Monday, June 28, 2015
Concepcion - Puerto Varas, Chile
There is a shocking, shocking smog hanging over Concepcion. I only have about thirty minutes for a wander around before I need to get back to the central bus station, but frankly the air is so acrid that half an hour would be all I could manage anyhow. The smog is so intense up near the stadium that the sunlight diffuses objects and strange reflections such as telegraph poles hang like ghosts in the sky. This pollution is like China at its very worst, most of it caused by chimney smoke from the tens of thousands of households trying to stay warm on this bitterly cold Monday morning, frost covering the ground all around.
Concepcion is typical of many host cities at major football tournaments: they've built a super expensive new stadium and built roads and all kinds of infrastructure around it. I say typical, because as was the case in Ukraine, for example, the roads remain unfinished and tens of millions of dollars of infrastructure cash has magically gone missing. I am told that only three weeks ago they were still building this stadium!
It is another stupidly long coach journey and I've got Giant Haystacks sat next to me for several hours. When he alights at Valdivia, I'm praying for an empty seat for the remainder of my marathon journey south to Puerto Varas. So, I am cursing my luck when a young Chilean lad comes and sits next to me...funny how life works...just a few minutes later and I have made a new friend. Huayupe is a really decent lad and makes brilliant company until he departs in Osorno. He is returning home from Uni as all the students are striking and there is little point him hanging around. And you know with Huayupe he is one of those people you will stay in contact with and meet again some day in another far flung corner of the world.
In Puerto Varas I manage to find a super warm hostel, which is a fantastic home-from-home. Completely by accident I find myself being a shoulder to cry on for someone who is at a very low point in their life. His story is tragic and hard to take in. I won't go into the details, but I hope the person in question has a happy ending because he clearly doesn't deserve the absolute shite that has befallen him.
You could write today off as being a totally meaningless, knackering and generally crap day, and yet, from it I have made a new friend who I am sure I will stay in contact with, and I have also been a shoulder to cry on for someone who needed a stranger to listen to his story. Today I have found meaning in the meaningless.
Copa America 2015
Full coverage of More Than a Game's adventure at the 2015 Copa America in Chile and roadtrip through Chile, Bolivia and Peru.