We’ve spent most of the weekend lazily exploring Santiago. The city itself doesn’t seem to have a very distinct personality, although I suppose that may be the case for a lot of larger, more developed cities.
Yesterday (Saturday) we went for a short (but hot) hike up Cerro San Cristobal, the second highest point in the city, and today we walked up Cerro Santa Lucia, a small hill in the center of town. Both places offer good views of the city and some shady spots to retreat from the sun.
Today we also went to the Museo Chileno de Arte Precolombino which has several display rooms filled with various artifacts from around the area. Most displays have signage in both Spanish and English so I was attempting to practice my Spanish by translating the Spanish sign and then verifying (or not) what it said by reading the English sign. Turns out, the Duolingo foreign language app on my phone only gets me so far.
Our lack of ability to speak Spanish was made abundantly clear last night during an evening walk in the Plaza de Armas, which is a central gathering place and has been the center of the city since it was first established in the 1500s. There were several tables with men playing chess, a few vendors attempting to sell their goods, and various street performers where large crowds gathered. One of the street performers appeared to have a comedy show so we slowed our pace to check it out. As soon as we joined his audience it felt like the performer was speaking directly to us but his Spanish words were too fast for my English ears to translate. We quickly knew he was definitely speaking to us when his entire audience of about 100 people turned and looked at us. He asked if we were “de estados unidos” and when we replied with a nod and “Si” we suddenly found ourselves being props for his show; pulled to center stage and surrounded by a crowd of strangers.
Our “act” lasted about 20 minutes. With my limited Spanish I only understood a small portion of exactly what was said, but was able to follow along with the general topics for about half of the time. Some was crude humor, some was cultural humor. He occasionally made fun of us and of North Americans in general but also made jokes at the expense of teenagers, macho men, girly girls and Peruvians in the audience. A majority of his show was in Spanish and he would usually only translate into English when he needed us to participate in a gag or fall for a practical joke.
Just before he released us back into anonimity, he took a series of indecent pictures with Alastair (of which we unfortunately don’t have copies), shook our hands, and thanked us for helping him with his show. We returned to being part of the audience and watched him awhile longer, then continued our walk back to the apartment while discussing our first experience at being publicly roasted (although it was all in good humor).Tomorrow morning we will be departing Santiago and we’re both looking forward to exploring more of Chile and Argentina as we journey southward.
A sidenote for my sister and any other foodies: most of our meals have been prepared at the apartment and are not picture-worthy. We’ve only eaten out once which was a sandwich for lunch yesterday. It was super delicious but not much to look at.