Hustle and bustle could be two
words to describe our week in Chile. Since the moment we got into Santiago it seemed I never ceased to
move. Our agenda was packed with tours
to Valparaiso, the Concha y Toro winery, a day
of classes, a day of meeting with US
embassy representatives and the ambassador of Chile
to North America. All of these events were great experiences
but when packed into one week it seemed to get a bit overwhelming. I feel a great sense of relief sitting here
at the Residencia in Buenos Aires with nothing
on my mind but my morning flight tomorrow to Rio, Brazil.
Given more time to enjoy Chile I’m sure
it would have been a much greater experience.
Santiago itself seemed a bit bland when compared
to the crowded streets of Buenos Aires. Of course that had much to do with the area
we stayed in. On our free day a group of
us decided to return to the square in front the Cathedral in Santiago, which we had briefly visited during
one of tours, in hopes that we would be able to interact with some people. What we experienced is exactly what we had
hoped to. As we walked from the subway
stop to the square we saw a city more like the vibrant Buenos Aires we knew. People were everywhere and seemed to have
happy demeanors about them.
As soon as we walked into the
square we encountered a large crowd gathered around a point near the cathedral. When we investigated we found street
comedians performing kits for the public’s pleasure (and of course some pocket
change). After having some minutes of laughter we decided to move on and sat
around one the many garden circles in the square where a Chilean girl,
interested by our tongue, came and taught us how to play a card game. We played cards and our laughter could be
heard resonating off the Cathedrals walls and joining the laughter of those
still watching the street comedians.
Many other Chileans became
interested in us and smiled every time we had an outburst of laughter. Looking back now I realize that that was what
the Ambassador of Chile for North America was
talking about when he said that Chileans took pride in their country when they
saw Americans or “otros extranjeros” enjoying themselves. Reliving the afternoon, I see how each smile reflected
that Chilean orgullo the ambassador spoke of. After playing a few more games of
cards we walked to the north side of the square where we saw yet another large
gathering of people. We walked over and
found ourselves in the middle of a mime’s act.
We stayed there until the hilarious show was over and then decided to
head back. That Thursday was the first
day, the only day, I felt I got to see the true Chile Chileans are proud of.