04.01.2012 - 13.01.2012 88 °F
Last time I checked, this is 2012 and a I am in a very developed and fast progressing Chile, with iPhones, a superior bus system and drinkable tap water in every remote corner of the county.
But more and more I have been observing episodes of many ex-pat gringos reenacting British colonial attitudes toward the Chilenos.
As if the words ¨us¨ v. ¨the natives¨ are about to come off their lips.
There is an unspoken social classification, and the gringos planted themselves at the top. At least this is how they seem to perceive themselves.
I had spent a week in a hostel run by about 30 hippies, half of them California transplants, with the hostel marketed as an eco-friendly, sustainability oriented place. With a vegetarian restaurant on premises that serves one of the more affordable meals in town, it smells ¨kumbaya, save the whales¨ all over it.
And I am torn, because the same gringos took really good care of me, adopting me for the week and driving me to hikes, beaches and remote places that I wouldn´t have been otherwise to see.
Yes, these are the hippies that were picking up trash left by rowdy Israeli hikers as we were walking across volcanic ridges, and were raising money to save the rivers surrounding the town.
But I also had watched them over and over again treat the Chilean wait staff with obnoxiously demanding and condescending attitude, make snide remarks at the passing villagers and in general, act with superiority that echos the 19th century European edification of the ¨lesser cultures.¨
After a particularly nasty episode of a number of them repeatedly expressing annoyance of needing to wait 10 minutes for their breakfast to be served by ¨these slow Chileans¨ (whom these very people pay no more than minimum wage and who are severely understaffed, I am sure all in the name of saving water or some other hippie love-the-world motto), I ate a steak for dinner and got the hell out of there.