Pull Up A Seat In Chile

In  December 2016, before joining our Seabourn Antarctic cruise to celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary, we spent a couple of days in Santiago the capital city of Chile,

Parque Forestal, the city’s green lung, extends for approximately 1.5 km and is a really beautiful space to stroll around, cycle, or to just sit for a while away from the hustle and bustle. There are many trees affording much needed shade and the park is very popular with locals and tourists alike. One thing I noticed was the inordinate number of benches everywhere I looked. I’d never before been in a park with so much seating.

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Some of the benches were quite short, not quite wide enough for two people to sit side by side, probably trying to avoid this sort of thing.

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Although Santiago is the largest and most economically thriving city in Latin America, it does have a big homeless problem. Of the estimated 12,000 homeless people in Chile,  over half of that number are in Santiago and although many of them do have a job of some description, the minimum wage is so low that they can’t afford the high cost of accommodation.

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Some of these unfortunate people save money by living rough in the summer in order to be able to afford to rent somewhere for the winter when the nights can get very cold.

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So that’s my somewhat sad tale for XingfuMama’s ‘Pull Up A Seat Challenge’. If you wish to showcase some of the seating you’ve encountered at home or on your travels, just click the link.

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Sepia Saturday: Not the most comfortable of resting places.

Whilst on one of my walks, I noticed this bench near the lifeguard station was being used for a spot of sunbathing. Not the most comfortable place to lie down on, and when he gets up, he’s sure to have a few interesting lines down his back.

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After seeing this, I started thinking about people who have no choice but to use public benches as makeshift beds. I’m sure we’ve all seen and pitied homeless people sleeping on park benches, and thought that it must be really difficult to get a good night’s rest on such a hard surface. I did a bit of research, and found out that some countries are making life even more difficult for these unfortunate people. For example, Honolulu, in an effort to reclaim its parks, beaches and bus stops for general pubic use, has replaced its benches with round stools just big enough for one person to sit on. Tokyo’s oldest park, Ueno Onshi, has come up with a rather unconventional design for the meagre few benches it provides. These have a steel partition down the middle, and the seat slopes downwards so that in order to not fall off, one has to place one’s feet firmly on the ground. Another type of bench designed to deter the homeless, is a hard tubular bench which is cold in winter and hot in summer. I found a happier story about some benches in Vancouver, which have been designed to fold out into miniature shelters at night. After all, shouldn’t cities, instead of working to make life even more untenable for these unfortunates, rather be asking themselves why some of their populace have no roof over their heads, and have to sleep out in the open? Shew!  All this thinking on my part came about from just one shot I took yesterday. I think I need to relax now. Wishing you all a great weekend.