It’s chilly in Chile……….


Recording in an old brothel......

It’s been a while seen since my last post. The next one which I shall endeavour to put up shortly will be a video diary I of my trip in April for Easter through Chile and Argentina. I am now in Chile working at the Peacekeeping school having been moved on from Montevideo for various reasons. So what of my time in Uruguay now that I’ve moved on?

 I met few Brits during my stay, or many other internationals for that matter and so I’ve left having had a unique experience away from the bright lights and “gapyahs” of Buenos Aires over the water, which actually is just like another European city, no matter how great anyone thinks the “lash” is. I was fortunate to have met a few extremely generous people whose kindness I can hope to repay one day. One was a Uruguayan called Santiago along with his girlfriend Suzy who I met whilst staying in the same village of la Pedera around the time of Carnival (1st week of March). He was nothing short of a legend. A former International rugby 7s player he went out of his way to include me in their life and circle of friends. I also became quite friendly with an English copywrite lawyer and his Uruguayan wife who I owe an impossible amount of thanks when the Embassy was as helpful as a limp wrist.

I wonder what used to happen where I'm sitting..........

I was also lucky enough to meet one of the survivors from the 1972 Andes crash disaster (see the film Alive!). For those who are unaware, a plane full of 30 rugby players and families were flying to Chile when it crashed in the snow capped mountains of the Andes. 16 of them survived by eating the bodies of their dead friends, living in the fuselage for 72 winter days before 2 managed to walk out to get help. A humbling story.

Music wise I’ve been writing lots (though whether any of it is any good is another matter) and I’ve managed to play a couple of gigs in some interesting places in Montevideo. Two days before I left I recorded a couple of songs in a former brothel which was rather surreal, and I guess a cool thing to say I’ve done! I had started to find some sort of rhythm in Montevideo but I don’t think I was ever really settled, so perhaps my transfer was for the best.

  Already Chile is proving great fun. I’m based in Santiago but we’re currently on the West Coast and today I’ve been instructing on a Pre-deployment Exercise for the Chilean military. Our accommodation overlooks a beach and the two seaside towns of Vina del Mar and Valparaiso tha sit on the edge of the hills in the distance.  It is an incredible sight.

Sunset in Vina.....

This evening my opposite number Capitan Gaston Marchant, a huge barrel of man with a large appetite for beer took us to dinner to a German restaurant, the Hamburgo, in a rather run down part of Valparaiso. It is owned by an insane old German called Gunther who despite his age still sports the type of high and tight haircut you could land a harrier jump jet on.

The place harks of a bygone era with its heavy cloud of cigarette smoke hanging lazily, the rafters garnished with naval memorabilia from the last century and ‘40s music playing quietly in the background.  

After dinner and several shots of Chilean style jaeger, I was sidled up at the bar scribbling down a few lines for a song on a paper napkin when my ears suddenly pricked to attention at the crackle of a speaker. Almost as if from an old gramophone, the soft tones of Marlene Dietrich descended upon the room capturing everyone’s attention. I haven’t heard “Lilli Marlene” in a long time but the song strikes a chord with me for reasons I cannot completely nail down. Once a popular old German song loved by both sides during the War, I owe it a nod as it partly inspired something I wrote that shares its title. On the call of the chorus, everyone including myself breaks into song or hums along. I sit pensively allowing myself a moment, before casting a nostaligic eye over this peculiar restaurant, the old wartime photos and the crowd of strangers.

 It’s now 2am. Waves are crashing like thunderclaps on the shoreline as I watch them for a while from the door of my Cabana. It is as epic as it is ethereal. I’m the only one still up, feeling slightly hazy from the several “Chops” of German beer. I drift back to the events of earlier that evening; the voice of Marlene Dietrich, the décor of the restaurant, and the bedraggled feel of the old naval port town on Chile’s Pacific seaboard. For the first time in a while I feel a sense of peace; I don’t know why but it is strange I had to come here to realise it.

4 hrs until sunrise…..


4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. claire raine
    Jun 03, 2011 @ 19:39:13

    I was wondering when you’d get round to another blog. I can almost feel the atmosphere. Really enjoyed reading it.xx


  2. sophia
    Jun 05, 2011 @ 21:16:11

    So glad you’re having a good time in Chile – I must say it sounds a whole lot more fun! Sounds like your new music will reflect the change in scenery, looking forward to hearing you in action upon your return. Speak soon, lol, Sophia x


  3. Alexandra Windsor
    Jun 10, 2011 @ 17:17:00

    Really good to hear you sound as if you’re enjoying life. Bring your guitar to Malta . . .xx


  4. Chips
    Aug 15, 2011 @ 21:09:59

    Interesting read. Don’t linger in those brothels too long though; every man has his breaking point…


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