I am not one to sigh with relief after being able to find a grande-mocha-choc-orange-frappelatte-chino-with-extra-whip in a chain far from home (if such a sad, additive-laden drink really does exist). While some consider a new eatery or clothing chain’s arrival as “progress” (just recently, young adults camped for three nights in the streets of Santiago, awaiting the grand opening of the country’s first H&M), I’m actually quite saddened by multinationals.
But I don’t pretend to be free from their grasp. Unfortunately, a quick look at the family tree of most of these labels shows you that seemingly disparate brands are in fact incestuously interconnected. In order to buy free from the reach of the spider web of corporations and their hairy little demons, one must little less than live in a treehouse upon a forgotton alpine ridge, steadfastly remaining unmoved by jeans sold at knock-off prices, impossible discounts and all things pre-packgaged in plastic.
Sometimes the introduction of such brands is unsuccessful – though not for want of trying. In Bolivia, I was told that McDonalds failed to work, as their prices far outstripped what a typical person could afford to spend on a meal. Yet the country was not entirely free of influence: the piled up plastic bottles of all major softdrink brands on the sides of the roads showed that a little global sugar fix remained a popular choice.
Here, in the deserts of northern Chile, that same brand waved its flags, stamping its name over similarly secluded landscapes.