We have been here 5 days and here are my first impressions of staying in a city beset by unrest and demonstrations.
Firstly, I want to say that it was completely by accident that I ended up taking part in the motorcycle demonstration yesterday. I can honestly say that we were all going the same way. I had come to a crossroads with my new friend Don (Instagram: donmoto300). We were going to turn right. 2000 other bikes were going the same way.
This demo was about the extraordinarily high toll road fees placed on motorbikes. They pay the same as cars. It just one example of the incredible cost of living in Chile. Other marchers are still trying to find missing loved ones from Pinochet’s regime, the direction of society where the police and soldiers deliberately maim protesters and costs of everything from the now defunct metro fare rise to the cost of education.
The people of Chile though are incredibly friendly and having British number plates has made us gain attention at traffic lights driving though the city time and again. Clair pulled a taxi driver today. Walking about we really stand out and people will come over and talk to us, in particular at the scenes of some of the rioting where they are genuinely distraught at what is happening to their country.
Some people speak English but not many and not well and our Spanish is awful, however people will still try for a conversation and we get by with gestures and smiling and laughing. We have never felt unsafe other than when we were near the police in all the riot gear late yesterday evening.
The tear gas seems to hang around worse than the pollution and to think that the people are out there every night standing up to the people with guns is incredible.
But in two days we move on, we have a few things to sort out before we go and I am giving my friend John a lift to pick up a bike he has bought from a local dealer over here. When we go it will be South towards the bottom of South America.