Coca Cola costs fifty cents in Chile. I’m glad they’re doing well.
The chilean flag fluttered against the front window out of sync with the Ramones blasting from the speakers, strips of grey fabric billowed in the wind, and people chatted; as all of this flew down the coast outlining the Pacific it didn’t feel as though anything was left behind. Buildings always sit on the horizon, but the feeling is more powerful than knowing you’re returning to something alive and bustling ––it’s as if you’re never coming from something but always heading toward it.
Reñaca is the beach community where I spent most of my day, and, as beach communities go, this place is one (I hope the shallowness of the generality becomes clear in a moment). Hotels and high-rises line the hills, the beach is a series of crowded open stretches and areas where various companies have hired attractive Argentinian women to where tight closethes and entice the passersby to come chill in their respective areas. The restaurants are of similar quality, pre-packaged-ness, and price; and, unlike nearby Valpo, the streets and buildings lack the charm of existing as an expression of humanity. So, as beach communities go, Reñaca is one.
Realizing I wasn’t much cut for the area I walk north; on the horizon were a series of large dunes, which I was determined to climb. The view one enjoys at the top almost gives Reñaca enough character to consider revisiting; while there I contemplated continuing north toward Con-con (and I did, for a bit) but ultimately it was little different than superficiality I had just fled. It’s sad to see the dunes being encroached on; a few hotels already lie on the outskirts, and the nearby construction equipment looked poised to make more incursions. Despite the fact that they are a preservation area business usually gets it’s way, a shrinking reminder of what sells Chile.
Cost of living is an interesting entity here. At any given farmer’s market (which exist year round) one can buy the following for 1000 pesos (2 USD): 2 large heads of lettuce, one of cauliflower, or 10 of garlic, 12 zucchini, 10 ears of corn, 1kilo of peaches or nectarines, and several other produce in amounts that compare favorably to the US. Gas is far more expensive, electronics can be more than 40% more to purchase, and utilities are nothing to laugh about. Coca cola costs 50 cents.
The day prior we attend a dance club with the other student immigrants. Everyone had fun. Some people dance. All drank. And it was free so I suppose I can’t complain. It’s no different from any other club, though while many where I am from are playing EDM and house music the clubs that dot Chile are enjoying the top 40 songs from 2007.
All things considered, I endeavor to hike. Coming here and not hiking feels like an affront to the natural landscape this area enjoys. This is a non sequitur because it is an interjection of one of the most important things one can do; just get out and exist in vast tracts of nature for a bit. Time to start researching, the mountains are always on the horizon here in Viña and Valpo, and I think they’re starting to whisper.