Greenpoint, October, 2015

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

New Directions in Chile

A word of advice for those traveling in Chile. Keep a close eye for a little arrow on a street sign. It means one way, no two ways about it. The arrows are small but very real. I learned the hard way, on a very sleepy low-season Sunday morning, touring the Cathedral plaza of La Serena, the country's oldest city and capitol of the Coquimbo region. We passed the Cathedral, then turned left passing the Regional Governor's Office. As we turned left again to pass the Post Office, we met a car turning right at us. As we did, a Chilean police officer on the Post Office steps gently gestured for us to slow down (or so we thought). We completed the tour by turning left onto the street we came in on. In each case, we were going the wrong way on a one-way street--always under the watchful eye of the carabinero.
(Photo by Rob Woodward of
We realized our mistake, and very, very slowly turned the car around as he calmly walked toward us across the plaza. I got out of the car, ready to apologize and try to explain (all without speaking Spanish). "Lo siento...," I lamely began. The first thing he did was extend his right hand to shake mine. "Hola," he said then asked me where we were from. I began to say we were tourists and he gently interrupted me. "En Chile...." He went on to explain slowly but clearly that, "In Chile, we look for the direction of the street before we turn onto it." And that was it. He wished us a good trip and we were on our way. He walked back to the PO steps followed by one of the many stray dogs.

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