Archive for the ‘Chile’ Category

South American Zombie Apocalypse

June 1, 2010 1 comment
Statue with arms outspread.

"Where the hell is everyone?"

Leaving my Santiago hostel one Sunday morning, I was shocked to find that, in the seven or eight hours since I had gone to bed, the city had transformed from a vibrant, bustling metropolis into a deserted post-apocalyptic wasteland.

This was not just the nomal, early morning lack of activity you would expect on a weekend or public holiday in Australia either; it seemed to be a genuine, end-of-the-human-race-style societal extinction. The shops were closed and shuttered, there was barely a person in sight and the normally chaotic traffic had thinned to the point that I could have slept in the road without being hit by a car; even the normally abundant stray dogs had disappeared.

The most accurate comparison I can think of is the opening scene of the horror movie ¨28 Days Later¨, where the main character wanders from his hospital bed to find himself abandoned and alone in a city devoid of life. In fact, so similar are the two situations that anyone who happened to miss this film’s opening credits could be forgiven for thinking it was a serious documentary about Sunday morning activities in Santiago (although, admittedly, the later scenes with flesh-eating zombies would be slightly confusing).

I was informed later – when the rest of the human race had kindly decided to reappear – that this phenomenon is common to many South American cities, and is apparently a result of wild Saturday night partying combined with strict Sunday morning religious observation.

I guess it’s not surprising that a guy from Australia who rarely goes into a nightclub and even more rarely sets foot in a church would find himself perplexed by this situation.

Categories: Chile Tags: , , ,

The City of Lost Dogs

January 13, 2010 Leave a comment

From Chile dog to chili dog

Did your parents ever explain the sudden disappearance of a much-loved family pet with the vague and rather dubious-sounding “It was sent to live on a farm” story? Although I’m sure many of us believed this was simply a euphemism for “your dog/cat/budgie/goldfish has died, but we can’t bring ourselves to tell you”, I recently discovered – in the case of dogs anyway – that it’s true…only it’s not a farm they get sent to, but Santiago de Chile.

At least I think this is the case, as there doesn’t appear to be any other explanation for the staggeringly large conglomeration of stray dogs that appears to have overun the city.

It seems that no matter which part of Santiago you visit, you’re pretty much guaranteed to stumble across at least one of these mutts, either lazing idly in the sun or sniffing curiously at passers-by. In fact they’re so abundant that, on one occasion, I counted a whopping seven on a single street corner.

Interestingly though, not one of these homeless hounds seems underfed, with most looking less like your typical, straggly street-mongrel and more like the title character from Stephen King’s Cujo. How literally thousands of healthy, fully-grown dogs manage to feed themselves daily, I’m not quite sure, as not once have I seen anybody give them food…although I have heard a rumor that the police file on missing children is considerably larger here than in other parts of the world.

On a slightly more disturbing (although still very much canine-related) note, I’ve also noticed that Santiago has an unusually high number of fast-food restaurants bearing the exceptionally suspicious-sounding name of – and yes I swear this is true – “Doggis”.

Now, I’d love to give the fine people of Chile the benefit of the doubt and state that this fact is completely unrelated to my earlier observations…but a range of unidentifiable, ambiguous-sounding menu items such as “dogginuggets”, “doggicombos” and “hot dog crispys” means I’m not prepared to absolve them of breaking any culinary taboos just yet.

In other words, until I can do some more research, I’m going to err on the side of caution and dine elsewhere.

Note: I’ve also noticed quite a few shops labelled ¨Ferretaria¨…but I’m not game to even ask what they sell there.

Categories: Chile Tags: , ,

The Isle of Renegade Poultry

January 2, 2010 Leave a comment

It would seem reasonable to assume that a tiny fishing village in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, particularly one noted for being the second-most-isolated human settlement on earth, would be a good place to get a quiet night’s sleep. At least, that’s what I thought as I climbed wearily into bed after having spent the previous night attempting – with limited success – to get to sleep on an exceptionally uncomfortable airport bench.

As it turns out, the village of Hanga Roa on Easter Island is home to a small but vocal population of roosters that seems to be unaware of the normal rooster protocol of crowing only at sunrise. For some reason, these renegade fowl think it’s acceptable to crow loudly and repeatedly at any time of day or night.

Now this, by itself, would not be too bad, but unfortunately the local dog population seems to find it highly objectionable when done after hours and chooses to voice its displeasure by barking or howling loudly at the offending birds. This of course rouses the rest of the island’s rooster population who, upon hearing that all of the dogs are awake, assume it’s morning and start to crow as well. From this point onward, the only thing able to drown out the barnyard cacophony is the noise of aeroplanes landing at the local airport…which is thoughtfully located just five-hundred metres from the town centre.

Yes, Hanga Roa may be one of the most isolated places on earth, but it’s definitely not one of the quietest.

One of the sleep-deprived residents takes a quick nap