Friday, October 12, 2012

An Auto Show, Asado, Earthquake, and Protest

The past few weeks have had a few fun events.

The first one was the Salón de Automoviles in Santiago.  One of my students works with cars and was responsible for the planning of the annual auto show, and he got me two tickets to the inauguration.  It was on a Wednesday night and started at 9.  It was pretty far away, I had never been to the area,  and I´d be taking public transportation to get there, so it was a bit intimidating.  But I did some research and there was a bus a few blocks from my apartment that would take me directly there and a friend was able to go, so we went.

When I picked up the tickets we were told that it was a formal event, so I took out my suit that I hadn´t worn in at least a few years.  Luckily it still fit, and so Britt and I were looking and feeling pretty spiffy.

OK, so I have to quickly introduce Britt.  She´s from Texas and started following my blog a few years ago.  She told me she wanted to come to Chile and gave me her email address, so we started conversing back and forth.  Then in February of this year she came here with TeachingChile, (although I wouldn´t recommend it to anyone interested anymore) and we got to meet in person!  We have hung out from time to time since she arrived, but this was probably the most formal and nicest even we´ve gone to together.

When we got off the bus we discussed the irony of us going to an auto show using public transportation, and it was also funny that walking to the convention center we had to watch out for all the cars and walked through a drive through area to turn in our tickets.

Once we arrived, we saw it was huge.  There were 4 or 5 pavilions with each one about the size of a large Target store.  They had cars, models in skimpy outfits, advertisements for cars, and some free drinks and appetizers.  We took advantage of the sights and snapped pictures.  Of course I got a picture with a Subaru (we have had them in our family since I was a little kid and my first and only car was a Subaru)

While we were wandering around I saw my student´s boss whom I taught a few classes to, and we got to chat for a quick minute.  I was a bit disappointed that I didn´t get to see my student, but we decided that 11 was the latest that we could stay and hope to catch a bus back without having to wait for too long or pay a lot for a taxi.

As we were leaving we noticed that there was an exhibition for Cars, the Disney movie with full size replicas from the movie.  Britt and I decided to check it out.  We had to wait a few minutes for them the finish sweeping up the floor, but then we got to walk through.  As I went to take pictures I heard someone call out "Daniel!"  It turns out my student that got me the tickets was working that exhibition.  I got to thank him for the tickets and introduce Britt, and he helped us get some pictures together.  It was a pleasant surprise to have seen him after all, and then we headed out.

On our walk back the streets were lit, and I took note of where the bus stops were for our way back.  When I saw our bus going through the traffic circle I burst into a sprint so that we could catch it, and Britt actually overtook me from behind.  The bus driver was so nice to have stopped for us, and the ride back was peaceful.  I very rarely go out on a weeknight, but I´m glad that I did this time.

Another great event that happened was a barbeque (or asado).  Last weekend it was raining cats and dogs, but one of the classes I finished teaching decided they were going to have a barbeque to celebrate.  The students are a wonderful group of people that came together and created a great community.  They created a Whatsapp group so that everyone could be informed if they missed class over the 2 and a half month period, and they have become friends.  Now that I´m no longer their teacher we have also become friends.  It was a great time with drinks, marshmallows, meat, and an awards ceremony with memorable quotes, best moments and individual awards.

And of course continuing my time in Santiago wouldn´t be complete without another earthquake and student protest.  I was fortunate enough (I guess) to have both events happen on the same day.  At least that way I got them out of the way at the same time.

It was about 2:30 in the afternoon on Thursday, and I was sitting in Banco de Chile waiting for my students to show up.  I had my laptop set up so we could finish watching a movie, then everything started to shake.  At first I froze and didn´t know what to do, as I didn´t know how strong it was going to be or how long it would last.  I grabbed my jacket and cell phone and opened the glass door and stood in it just in case, but after about 20 seconds the shaking stopped.  I later found out it was a 5.7.

I tried calling my emergency contacts here in Chile, but my call wouldn´t go through.  I was able to get text messages through and they responded, so that put me at ease.  When my students arrived a few minutes later they made calls to family, and I tried to get an email home.  The internet wasn´t working so I wasn´t able to, but it turns out that by the time I called home that night that no one even knew that there was one.

As if I didn´t have enough excitement after that, I got caught in traffic jams all over the city on my way home from my evening class.  On the second bus home we were moving at a snail´s pace, but I didn´t think anything of it at first.  When it persisted I got suspicious that something was going on, and after being on the bus for 45 minutes I decided to get off.

It´s a good think I got off when I did, as the bus driver decided to turn right and go off the route and away from where I needed to go.  I found myself at a major intersection and tried to catch a bus going south, but the traffic was just as bad and everything seemed to be at a standstill.  More and more people got off buses and started walking, so I decided the 45 minute walk home would be some good exercise seeing I had Papa Johns the night before.

I tried looking for taxis on the walk home since I had a lot of things with me, but they were either taken or en route to someone else.  As I walked down Pedro de Valdivia (a main street near my apartment), I noticed buses going north that normally don´t go anywhere near Pedro de Valdivia.  (The 504 runs east to west, and now it was going north!)  When I got to Irarrazaval (the main street I live on) I saw that traffic was only going west and it was blocked off from going east.  I asked some police officers that were redirecting traffic near my apartment, and only then did I find out there was a protest happening!  If I had known I probably would have cancelled my class, as it took me almost 2 hours to get home and I could have been caught up in tear gas and/or water cannons.  Luckily I made it home safe and sound.

No comments:

Post a Comment