08 April 2010

We Think We're Clear

I once read that Colchagua Valley, Chile, was like Napa Valley 50 years ago. This, of course, was before I moved here. At that time, I just didn't really understand what that really meant.

When I arrived, I noticed that, indeed, the valley does have many attributes of farm/agricultural life from 50 years ago in the States. One thing I had never thought about, though, is that the general attitude also follows the patterns of life. This means that some things that are very defined to us as a fact or rule simply are irrelevant to people here. This was evident in just about every thought process and situation that came up.

So here we have a Norteamericano who is, for many, the only foreigner they have ever met, and as if that wasn't strange enough, this foreigner is obsessed with "OLD STUFF?" ¡QUE RARO! Are we starting to get the idea?

That's right. To most people here, even in Santiago, the only old things of value are antiques (ie. early 1900's or later). Any thing after that is just old junk, while to us, we understand the concept of vintage and retro. To the point that we actually define the terms by a quantity of years. Here retro is any thing that is used from "the States". Just walk into one of the retro clothing stores, especially one that claims to be U.S. vintage. It's good for a laugh.

The problem with this is, people don't try to maintain or hold onto any thing after the early 40's. Neither will they sell it. To them it is old and of no value. It goes straight to the trash, and if you ask someone if they want to sell it, they start on the anti-sell speech. Once done with that, an hour or two later, if they see you really want it, the price jumps to the outrageous category simply because, well... the Norteamericano wants it, and he is loaded (in their minds). No, really... it is quite funny to live here.

One example of the outrageously priced situations can be seen with the end tables pictured here for sale in Santiago. I was so amazed to see the tables in this mall, that I had to take a photo. However, while in very good condition, one would expect a set of tables from a no-name furniture maker of this time period and style to go for $400 to $500 from a
dealer, maximum. Ohhh...nooo... my friend. Not in Santiago, these are made of hard wood (a rarity here) and are selling for around $1500 for the set of tables. If you want the large dish credenza and buffet you are looking at price of around $8000. I expect for those prices, I will be able go see them as many times as I want in my life time with out much fear of them having been sold.

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