By gerard oosterman
The walks up the San Cristobel hills, both in Santiago and Valparaiso was worth it, not just the view, but also for the smooching and kissing couples. The dominant religion is of course the catholic religion with the elders impressing on the young to preserve virginity and no sex before marriage. They might not have penetrative sex but everything else is pursued instead. The kissing and smooching of couples in public is almost nonstop and ‘de rigueur’ in public parks. All benches are occupied, and while we might just feed the pigeons or sea gulls back in Australia, in Latin America the parks and benches feed lust.
The San Cristobal Hills are alight and on fire all day but it is at dusk when couples that have found their way to the top are not just holding hands and gazing in each other eyes, but also find the salvation of love, lust and sexual relief . There is straining against the inside of trousers, and swooning sobs hardly held back. All under the eyes of a giant religious statue of the Virgin Mary of the Immaculate Conception. Those countries are not just Catholic; the birth-control is firmly in the hands of the church or indeed in the hands of the couples straining against each other on those hills. Once married however, the couples are busy with the babies and children and one rarely see the marital consummated couples with babies straining anymore on those saturated hills of love.
The other phenomena of both Argentina and Chile are the success of the American based Evangelical movement. They have taken a slice away from the lower classes of the Roman Catholic church, and while we were there, witnessed several processions of people, with the usual eye rolling and hysterical expressions of religious fanaticism. Like in America, you get the sense, that they are not secular but intend on imposing theocracy on society. The Catholicism of South America, while losing some believers to Evangelism, will surely never turn to the accepted type of the maniacal and extreme right of US style of the dominant religion.
The return from Chile’s Valparaiso to Buenos Aires was on an overnight and lengthy bus-trip. We stayed again in the friendly and unimposing Hotel Diplomat, stayed a few more days, whereby we visited the enormous cemetery of La Recoleta. Now here is the ultimate of burial services. No plastic flowers or forlorn graveyards there. If a culture could be defined by how we look after our dearly departed than Buenos Aires or Argentina would be placed on top. Whole streets of multi storied mausoleums, with marbled statues and immaculately kept tombs. Whole books of verse carved out in stone or with gold leaf embellishments. The graves include many Presidents and of course Eva Peron.