[meteorite-list] Progress or ruination?
From: Michael Gilmer <michael_w_gilmer_at_meteoritecentral.com>
Date: Fri, 9 Jan 2009 09:35:34 -0800 (PST)
Hi Steve and Mike,
I would be one hell of a pretentious upstart to disagree with someone
who has actually been there. My travels in the Atacama are limited
to armchair fantasies and future pipe dreams. I do hope to visit
there one day in the future, but I'd like it to look like ATACAMA
when I get there, and not Orlando Florida.
Steve, I can't argue with the logic and rationale of what you say here :
"But, also as unforgettable, was all the trash strewn about the highway for
thousands of miles up and down the Pan American highway. Somebody forgot to
put up the "Keep Chile Clean" signs. Litter was so abundant, especially at
railroad crossings. Burned out cars and buses were sitting on the side of the
road from car wrecks years if not decades before. What 99% of people saw
when traveling on the highway(s) of Chile was the trash, not the beauty. You
had to get off the highway before things would clean up.
So to me, my hunch is that if there are high class hotels coming in to the
San Pedro de Atacama, my bet is that they will at least clean the trash up on
and around their own property. They might even pay to have the other trash
in public areas cleaned up as well. So in a way, the development might be a
And the situation with the residents there, imprisoned in poverty, is sad.
I am sure they, like most anyone else in the civilized world would like to
have a good job, be able to afford TV, a nice car, good health care, maybe be
able to send their kids off to college to have a CHOICE as to what they want
to do with their life.
For those of us with enough money to travel there, it is fun, but we get to
leave and choose where we go next. To be stuck there for one's whole life,
it might get to be a drag after a while. If they can make a buck and improve
their life, who are we to say that is bad?"
But, we also have to recognize that opinions such as these reflect our
cultural values. We are trying, again, to force our views of life
and standards of living on other cultures. The wealthy powers have
always done this - we are saving the savages from damnation and
bringing them the dignity of literacy and running water. Sound
familiar? It's the first step on the well-worn path to cultural
genocide. Of course Coca Cola is better than their local concoction
made of who knows what. And of course Starbucks expresso would be
a nice treat while combing the deserts. And it would be nice to
have a payphone in the middle of the desert, or cellphone service
to call a tow truck. But these people have lived this way for
centuries and they are fine with it. We, as "civilized" westerners,
are the ones who have a problem with their apparent poverty. At
what cost does one sell a soul? To be honest, I don't know if this
represents "progress" to any of the locals. Sure, it means a few
more pity dollars thrown their way by wealthy travelistas, but it
also means the disappearance of another culture that has existed for
centuries without outside interference and dominance.
Having said all of that, litter is natural places disgusts me. And
I have never understood what it is about being poor than means a
person has an excuse to be filthy. I drive past economically-depressed areas and see dozens of able-bodied people lounging around or loitering around while they are surrounded by trash everywhere. None of them think to take 5 minutes and pick it up and put it in a dumpster that is usually 10 feet away. Apparently being poor is
intrinsically related to tolerance of trash and dirt. Even if I was
spit-poor, I'd have the cleanest and neatest mud hut in the village.
Well, I guess when we have a wall-to-wall neon and concrete world, then
we'll finally be happy....right? Or will this compulsive need to
spread "progress" extend to other cultures we encounter while
Best regards and clear skies from the closet-mountain-man,
Michael Gilmer (Louisiana, USA)
Member of the Meteoritical Society.
Member of the Bayou Region Stargazers Network.
Websites - http://www.galactic-stone.com and http://www.glassthrower.com
MySpace - http://www.myspace.com/fine_meteorites_4_sale
--- On Fri, 1/9/09, MeteorHntr at aol.com <MeteorHntr at aol.com> wrote:
> From: MeteorHntr at aol.com <MeteorHntr at aol.com>
> Subject: Re: [meteorite-list] Progress or ruination?
> To: meteorite-list at meteoritecentral.com, michael_w_gilmer at yahoo.com
> Date: Friday, January 9, 2009, 11:01 AM
> I am a bit conflicted with this too.
> However, to insist that a group of humans stay in a setting
> from a couple
> centuries ago, like keeping apes in a fake looking jungle
> cage at the zoo, just
> so we can go an see them "undisturbed" is a bit
> Like others on the list, I too have visited San Pedro de
> Atacama on my
> several trips to Imilac in the past and really loved going
> there. The old small
> buildings, narrow streets, broken glass bottles cemented
> into the tops of
> walls around yards as security fences, were unforgettable.
> It was an oasis compared to dry and desolate surroundings.
> But, also as unforgettable, was all the trash strewn about
> the highway for
> thousands of miles up and down the Pan American highway.
