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.
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.
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.
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.
Four years ago we visited the Edison Heritage garden in Fort Myers. Thomas Edison’s second wife, Mina Miller had a great love for the tranquility of formal gardens and created many beautiful ones in the grounds of their extensive winter estate.
This sculpture shows her sitting on a bench, peacefully admiring the plants around her.
This couple are resting a while to admire the ocean scene from a well-placed bench in my home town of Umhlanga Rocks. I really miss that view, and hope to be back there for a visit very soon.
To celebrate my Mom-in-law’s 100th birthday, she donated a bench to her village. When she was just a few years younger, she regularly walked a couple of miles uphill from her house into the village to do her shopping. Just before she arrived at the shops, was a wooden bench where she used to stop and rest for a while before doing her errands and returning home, usually carrying a bag of groceries in each hand.
One day she reached her usual rest stop, only to find to her disappointment that the bench had been badly vandalised and was no longer usable. When her centenary came around, it seemed fitting that she should replace the bench with an indestructible one for the use of other senior citizens.
The following year, the family gathered for a sumptuous Christmas lunch at the picturesque country pub just across the road. Grandma was of course the guest of honour and my grandson together with his cousin, sitting on an old bench there, serenaded her with an impromptu ballad all about their amazing great grandma. She’s still going strong and her 106th birthday is coming up in August.
Here’s a ‘throw-back’ from 1998, snapped by our son Jeff. Hubby and I were resting on a bench in a rainy Central Park before leaving for the airport on our way back to South Africa. I really loved that flowery umbrella and wish I knew where it eventually disappeared to.
Another memory from 6 years ago when our granddaughter Sienna was visiting us with her dad in Johannesburg. In our local shopping mall we came upon this rather flashily-dressed cow reading the Daily Mooews.
“Dream as if you’ll live forever. Live as if you’ll die today.” ~ James Dean
As we travelled to San Jose after an overnight stay in Paso Robles, hubby remarked that soon we would be crossing the San Andreas fault line and also would most likely drive through the road junction where James Dean met his untimely death in 1955 at the young age of twenty-four. I kept a look out of the window and was fascinated by the way the hills over to my right looked almost like undulating velvet. My shot through the car window is a bit blurry, but I’m sure you can see what I mean. “What a desolate but beautiful place,” I thought.
I was so intent on looking at the hills and thinking about the fault line, which actually crosses the road roughly midway between where the road accident happened and James Dean’s memorial, that I almost missed the spot where his fans come to leave their strange miscellany of tributes. Almost missed it, but not quite, as I must have pressed the shutter just at the right moment. Yay me!
Apparently people leave all sorts of objects there, from Chesterfield cigarettes, playing cards and beer bottles, to intimate items of women’s clothing hanging on the fence together with an assortment of American flags.
Just after the junction where the crash had happened, we saw a diner with a few motorcycles parked outside. It seemed like a good place to stop for lunch and the official memorial was right there too.
Inside the cafe, the walls were adorned with memorabilia pertaining to the young icon. At a table in the corner where most of the photos were displayed, sat three elderly biker guys chatting animatedly about the times they’d been pulled over by the traffic cops and what their fate had been. From the snatches of conversation that I overheard, they mostly got away scot-free with their misdemeanors. When they left, I got up to take a couple of photos and noticed one of them had left a jacket on the back of the chair where he’d been sitting. I was about to pick it up and take it outside to him, when he reappeared and we had a very friendly chat about where I was from and where we were headed, after which he offered to take my photo before retrieving his jacket and rejoining his friends.
The whole corner was filled with photos of and newspaper cuttings about James Dean, together with photos of the wreckage of his Porsche 550 Spyder, which he nicknamed ‘Little Bastard’.
Ironically, James’s last autograph was on the speeding ticket he’d collected on the same day he died and only two hours before his fatal accident.
Here is the newspaper report of his death. As you can see, the entire front page was devoted to him.
“ If a man can bridge the gap between life and death, if he can live on after he’s dead, then maybe he was a great man.” ~ James Dean
Although it seems as though the name ‘James Dean’ has always been known to me, only now, more than sixty years later did I think to find out more about him and how he died. If your curiosity has been sparked, here’s a fascinating article about the circumstances of his accident and what happened to his Porsche ‘Little Bastard’ afterwards. https://allthatsinteresting.com/james-dean-death
Yesterday, I had a wonderful reunion with my sister and her family. There will be more good times together in the next two weeks and on Wednesday, our daughter and granddaughter arrive to spend a long weekend with us.