A world of good

Coming after me
Off the edge
German colonial museum
A coming together
Stairs to relax
The sun is setting
No longer a greenhouse
Bife a la pobre
10 thousand kids killed in Palestine
Out of shape
Cuddle on the wall
Time for an apothecary
Israel accused of genocide
The flower clock
Who killed Anna Cook?
Green on the side
Up and away
City of stairs
Sewell bin
Jesus loves you
In waiting
in loving memory
in loving memory
in loving memory
in loving memory

With this year’s WSA congress set to be held in the south of Chile, not even on another continent, I took the opportunity to book a cheap flight to the other side of this landmass, and made sure I would not miss this year’s event. The WSA, World Summit Awards, recognise tech solutions that work towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. I’m somewhat unique, in that I won this award 3 times, representing 3 different countries.

This was the fourth time I attended the event, after my first one in 2013 in Abu Dhabi, and it was very good to see how far the event, and the organisation’s scope has come over the years. I still think the awards punch under their weight, they deserve much more attention, but things are clearly moving in the right direction.

This year, the congress was taking place in the small town of Frutillar, in the Los Lagos Region of Chile. Around 1000km south of Santiago. Prominent imagery of the conference included the stunning Torres del Paine, also in the south of Chile, yet another 1000km further to the south.
Nevertheless, the scenery in and around Frutillar, with the delegates staying in the upmarket town of Puerto Varas, is also lovely, with views from our hotel on the gorgeous Llanquihue Lake, with the Osorno volcano in the distance.

For the WSA, before the congress, “winners” are selected in 8 categories, from, typically, a field of a few hundred from most of the world’s countries. Then, these winners have to compete, by presenting their work at the congress, in getting support for being recognised as the “global champion” in their category.
The three times I’ve won, I won in the “Culture & Tourism” category, and, now renamed to “Culture & Heritage” that category is my primary focus. This year’s winner was Vacayit, from Australia, functionally very similar to my most recent win, Placecloud, in 2022, but with a strong focus on providing broad accessibility features. And, with an Audible contract under their belt, already quite successful.

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Overall, the congress emphasised challenges related to climate change, and social entrepreneurship. I learned of the concept of B-Corps, essentially a type of socially minded for-profit business, recognised as such by a number of global jurisdictions, and originating the US. One interesting feature of a B-Corp, Benefit corporation, is that the highest paid salary can not be more than 5 times the lowest paid salary in the organisation.
It seems to me that, with societal shifts over the last few years, foregrounding the need for more socially conscious business practices, the WSA is slowly moving towards receiving the recognition it deserves.

Crab walk

On my way to the Chilean south, I took the opportunity to stop in a few other places along the way, starting in Rancagua, close to the deserted corporate mining town of Sewell, now a World Heritage Site.
I had booked my accommodation in Rancagua in December, only to be told by the guest house that they were cancelling my booking a few months later, requiring me to find another place to stay.
Rancagua is not a tourist hot spot; visitors to Sewell typically come for the day from Santiago, only an hour away. So, there’s a shortage of accommodation, more so budget accommodation.

Yet, I managed to find an alternative place to stay, at a higher price, but, seemingly, also nicer, and smack in the middle of town. But, when I arrived at 3 in the afternoon, 12 hours after I had woken up to be able to catch a very early flight out of São Paulo, I was quite pissed when the hotel staff told me that they didn’t have my booking on record, had stopped working with Booking.com two months ago, were full, and in no way felt responsible for getting me alternative accommodation.

I later learned the city was hosting a rodeo the same weekend, so it seemed to me that both this accommodation, and the one which had cancelled my booking, just saw an opportunity for an easy buck, and simply didn’t want my booking at the price they had agreed to.

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Now, after a frustrating back-and-forth, in broken Spanish, all they were willing to do was point me to other guest houses which, surely, would have room.
They didn’t, and after visiting 5 hotels, I ended up with a rather basic Airbnb on the edge of town, more of a makeshift hostel than anything else, but, it meant I had a place to stay.

Rancagua is a decent enough, functioning little town. I attended a ballet, had a sushi burger (but with chicken, as they had run out of fish), ran into a sign-up booth for Sam Altman’s Worldcoin scam, and visited the abandoned company town of Sewell.

Sewell, in the foothills of the Andes, was the town built to supply the nearby closed copper mine, the largest underground copper mine in the world. Getting to, or from, the town used to be a day’s journey, but when the road from Rancagua to Sewell was completed, the town was fairly quickly abandoned, and taken apart, until the community of those that used to live in the town, known as the city of stairs, managed to get it to be first recognized as a national monument, then as a World Heritage Site.

My second stop was Valparaiso, in a way the beach of Santiago. But also where the country’s parliament resides. Valparaiso has had a long history of slow decline; before the Panama Canal, the town was a very important port, until international shipping was able to do a speed run through Central America.
It is still the only port of consequence for Chile, and it’s known as a liberal bohemian town, full of artists. However, what I felt while visiting Santiago almost a year and a half ago, was now noticeable here. That is, it felt like the city is in noticeably worse shape, today, than it was on previous visits.
It’s also possible that, nine years ago, I ignored or didn’t notice the decrepit state of many of the buildings and streets, or that I overlooked the many street sellers of second hand goods. But I’m not quite convincing myself I did just that.
Granted, my first day in town was a Monday, and no Monday is fun, anywhere. And, by the time I left, I had again warmed up to the city. ‘Valpo’ is a living, breathing, perhaps thriving, city where literally every corner has something to offer.

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Interestingly, weed and space cake are openly sold in Valparaiso.

In Valparaiso, as in Rancagua, I found a Smart Fit, a branch of my chain of Brazilian gyms, where my membership gives me access to all branches anywhere in the world. It was busy, and, oddly, in one corner of the gym, a young dog was having a snooze. The gym was on the fifth floor. How had the canine ended up here?

Santiago, in contrast, gave off a better impression compared to my most recent visit. A bit cleaner, a bit more taken care of. But, where 9 years ago many public places provided public wifi, plenty of plaques stuck to lamp posts still reminding of this, it needed to be restaurants and cafes where I now had to get my on-to-go internet fix.

I went and revisited the city’s already famous Baha’i temple, on the slopes of the Andes. Providing lovely views of the city, the temple itself is quite nice, and now a popular destination for tourists.
I meditated, not yet knowing that, at the same time, my lovely, lovely cat had passed away only minutes earlier back in São Paulo. Devastating news to receive when returning to civilisation. That is, the city.

After the congress, I stopped in Puerto Montt. Visiting the port area, well known for its fish market, and popular with tourists, I was chased by a large sea lion, though I believe he was really only after a good place to lounge in the setting sun, and I was hogging it.