Saturday, January 12, 2013

Dismembered body parts, red giraffes and nearly nude dancers: Santiago goes all out for culture in January

I have been LOVING Santiago lately. Caroline and I had a great time showing our family and friends the highlights of the city, and I think that helped us appreciate how many cool things Santiago has. Then, just as I was starting to really appreciate it, things kicked into high gear.
This was just as magical as it looks in the picture, and so much more than what I expected going in.

Santiago a Mil

We'd been seeing banners and posters around the city for more than a month, but I still hadn't paid much attention to Santiago a Mil. I knew that it was some sort of arts/theater/culture festival for the month of January, but I figured that just meant a few extra shows and plays, all of which would be in Spanish and probably expensive.

Boy was I wrong.

Have you ever been going about your business in a city, and all of a sudden you discover there is some cool parade, live exhibition, performance, or something, right in the middle of your otherwise perfectly normal city? Santiago a Mil is pretty much like that, for the whole month, spread throughout the entire metropolitan area of Santiago. And we are lucky enough to live very near the heart of the city.

So far we've had three great experiences, and we'll be seeking out more. I'll post about each one of them.

I stumbled onto my first public art piece on Monday while helping out on a Bicicleta Verde tour. We had a pretty large group that day, and the tour had just arrived to our penultimate stop in the Plaza de Armas, the very old central plaza of government buildings and the old cathedral. There's always a crowd of people here, but on this day we encountered something a bit more unusual:
Imagine running into these guys when you aren't expecting it, just going about your business!
This was SO COOL! The Plaza had been taken over by giant dismembered body parts hopping around. There was a hand, a foot, a nose and an eye, but the most dramatic one was the giant pacman-like mouth (shown above). People would crowd around taking pictures, and then all of a sudden the mouth would stick out its tongue and make a charge for the crowd. People shrieked and fell back, stumbling over each other, but then they came right back to crowd around again.
If people seem to be ignoring the eye, it's probably because the mouth was nearby. Also, do you think that is a kid or a midget inside?

Working with another tour guide, we had to guard the bikes because the mob of people was coming closer and we were worried that people would stumble back and trip on the bikes. I just stood there with my hands out shouting "Cuidado! Cuidado!" and we mostly prevented anyone from tripping into the bikes.

The mouth drew the most attention. Some little kids were pretty freaked out and crying, and I can sort of see why.
After this crazy and amazing experience, I had to find out about more! I searched the website and found another free outdoor event in our area, called Las Jirafas (the giraffes). So on Wednesday evening, Caroline and I walked over to Parque Bustamante to check it all about it in the next post!

Have you ever discovered a public performance by surprise? They can be so memorable when they are unexpected. Leave a comment to tell about it!

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