My walk to work is always interesting. I leave my apartment, slamming the door because there is absolutely no way to shut that door quietly, at 8:00 am. Walking downstairs and outside, sometimes there is a cat. He is loud and friendly, I enjoy his presence.
Walking down Obispo Salas, the name of my street, I see shop owners sweeping the leaves off the sidewalk as they get ready for the day. I also see the white paint splatter on the ground, from some protest held here about a month ago (before dawn, it was a nice wake-up call). Turning the street onto Condell, I see everyone else on their way. To work or school or home. If someone is walking a dog, I smile at them. Otherwise I stare blankly ahead, like a true Chilean.
Now I can see Cerro San Cristobal. The center of city (from my perspective). You can see it from almost anywhere. Mother Mary has her throne at the top of the hill, blessing the city, joined today by 8 or 9 (holy?) cell towers. Turning onto Calle Providencia, the fast pace of the city hits me. Cars speed by, honking impatiently and swerving around each other (miraculously I have yet to see an accident, although I have almost gotten hit like 8 times. I need to pay more attention). People here run to the bus stop, because they’re mostly likely running late. At this point, the frigid Santiago air that caused me to leave the house with a coat is no longer a match for how hot I got from walking 7 blocks. Like there might be something wrong with me, I’m always overheated (is menopause a thing for 21 year olds?). I pass tall buildings on my right, a park across the street on my left. Here I see a church that’s gates have been locked since my arrival, but it’s beautiful and it always makes me sad that no one really gets to appreciate it anymore.
Crossing to the metro station, I pass the street vendors (shoe inserts, ear buds, scarves, boxer briefs – name any random item and there’s probably someone selling it on a street in Santiago). They joke around with each other in between repeated chants letting you know how cheap their quality products are. Cross under the street to the actual station, there’s always a few straggling salesmen that are usually gone (aka told to leave) before I return that evening.
The subway ride is the most dreaded part of my day generally, but it is significantly easier to handle in the morning. I’ve got the system down- I walk to the end of the platform and sort of play the field to see which cars people get out of. And then you like walk run to the nearest one with an opening and shove your way on. I’m a PRO. I stand by the door so my hot flashes don’t overtake me in this humid underground box full of people.
Coming up the subway steps at El Golf, I already described to you the way the mountains look. Snowcapped and beautiful and double trouble with their reflection off of the buildings. At this point I’m running late so I don’t really take in the sights as much, but they’re mostly just buildings and restaurants and cafés.
Then I enter my office building, say hola to the two guards, wait for my elevator, and I’m here.
Writing this, I’m literally packing up my stuff to leave and I can’t really believe it’s been two months. I was so blessed to have this experience and to be able to work with good people. I’ll definitely miss it.