This weekend I went with my cousin to Quintay, a beach city just south of Valparaiso. One of her friends has a beautiful house right on the beach so we stayed with 3 more of her friends for a couple of nights. It was a very relaxing and enjoyable trip. We played board games and card games, cooked delicious meals and went on beautiful walks all the while talking, laughing and having a great time.
Pedro, the owner of this amazing house where we stayed, asked me while we were walking one day if there were any places in California where you could walk around freely, as we were, and enter all the places that were marked private property. I thought about the coastal route from Los Angeles/Santa Monica to San Francisco/Berkeley that I now drive at least twice a year since I started going to school up north; the beach is open and no one really lives directly where the water hits the sand but where there are houses or private property fenced off you definitely wouldn’t be able to enter the property freely as we were doing in this town. Here, every fence has an opening so the public can easily pass and explore even the private property, a difference that I don’t think would fly anywhere on the coast of California. Again with the American mentality that what’s mine is mine and what’s yours is yours. The fences here were more to deter animals than to keep out other people.
While this was the case in this beach town, in Santiago, where I am living here, I have noticed that a tall fence with a locked door surrounds every house I see. In the cities in the US that I can remember, it is rare and generally only in very rich areas where you would find this and usually it is just for a garage door. In most communities you have a lock on your door of course, but generally not a fence that allows no one else to even see into your front yard. It seems like the custom here makes it difficult for neighbors to have much contact with one another.
One final cultural difference that was discussed this weekend, and what I thought was interesting is the policy and use of guns. Recently especially, the use of guns in America has gotten extremely out of control with school and movie theatre shootings and the like. I was told that those types of things never really happen here. We talked about how the laws are the same in terms of owning guns but you don’t hear about shootings or especially mass shootings nearly as much as you do in the US, in fact they are very rare. It makes me wonder what it is about America or the American culture that makes shootings so prevalent. Especially knowing that the rules are the same as here, it makes me question if changing the rules is the only necessary solution, perhaps the problem is more deeply rooted.