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Backpacking in Chile- The Top 5 Highlights

3 Oct

Firstly, I must say, at the risk of sounding cheesy and predictable, that Chile is the most beautiful country I’ve ever visited. And that’s pretty much for one reason alone: The Andes. They’re enchanting, breathtaking, and pretty much omnipresent in Chile- just take a look at the map. The country is bordered by the Andes to the East forming a natural border with Argentina, legendary for its precarious mountain crosses, which claimed the lives of many Spanish conquistadores. If all goes to plan I’d like to return to South America to trek in the Andes and take in their beauty in Argentina and Peru also. The mountains have a spirit, echoed by the friendly people you meet all over Chile, and that sort of sentimental kindness is infectious- I’m surprised they haven’t tried to bag it! So, with the Andes as my absolute number 1 highlight, here are my real top 5 destinations I visited during my time backpacking in Chile, from Santiago to San Pedro de Atacama…

Stunning Andes

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Nadie espera la revolución española: Nobody expects the Spanish Revolution

19 May

Jose Maria Montiel es licenciado en Administración y dirección de empresas y  graduado en Gestión Internacional de la Empresa. Actualmente reside y trabaja en los Emiratos Árabes Unidos.

El acontecimiento social conocido como “la primavera del 68”, fue un momento histórico que tuvo su origen en Francia y en el cual las clases oprimidas por un sistema capitalista injusto y desigual, se levantaron y protestaron masivamente en contra de la burguesía y del imperialismo. Aquel movimiento pacífico se extendió a otros países del mundo protagonizando una ola de protestas (especialmente por parte de la juventud) a nivel mundial.

La acampada en Puerta del Sol

Hoy en día, tras las revueltas en el mundo árabe – las cuales es necesario valorar en términos internacionales – parece ser que en España la población (hasta ahora dormida)  ha empezado a despertar y reaccionar.

Durante estos días y a la vista de las próximas elecciones municipales del 22 de Mayo, están teniendo lugar en muchas ciudades de España históricas concentraciones y manifestaciones de miles de personas que exigen un cambio del sistema. Quizá la más representativa concentración es la que está teniendo lugar en Madrid, en la céntrica puerta del Sol, de manera continuada, una acampada multitudinaria que se prevé se mantenga hasta el día de las elecciones, al más estilo Plaza Tahrir de El Cairo. Continue reading

The Lorca quake: what we never knew about Spain

13 May

The 5.2 magnitude earthquake that hit Lorca on Wednesday, killing nine victims, came as a shock to the Spanish community and beyond. The tremor was felt from its epicentre in Murcia, sourthern Spain, to as far away as Madrid. A small medieval town of 90,000 inhabitants, Lorca lies near the Tercia mountain range in a region of Spain that, it transpires, is relatively prone to earthquakes. For those of us who have visited Spain but were not around to witness the last significant quake, over fifty years ago, this might come as a shock.

Zapatero inspects rubble in Lorca

The Daily Telegraph’s Fiona Govan in Madrid wrote: “Spain is at moderate risk of earthquakes. On average every 200 years an earthquake of over six on the Richter scale occurs.” Continue reading

Rousseff leads Brazil in mourning Rio shooting

10 Apr

The sad events that unfolded in Realengo, a working-class district of Rio de Janeiro, on Thursday not only stunned Brazil’s very Catholic, very moral population, but also presented a test to their newly incumbent president, Dilma Rousseff.

Relatives mourn 14-year-old Luiza Paula da Silveira Machado

The shooting of 12 children, all aged between 10 and 13, at the Tasso Silveira school by a former pupil, 24-year-old Wellington Menezes de Oliveira, was a crime of unprecedented proportions in Brazil. The media captured the panic and anxiety of relatives as they waited outside the school gates for news of their loved ones. A sense of their grief was shouldered by the whole of Brazilian society, seen in the mass funeral for the victims, attended by hundreds of mourners, when rose petals were released from a military helicopter flying overhead.

