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.

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