October 10, 2003

Reading Mercy World from a Chile Perspective

Getting to read MERCY eNEWS here in Chile has often in the past (and can still) entail varied experiences. A few of them might be:


It might seem that one of the easiest tasks is to turn on the computer, connect to the internet, and each week read the latest welcome news from Mercy eNews ….. believe me, here in Chile, this is not so!

The microbus drivers forget that they are carrying passengers – all manner of road rules and speed limits are broken in order to reach their destinations in record time. We are jostled, thrown back and forth, upwards, downwards, or from side to side. The blast of music fills the bus … sometimes Spanish …. sometimes English! In the evenings the impact can be greater. We are actually a travelling disco show. Synchronized red, blue, yellow and green lights flash around the driver, over the ceiling, down the aisle and flicker over the work-weary passengers. Fluorescent blue/white lights catch and dazzle any white clothing or articles of these travellers. Often the driver is not alone. He can be surrounded by his amigos or practically sharing his seat with his girlfriend. Bunny tails and baby shoes dangle wildly as the bus takes bends and lurches around corners. These good luck symbols are mixed with tassles, glistening silver mirrors, soft toys and plastic flowers. The trip to the city centre … a great way to reach and read Mercy eNews!

Traffic jams are common, especially at peak hours, so the trip can become an hour and a half instead of 50 minutes. There is plenty of entertainment as street sellers jump on and off to share their stories of unemployment, illness and problems making ends meet. From ice cream to needles, aspirin, vitamin C, pens, keyrings, peanuts or toffee all sold to a captive audience. Sometimes there are musicians and frequently the blind in pairs begging for coins. When totally frustrated, passengers lose their patience by stamping their feet on the floor of the bus and whistling …. all without uttering a word!

Once I get to the city the challenge is to find an available computer in an internet area.
Mercy eNews can appear on the screen in many interesting places. Sometimes a busy shopping mall is the only option. Situated side by side and excessively on show, these computers enable shoppers to stop and browse over the shoulders of computer users. One such time I sensed that I was not the only one at the computer, and glancing back over my shoulder, I was somewhat taken aback to realize that a, family group surrounded me, all glued to my screen, fascinated. The English words and the appearing captions and photos held their interest totally.

Burning the midnight oil ….. aahh yes, this is usual. With a computer in the house now, thanks ,to the Mercy Rochester NY Community, Mercy eNews is much more accessible, or so one would imagine. Internet connections are often elusive though, and lately this has been the reality. Midnight works better than the daylight hours for connections.

Occasionally when I read Mercy eNews during the day it’s to the sounds of the rubbish truck bell, the yelling of the man selling chlorine, another selling seaweed, others with newspapers, mirrors, fresh cheese or eggs, the Evangelicals singing their hearts out between shouts and tambourines over the road. Then there are the frequent callers at the gate …. the Jehovah Witnesses, someone looking for food or a local drug addict hoping I’ll be naïve and give him a coin.

Viruses are rife in Santiago at present and I am attacked. Now, it’s back to the internet rooms, finding one that doesn’t appear sleazy or suspect, or the shopping mall. Twice a technician has promised to come and now he says “manana” …. Hopefully! He has to brave the microbus trip.

All in all, the weekly Mercy eNews news is great to receive and I really do appreciate this contact with the Mercy world beyond my patch.

Muchas gratias.

Margaret Milne

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