Police tanks spraying tear gas barreled down the street; the water cannons followed quickly in tow. I ran for cover, ducking into a McDonald’s just as employees pulled the metal doors shut. The June scene, a once common occurrence in Santiago, is long-gone now as students buckle down to finish a school year extended so they could meet graduation requirements despite monthslong protests and sit-ins. At my school, however, the strikes have just begun.
The Color Run really is the happiest 5K on the planet! It was awesome to be surrounded by my whole Chile “family” as my friends and roommates joined me for this explosion of color and fun.
A top reason I’m going to hate leaving Chile someday: Amazing wine. Cheap, amazing wine. You can get a delicious bottle of Chile’s rich specialty Carmeneré for US$6 to$8, but even $4 will get you something decent. At those prices it’s hard not to become a wine connoisseur in this country, not to mention Chile is home to some of the best wines in the world.
Although this race reminded me how difficult it can be to live so far from home, it was also another show of the incredible connections I’ve made here and how much I’ve changed throughout this journey.
Knowing that this would be my last Fiestas Patrias in Chile for the foreseeable future, I vowed to go all-out. Success would only come if I did as the Chileans do and sacrificed a week of sleep, spent all my money on terremotos and ate all the delectable treats I could stomach with a guilt-free conscience. And so that’s exactly what I did. During my nine-day holiday, it was all things Chile and it rocked.
The students worked on presentations for weeks, which culminated in two days of festivities before school let out for the holiday. The kids dressed up, performed the national dance, cooked traditional cuisine, sang and played instruments to historical music and presented information about how each region of their country celebrates Chilenidad and Fiestas Patrias.
The best thing about Santiago in the winter is the love everyone shows the street dogs. As soon as it gets colder, puppies around town start sportin’ new sweaters and the trend is, quite frankly, aw-inducingly adorable.