Saturday, December 8, 2012

Santiago - a city of spontaneous culture!

There was a guy re-directing traffic so this group of bikers could take over the road.

I spend a LOT of my time in Santiago on buses. Most weekdays, I have a tutoring job in the far-flung wealthy suburb of Lo Barnechea. It's beautiful, but it is not easy to get to if you don't have a car. So, I take the extremely crowded Metro, transfer from the green line to the red line, then transfer to a bus and ride that for 30-45 minutes. It can be a long commute, and while it's a chance to see the city, it's not my favorite.

Three mornings a week, I volunteer at La Bicicleta Verde, fixing bikes. I enjoy that job, and I really enjoy biking to and from it. Biking is such a fun way to experience Santiago, and as summer has arrived, I've realized that there are quite a few Santiaguinos who bike around the city as well.

One of the cool things about biking in a city is that you can change your route whenever you feel like it, you aren't stuck like on a bus. This is great because Santiago has a lot of free, outdoor cultural events going on all the time. Sometimes I find myself biking by artisan fairs, music concerts, drum circles or other fun things.

Just recently, I was biking home from Bici Verde and I encountered a huge group of cyclists taking up the road. I knew that Santiago has a critical mass event, but I also knew that had just happened a few days prior, so I figured this was something else. Since I had a little time, I joined the group and biked alongside. 

I did my best to pull up to someone friendly looking and ask what it was all about. They answered, but I didn't really understand the response. I asked a few more people, and eventually pieced together that this was part of an "urban intervention" and that we were going to the GAM, a cool cultural center/museum.

After following the group a bit more, we did end up at GAM. People parked their bikes and then started participating in some kind of outdoor urban art project. I didn't have a ton of time, so I looked around a little and then went home. I did see a few especially cool things, you can check them out below:

This says "Before I die..." and then there are a bunch of lines that say "I want to..." and people fill in the blanks with chalk. It was fun to read ones that I could understand, like "Antes de morir, quiero un taco"

This says "Sin Bip! Sin Tarjeta. Soy feliz en bicicleta". It's backwards because it's for screen printing on t-shirts
The screen printing thing was really cool. The idea is that you bring your own t-shirt and the guy would print it for you. I almost had him do my shirt right then and there, but it wasn't a good one to get printed. The text is awesome. It translates roughly to "Don't need a metro card, don't need a bus, I'm happy on my bike!" but it also rhymes :)

This was one part of the public art project. There were many more things being painted and built too.
 Have you ever stumbled upon something cool during your commute and decided to investigate?

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