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How September 11th Could Have Been Worse

Santiago, Chile


The next morning it was goodbye to Easter Island and back to the mainland.

When we arrived at our hostel, Ecohostel, the girl on the desk warned us that we shouldn't go outside because it's the 11th of September. I was a bit confused at to why that should matter so much in Chile, until I remembered reading something a year or two before, that more people died as a result of this September 11th in 1973 than the better known and more recent one. It was Noam Chomsky I had read:

So, let’s imagine how [the September 11th attacks] could have been worse for example. Suppose that on September 11, Al-Qaeda had bombed the White House and killed the President, instituted a murderous, brutal regime which killed maybe 50,000 to 100,000 people and tortured about 700,000, set up a major international terrorist center in Washington, which was overthrowing governments all over the world, and installing brutal vicious neo-Nazi dictatorships, assassinating people. Suppose he called in a bunch of economists, let’s call them the 'Kandahar Boys' to run the American economy, who within a couple of years had driven the economy into one of the worst collapses of its history. Suppose this had happened. That would have been worse than 9/11, right? But it did happen. And it happened on 9/11. That happened on September 11, 1973 in Chile. The only thing you have to change is this per capita equivalence, which is the right way to look at it. Well, did that change the world? Yeah, it did but not from our point of view, in fact, who even knows about it? Incidentally, just to finish, because we [the U.S.] were responsible for that one.

Anyway, the girl in the hostel thought it would be safe enough to go to the pizza place round the corner, since we hadn't eaten anything yet, and the pizza place was quite close. I still don't know who it is that causes the problems but, apparently every year, they have riots. Whether it is Pinochet supporters or detractors I don't know, but on the TV at the pizza shop there was plenty of live footage of demonstrations or riots; lots of things on fire and lots of police. Thankfully none of it seemed to be in our neighbourhood and we made it back to the hostel with our pizza.

The following day was nice and sunny. We had to go shopping for a new (OK second hand) pair of trousers for Joanne to replace a pair that had worn through. Most of what we had taken with us was starting to wear out and I would be needing to buy some more myself. For one thing the compass which has been so useful finding our way around cities was full of air and not working very well, however, when I went into the outdoor shop to ask for a brujola they sent me to a fishing shop.

The fishing shop was closed but just next door was a nice little cafe, selling schopp, or draft beer, and colaciones, which are cheap set meals. Both were very nice, although the beer cost almost the same as the food. It's always surprising how much nicer places are in the sun, and it worked its magic again in Santiago. Where I had previously thought the city was OK, I now thought it was a great place. My not very good Spanish seemed to be holding up well and the sun was shining.

After our lunch we went to the bus station to buy a ticket to Valparaiso, where we were heading the next day. At the bus station, the Spanish I thought I had been speaking so well was suddenly useless. I don't know if it was the guys accent or if he just wasn't so used to dealing with foreigners, but I could hardly understand anything he said. We managed to get a ticket in the end and set off to the supermarket to stock up for Valparaiso: we bought some food, some wine, and some aged pisco, like the kids on Easter Island had been drinking, though not the same "expensive" brand at nearly £4 per bottle!


permalink written by  The Happy Couple on September 11, 2009 from Santiago, Chile
from the travel blog: Michael's Round-the-World honeymoon
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