Where Should I Start?

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Sr. El Puelche
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Re: Where Should I Start?

Post by Sr. El Puelche » Fri Oct 04, 2019 8:13 pm

Its interesting to find out how ex-pat life works. Now at this time I was certainly not an expat but definitely more than a tourist. I did not expect to like Chile as much as I did so in mid-summer my original plan of staying three months now went to 6 months.the
At this time there were probably maybe 5 or 6 six Americans living in La Serena——apart from those working at Tololo or the European Science observatory——with them it might have been another 20 or 30. Probably a total of maybe another 50 Europeans in all also living in La Serena. Really there were no other Latin Americans living in La Serena.

I met a swiss family traveling through La Serena during this time——A husband and wife along with their two children. They were in a big Land Rover pulling a four wheeled Land Rover cart with tarp over the top. They had contracted with Land Rover to drive the Land Rover all over the world and then deliver it back to England where Land Rover would pull it apart and look at the wear and tear. I think it was planned to take two years and had already been all over Asia and Africa. I found them at a gas station along the Pan American in La Serena. Around this time I came across an older American man alone on a Yamaha 450 endure motorcycle and he was doing the same thing for Yamaha. He would start in Alaska and drive to Punta Arenas. In Alaska he got a new bike delivered and then in Punta Arenas he would crate up the bike and ship it Japan. The trip took him 9 months to complete where he would take off 3 months and then start again. He’d been doing it for just over 20 years, over and over.

I had a family member that had been living in La Serena for several years and while not an official US Consular official he was called on by the Carabineros from time to time when they had a non-spanish speaker in custody and needed translation. Some pretty sad cases really from what I saw most of the time. Also, he was the liaison for the Embassy in our area for an emergency evacuation. He would make contact with the embassy once a year for updates but also the embassy would call when the political situation was bad and make him aware of any information that was important. There was evac site outside of La Serena that Americans and associate europeans would be taken out by helicopter. Never got close to this in anyway. I would imagine there is still a plan for this today but during this time I think it was reserved for a coup or other major military conflict going on in Chile where it would be dangerous for foreigners.

Another family member had a ham radio set up. Calling out of Chile at the time was VERY expensive and mostly a little spotty. So we would go over every now and then and call stateside with a phone patch. Basically this was done in Chile by calling into the US Bandwidth and asking for anyone willing to call in at their Ham by phone with a collect call. The US ham operator would use their phone to connect to their radio and operate the voice toggle. Users would speak and at end say over whereby the US Ham operator would toggle you off to the other person. The US person would pay for the call from the US Hams house to the called number. This was a nice way to call and check in with family and friends and a great thanks to the ham community for this service. It was especially helpful in the aftermath of the March 1985 earthquake as there was no phone service for many days.

It was also interesting to just listen in at night. As I did not have a ham license, I could not communicate with anyone but listening in was fine. A simple turn of the dial and you could hear the mines in the cordillera talking back and forth. Tankers off the coast as well as fishing boats and then individual sail boats talking over plans to meet up or need for repairs———really fun. Also got Radio Free Europe, Radio America and Moscow’s English/Spanish propaganda broadcasts in addition to the BBC——Armed Forces Radio too.

The fourth region was the most independent in their opposition to Pinochet and the government at this time. It was close to Santiago and yet not that close and a lot of empty dark coast at night. I knew a military officer and he was telling me it was a fairly constant issue with the army and navy monitoring Cuban trawlers off the coast as they were bringing in arms along the coast and smuggling them into the fourth region. There was a neighbor hood above La Serena called “La Antena” which was mostly if not nearly all very inhabited by the poor. I can’t recall if it was that summer or the following year where the army located a clandestine arms store in La Antena. Reports were about 11 tons of weapons buried under a house there. Mostly all M-16’s with serial numbers going back to weapons lost in Vietnam during the war. There were much smaller caches of weapons pretty regularly during this time. Pinochet traveled a lot around the country but only came to La Serena once when he was campaigning ofter the plebecito. It was too dangerous. I remember the first time he was scheduled to visit for two days. Pinochet flew in a C130——a large over wing four engine US made heavy duty prop driven transport. I was up at the airport to see him come in———directly across the highway from La Antena. So the C130 was coming in to land——its flat up there on an open platueu with no trees——his plane came in out of the cordillera and down and then about 200 yards off from touching down the C130 just took off straight up and to the north and away. Shit hit the fan with Carabineros all over the place and the army too——a bomb had been found a the foot of the airport buried in the dirt. A deep hole with explosives meant to blow a low flying plane on landing out of the air. Carabineros found the detonation were which led out of the airport and under the highway into a house. It was chaos——don’t recall if they caught anyone but it was pretty heavy.

A few years later when I started a business in La Serena, a Chilean business owner friend of mine came across a deal, as he was connected, to scrap three tramp freighters captured by the Chilean Navy with Cuban crews and filled with weapons.
He asked me to go out with him so we hit the road north a ways and then off the Pan American highway to the coast. Coming over a hump on the dirt road I saw three ships there nearly beached with workers cutting them apart. Several flat bed trucks were being loaded with the cut-ups from the ships. The trucks hauled the scrap to the navy yard in Valparaiso and he got paid for the work. Took about 9 months for them to break them down.


