I don't know how much any of you have been following this recently, but there have been some substantial city-wide protests going on the past 2 days in Santiago. The majority of them have taken place close to where I work in Moneda, but fortunately I don't have classes there on Wednesdays. Today, however...
Class ended up starting in Moneda at 1:00. I took an out of the way subway to get there, so I wouldn't have to pass by the Plaza Moneda, the government building 3 blocks south of my work.
At work, I ended up teaching my class for the full 90 mins, and I ended up breaking down laughing in class at one point. I realize the majority of you have never taken elementary-level English before, but some of the materials they use in class are RIPE for comedy. For instance, today we were learning about asking questions, and the gerund forms of simple verbs (adding -ing) like "are you going to the mall?" or "are you doing your homework?". In the book, there were partially-completed questions that each student had to complete with "are you doing", "are you working", "I am having", etc. After they completed the exercise, we listened to an audio track with only the responses in the blanks used. So, I listened to an audio tape that said the following:
Woman: "Are you going?"
Man: "I am going"
Woman: "I am going"
Man: "I am not going"
Woman: "We are going"
Man: "We are not going"
Of course, the students had no idea why I was laughing. Probably because they are used to having mature teachers.
Afterwards, I had lunch in the cafeteria, on the screen was live-feed video of the protests going on in the streets, where people were knocking down traffic lights, throwing stuff at cars, etc. I realized that this was probably near Moneda, and begrudgingly realized that I'd have to take the long way back home again today.
As I left the institute, I started walking north, away from Moneda. After a couple blocks, I noticed a lot of trash in the streets. Then, after one more block, I looked to the left. It was EXACTLY the area I had just seen on the news. Fortunately there was a police line between me and the rioters, but still, I could see very clearly all the activity that had been going on earlier on national television.
Then a guy broke through the line. He was still about 2 blocks away, but was heading in our direction. There were plenty of other people around me, so I wasn't scared, but still, there was a guy sprinting full on in our direction. And he had a cop behind him, in full riot gear, sprinting after him. As he approached the other corner of the block next to us, 2 normal cops got in his way. To try and avoid them, he punched through a plate-glass storefront window, and tried to climb through it. the cops immediately restrained him, and dragged him back into a paddy-wagon a block or so away. The store immediately closed.
It was pretty wild though, to be that close to a riot. I guess next time I should pay a little closer attention to what streets the riots are actually taking place on.