One day at a time.

One day at a time.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The Road to Santiago...

Begins at a Walmart.  Okay, well not entirely, but it is a stop.

Picture it:

 We get off the plane and head for the exit.  It's clear we were in a different world from Charlotte, North Carolina.  Walking outside toward the car pick up line, residents stand outside the exit with blue and white jerseys, flowers, cameras poised and candy for sale.  Their champion football players are returning home.  And by football, I mean soccer.  Tuk-tuks he half motorcycle, half taxi whiz by inquiring if the gringos would be needing a ride.   No, no we have a ride waiting.  A quick glance up from the busy street and the sign "Kennedy" signals our driver Salvador. 

 As we wind through the city, it has the marking of most urban centers: fast food, traffic jams, horns and sirens alongside tall buildings.  But the shacks on the side of the road and unregulated utilities remind you this is not home.  I get the wonderful sense, which companions travelers that I have much to learn; the wonderful feeling of the mind and soul expanding beyond one's focus.  It happens when deep in conversation with a friend your realize your difference.  It happens in the streets near your home, when lost, you see a new perspective.  It happens when you discover years later a heritage or family story you did not know.

You don't have to leave home for this moment, but a new country does seem to provide a soul sigh.

The driver asks if we would like to go through the Mountains to Santiago or around.  We all nod our heads we would like to see the Mountains, being adventurers. Just as I am soul-sighing to see the world new again, the driver asks if we would like to stop for water.  He knows a good spot.  Yes, we agree.  
Through a winding parking lot we finallly stop and walk into a warehouse-like structure.  Instantly, something is familiar.  Then the jingle "rolling back the prices all over the place" runs through my head.  Oh no.  Really?

Guards stand at the front of the store informing me I cannot take pictures.  

The road to Santiago begins at Walmart.

Is it in the influence of American consumerism? The price competition driving some
businesses out of the market? An idealism for a world apart? That I don't like the color blue?

What is rubbing under my skin at the sight of the large Walmart in this city?

The answer comes hours later driving alongside mountain passes watching wire wrap the mountain cutting it into the trees. 

The Walmart is that wire, for me.  I come to be of service in this place, but also to be reminded, albeit naively, of the paradise possible in the corners where human need lives in contrast to human greed.  Yet, knowing we live in an interdependent world, how could it exist anywhere if it was not already everywhere?  The mountain calls to yearning the world not yet, while finding a way to go beneath the wire to see the world that is now.  Yes, the road to Santiago begins as it should, with a sharp reminder of what is not yet, what is our now, and what could be if wire were not wrapped around it.

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