Santiago, Chile: Saturday, May 22, 2010

I’ve been in Santiago, Chile a couple of days now, and I am feeling
pretty good about things. I absolutely adore the lovely elderly couple
I am renting a room from, and that has been quite the serendipitous
blessing. They have invited me to share in their family meals, and I
have loved getting to know them and their grown children, who come to
the house for lunch. Part of living where they live (a distance from
the centro) means that I will be using public transportation
constantly, and while Santiago seems to do quite well in this regard
relative to many other cities, it is still a bit daunting. Today I
took a colectivo (a small group taxi type deal that runs on a set
route, like a bus) downtown, and walked through the Mercado Central
and down to La Moneda presidential palace (where Allende died.) From
there the adventure to get home began, as no one had heard of the
street where my house is, and beyond the name of the neighborhood, the
cross streets and the fact that there was a “shopping” down the street
with many hair salons in it, I didn’t have a whole lot to offer.

Furthermore, everyone across the board says to NEVER trust cab
drivers, because they will completely rip you off. Even the policeman
I asked vehemently recommended against it. Luckily, Chileans have been
extremely helpful, and the security guard at the museum walked me down
the block, down into the subway, and helped me buy a pass, and then
made sure I got on the right train, and knew what stop to get off at.
I dutifully did that, came above ground, and did the whole thing all
over again, this time with a person supervising (?) a bus stop. I had
thought I could get a colectivo from there back to Vitacura, but he
felt instead I should just take the C-14 bus, transfer to the 405 bus,
and voila! I would be on my street corner. And it worked! Amazing. All
in all, an adventure, and since my game plan seems to be to case the
entire city I figure this is just the beginning.
Otherwise, it is a holiday weekend and most things are closed. Not
only that, it is freezing cold and raining. However, it is supposed to
be sunny Monday, and I hope to be able to cover some serious ground
then. People look at me like I have two heads when I tell them what I
am doing (“you’re going to the cemetery?”), and it seems many of the
Chileans I have spoken with have not visited the memory museum, the
peace park, and many of the other sites I plan to explore.
Kaitlin McNally-Murphy, PhD Candidate, Performance Studies

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