Oh what a day! Coming from a country that uses cars as their primary mode of transportation, it was definitely a hard transition to walk to most of our destinations today. The theme of the day today was learning about the history and lifestyle of Chile. We started our historical journey with a subway ride to La Moneda Palace (the president’s palace).
Unfortunately during our tour, the President was not working at the time, so we were not able to see her; however, our tour guide taught gave us a great tour and taught us about the unique Chilean past. While the president does not live inside today, it used to house the president as well as provide them with the ability to work on their governmental duties. As we toured some of the rooms inside the palace, we noticed that cooper was a common element used in many of their artwork and framework. Our tour guide mentioned that copper is so prominent in the palace because it is Chile’s largest export. Another common property was the Chilean flag seen below. The white represents snow, the blue represents the sky and ocean, and the red represents the blood of military men who fought for their freedom. The star in the corner represents the freedom and democracy of the country. Whenever the president is using the flag, the coat of arms is put in the middle to show respect.
During the second half of our day, we took a walking tour of the city, so that we could understand and grasp the lifestyle. Although there are many lifestyle characteristics that we saw today, we are choosing to focus on a few of the most noteworthy observations. The walking tour took us to three different markets that included fresh fruits, vegetables and meat for the locals. While visiting these markets, many of us got to try some of the unique food that was available to us.
The foods were marked at a cheaper price than what you would find at a supermarket (grocery) store, which is a great draw for some of the locals. These markets are in very tight buildings with little to no sanitation but are crowded with consumers. I was fascinated to see this type of lifestyle experience, however, many of us were called out by the locals for looking like Americans.
During our walking tour, we were also greeted by many animals, specifically dogs, cats, and one rat. We were told that it is common to see a lot of stray dogs and cats roam the streets of Santiago because many families just want the anima when they are puppies and get rid of them when they get older. Since many of our class are animal lovers, it was hard to watch the poor little animals search for food, water, shelter, and for someone to give them some love.
As I end this blog, I want to leave you with the picture below. During the last stretch of our walk, I noticed this artwork stating, men equal women. For some reason, this really hit me because Chile has a stereotypical masculine society. To see this picture means that there is change in the air and someone is trying to make a difference. Having a female president for the first time in their country’s history is also recognizing a historic change coming to this country.
Adios y hasta luego!