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hlf2888
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Re: Where Should I Start?

Post by hlf2888 » Sat Oct 05, 2019 6:39 pm

Thoroughly engrossing story. Thanks for sharing Sr El Puelche. I look forward to more chapters.

I was in Chile for the first time in 1988. My most vivid memories were of the soldiers with machine guns on street corners in Santiago, and watching the vintage autos cruising the Alameda in the evenings while sipping a really potent drink, think it was a pisco sour. As for the vintage cars, they were perfectly preserved and numerous. A friend told me the climate was kinder to vintage autos than North America and the people could not afford the newer versions.

I remember taking a photo of a chicken crossing a railroad track in the middle of the city. Thought it was a curious juxtaposition with the city skyscrapers in the background. A soldier appeared out of nowhere complete with machine gun let me know in sign language that he wanted the film from my camera. As I gave it to him, he waved his finger back in forth in front of my face, as one would do with a naughty child, and said "No infrastructura". The railroad.

We stayed at the hotel El Araucana in Concepcion on the 11th floor. The city was bereft of tall buildings, there was only El Araucana. I asked the English speaking desk clerk why there were no other tall buildings and he told me they all collapsed in the last big quake. Only El Araucana was left standing. Coming from a boring Canadian town with no earthquakes, I suddenly found being on the 11th floor too exciting and did not sleep well. Now, decades later, whenever I visit Concepcion, I stay at El Araucana.

Sr. El Puelche
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Re: Where Should I Start?

Post by Sr. El Puelche » Mon Oct 07, 2019 12:35 am

Hey SCL-----glad you enjoyed the 5 Escudo bill story----really just relating what I saw----and hlf2888, thank you for letting me know you enjoy the read----Chapters?----I have 30 more years to go!!!!-----Also, thanks for relating your experience, I hope you continue and others do as well.

El P

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Gloria
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Re: Where Should I Start?

Post by Gloria » Mon Oct 07, 2019 9:16 am

Oh no!.jpg
Oh no!.jpg (42.48 KiB) Viewed 183 times
What did we do to deserve this!!
I'm from the generation of common sense, wisdom and unfiltered answers. I sayeth as I seeth.

mem
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Re: Where Should I Start?

Post by mem » Mon Oct 07, 2019 9:38 am

Sr. El Puelche wrote:
Mon Oct 07, 2019 12:35 am
Hey SCL-----glad you enjoyed the 5 Escudo bill story----really just relating what I saw----and hlf2888, thank you for letting me know you enjoy the read----Chapters?----I have 30 more years to go!!!!-----Also, thanks for relating your experience, I hope you continue and others do as well.

El P

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I agree, it is a very interesting and engrossing read!

at46
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Re: Where Should I Start?

Post by at46 » Mon Oct 07, 2019 12:04 pm

The moment I finish reading your latest installment, I look forward to the next one. The characters and circumstances you're writing about get in, stay in and become part of one's own experience. Your style of writing in quick and bright impressionist strokes is uniquely fitting - sunny, heartening and elevating. Thank you!

Glorious socialist realism be damned! :lol:

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fraggle092
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Re: Where Should I Start?

Post by fraggle092 » Mon Oct 07, 2019 1:41 pm

Sr. El Puelche wrote:
Tue Sep 24, 2019 10:45 pm
...He pulled from my new purchases a single 5 escudo bill and looked it over folding it, along the lines already there, in thirds.
"You see how this bill is folded in thirds, do you know what it means?"
Well no, of course I didn't.
"During the UP (Unidad Popular) communists would identify themselves with other communists using this bill and it was a code." He said, "Sometimes as a way of proof but it also allowed the buyer to show they were communist whereby the shop keeper would give a discount or allow the buyer a chance to purchase rationed goods or contraband with no one else knowing, see the bill is red which just adds to it all."
Another similar "secret sign" I have heard of is that on the green Carnet booklet in use at that time, one of the corners was diagonally cut off to indicate that the bearer was a non-militant. Has anyone else heard of this? It has to be anecdotal info because there is nothing on the net about it.
Après moi, le déluge

Sr. El Puelche
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Re: Where Should I Start?

Post by Sr. El Puelche » Mon Oct 07, 2019 2:24 pm

< NO EMAIL > fraggle092------Have never heard mention of carnet with a clipped corner on a carnet-------what do you mean when you say non-militant? and why would it matter and to who would it matter? Any background on this, like where you heard about it. This is very interesting. I remember in the filatelias at the time you could not only buy stamps, coins and currency but other memorabilia like old fireman's badges, photos and weird knick knacks but also old carnets------Do not remember anything about this from my connections but it would be very interesting to find out about it-----will call around and see what comes up.

Haaaa, thank you at46, and to mem as well glad you are enjoying it, I am enjoying the write as well.

El P

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fraggle092
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Re: Where Should I Start?

