| Introduction | 11/22 | 11/23 | 11/24 | 11/25 | 11/26 | 11/27 | 11/28 | 11/29 | Alfred C. Snider | Debate Central |
Sunday is a slow day in Santiago. Although my hotel is right in the heart of the city, an early morning walk was refreshing but I saw only shuttered shops and quiet streets. A few buses were running and even fewer taxis. I did find an ATM machine and finally got some Chilean pesos at 700 for $1. After the walk I went back to the hotel for breakfast. The breakfast was as I remembered, hearty but not the usual breakfast fare of America. The fruit and bread was excellent, but my favorite was the “farmer’s cheese” that tasted quite a bit like fresh mozzarella. The breakfast was very filling.
I went back upstairs to my room and worked on my journal before turning to my other projects, my two presentations for Wednesday and my now overdue essay for the next issue of Contemporary Argumentation and Debate on the 20th anniversary of my original gaming article. The day was lovely and warm so I opened my window all the way to allow the fresh breeze in to the room. The hours ticked away and it was time for lunch, but I still felt quite full from breakfast, I knew that Paola Bernales would be coming by early in the afternoon and since I didn’t know what she had planned I decided to delay lunch. I kept working and at about 2:00 PM I got a call from the desk that senorita Bernales was waiting for me.
| INSIDE MY HOTEL ROOM LOOKING OUT | PAOLA CONFRONTS PINK PVC TUBS OF MODERN ART |
I went downstairs with my camera in a small Rasta shoulder bag (red, gold, green, and black hemp fabric with the Lion of Judah on it). I greeted Paola, who had cut her hair shorter since I had seen her 18 months earlier and also had a darker hair color, and it was very good to see her. Paola mostly does publicity and media work for Sociedad de Debate and I remember when I was here for the Primer Torneo Hispanoamericano that she kept us all busy with media interviews one after another. Since this was my free day it seemed as if she had the assignment to "show me the city" and that sounded like an excellent prospect. I had missed all of the tourist events during the Torneo Hispanoamericano as Rodrigo kept me busy with training sessions and tournament work, so it was nice to be able to wander around the city on a quite day like this Sunday seemed to be.
| EXCELLENT SANTIAGO SUBWAY STATION | VIEW FROM MY HOTEL WINDOW |
We walked to the nearby subway and headed off to a station called "Santa Ana." From there we wandered into an older neighborhood with narrow streets. We wandered through a family park with some very interesting play structure for children. Little did I know that we would see a similar structure at the modern art museum later that day. We stopped at a stylish cyber cafe and didn't log on, but had some delicious pineapple juice and munched on a "celestino," a soft thin pancake rolled up with what tasted like chocolate hazelnut butter in it.
Paola and I caught up on things since my last visit. We spoke of her work with the new debate outreach programs and her never-ending publicity work. She also talked of her study of history and her hope to become a teacher of writing while she also wrote on historical topics of interest. She asked about my debate work and I told her of my most recent efforts, my visit to Poland for the IDEA conference, my upcoming trip to Venezuela in December, and my trip to China in April to present papers on debate at the Sino-American Seminar on Educational leadership and to prepare for the WDI session to take place in China next August. We talked long about China and continued it as we left the cyber cafe and made our way to the Plaza Las Armas.
Talking to Paola was an excellent exercise to get my Spanish improved as well as her English. As an English speaker I tried to speak in Spanish as much as possible while she as a Spanish speaker tried to speak in English as much as possible. It was very useful as well as being entertaining. Paola did a good job of correcting me and helping me with my vocabulary. I wonder how long it will take me to remember that the letter "j" is largely silent in Spanish.
| AT THE PLAZA LAS ARMAS | INSIDE THE MAIN CATHEDRAL IN SANTIAGO |
At the Plaza las Armas Paola told me how the entire plaza had been changed in the last few years, with some beautiful new statues as well as new landscaping. The main cathedral in Sabtiago was there and we took a brief tour. As it was a Sunday there seemed to be a good deal of worshippers there, almost all of them in silent prayer amidst the smattering of tourists. Many of the orayerful faithful seemed full of emotion, many of them weeping silently as they prayed before beautiful old figures and altars.
We left the cathedral and also looked at the main post office and the old city hall municipal building. We decided to skip the subway-bus-taxi options and walk to our next stop, the museums of Santiago. As we walked along the lovely but nearly empty streets we traded vocabulary words and talked about the challenges inherent in the outreach activities in debate they were involved in. I shared my experiences with the urban debate leagues in the USA and she with her experiences here in Chile.
| "LOUD WHITE TREE" AND "TAXIDERMY" FROM CONTEMPORARY ART MUSEUM - MAC |
We came upon the first museum, the MAC, or museum of contemporary art in Chile. It was featuring exhibitions by young artists in Santiago, and the work was very interesting. I especially liked the room full of pink PVC tubes where I got a good photo of Paola, a strange photo-print of taxidermy gone wrong, a painting called the "Loud white tree," and an installation called "stress and non-stress" where an automated device whacked a ball against the head of a figure at high speech while a similar device hit a ball against a similar head at very low speed.
