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Santiago – In Limbo

I’m all over the place.

I can’t focus because too much is happening too fast—yet for millions of people around the world, life is on pause.

Being abroad and alone during a global crisis is a strange experience. It’s frustrating because like many immigrants, I’d like to be in different places at the same time—in Canada with Feng and Mark, in France with my family—yet I’m fully aware my mere presence wouldn’t change a thing. I mean, don’t count on me for a COVID-19 vaccine, I can’t even follow a box cake mix recipe.

This is the second time I’m in an unlikely place during a major world event, by the way—I was working in Hong Kong when, one night, my roommate barged into the apartment and announced a plane had crashed into the World Trade Centre.

“Huh… it’s still standing right here,” I remember saying, pointing to Kowloon’s World Trade Centre building in the distance.

Hey, don’t judge, I was 18.

Tomorrow is my last day in Santiago. I’m flying back to Canada on Thursday—not a last-minute decision, that’s the date I picked originally. I hope everything goes as planned because, well… you’ve been reading the news as well, right?

Everything was more or less under control under it spiralled out of control around the world a few days ago.

Suddenly, I felt the need to reach out to my loved ones and talk about what was going on even though I knew it would be an echo chamber because no one has any idea what’s going on.

I tried to guess how bad it was based on Feng’s tone. He doesn’t have the Mediterranean or Latino “let’s freak out together” gene. He is rational with a scientific mind. He believes in numbers, data, probabilities. He is that guy who doesn’t get ripped off when exchanging money at the border.

Feng sounded exhausted and stressed out, mostly because of lineups in supermarkets. “People are crazy,” he sighed.

Then I called my mom who admitted she was scared—not so much of the virus itself but of the measures and lack of measures taken. Like all French, she went to work as usual on Friday, she was asked to go vote on Sunday (… only in France!) and now, as of Tuesday, she must be carrying a paper stating why she is leaving her apartment.

I talked to a few friends, all of them fairly level-headed but also confused and kind of lost because so much had changed so fast. All of them are scrambling to find childcare options, groceries, info, work-from-home solutions, a routine… and for how long?

Canada told Canadians to go home. Just as well, I was going to and Chile has just closed its borders (leaving the country isn’t an issue as far as I understand).

The atmosphere is weird in Santiago. “El virus” seemed to be far, far away until yesterday, but the President closed the school and kind of scared everyone by moving to “phase 4.” It’s still mostly business as usual but it’s hard to tell what’s “business as usual” these days in Santiago because of the ongoing protests and the impact they had on the city.

Like all over the world, people bought pasta, toilet paper and cleaning products. Not major shortage and craziness though, the shelves were mostly full again today and lineups are very reasonable.

I’m not scared, I’m anxious.

We’re all in limbo.

Plaza Italia, "Plaza de la Dignidad", on a quiet day without protests, Santiago
Plaza Italia, “Plaza de la Dignidad”, on a quiet day without protests, Santiago
Estación Baquedano, Plaza Italia (burned down in October)
Estación Baquedano, Plaza Italia (burned down in October)
Around Plaza Italia, Santiago
Around Plaza Italia, Santiago
Around Plaza Italia, Santiago
Around Plaza Italia, Santiago
Around Plaza Italia, Santiago
Around Plaza Italia, Santiago
The Crowd Plaza Hotel, La Alameda, Santiago
The Crowd Plaza Hotel, La Alameda, Santiago
La Alameda under close watch, Santiago
La Alameda under close watch, Santiago
"Break the locks of Pinochet", Providencia, Santiago
“Break the locks of Pinochet”, Providencia, Santiago
"Switch off the TV and burn the radio", Providencia, Santiago
“Switch off the TV and burn the radio”, Providencia, Santiago
"All cops are bastard" ("ACAB"), Providencia, Santiago
“All cops are bastard” (“ACAB”), Providencia, Santiago
"Police ask to calm down with their gun pointed at you", Providencia, Santiago
“Police ask to calm down with their gun pointed at you”, Providencia, Santiago
Providencia, Santiago
Providencia, Santiago
Providencia, Santiago
Providencia, Santiago
Centro Cultural Gabriela Mistral, La Alameda, Santiago
Centro Cultural Gabriela Mistral, La Alameda, Santiago
Centro Cultural Gabriela Mistral, La Alameda, Santiago
Centro Cultural Gabriela Mistral, La Alameda, Santiago
Centro Cultural Gabriela Mistral, La Alameda, Santiago
Centro Cultural Gabriela Mistral, La Alameda, Santiago
"Neither land nor women should be conquiered", La Alameda, Santiago
“Neither land nor women should be conquiered”, La Alameda, Santiago
"We're not a poor country, we've been impoberished by the mafia state", La Alameda, Santiago
“We’re not a poor country, we’ve been impoberished by the mafia state”, La Alameda, Santiago
"Long live the fucking unions", La Alameda, Santiago
“Long live the fucking unions”, La Alameda, Santiago
Santa Lucía, Santiago
Santa Lucía, Santiago
Santa Lucía, Santiago
Santa Lucía, Santiago
La Alameda, a mass given by a church official who supports the idea that "free market kills and excludes people"
La Alameda, a mass given by a church official who supports the idea that “free market kills and excludes people”
"People don't forget, Piñera bastard", La Alameda, Santiago
“People don’t forget, Piñera bastard”, La Alameda, Santiago
"Yep, I approve" (a new constitution), La Alameda, Santiago
“Yep, I approve” (a new constitution), La Alameda, Santiago
La Alameda, Santiago
La Alameda, Santiago
"As long as there will be poverty there will be rebellions", Le Alameda, Santiago
“As long as there will be poverty there will be rebellions”, La Alameda, Santiago
La Alameda, Santiago
La Alameda, Santiago
La Alameda, Santiago
La Alameda, Santiago
"Dodge the fare", La Alameda, Santiago
“Dodge the fare”, La Alameda, Santiago
"Your god killed my ancestors", La Alameda, Santiago
“Your god killed my ancestors”, La Alameda, Santiago
La Alameda, Santiago
La Alameda, Santiago
La Alameda, Santiago
La Alameda, Santiago
La Alameda, Santiago
La Alameda, Santiago
La Alameda, Santiago
La Alameda, Santiago

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