> Somebody forgot to
> put up the "Keep Chile Clean" signs. Litter was
> so abundant, especially at
> railroad crossings. Burned out cars and buses were
> sitting on the side of the
> road from car wrecks years if not decades before. What
> 99% of people saw
> when traveling on the highway(s) of Chile was the trash,
> not the beauty. You
> had to get off the highway before things would clean up.
> So to me, my hunch is that if there are high class hotels
> coming in to the
> San Pedro de Atacama, my bet is that they will at least
> clean the trash up on
> and around their own property. They might even pay to
> have the other trash
> in public areas cleaned up as well. So in a way, the
> development might be a
> good thing.
> And the situation with the residents there, imprisoned in
> poverty, is sad.
> I am sure they, like most anyone else in the civilized
> world would like to
> have a good job, be able to afford TV, a nice car, good
> health care, maybe be
> able to send their kids off to college to have a CHOICE as
> to what they want
> to do with their life.
> For those of us with enough money to travel there, it is
> fun, but we get to
> leave and choose where we go next. To be stuck there for
> one's whole life,
> it might get to be a drag after a while. If they can make
> a buck and improve
> their life, who are we to say that is bad?
> If I would ever choose to head that way again, either to
> find rocks or
> simply as a tourist , I would probably choose to stay in an
> overpriced nice place
> instead of an overpriced small place. Although, the
> places I stayed at a
> decade ago were quite modern considering; not mud floor
> huts that the post cards
> would indicate.
> I for one can fully understand why they would want to
> develop that part of
> the country for tourists. It is an amazing place and I am
> sure as word
> spreads more and more people would want to go there. I
> for one, have STRONGLY
> recommended that anyone that has a chance, should go and
> see San Pedro de
> Atacama. Not to mention, take a fishing boat out to see
> the penguins on the way up.
> Oh, and there is a great steak house in La Serena. And
> the vineyards, very
> much worth the tours. And when you are in Antofagasta,
> don't forget to wear
> your seatbelts, they will pull you over and ticket you for
> that infraction
> alone. And the Pampa area, words can't describe how
> desolate it looks...and
> words can't describe how daunting the feeling is, in
> the pit of your stomach,
> if your truck gets stuck out there. And don't forget
> the Pisco and Pepsi,
> when heading out to your campsite. And, pick up some
> lumber in the trash
> piles along the highway to make a campfire out of, or you
> will be very cold once
> the sun sets and you are waiting for the Pisco to kick in!
> Oh, and did someone mention strewnfields? Why
> wouldn't EVERYONE want to go
> there? There are meteorites to be found!
> As far as the copper mines growing and encroaching on
> people, I am sure
> there is room to get on either side of that argument.
> Some would argue that at
> least they are not killing off wildlife in the process,
> since wildlife doesn't
> live out there to start with. If they force humans to
> scoot over a little,
> well, that is what humans are good at, moving over.
> I just hope they do what they do with taste, and it allows
> more people to
> enjoy the beautiful setting that is waiting for them in
> such a desolate corner
> of the earth. If they decide to trash the place even
> more, well, it wouldn't
> really surprise me, it is kind of their tradition down
> there anyway.
> Steve Arnold #1
> In a message dated 1/9/2009 10:05:16 A.M. Central Standard
> meteoriteguy at yahoo.com writes:
> I was there on top of that rock a few years ago. San Pedro
> de Atacama is a
> fantastic town, a little like the wild west, with dirt
> streets, no water (all
> water is trucked in) and dodgy looking people. I had more
> fun there than can
> be explained. To have Hollywood types jetting down there
> to stay in a spa
> just sucks in my opinion. The geysers were amazing,
> typical that man would
> destroy them to make more money mining. Oh well.
> Michael Farmer
> --- On Fri, 1/9/09, Michael Gilmer
> <michael_w_gilmer at yahoo.com> wrote:
> > From: Michael Gilmer
> <michael_w_gilmer at yahoo.com>
> > Subject: [meteorite-list] Progress or ruination?
> > To: meteorite-list at meteoritecentral.com
> > Date: Friday, January 9, 2009, 8:57 AM
> > I have mixed feelings about this story :
> > I guess we'll be dodging errant golfballs and
> > cell phones
> > ring while walking around one of the more remote
> places on
> > the Earth. :(
> > I wonder if any of these wealthy tourists realize
> they are
> > visiting
> > a famous strewnfield?
> > Regards and clear skies,
> > MikeG
> > Michael Gilmer (Louisiana, USA)
> > Member of the Meteoritical Society.
> > Member of the Bayou Region Stargazers Network.
> > Websites - http://www.galactic-stone.com and
> > http://www.glassthrower.com
> > MySpace -
Received on Fri 09 Jan 2009 12:35:34 PM PST