14.07.2008 - 14.07.2008 3 °C
I awoke and decided to check out to find Chol Chol (nearest town Temuco). But first I just had to have breakfast in a place I'd discovered the day before. It was called Trawen but pronounced "Tuffaan". They did an amazing breakfast for around £3.50. It consisted of French toast with honey and a light dusting of cinnamon. It also included some cheese with raspberry marmalade. A cafe con leche and a fruit salad completed this dish that seemed like it was made in heaven. I've promised to make it for a couple of very special people once I return. I wanted to take Tuffaan back home with me. You know how sometimes, despite the need to try something different, you find something that you feel you will never ever tire of? Well that's me with this breakfast place.
I arrived in Temuco after a 2 hour bus ride around 6pm and checked in to a charming little place called Hostal Francia. It was owned by an old eccentric Chilean senora, who had dedicated her life to a dance filled with lust and passion, belonging not to Chile, but neighbouring Argentina. The TANGO.
The room had heating and a small TV. Breakfast was included for £16/night.
It was slightly less rainy in Temuco, and for that I was grateful. On first impressions, Temuco seems boring, and as I wandered around my local neighbourhood. I didn't feel too inspired. It seemed small and sleepy and in a way it was. However speaking to a few people I came to understand that Temuco had undergone a vast transformation in recent years. It is recignised as the capital of the mountainous Araucania region and the gateway to the South of Chile. Nowhere is this transformation exemplified more than the newly built shopping mall.
At least twice the size of the Harlequin in Watford, it was most impressive. I've taken some video footage that helpfully and hopefully describes the giganticness of the thing.
They were prepared to pay me a monthly salary of 400,000 pesos/month. Which is about 25% higher than the national average. Needless to say I wasn’t tempted. But it did remind me of the endless opportunity that possessing a TEFL can bring whilst abroad.
Walking through Temuco was really interesting. Unlike Santiago (Barcelona in disguise) and Pucon (tourist trap for outdoor adventurers) Temuco felt like a proper Chilean town where it was possible to see everyday Chileans going about everyday life. Apart from a shopping mall, about which more later, there was a distinct lack of chain stores – GOOD! I spotted a number of fruit, fish and vegetable markets.
“De donde eres?”
With either “De Inglaterra o India”
Whilst Inglaterra would get a slight nod and a wry smile. India would often get “Oooohhh…La India!!”
Often then the conversation would stop because often I don’t think they know a great deal about the ountry. Other times, mostly elderly men would engage me in conversation about religion, mistaking India as an Islamic country
I am aware of at least 3 Chilean men over 60 that now know the words Bhagvad and Gita, thanks to these conversations. It’s shameful that I’ve not read the Bhagvad Gita, but hey; at least 3 more people know that being Indian doesn’t necessarily mean being muslim. Not that I was offended in any way.
They would then want to either sell me something…anything remotely ethnic or talk about the one other person they met from India called Shiva or something. Shiva obviously got around a bit, because a few people seemed to be aware of him.
What I never experienced was any hint of racism. Something I’ve unfortunately witnessed and then only occasionally in Spain. Ironically, saying you are from Spain, whilst not generating any hostility, will often get you slower service in restaurants and at times will lead to you being charged a higher price.
Which brings me to an interesting point. Spaniards and Latin Americans, despite sharing the same language, and the same blood, it would appear, just don’t like each other very much!
My experiences in Spain have shown me that there is a superiority that Spaniards demonstrate towards their poorer cousins.
And over here in South America, at least amongst the middle classes, there is a deep seated need to disassociate themselves from their conquestors. I am too naïve about Latin American history to truly understand this tension. I just know that it exists!