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The International Writers Magazine
: Hacktreks in South America

Santiago Bound
Dermot Sullivan

Dermot begins his year long diary of his year in South America

I am in Santiago. It is rather warm here, but not as hot as one might imagine. It's more balmy than anything else, though in the middle of the day one tends to gravitate toward the shade. I flew first to Atlanta. If one looked out of the window then one could see the polar ice-caps and then the vast emptiness of Canada. I think the only sign of life there was a town called Hallifax we flew over. New York looked rather impressive from the sky, especially Manhattan which is so small yet densely packed. Before Atlanta we went over the Appalachian Mountains. The chap sitting next to me was from South Carolina and proceeded to tell me all about how he was Scots-Irish and stuff like that, which was a welcome break from telling me how Saddam had to be taken out.

Atlanta airport is not the most exciting place in the world, but it did have a display about Martin Luther King. Atlanta was the home of the Civil Rights Movement. One of King's assistants is now mayor of the city. Atlanta is also the home of Coca-Cola and CNN, the latter of which I watched for about three hours. Apart from going on about Mel Gibson's new film 'The Passion' ad nauseum, they also had showed 'live from a helicopter' potential Haiti refugees being arrested on boats as George Bush said they weren't welcome ... or something. Oh yes, and gay marriage is a bad thing. God help you if you a gay Haitian then ... you might get sent to Guantanomo Bay where you would be forced to watch that new Gibson film until you saw the light.

I passed out once I sat down on the plane to Santiago. I was only woken by the stewardess who came to feed me (or to stop me drooling). After much sleep I awoke to see the Andes. They made stange dancing shapes on the ground (remember I was very high up) which seemed alien. Maybe that's where that German loony von Danniken got it wrong when he though the Mayans, Aztecs and Incas where descended from Spacemen!

To be honest, Santiago is very like Spain. I think if one wants to see some sort of mucho loco version of South America then one has to go Brazil. Santiago reminds me of Majorca in the outskirts and Cologne in the city centre, albeit with tall buildings creating shade for the people in the street (a bit like Italy and Spain then). I have no idea what outside of this city is like so I can't comment yet.
The city is surrounded with mountains, which is better than it being flat like Belgium. I think I may walk up a small one at the weekend as it's right outside my apartment. There's a statue of Jesus on it, but then there's Catholicism everywhere here.

My neighbourhood is called ´'Salvador'. Everything is either called after something religious, someone to do with Chile's history or more worryingly, something to do with the armed forces. I saw some police arresting a drunk Aztecan Indian fellow yesterday ... I wasn't aware that you had to punch someone's head into a park bench to arrest them.

My flat is nice but rather run down. I may have to give it up in six months but that may be a good thing. Otherwise everything else is groovy. The Tube/Metro here is fantastico and the stations a big and clean and have lovely murals painted on them. Everything is very cheap so far, with a meal in a bar restaurant costing about Two Pound Fifty ... I think I'll go and get myself some Spanish lessons next week too.
That's it from here. I'll be in touch with my progress.

Hasta luego,
© Señor Dermot Sullivan March 1st 2004

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