Between 7 p.m. and 8 p.m., we always end up at the Plaza Las Armas. I don’t know how, we are on autopilot by then, tired after a day spent exploring. The Plaza seems like a good place to hang out. Back to the heart of the city, wherever we’ve been.
It’s is packed, as usual. Kids bath in the fountain (no Mark, you can’t, sorry), run around, climb on the Statue of Pedro de Valdivia. Adult play chess or listen to the very loud preachers. Vendors roll their carts of mote de huesillo away and are replaced by vendors of churros or pop-corn.
Time to consider dinner options. Chileans don’t eat as early and as light as Brazilians but they don’t feast in the middle of the night like Argentinians. Most people seem to stop by a Fuente de Soda for a burger, a slice of pizza, a giant sandwich or an elaborated hot dog—before Chile, I had no idea there were so many ways to eat hot dogs. I gave up on finding foods I like here. The ingredients are great but the food served in restaurants is very so so. The guys usually have Chinese food. I buy empanadas, fresh bread, ham and other delicacies and I eat at the hotel-apartment.
The stores start to close around 8 p.m. Employees roll the shutters down and take the garbage outside. Commuters wait for the bus. There are people in the street, the city is still very lively, at least in the centre.
Customers at the supermarket at waiting for a fresh batch of bread, hot from the oven. Marraqueta (Chilean French bread rolls) are very popular, as well as the hallulla, a flat round bread baked with vegetable. People sigh when they spot someone picking the rolls with their hands, you’re supposed to use the tongs, but there are only a couple available and twenty people are waiting, so what are you supposed to do? Then they queue to buy sliced ham and cheese at the deli—if you don’t buy a sandwich, you make it. I look silly buying a couple of slices of ham, most customers ask for a pound or more.
Supermarkets here close at 10 p.m. and there is a long lineup at 9:50 p.m., as if the chore was best done at the very last minute. For those who couldn’t make it, there are always convenience store where, after 10 p.m., you won’t be able to get in: you order from behind the bars, a if the owner was in jail, sentenced to hand out cigarettes, hard-boiled eggs and drinks to late-night customers.
Santiago has a kinky side and there are many theatres showing X-rated movies. They feel a bit outdated (the theatres, not the movies, I didn’t check them out…). I mean, ever heard of the Internet? I can’t imagine someone planning to masturbate between the 11:35 p.m. show and the 12:20 a.m. one, but maybe I don’t know anything about guys.
Plaza Las Armas is finally empty but for a handful of people loitering. The police is nearby, keeping an eye on the scene. Everybody is home, you can see lights at the windows, hear people talking.
I’m going back too.
I’m tired but I don’t mind it. This means I had a good day, that I accomplish something. I want to stay up as long as I can, I don’t want the day to end. I enjoy the sunshine, now I need these quiet hours to relax.
Good night, Santiago. Sleep tight.
We are going back to Argentina… Ciao!