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A Weekend of Transition in Santiago

I’m exhausted.

I shouldn’t be. Santiago is our last stop and we know the city well. There isn’t much to worry about.

Technically, I could relax.

But I don’t because as usual, my problem is time management. I want to do too much at once, live several lives even though I’ve been given the regular one-person-one-life deal.

Some people are trying to beat the system, I’m just trying to beat the clock. No plot twist—I never win.

I spend my days exploring Santiago and the sun-baked streets, observing people and taking pictures. “How can you even think of sitting down when there’s so much to see around you?” a little voice whispers in my ear. “Don’t even think of going back to the apartment. Shall I remind you how cold it is in the Northern Hemisphere right now? Enjoy the sun!” another voice urges.

And then when my legs are so tired I can’t even walk, I work. I’m completing a couple of big assignments this month so I switch to French, English, federal government matters and the track-change mode in Word.

By the time I’m done, a new day has already started.

“I’ll sleep earlier tomorrow,” I promise myself. But of course, I don’t, because another 24 hours went by, bringing me closer to the end of the trip.

I’m good at the leaving part, not so great at the coming back part. It’s not like I’m dreading anything in Canada—except maybe winter weather—it’s just that I’d rather be somewhere else. Boarding a plane to leave is freeing, taking one to come back feels cruel.

The worst part is this weird limbo, the transition, knowing exactly what’s coming—the last awkward day, the flight, unpacking, resuming another life I left behind in December and that I don’t particularly miss. I’ve read that “Life in Ottawa” book before, I know the plot, it’s not that great of a story.

I’ve never been good at that “living the moment and no worrying about the future” thing.

But it’s not just me—the smell of transition is in the air in Santiago too.

First, fall is right around the corner. It’s still very hot and sunny during the day, with temperatures around 30ºC, but we had a few cooler nights in the teens. Leaves are turning brown and people are gearing up for fall and winter—I’ve seen jackets and blankets in stores.

Seasons change, leaders too. That Sunday, Sebastián Piñera, the new president, was taking office. I had a thought for Michelle Bachelet, who, to my foreign eyes, was a good leader and is an admirable person.

The week went by fast, and then the weekend came.

On Saturdays and Sundays, Santiago is a happy medium between North America, where it’s business as usual, and Brazil, where everything is closed. There’s less traffic—and even none on major roads on Sundays, closed to motor vehicles—, more activities offered and people let themselves be entertained by buskers or just enjoy each other’s company.

We did all the things people do on weekends. We went to the Quinta Normal and explored the Museo Ferroviario, we went to Providencia and enjoy the quiet, posh streets and the city’s modern skyline, we went to Barrio Brasil where I took pictures of graffiti art on the walls, we went to bars in Bellavista and Santa Lucía.

Sunday would have been a good time to rob one of the fancy stores in Providencia, as the city’s police force was concentrated around La Moneda, waiting for Piñera to come back from the official ceremony in Valparaíso. We went to listen to the end of the speech, mostly because I wanted to see what people who support a billionaire conservative looked like. Without surprise, the crowd was very different from the one who was listening to Michelle Bachelet on International Women’s Day three days ago.

Everything is changing. I hope I can handle the transition.

Providencia
Calle Bandera
Alameda
Alameda
Cerro Santa Lucía
Plaza de Armas
Plaza de Armas
Friday night in Bellavista
Friday night in Bellavista
Friday night in Bellavista
Iglesia de Santo Domingo
Balmaceda
Barrio Brasil
Barrio Brasil
Quinta Normal
Museo Ferroviario de Santiago
Museo Ferroviario de Santiago
Museo Ferroviario de Santiago
Museo Ferroviario de Santiago
Museo Ferroviario de Santiago
Museo Ferroviario de Santiago
Museo Ferroviario de Santiago
Museo Ferroviario de Santiago
Museo Ferroviario de Santiago
Paseo Huérfanos
Parque Balmaceda
Costanera Andres Bello, closed to traffic every Sundays until 2 p.m.
Costanera Andres Bello, closed to traffic every Sundays until 2 p.m.
Providencia
Providencia
Providencia
Parque Forestal
Paseo Puente
Barrio Brasil
Barrio Brasil
Buskers on Paso Puente
Buskers on Plaza de Armas
Sunset on Santiago
At the apartment on Monjitas
Plaza de Armas
Around La Moneda on Sunday, as Sebastián Piñera was taking office
La Moneda on Sunday, as Sebastián Piñera was taking office
Around La Moneda on Sunday, as Sebastián Piñera was taking office
Sebastián Piñera’s speech at La Moneda on Sunday night
Sebastián Piñera’s speech at La Moneda on Sunday night
Sebastián Piñera’s speech at La Moneda on Sunday night
Sebastián Piñera’s speech at La Moneda on Sunday night
Sebastián Piñera’s speech at La Moneda on Sunday night
Sebastián Piñera’s speech at La Moneda on Sunday night
Sebastián Piñera’s speech at La Moneda on Sunday night
Sebastián Piñera’s speech at La Moneda on Sunday night
Sebastián Piñera’s speech at La Moneda on Sunday night

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