Can you believe I'm writing this one state-side? It's surreal to be writing from the comfort of my own bed with León at foot of course.
Let's rewind a bit to the very beginning of this "summer" as we refer to it in Chile. Before heading home to colder weather, I had a glorious 10 days of rest and relaxation in the summer sun. I attended a 3rd farewell party for my dear friend Edel, because 1 just doesn't suffice for such an incredible human. This time we went to the most stunning rooftop restaurant as the sun was setting. I even crossed another one off the 'ol bucket-list because I hitched a ride with a friend on the back of his motorcycle. After dinner, Edel wanted to cap the night off with some karaoke. I will say I do a mean karaoke, and with my side-kick Colm present, we brought down the house with our rendition of "My Heart Will Go On". I hate to toot my own horn, but I will say that we did get a standing ovation...
^^ Officially leaving school for summer break!!
Following Edel's departure I said "chao for now" to another dear friend, Flo who was headed back to Río. I hope to visit her this year!
The purpose of the 10-day buffer before going home was to get all of the documents and paperwork done in a relaxed way before heading North. Here I am bragging for a second time in one post, but I kicked Chile's bureaucratic ass this year. If they needed a paper, I had it. Stapled? No problem. Copies? I've got 3 sets. I was prepared for anything they threw at me.
I finally got a chance to check out a new art project in the center of Santiago. Unlike most capital cities, the center of Santiago is not so nice and a bit dangerous, actually. It's a place I don't go too often. But it is still overflowing with history and culture. From what I understand, and let's face it, that's never the 100% for me in Chile, the purpose of the project is to bring color and happiness into otherwise ugly and unremarkable congested areas. 3,300 square meters of a congested and popular yet mundane Chilean street were painted in extraordinary vibrance and color. I quite enjoyed strolling the colorful pedestrian street -I felt like I was in a Dr. Seuss story!
Finally, on the day of my departure I woke up at 3am to see the Pope. Pope Francis or Pope Francisco as they call him in Latin America was doing some sort of Pope Tour and was stopping in Santiago. Now I'm technically not even Catholic, but I can get communion with the best of 'em. You don't usually have too many opportunities in life to see the Pope in person!
Why did we have to wake up at 3am? The event was MASSIVE and I commend them for their organization. It took place at a large outdoor event center and people had to sign up for tickets online (free). Each ticket had a section and each section had to arrive at a specific time. The mass didn't begin until about 10am believe it or not. There were people there since 2am! Everyone brought sleeping bags, lawn chairs and food.
Perhaps -actually I know it's the gringa in me, but I was really worried about the security. 400,000 people turned out to see the Pope in Santiago breaking the Guinness Book of World Record. Since theres not really terrorism in Latin America, security was extremely relaxed. Everyone was bringing in gigantic backpacks and bags and the security guard simply asked "Do you have a lighter?"
We watched the Pope on the big screen make his way to La Moneda where the president works, to meet with her and then he made his way to the mass. His car was surrounded on all sides, probably more than The US President's motorcade, and an ambulance tailed behind. Once he arrived, he drove around each and every section in his "Pope-Mobile" without the glass, waving to the crowd.
The actual mass was lovely. There was a lot of beautiful music. I was surprised to observe the Pope so stoic and serious during the mass since he usually seems pretty happy and upbeat in real-life. Overall, it was a great experience and pretty cool to say that I attended a mass administered by the Pope.
Finally after a long nap, León and I made our way North.
^^ León thoroughly enjoyed his vet check-up before heading home
^^ A close-second for best shirt I've found so far
^^ "The world is a book and those who do not TRAVEL, only read one page"