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Always interested in offers/projects/new ideas. Eclectic experience in fields like: numerical computing; Python web; Java enterprise; functional languages; GPGPU; SQL databases; etc. Based in Santiago, Chile; telecommute worldwide. CV; email.

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© 2006-2017 Andrew Cooke (site) / post authors (content).

Goodbye Bellavista

From: "andrew cooke" <andrew@...>

Date: Sun, 10 Dec 2006 11:30:58 -0300 (CLST)

Last night we went out for a meal - we'd planned to go to Liguria, but it
was closed (holiday weekend), so we took a bus down to Plaza Italia and
walked into Bellavista, to the Caramano.

We were early, and the place was quiet, but the food was good.  I had
porotos con plateada - a bowl of stewed beans with boiled beef.  Good
food, although I feel slightly uncomfortable going to a decent restaurant
and paying for food that is basically what "ordinary people" would eat at
home.  Except perhaps these days those people, whoever they are, eat
frozen burgers (and even in some idyllic past I suspect it wasn't that
normal for a large chunk of tender beef to be sitting in the middle).

On the way back we walked through the centre of Bellavista - one of the
few areas of Santiago (the other is the city centre; Nunoa is also a
possible candidate) where there's a complete mix of classes.  Most of this
city is pretty clearly separated by class - where you live says a lot
about who you are, or aspire to be - but in Bellavista there are cheap
burger joints, small cafes, noisy discotheques, decent eating places like
caramano, and high-end restaurants.  The streets are full of people:
walking, selling, or just hanging out in noisy groups.  It's a good place
to be, but not necessarily a safe place.

Which reminds me of the two gringas who walked into Caramano just as we
were finishing.  Onda gringa - up-tight and nervous.  Clearly
uncomfortable with where they were, yet choosing to be there.  In some way
"keeping it real" by eating in a "local" restaurant (they had nothing to
be worried about - the service in Caramano is very straight).

Walking down the main street, we saw "Plaza Bellavista" - a new
development - and crossed over to have a look round.  Inside, it's a lot
bigger than we expected.  Old chilean buildings are often constructed
round courtyards, but here seemed to be the area of two, or maybe four
courtyards, joined together, with small craft shops around the edge, and
various cafes and restaurants dotted around; even a hotel up and to one
side, and an art gallery below.  Paulina studied the jewelry and found
some ear-rings; good quality, "edgy" design - sophisticated, modern.  The
development was tastefully done - wood, stone, lights embedded in the
stone - and very popular.  Families, couples, friends.

And security guards.  This was an oasis for the middle/upper class.  A
cleaned-up Bellavista - better quality crafts than the street markets, no
dirt, no poor people.  Diversity within tightly defined limits.  Nice
seats to sit down on, if you're buying.

And I feel bad for laughing at the gringas, doing their best to keep it
real, while the Chileans sell out their own culture as fast as they
possibly can, racing to become gringos themselves, to arrive at the point
where they will look back with regret.

Andrew

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