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Good beer!

Lock the door – Armed men – About a dairy – Gen. Pinochet – A friend from Europe


For another perspective see The Economist, part two of this series


I always lock the door at night when I sleep. I feel vulnerable lying dormant, unaware of my surroundings, oblivious to the world. Bad shit happens at night, the robbers, thieves, and evil-doers take advantage of our sleepiness and our lessened ability to defend ourselves.

They came for him at night. There were about fifty of them, some armed others not, a motley crew with not much in common other than the fact that they were supporters of Augusto Pinochet. Of course in September 1973 this was a matter of some significance, for Augusto Pinochet was now the leader of Chile.

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Don José Retamales

Don José Retamales slept soundly because he had nothing to fear. He never took part in any of this political nonsense, that was for “those people with their heads in the clouds”. He was man of the earth; for forty years he had worked the land and built up his dairy business. It provided well for him and his family.

General Augusto Pinochet was born in 1915, in the beautiful port city of Valparaiso where he completed Military School. Rising steadily through the military he was appointed Commander in Chief by then President Salvador Allende in the August of 1973.

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El Presidente

There is a matter of debate as to what happened next – either Pinochet planned and staged the coup d’etat that followed weeks later or he joined a coup planned by the heads of the various branches of the Chilean armed forces. With a cry of “Long live Chile! Long live the people!”, Salvador Allende committed suicide on the day of the coup and Augusto Pinochet became the most powerful man in Chile.

In the middle of the night they announced that the dairy was now theirs. There were so many of them that resistance would have been pointless. As a gesture of generosity they offered Don José half of his dairy back if he stayed and worked it for them. Too proud to work for the “lazy bums” who appropriated his property, Don José found himself on the street, penniless.

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Valparaiso, hometown to Gen. Pinochet

And then something nice happened to Don José. A veterinarian friend working in Europe for Contessa ___ sent him some money to start a new business and wanted him to manage it for him. After saving up a bit of money Don José decided to move to Valdivia where his son was studying and bought a tumbledown mansion that he converted into a Hostal to welcome travelers from all around the world. It was here at the Hostal Torreón that our paths crossed…

4 Responses to “They Always Come for You at Night, A Chile Divided (1/2)”

  1. Pramod Taskar says:

    You must be knowing that “General” was punished by the court in his senile state. I do not know wether he is living any more. Scars created by his violence in Chilean society must be still existing. As a traveller see beauty of the mother earth and return safely.

    We are without internet for about week. Earthlink was giving trouble and charging us more. We have changed the ISP. I am writing from library.


  2. Shreesh says:

    Dear Daddy,

    But talking to the people and getting their stories and learning the history of the country are just as relevant to the travel experience. Fun too!

  3. Dalva says:

    What a nice and terrible story (or history?)! That is why traveling is really something!

  4. Shreesh says:

    Hi Dalva,

    We have noticed that if you take the time to listen to people they will tell you their stories and enrich your experience. Stories like Don José’s need to be heard.

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