On Saturday, we had some of the best weather yet, so we decided to venture out and see some new parts of the city. It was around 75F, but when the sun shines here it feels very hot. We biked into the Centro area, intending to walk around the pedestrian mall area - sort of like the Downtown Crossing of Santiago. We found that the Plaza de Armas (the central plaza) had been set up for a fitness festival, and there was a chilean dance troupe rehearsing on stage. We had a fun time watching for a bit, and then wandered around.
|The presidential palace La Moneda. Read more here|
We also went by the president's palace, called La Moneda. This is only where the president not works, not where he/she lives. It is also significant because during the military overthrow on Sept. 11, 1973, the old president Allende was attacked while in La Moneda by Pinochet's military troops, and this is where Allende died. Today, there is a statue of Allende in the plaza in front of La Moneda, but not a statue of Pinochet.
From there, we went to look at Barrio Brasil, a neighborhood that is young and hip with a lot of students and artists, but not quite as happening as Bellavista (which is the more central nightlife area). In Barrio Brasil, we found the main Plaza Brasil, which was set up for a feria, like a community yard sale fair. All sorts of people were out selling: college-age kids selling old clothes, artsy girls selling t-shirts they had painted on, older folks selling books, women selling their children's old clothing, and plenty of people selling crappy plastic toys from China.
I had arranged to buy a bike from a German guy via craigslist, and he lived in this area so he came and met us with the bike. He was very friendly, but after we bought it, we realized we were now half-way across the city with 3 bikes and two people. Not an easy problem to solve! For a while we tried to sell the bike at the feria. We asked someone for a piece of paper and wrote a price, and set up shop. I think we got a lot of funny looks ("Are those gringos really trying to sell a bike here?"). And the woman next to us was very friendly and talked to us a lot in spanish. Eventually we had to give up, because we had dinner plans that evening, so we walked most of the way across the city with three bikes. Ugh.
That night we ate dinner with the family that we are renting our apartment from. There are four aunts, about our parents age, and they have all been very friendly and welcoming to us. We had dinner with two of the aunts and one's boyfriend, who we had met before. It was in another apartment in our same building, so it was very simple. The meal was delicious; they called it a picayuno, which means it was less of a full dinner, and more like a wide array of appetizers and finger foods.
|This is the place we went out dancing, though of course we went at night :)|
After that, we went out to a nearby salsoteca (salsa dancing discotech) with a cuban theme, called Ilé Habana. We arrived around 11pm and it was nearly deserted! The waiter came by and gave us menus and asked us if we wanted some-word-we-didn't-understand. We said yes, to be adventurous, and so he brought us an ash tray. Oops. Anyway, we ordered drinks and did some people watching to pass the time. Around midnight, a band started setting up, and we decided we would really stay to dance. By 1am, a few couples were dancing to the house music, but they were really good and the dance floor was really open so we were too afraid to go up. Finally, at about 1:30am, the band started and the dance floor got crowded. We got up our guts and went to dance - and we had a blast! We aren't very experienced salsa dancers, but we just went for it, and we had a great time.
In the end, we left around 2:30am, got home by about 3am, and slept the next day till very late! I think this has been enough for one post, but I have lots more to share: some food mishaps, my first English class, an adventure at a very fancy mall, and more! Leave comments please, we love to hear from you all.