“We’re going to X, and we’re leaving in 15 minutes. Would you like to go?” I’ve encountered this scenario at least three times in my first week in Santiago. Whether it’s their youth or their adventurous traveling attitude, my housemates are always going somewhere RIGHT NOW. 🙂 It’s kept me on my toes, and enabled me to see a bit of the city already. I’m having so much fun!
We went to “the mall” on Wednesday afternoon. Yes, really. I can’t believe that I’ve already been to the mall, but it also happens to be the tallest building in South America and has this huge supermarket inside (the markets in the city are very small). So we were going to take the elevator up the 61 floors to the top for the view. Oh, and my youthful friends wanted fast food. (Insert eye roll) Of course, I remember when fast food was the be all and end all of living (remember TBS – Taco Bell for Supper??)
The view at the top was great, but would have been better without the smog. Santiago sits in a valley, so all the pollution created by the city tends to hover above it like a blanket. It’s sad, and makes me worry about my air quality. But I try not to think about it. (More about my activities below the pictures)
On Friday, I was sitting in the living room and one of my German friends came by to ask if I wanted to go to Cerro San Cristobal.
Now, most of my housemates are in their late teens or early 20’s, and they can hold fantastic conversations. They are all very well educated, and often know much more about America and its history than most Americans. I’ve been pleasantly surprised to find that I can talk with them so easily. Oh, and of course the fact that I am a Marine came out almost immediately. I begin with the PhD student story, but each person who has asked about my school wants to know more about my research topic. When I start talking about women in combat or in the Marine Corps, it becomes evident that I’ve probably served. One 18 year old called me on it saying, “you’ve obviously served”.
For all of them, I am the first U.S. Marine they have met. For some, I am the first service member they have ever met. They all (of course) think women should be able to do whatever they want to do in the military, even though some cannot understand why women would want to be part of the infantry. It also makes me feel good to have introduced the military to them on a personal level. These are not kids who are going to join the military, but some have thought of it. They explain why they have not, what they wished they could see in their own militaries, and want to understand the American military, the differences in the services, and what the issues are with women in the infantry. It’s been really fun talking to them
But, back to my original story. The housemate who invited me out Friday (Charlie) is slightly older at 30, and I sometimes enjoy speaking with someone closer to my age. (Though no one believes I’m 38!) So we walked to the metro and met two other friends there (one German, one Swiss – Anna and Angela). We took the metro to Cerro San Cristobal, walked to the funicular and took the train to the top. So much fun to hang out with my friends. We ended the evening at an amazing restaurant (fantastic ceviche!!) in this little nook of restaurants and shops. I was so happy to be introduced to this area. It reminded me of many European restaurant areas (especially Brussels, for those who are familiar) where the tables are outside and it’s covered in cobblestone and candlelight. I loved it immediately, and plan to return to try them all! I hope you enjoy the pictures! Until next time.