There’s this whole hideous world-ist meme about how you have a “first world problem” if your hair won’t stay in place, or you run out of K-cups for your coffee maker. It’s funny, on the one hand, because these problems are not really problems, and then rude on the other hand, because I’m sure everyone has trivial problems that annoy them, regardless of what “world” they live in. Like the lady next door said your kid was skinny, or the part of the river that you thought was the prettiest, or most useful got flooded early this year with the rains.
Or… what am I talking about anyway? I have never lived anywhere but what would be considered the “first world.” Sure, I have dabbled in a few countries with diseases of insanitation and a backpack full of antibiotics and malaria medicine, a kind of “world-tourism” that I participate in less and less as time goes on because I’m cranky and confused, and I’m not really sure it’s fair for me to go and hike around in some $80 shoes and then complain that a dinner (or taxi ride, etc) was too expensive. Plus I like my comforts (flat, clean bed, limited infestations, clamminess, diseases, etc).
But the world thing has practical applications right here at home. People in Chile talk about the worlds as though they all exist within the country. And maybe they do. Wealthy people living in Santiago have none of the second or third-world ills. Many middle-income people don’t either. But disparate incomes and access to education, health care and affordable healthy food are issues that weigh heavily on us. Transportation is a serious issue outside of Santiago, where whole communities can be cut off due to inclement weather, from rains to snows, and that doesn’t even count the natural disasters.
But that’s beyond the scope of this blog post. Which is how you know I spent way too much time in higher education, because we talk about the scope of blog posts. Except I went to school when there almost were no blogs, we just talked about research. And articles. So…
So what I can talk about instead, is how I always wonder how people who feel that they are firmly ensconced in first-worldliness, well-sealing windows and hard-covered books and nanas who come in every now and then and tidy stuff up and maybe cut up some fruit, and checking accounts, and credit cards and kids in matching uniforms laughing as they stroll down the streets with their parents wearing their kid-backpacks, holding hands and talking about the day.
What does it mean to them when they hear the clippity-clop of a horse carriage pulled down the street? Does it make them angry, thinking “oh great, now I’m going to step in horse poop” or maybe “this is unsanitary and old-worldly, and I hate it?”
Or are they more like me, thinking, “I love that in a place where there are buildings so high they practically disappear into the sky, and there are green buildings, loaded with plants on the outside, and fancy German chocolate and the eternal quest for feta cheese that tastes like feta cheese is supposed to, I can still bike down the street behind a horse-drawn carriage. And I love that.” And later, “I can’t believe why people ask me why I like to live in Santiago. Because stuff like this happens when you’re least expecting it”?
While you ponder that question, here’s a video for you to watch. Where do you stand?
I love to see a carrito rolling down the street. The other day, I saw a beautiful black horse pulling one. By the time I got my camera out, it was gone.
I know, Sally, you’ve got to be really on top of the photographable moments or they get away! They get away from me all the time. I was just lucky this time because I had more time because I was on my bike. And it turns out, my camera-handling skills on the bike aren’t too bad! Love the carriages!
Were they cuicos or abajistas? LOVE IT
mmmm, I think they were vegetable sellers who move around in a horse-drawn buggy. The horse drawn ones seem infinitely more “humane” than the ones a tracción humana. That’s just ridiculously hard work.
Here in rural Southwestern Ontario, horse drawn buggies are common. Mennonites in the area use them as transportation and while they look quaint, and sweet, and all the rest of it, they are a menace on the highways. Speed limits here are 80-90 km /hr (50-55 mph); the average driver is going 100 km/hr and the buggies are clearly not that fast. Many are driven by children as young as 6. They are required to have “slow moving vehicle” signs on the back, but lights are nowhere to be found. Foggy and dark conditions make them virtually invisible. Accidents are common, because drivers don’t see them in time, or because the buggies don’t stop at intersections. And oddly, you see a lot of “drivers” on cell phones. Think about that for a second.
So what do I think when I see a buggy?
“Is it safe to pass? Is there some asshole on my tail who isn’t paying attention to my brake lights? Is the horse going to bolt? Does the person driving this thing know to make a shoulder check or hand signal before turning? Can they hear that I’m behind them?”
Yeah, these buggies (well, not this particular one) appear on highways sometimes as well, with broad-brim hatted men wearing chimantas (like our version of a serape) driving them. I guess they are a menace in some sense, but they were there first. They’re part of the huaso, or cowboy culture that pervades most of Chile, though not so much Santiago. Horses and Chile are pretty entwined. In this case, they were moving down a busy street, but my biggest danger was the jerk behind me who started honking right after I cut the video. If you’re in that much of a rush, buddy, you should take a faster street!
I didn’t know about the Ontarioan (?) Mennonites! And agreed cellphone plus buggy=strange! Nice to see you around these parts, Tara!
We are not quite as “big city” as Santiago, but we commonly see horse carriages, which I agree is nice. There is also one intersection where I have seen cows eating the grass at the lights and solitary pigs crossing the road.
And in our village this morning I saw a chicken at the side of the road with her tiny, day old chicks. I have been watching her for a few days, all fluffed up, sitting, almost on the road. I am sure she belongs to someone, but she seems fine watching the cars pass.
En Temuco estos carros con caballos están en todos lados, tienen una propiedad muy especial; cuando el conductor está tan borracho que se le puede ver tirado sin sentido en la parte de atrás del carro, el caballo es capaz de regresar a su casa, pasando por puentes, calles, avenidas y respetando las reglas del tránsito, como semáforos y discos “pare”. Suena como a mentira pero es cierto, esos caballos son una maravilla, tienen incorporado google maps en alguna parte xD
I gotta say, I love the carrito in the street and weirdly it´s because it reminds me of home?!
Hartford Connecticut = city with tall shiny insurance company buildings,old pretty mansions, fancy cars, more crime ridden street corners than anywhere I´ve seen in Chile, and yep, you guessed it – a random carrito from surrounding farm towns.