If you have ever been in Santiago, Chile and spent a week there you would have recognize the "People of the Walk." They are the ones that have a certain street by the Palace area, and I guess one would call it the merchant area and they start gathering there about 4:00 PM. Sometimes even earlier, let's say 2:30 PM. I'm not sure if they have some kind of a deal or not with the police, but they really stick together on this one street.
No cars, just a walkway for the most part.I found it most interesting, also a little sad, a little frustrating, and a little impressed with the people, so many emotions for this group of slum merchants. Or call them down and out merchants.
Or sole proprietors with little money. But whatever you call them, they are not afraid of work, and some of the Americans can take a good look at them, some of the lazy ones who want a free ride all the time, and think society owes them something.Each day my wife and I would walk down this street a few times, around 10:00 PM there were at least a hundred or more of these People on the Walk. They had a system, let me explain:.They each have a bag, suitcase or some kind of carry case to haul there Merchandise with, something that could be folded up in a hurry, the reason being, if the police came walking by, they would fold their four-by-four foot-space area up, that they had their merchandise on some kind of blanket or plastic material, and walk away, as if they were not doing business.
Then when the police would go, they would put there goods back on the ground and sell them to the passersby. I purchased a few things from these merchants, they were good folk, and like anyone else, trying to make a buck, --but in this case the hard way.Sometimes you would look behind you and the whole street, 4 to 5 blocks were clean of merchants, resting although against the nearest wall, as if they had disappeared, that is when the police were near by.
And within a minute it was busy again, after the police left, it was dizzying.The people were a sample of the whole city I believe; --as young as eleven or twelve and as old as sixty or more, male and female. Another interesting fact is that they all seem to know one another and had there own little clicks, -- amazing. It seemed to be understood, if not well known, that if a person was caught by the police, s/he could loose their possessions, and be put him into jail, or simply have their things taken away from them. And that was their fear.
But on the other hand, they had formed a kind of pack among themselves, a union of sorts, and when a few of the policemen took the merchandise, or was about to take it from a certain individual, they'd beat the policemen up, or try. I guess it had been done. And here I was watching this from the second floor of McDonald's.
And so my trip to Santiago, Chile, had one interesting element to it. And I should not judge a city or country by a few mishaps within the country. But to be quite honest with you, there are two places I'd rather stay away from, Washington D.C. and Santiago, Chile.
Be that as it may, the people in general are not very pleasant, in either place, but rather, aggressive. But Bolivia, Peru, and Venezuela, well, they pass the test, and are warm and friendly, as is Malta, but not France. And I really haven't hand much trouble with attitude except in D.C. But I like the town next to D.C, George Town, and that my friend is a beautiful little town.
And so to the "People of the Walk," God bless you, and instead of stealing or robbing or selling drugs, Chile should be proud you are at least trying to sell something to stay alive. I do realize there are no tax's being paid by you folks, and some of the items being sold are stolen from the local stores they are standing and selling in front of, but nothing is perfect..
Author Dennis Siluk http://dennissiluk.tripod.com.
By: Dennis Siluk