Back from Santiago: a human experience

This post looks purposefully personal although I hate writing about my own little life, but I self-indulged and was amazed at how many interesting things took place in the last three weeks or so and couldn’t resist the temptation to share albeit a tiny part of it. I always struggled to keep this space the least personal but then realized that stripping the blog from those flickers of personal life, even those who might appear insignificant to many, deprives it from the emotionally compelling feel that makes it different from any other medium.

So, here are few snapshots from Santiago, a city that reminded me of Casablanca, with its pollution, its hustle, its Mediterranean feel, its humanity…

…its street dogs…

They are everywhere and seem to have reached a modus vivendi with Santiago dwellers. They also seem to instantly recognize foreign visitors and follow them everywhere. Otherwise they look pretty much healthy, like this guy we interrupted during his siesta…

American influence is visible everywhere: a firemen’s car flanked with the picture of both Chilean and American flags crossed over each other; a flurry of billboards venting the merits of market economy in major streets; an unusual concentration of American banks in the business district, all reminders of a long and tumultuous history between both countries. Chile was the epicenter of a battle of ideas between a capitalist right and a militant socialist left. A battle that is not so anachronistic as it first appears to be…

Pisco sour is another local chef d’oeuvre, and although it’s Haram according to certain scriptures it is still a delightful experience that anyone traveling all the way to the southern hemisphere would be ill-advised not to give it at least a little try…

Chile is a country that is obviously moving forward. We had an interesting discussion with a guide during our visit to a winery in the outskirts of Santiago and who happened to be a journalist as well as a professional historian. he explained that the horrors of the past were his country’s “teen crisis” and that “Pinochet was a necessary evil.” I was taken aback but thought it made sense nevertheless. It’s funny how countries have gone though similar experiences. I can speak of Morocco who’s had his own Pinochet, but that’s a different story.

And then I guess one can not talk about Chile without evoking Pablo Neruda’s legacy and life. But you only have to visit his houses in Santiago and in the coastal port city of Valparaiso to realize the “Disneylandization” of the name and properties of the author. But I guess there isn’t any easy way around it.

And then of course there was the GV people: over 120 bridge bloggers, journalists and what have you, virtually from everywhere in the world, who may not agree on everything but who share the same passion for free speech and human rights. Needless to say it felt like a unique moment in one’s lifetime. Conversely I still feel the pain of the broken hearted, who has been given time short enough as to fall in love but not long enough as to fully enjoy it. in any case I’m very grateful for the opportunity.

Coming up is the third and final part of this account. I’ll be sharing with my fellow Moroccan bloggers what (I think) I learned during the GV Summit. That post will be also available in Arabic.

8 thoughts on “Back from Santiago: a human experience

  1. Lah ye3tik esseha. Ca fait billet “3yaka” je sais 🙂 mais c’etait “commissionné” par mes copains à GV si tu veux tout savoir 😉

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  4. It seems to me this Santiago meeting is having all of us talking about it. We’ve been given inspiration for lots of new posts.
    You should come to Lima. You’d love it too!

  5. I’m sure I’d love Lima Gabriela. My friend Juan has passionately educated me on the greatness of Peruvian culture and people. Not to mention the delights of Peruvian food and winery (including, I’ve been told, Pisco… the Peruvian version that is 🙂

  6. If by any chance you happen to be in Lima, you have to let Juan and me know. I know it’s a very remote possibility, but we never know…

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