Rousseff addresses the nation after the shooting

Rousseff, Brazil’s first female president, who has been in government since January, reacted to the tragedy both as a statesman and as a mourner. In a position where her femininity could easily be criticised, she still allowed herself to show emotion when addressing a grief-stricken nation. Her eyes flooded with tears, she said: “This kind of crime is not usual here in our country and that’s why I think that everyone here, all of us, men and women, must unite to condemn this act of violence, to condemn this violence against unprotected children.” Continue reading

Spanish students cause a stir in their search for ‘picaderos’

3 Apr

Those who have lived or travelled in Spain will know that the Spanish are hardly shy of a good public display of affection, especially when the sun is shining on Madrid’s Retiro park. But Spanish students have recently made headlines with their search for ‘picaderos’, or places to have sex, and certain universities are scrambling to stem the trend.

Joke warning for a national picadero

For many years the Complutense University campus, situated in the vast Ciudad Universtaria in the North West of Madrid, has operated as a university by day, but something very different by night. A recent article in El Mundo revealed the extent to which the campus is used by students for sex, claiming, in a somewhat mocking tone, that “any area that is slightly dark and away from the road is a suitable place to unleash your passion”. [“Cualquier zona que esté algo oscura y apartada del tránsito es un lugar idóneo para desatar la pasión.”] The article implies these students’ escapades outdo George Michael in “Let’s go outside”, and we all know where that adventurous attitude landed him.

If El Mundo is on some kind of moral campaign to stamp out this sex ‘al fresco’, they’re sure to lose. Not just students, but adults all over Spain in search of a good picadero have taken their search multimedia thanks to a site much like Google Maps, devoted to helping people locate the best places for shagging. The site, www.mispicaderos.net, was created by Josean Gutiérrez, 35, who felt it could prove useful to frisky students. There are over 6,000 people registered on the site and it’s growing in popularity. Each week five or six new locations are added. Gutiérrez said: “It was born as an experiment and it turned out to be useful and people think it’s quite a fun idea.” [“Nació como un experimento y resulta que está siendo útil y a la gente le parece graciosa la idea”] He’s also created an app for the iPhone and Android. Continue reading

Fernando Alonso to the rescue over Spanish speed limits

5 Mar

It makes you wonder whether Zapatero saw this coming. As Prime Minister it mustn’t be fun when any of your proposals are met with widespread rejection by the public, but when one of Spain’s national heroes, in the form of Formula One driver Fernando Alonso, comes forward to join the dissenting throng, you must know you’ve got something wrong.

National treasure: F1 driver Fernando Alonso

In the wake of unrest in the Middle East causing oil prices to soar, Zapatero’s PSOE announced last week that they will lower the speed limit on Spain’s motorways to help save energy. From Monday 7 March the limit on Spanish motorways will no longer stand at 74.5mph, or 120kph, but 68mph, or 110kph. A recent survey by the AA revealed that 59% of UK drivers asked would slow down to save fuel. Amusingly, the AA advised that driving at 80mph uses a quarter more fuel than driving at 70mph, as well as being illegal. Continue reading

Peru leads the way against Colonel Gaddafi

25 Feb

Peru's President Alan Garcia

It looks like Peru’s President Alan García could teach the UN Security Council a thing or two. After a week of increasing bloodshed in Libya, as Colonel Gaddafi lives up to his promise of fighting demonstrators down to the last bullet, President García cut diplomatic ties with the country, while the UN Security Council still stands dumb. His was the first nation to do so.

García condemned Gaddafi’s violent tactics of ordering army units and trained militia to attack anti-government protesters and mourners. Earlier this week he said: “Peru expresses its most energetic protest at the repression carried out by the Libyan dictatorship of Muammar Gaddafi against his people, who are demanding democratic reforms to change a government led by the same person for 40 years.” Continue reading