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Witnessing Earthquakes and Protest in Santiago Greedy Hooker Unaimed 

Witnessing Earthquakes and Protest in Santiago

Chile’s earthquakes were not the only shattering revelation the country and its people had in store for this Scottish traveller to the long and thin country.

Until the earthquake on Friday the 4th of November, my experience of Santiago, the Chilean capital, was fairly typical of the gringo experience; I downed terremoto cocktails in Bellavista, hiked amidst the stunning snow-flecked mountainous vistas of Cajon del Maipo and danced, if falteringly, through the intricate steps of La Cueca in the city’s dancehalls till the early hours. On Friday afternoon, as I was working on my computer, I looked up at a tremendous bang and the bizarre sensation of my chair shaking below me as my flatmates´ house plant, named terremoto, tumbled off the bookshelf. Rushing to the window and looking out over my balcony on the 17th floor, I saw everyone walking about, continuing with their daily business in the street below, as skyscrapers wavered and shook around them. The earthquake only measured 6.1 on the Richter scale, a level that caused devastation in Italy recently, but is only called a mere temblor by Chilenos – tremor in English. However, the experience of the earthquake was followed by a second shattering of perspective as I walked to La Moneda; my previous views of Latin America and the nature of democracy here realigned; my frames of reference suddenly shifted.

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