Our next museum stop was the Museo Belle Artes, where we would see better-known Chilean artists as well as a still-life show from the UK. We grabbed a couple of bottles of cold water on our way in, as it was a beautiful warm day in Santiago. This museum was truly stunning. Inside in the main lobby was an astounding group of sculptures by an artist named Ugo Nunez. They were mostly nightmare creatures, but the detail and various themes in each of then dominated my attention. They had a very primal and mythic feel to them, and it was hard to ascribe to them any single theme. But, wherever they came from in the creative mind, I might want to visit them but certainly not stay very long.
| SCULPTURE BY UGO NUNEZ |
A contemporary Chilean artist had an excellent exhibit called the "School of the Imagination." This contained themed rooms that might exist at a school, but were radically different. One set of photos showed typical rural Chilean school buildings, but all of them had odd shaped holes cut in the walls so that one could see into the schools or out of the schools. Another had chalkboards made of metal with sharp grooves and designs cut into them, and people were invited to rub huge pieces chalk over them so that the chalk dust would fall through and make interesting designs on the ground. Another was a library theme where books were embedded into planks of thick wood. A video display showed strange pages being collated and then held together with the kind of iron clamps one would use in woodworking.
| PAOLA IN THE SCHOOL OF THE IMAGINATION | BIG LEGGED HORSE |
We then examined an extensive collection of paintings by Chilean artists, and I was most impressed by the oddly futuristic and surreal paintings of an artist named Matta. Paola informed me that he had died the day before our visit. I was stunned by the detail and the images in the Matta paintings, and had to snap partial photos of two of them. I am determined to expose myself to more of his awesome work. We also enjoyed the exhibit of "still life" images from the UK. I did, however, find the collection of 20 lamb hearts and one human heart just a little disconcerting.
| TWO PAINTINGS BY RECENTLY DECEASED CHILEAN PAINTER MATTA |
After we left the museum we headed towards a hill called San Cristobal, from which we would get a magnificent view of the city. On the way we walked through a part where there seemed to be a large "flea market" going on. Anyone seeking retro clothing (like bright green plastic Nehru jackets) should go shopping in this park. We also walked over the main river through Santiago, and it was amazing to see that the river had been confined to one half of its normal course while the other half was turned into a highway. Paola told me that the other half will be turned into a highway later and that eventually the river will run over the highway. Santiago is clearly in need of more roadways to handle the traffic, but this seemed a little extreme to me.
At the foot of San Cristobal is a section of town famous for its entertainment, restaurants, and nightspots. I remember that Rodrigo had brought me here for a delicious Peruvian meal during my last visit. There was even a large reggae club there called Jammin’. We proceeded through this neighborhood and I promised myself that I would return. Paola suggested a club called “Maestro Vide” (life the teacher) as a good place to start when I returned. At the foot of San Cristobal hill we found a narrow gauge railway that lifts people up the very steep hill so that they can catch the view from the top. I avoided attempts to get me to have my picture taken while sitting on a llama (I have too much respect for llamas to do that) and made our way to the railway. A map of the large park complex on San Cristobal showed a zoo, a restaurant, as well as hiking and biking trails that lead to the top, where there is a large space to view the city below.
The train to the top was a lot of fun, as we rose above the city and we could see Santiago’s five million strong cityscape below us. At the top we enjoyed the view and Paola urged me to try a traditional Chilean cookie, thin and crisp, that I did in fact enjoy. We took a seat on the edge of the hill and enjoyed the view as we talked about debate (of course) and I snapped some pictures.
| VIEW OF SANTIAGO FROM SAN CRISTOBAL | VIEW OF MY FEET FROM SAN CRISTOBAL |
Paola discussed her concerns about judge training. The criteria that judges use is quite variable from debate to debate, and (in her opinion) there is too much focus on delivery and not enough focus on argument. Paola asked me to describe the kind of debating my students do and I gave her the full story of policy debating. She was amazed at how long our debates are, and was also interested in the concept of having one broad topic all year long. She said that as someone who was interested in and trained at investigative reporting this was the kind of debate that would really help develop deeper investigative and analytical abilities. I didn’t tell her about the fast-talking. She asked about tournaments and I told her about my recent trip to West Point with fifteen teams and another ten people in the group. I shared with her that I had organizational nightmares for days afterward, and she laughed and said that the same thing had happened to her after she had organized a large event for her school students.
We took the train back down to the bottom and walked through the entertainment district as it was starting to come to life for a Sunday night. Paola told me she had been there last night and that every street and every club seemed full of merrymakers. At her suggestion we stopped for an empanada. These are a sort of turnover filled with various contents. She got a cheese and shrimp empanada while I went for a chick and ham with cheese version. We sat at some sidewalk tables and talked more as we ate and sipped some fruit juice.
| MODERN ART JUNGLE GYM IN LOCAL PARK | JUGGLERS AT CITY CENTER |
We began the walk back and it was later than I thought. I offered to spring for a taxi to take her to her home and me back to the hotel. We caught a taxi easily and soon she was out of the taxi and on her way up to her apartment. She waved to a handsome male face leaning out of a window and I guessed it was her boyfriend. Yes, we had been longer than expected. The taxi then dropped me off at my hotel and I realized that we had come all the way across town and the fare was only about $4 US. What a bargain, but then, everything seemed fairly inexpensive to me.
Although I had not had a real meal since breakfast I was not that hungry, so I worked for a while before stepping out at about 10 PM to grab a simple sandwich from a local shop. I stopped at a Chile-style convenience store to buy some water for my room (and it was very cold) and I checked out the products. I have never seen mayonnaise sold in foil packets before, but then I never looked before. I headed back to the hotel and munched on my sandwich and guzzled a lot of cold fresh water. It had been hotter than it felt that day so I needed some rehydration.
I worked on my journal entry for the day and also worked a bit on my presentations for COBA. I tried to watch an NFL game in Spanish but found it even more boring than in English, so after a few more news updates from the BBC I decided to pack it in for the night.
I rarely get a chance to do much sightseeing while on my debate trips, but I was glad I had such a good opportunity that day and I was especially grateful for the excellent company I had in Paola Bernales.