Post by fraggle092 » Mon Oct 07, 2019 4:17 pm

Sr. El Puelche wrote:
Mon Oct 07, 2019 2:24 pm
Have never heard mention of carnet with a clipped corner on a carnet-------what do you mean when you say non-militant? and why would it matter and to who would it matter?
By "militant" I actually meant a member of the Communist or Socialist parties. Militante is just the generic description for a paid-up member of any political party.
An intact carnet supposedly was clandestine identification, like the folded-up banknote you mentioned.
Sr. El Puelche wrote:
Mon Oct 07, 2019 2:24 pm
Any background on this, like where you heard about it. This is very interesting.
I heard it first-hand some years ago from a member of my wife's family who was travelling on an intercity bus on the day of the coup. The bus was stopped by armed troops, in Concepción, I believe. Passengers were roughly ordered off the bus and herded into the bus terminal, where their carnets were scrutinized. The ones that had intact carnets were separated from the other passengers and taken away, the others were eventually allowed to resume their journeys after questioning.

That's the only time I have ever heard of this practice, and was curious to know if in fact it was true..

Note in the attached pic that this example has two distinct cuts, with the text referring to the RH one only.
(click to expand)
Memorias del Siglo XX - Archivo Nacional de Chile.png
https://www.memoriasdelsigloxx.cl/601/w ... 90756.html
Après moi, le déluge

Sr. El Puelche
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Re: Where Should I Start?

Post by Sr. El Puelche » Tue Oct 08, 2019 4:46 pm

Okay had to read and re-read your post Fraggle------while i understand your core question and pondering over a clipped carnet, I don't understand the back story on it----not doubting or scrutinizing what you are saying----just don't understand, and it's a couple things-----

So to start-----someone has a clipped carnet
How would this identify them and to whom?----what is the signal the cut corner is designed to hold?
The photo post write up indicates the bearer voted in the plebiscite----so it proof---but also, think of it, the bearer maybe did not vote and clipped the corner himself to avoid issues.

Would this be done by the bearer or an official?
What would be the advantage of it?------The bearer themselves could cut the corner off for an advantage?-----if there were issues, the bearer could say their carnet was lost and apply for a new one.

In your intercity bus situation on the day of the coup-----so if the cuts indicate a militant bearer, why would the intact carnet holders be held and the "others"-----with cut carnets be allowed to continue on? Militants would logically be held for investigation?

I am thinking that if there is something to it------A carnet was clipped after the coup by authorities in the aftermath of an investigation or questioning with the bearer as a signal to any authority in the future in reviewing the carnet and could take appropriate measures.

And again, the bearer could also just "loose" their carnet and apply for a new one------yes a total hassle to do, but better than being marked.

Gonna ask around in regard to this----very curious what the logic and situation would be for all of this----thank you for posting it----The interesting is that generally there all kinds of addendum stories out of it.


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fraggle092
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Re: Where Should I Start?

Post by fraggle092 » Tue Oct 08, 2019 11:33 pm

Fuller answer below.
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fraggle092
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Re: Where Should I Start?

Post by fraggle092 » Tue Oct 08, 2019 11:55 pm

Sr. El Puelche wrote:
Tue Oct 08, 2019 4:46 pm
Okay had to read and re-read your post Fraggle------while i understand your core question and pondering over a clipped carnet, I don't understand the back story on it----not doubting or scrutinizing what you are saying----just don't understand, and it's a couple things-----

So to start-----someone has a clipped carnet
How would this identify them and to whom?----what is the signal the cut corner is designed to hold?
It meant that the bearer is not an "insider" with links to the UP. So no preferential treatment.

The photo post write up indicates the bearer voted in the plebiscite----so it proof---but also, think of it, the bearer maybe did not vote and clipped the corner himself to avoid issues.
The text also mentions a validatory stamp as further proof of voting

Would this be done by the bearer or an official?
Could have been done at any level of the infiltrated bureaucracy, from the JAP and municipalities all the way up to the Registro Civil itself.

What would be the advantage of it?------The bearer themselves could cut the corner off for an advantage?-----if there were issues, the bearer could say their carnet was lost and apply for a new one.
It was a disadvantage for reasons that are hopefully obvious.

In your intercity bus situation on the day of the coup-----so if the cuts indicate a militant bearer, why would the intact carnet holders be held and the "others"-----with cut carnets be allowed to continue on? Militants would logically be held for investigation?
Cut Carnet = NON-militant

I am thinking that if there is something to it------A carnet was clipped after the coup by authorities in the aftermath of an investigation or questioning with the bearer as a signal to any authority in the future in reviewing the carnet and could take appropriate measures.
Not the situation I described at all.

And again, the bearer could also just "loose" their carnet and apply for a new one------yes a total hassle to do, but better than being marked.
Not if the Registro Civil was doing it in the first place!
Gonna ask around in regard to this----very curious what the logic and situation would be for all of this----thank you for posting it----The interesting is that generally there all kinds of addendum stories out of it.


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Sorry to sidetrack your interesting saga, will try asking around some more.
Après moi, le déluge

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