of drummers is not the energy I thought I was transmitting, there I am, her assertive joy leaving me no real choice about it...I'm dancing within this rhythm and having a great time.   Her power on the floor carries both of us...I'm completely a part of her energy.    This vibrant community of drummers and dancers on the street reminds me of how fortunate I am to belong to my own circle or drummers/dancers within my own community. 
Here are some impressions of least northern Chile, which is a highly variable country since it covers this narrow but long strip of land from central SA to the southern tip of the continent along the Pacific Coast.  The whole northern section...desert...and as I've said, the heat is can get in the shade but it's dry dry dry no matter where you are.   But there are some people differences that are noticeable the minute you cross the border...and I know I'm generalizing here, but they are simply my observations based on not a whole lot of experience...which is pretty much the theme of this blog   First off, there is more wealth here...people are obviously larger-bodied here than in Peru...very noticeably.  The friendliness quotient appears to have diminished - Peruanos always greet you on the street, even if a stranger... they usually kiss you on the cheek goodbye.  Skin color is lighter in Chile...theoretically there are fewer indigenous people and much more of a Spanish influence genetically.  Chilenos are well dressed, clean...reflective of a different standard of living...and prices are more expensive... amazing what a difference crossing a border can make.
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latg on

Great Pictures
Love Chile, one of my favorite spots!

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