Kyoung Update: Santiago, Chile

by kyoung on April 7, 2005

Hello everyone! Greetings from Chile.

I’m not sure if it’s hit me that I’m home, but I find myself doing the same old things I did in High School for comfort. I’ve been reading lots of stuff and watching TV, or sleeping like a madman. However, the sleeping part I blame on the guy sitting next to me in the plane that wouldn’t stop telling me EVERYTHING about his life.

The flight was absolutely dreadful. The cabin atmosphere was really dry, making my lips and fingers feel like fifty year-old paper. And for 12 hours, this guy sitting next to me continuously interrupted my viewing of the free movies on board, of which, I must recommend the Chilean film MACHUCA.

MACHUCA is the story of Pedro, an upper-middle class boy growing up in Chile during the early 70’s. His mother takes him around town after school and we see them shopping in the black market for food no longer available in stores, or how he must receive imported gifts (such as the LONE RANGER comic book) while his mother has an affair with a rich older man from Argentina.

The country is going through radical changes; civil war is imminent as socialism takes full force. Four young boys living in a nearby “poblacion,” the equivalent of a shantytown, are placed in Pedro’s classroom in “St. George’s,” a Catholic and American school for the Chilean upper middle class. As Pedro befriends one of these boys, Machuca, we see the life beyond Pedro’s over-protected family environment.

As the film progresses, the streets become flooded with those in favor and opposed to socialism. Allende’s presidency sparks the hope of those living poorly and working hard in the poblaciones, while the middle and upper class protest the rationing of food, the new kids in private schools, and the possibility of civil war. At one point, Pedro sells red flags in a street protest with Machuca and he witnesses his mother–dressed in Jackie Kennedy’s iconic pink dress and hat (worn when Kennedy was shot)–beating one of Machuca’s friend. Later, two jet planes fly over the Santiago’s skies announcing the coup on September 11th, 1973.

Thirty years later, Santiago has exploded as Latin America’s wealthiest country. In the plane, the Lan Chile magazine dedicated its whole issue to “Money,” its origin, its growth and the new theories about Latin American develompent. Arriving to the city, I noticed new energy in the media–newspapers, TV shows and the radio–have reformatted their programming to address the racism against neighboring Latin American citizens and the need to improve local social services. Also, as the country is mourning the death of the Pope by the thousands in Santiago, new candidates are campaigning nation-wide for this year’s Chilean Presidential election.

The city is definitely booming–so many new highways and expressways are being built across town that I find myself not recognizing my way around it anymore. On the other hand, there is graffiti on most constructions sites, declaring that Santiago “is not gray.” Well, in some ways, it will be…

At home, everything is the same. The only change are my pets… A new group of Chihuahuas are around. When I get a DigiCam, I’ll have to take a picture of my dogs and introduce you to Atila, Mea, Mini, Toy and Linda. Please don’t ask about the names: the original generation from which these puppies come from include Happy and Puppy.

Well… More soon. I’ve been very unproductive these days, adjusting to the transition, but all is well. I miss you all a lot, but I’ve brought with me great memories, music and gadgets that remind me of you all. Keep in touch.

Love,

kyoung

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