Day 5 – Mi Nobre Es

That’s my experience ordering food in Santiago, not my homage to Eminem. Twice today the staff did not know how to write “Troy” on my food order. Once they even called over another person to try to understand. I finally just said, “Mi hombre es Pablo” and they smiled and wrote it down. For the rest of the trip, I’m Pablo.

The best news of tonight is our peaceful orchestra concert at the same theatre where the protests have been happening. As much as I support the issues being protested, I don’t want to be in the middle of tear gas in a foreign country. Americans could learn from how the Chileans are fighting for the rights of all people, especially the Mapuche who have been driven from their land by mining and forestry companies. There’s a history here, sparked again by the police killing of a young Mapuche man last week. The parallels in the US are endless: Keystone pipeline, Travon Martin, and Colin Kaepernick are just a few. One killing in Chile brings thousands to the streets, whereas it’s happening nearly daily in the US and we seem more focused on our Snap streaks.

I thought the national symphony was making arts affordable by selling good seats for $10 each. Instead, it seems the arts may be underfunded here. The building had torn carpeting and only 75 people in the orchestra, for a city nearly the size of NYC. Despite this, Melina agreed the music was very good. I really liked the powerful piece by basoonist Nelson Vinot, a tribute to the Mapuche people, played under the Mapuche flag.

I’ve never seen four encores, with everyone on their feet with intense appreciation for the music, and what it stands for after the recent murder.

Before the concert, our day was mostly shopping. After returning the rental car, we took an Uber to Costenara Center, 5 floors of stores attached to a 300 meter tower. It’s the highest point in South America but everyone wanted to shop, not chase vertigo. So we gave the kids 4 hours on their own. We found the usual US stores but also plenty of new stores, like Ellus from Brazil. We took another Uber to the Artesanal market, which turned out to be more flea market than local artists, but an interesting walk around the shops.

Across the street is Santa Lucia Hill, named for the day the Spanish conquistador Pedro de Valdivia took over the hill in 1540. The next year, he founded Santiago. We climbed the small hill for photos before making our way home.

Today was mostly kid activities. Tomorrow, I hope to get back to what’s important, human rights and football.

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