So today I got accosted by a mime...

Santiago Travel Blog

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Since we don't have class in the mornings anymore (class from 2:30 to 7:30 pm), 6 of us from class went to one of the less-desirable areas of town where Lindsay and Amy live (two girls in our class) to go bowling. We took the Toesca metro exit (not as nice as the San Pablo/Escuela Militar metro/subway, but pretty good) and from there walked to this big supermercado/supermarket, for Chile. Unlike the States, where all of the supermarkets are huge, the markets here tend to be more like tiendas (little shops) than anything else. You can get several types of milk, but you can't really get a lot of much else. Anyway, on the second floor of the supermarket is a bowling alley/arcade/pool hall, plus fast food places. A few times while we were there, I forgot we were actually in Chile! That's probably not really the best thing to say, and I suppose if you really want to experience 'real Santiago', going to places that remind you of home isn't the best idea. However, we did get overwhelmed by a group of 36, 8-9 year old Chilean students, who treated us like celebrities.

Interesting to note: for being a big city, Santiago apparently doesn't get a lot of foreign travelers. Everyone I've spoken to has said the same thing, and even though I've ran into several Americans/French/German people, I guess it's not very common. To the little kids who swarmed us like ants, we were OVNIs (Spanish for UFOs), some mysterious life forms who descended on their bowling alley. One of the little girls asked Emily if we were all siblings (all 7 of us, including Emily's Mom), most likely because, as she called us, we were 'gringos'. Haha! Having heard the same thing in the States by racist people who say a certain ethnic group 'all looks the same', it was funny hearing it from a little 8 year old girl. But important: in Chile, unlike parts of Mexico and, I assume, other places in Latin America, gringo is not a negative term. Apparently it is sometimes used as a term of affection, and in most cases it's just a description of someone's skin color.

Anyway, after getting completely demolished by nearly everyone else in bowling (in general I am a decent bowler, but I think the opposite hemisphere thing is throwing me off... :), the 7 of us went to class for our field trip with Rodrigo (the male teacher). The female teacher, Margot, was having her wisdom teeth removed, so he decided to take us out and show us around Santiago. We visited all of the important places, such as the parks, La Moneda (seat of government), La Plaza Italia (center of commerce, more or less), the street Nueva York (named New York, it's the street on which the Chilean stock market is), and the Barrio Brasil district.

While walking to Barrio Brasil, I saw out of the corner of my eye a black, white, and red shape dancing around in the middle of street. I was curious (first mistake), so I looked over to see what it was (second mistake). The mime and I locked eyes, and I held my gaze, utterly confused as to why a mime was in the middle of street. This was my third and most deadly mistake. I forgot that in Latin America, people perform in the middle of the street for money while cars idle at the stoplights. Here, for example, I've seen that mime, a clown, and two jugglers: one of regular bowling pins, and the other of fire (sticks lit on fire, that is). In Mexico, I saw one guy actually swallow fire and spit it back up. Yes, I am still upset at myself for not getting my camera out sooner!

Anyway, our group crossed the street and I averted my eyes, praying... well, I don't know what I expected. He is a mime, for goodness sakes, his job is bother people (I don't like mimes). The next thing I know, I felt an arm go under and through mine. The mime was helping me cross the street! Having a serious aversion to anything mute with a painted face, I of course flipped out and said "Dejeme en paz!" (Leave me alone!), grabbed Emily, and nearly ran across the street. Probably not the best reaction, as he wasn't doing anything but taking my arm to cross the street, but all I could think of was all the warnings of pickpockets who distract you in order to steal something. I only had my camera on me, but I'm irrationally attached to it, because it's pretty much the only souvenirs I'm bringing back for my family. Nevertheless, it made for a great story when we all sat town for coffee/tea/a beer for Rodrigo, and everyone had a good laugh. And hey, how many times do people actually get accosted by a mime??
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photo by: Bluetraveler