Thursday, July 14, 2011

Student Protests Part 2

So, the student protests about the education system in Chile are continuing.

Last time I avoided the downtown area on purpose, as I didn't want to get caught up in any violence or teargas. This time I thought the protest was going to be happening at 6 tonight, but let's just say I was wrong.

So it all started out with me leaving my apartment at 11:00 for my class that starts at noon.  It usually takes me about 25 minutes to arrive, and I got on the bus to downtown without any idea of what was going to happen.

The bus (514 for those of you reading that are familiar with Santiago) took its normal route down Avenida Irarrazaval, and then turned onto Salvador.  It normally turns onto Avenida Providencia (one of the main streets) and then goes down to Alameda (the main street that starts at Plaza Italia), but it turned early down another street that runs parallel.  No big deal, I thought.  It will run parallel and then I can walk the six blocks or so to get to where I need to go.

Well, that's when things started to go downhill.  Shortly before we got to Vicuna Mackenna (another main street), the bus driver made a left turn and started to go back the way he came.  When people on the bus asked him what he was doing, he said, "Voy a casa".  (I'm going home)

Yup, that's right.  So we all got off the bus and tried to figure out how to get to our destinations.  The closest metro (Parque Bustamante, which wasn't anywhere near where the protest was taking place) was closed, so I started walking.  The main streets all were shut down, so I called my student and explained the situation.  He's now at the level of being able to understand on the phone in English, and he told me not to worry.

I tried getting on buses that were passing by, but they weren't taking any new passengers.  I asked a policeman directing traffic how to best arrive to where I needed to go, and he told me the only way to arrive was to walk.  So that's exactly what I did.

I got to Alameda, which is the main street where the protest was happening.  Here are some pictures:

The fence I had to jump over to cross the street

You can't tell from the picture, but they are on the roof of the overhang for the bus stop.

I tried  post a video, but after waiting for over an hour I'm going to try to post it another time.  In the end, I made it to my class a few minutes late.  When I walked back to the office it seemed like there was a lot more happening towards La Moneda (which is their main government building) and I thought I saw teargas or smoke in the air, but I didn't stick around to investigate.

Just another day in Chile I suppose.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Laptop Saved, Ticket Home, Student Protests, Oven Fried Chicken, and 4th of July in Winter

So my laptop is alive!

A Chilean friend helped me by taking it around to repair places.  Long story short, he got a place to clean it out for 10 dollars.  Ideally they would have replaced the keyboard, but they didn't have any in stock.  Now it has a few nuances about it:

1. The right arrow key doesn't work.
2. When it turns on it beeps angrily at me until I hit the right shift key three times.  After that it loads normally.
3. Once it loads up, any time I click on something it automatically scrolls over to the icon to the furthest right side of the screen.  The solution?  Hitting the right shift key three times.

I was so relieved to not have to shell out money for a new laptop, as I'm considering getting a new one when I'm home visiting in February.

So yes, as I always do with my planning, I already have a ticket home to visit.  I'll be getting in to JFK February 7th, and I'll be home until the 28th.  I wanted to be home to celebrate the 4 family birthdays, and this year is a big one for my dad since he'll be 70.  My plan is also to get in a visit out to Los Angeles again to see friends and escape the Jersey winter for a week too, and on the way back to Santiago I'll be in Colombia for about 8 days.

The student protests in Santiago have been ongoing, so last weekend I decided to take a stroll around downtown with my camera and take some pictures to document.  And here they are:

This is near where I work in downtown. 

The phrase "en paro" means on strike in Spanish.  ICEI is the abbreviation for a school.

Someone cleverly put a bandana on this statue, and my guess is that they are making reference to the government being robbers with the education system.

Free education

Translation of the middle sign: Engineers taking over for a public education of high quality

A lot of buses have things written on them in protest of the education system.  Lavin is the Education minister, and many have called for him to resign.  It looks like this says Lavin Educriminal.

This is from a public school a block from where I live.  "We want a quality education!  Liceo 007 taking over!"

Another photo of the same school.  "Now it's our turn!"
There was a huge protest here on the 30th, starting in Plaza Italia and going all the way down Alameda (the main street of Santiago.)  The reports vary between 100,000 and 400,000 people marching, but in any case it was huge.  I had a class in downtown shortly before it started, so luckily I avoided it.  I considered going back to the office after my class, but I decided to avoid the possibility of teargas and the like.  I tried putting a link to a news article from the Santiago Times on here, but unfortnately their website wasn't working right to view it.

I've been meaning to post pictures of this for a while, but I finally got around to taking pictures and getting them up on here.  I've found a really good recipe for oven baked fried chicken.  I usually also make a salad and mac and cheese, and so here's what it looks like:

And it's hard for me to believe that it's the 4th of July already.  Due to Movistar not yet installing internet and cable in my apartment, I'm actually sitting in a Papa John's that has wireless, bundled up in multiple layers due to the cold weather.  I'm not much of a patriotic person so I'm not doing anything tonight, but yesterday I went to an event at California Cantina (a gringo bar here) that had burgers, fries, a drink, and apple pie for about 10 bucks.  I normally don't like going there, but it was a nice afternoon event for a change.

And that's all for now.  From Santiago, wishing everyone back in the States a happy 4th of July!