I Predict a Riot

Trip Start May 27, 2011
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Trip End Ongoing


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What I did
Dodged tear gas

Flag of Chile  ,
Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Our first stop was Valparaiso which Lonely Planet basically describes as an arty, beachy, cosmopolitan type of place... in actual fact I'd say it was a lot more edgy, I've never seen so much graffiti, albeit the good type. Hence all the photos - there are some talented street artists in Valparaiso.

We moved on to the capital, Santiago, as our final destination before the Australia. I wasn't too bothered about exploring the city before we left. In fact I think my exact words were, "Santiago is quite boring, there won't be any good photos".

Well, reader, was I wrong on that one. We were wandering up the main street looking for a little book shop and we happened upon what looked like a disturbance at the end of a massive Boulevard. Then somewhere in the back on my mind I remembered dad mentioning something about some student riots. But of course at the time I didn't worry, as you do when you are thousands of miles away from any trouble, of course now we were about 200 metres away.

The police weren't too heavy-handed the day we were there, (although the following day a student was shot dead). Trevor and Jo (our New Zealand friend who we had been travelling with since Mendoza) got into war photographer mode, whilst I hid in the background squeaking "guys I'm not sure we're all that safe here". For hours the police used water cannons to try and control the students congregated around the University building across the road from us and other "spectators". I think as it was "just water" I thought the riots were pretty safe. Then I saw the power of those cannons - they broke a traffic light in half! Then, to add to the danger, people started spontaneously sneezing around us (like a chemical warfare episode of 24) its at that point we realised why some vendors were selling lemons.. to neutralize the effects of tear gas.

It was also moments later that one of the giant scary armored trucks slowly edged around the corner, its water cannons trained on us - the riot police did try and move us on, but of course people love watching a spectacle and we weren't going anywhere. So they started up the water cannons as a more direct hint. Jo and I ducked under the subway entrance with a bunch of other pedestrians. Trevor disappeared off into a shop doorway. It was like a scary version of playing in the garden with the water hose when you were five years old. We all got soaked and had what felt like sunburn on our faces from the chemicals (the water was laced with tear gas)... nasty stuff.

There is a particularly funny (read: embarrassing) photo of me with my hands up in surrender style. Those trucks look like Daleks ok?! I am the knight in Pythons Holy Grail that shouts 'run away' at any sign of trouble. And I'm proud of it. Even when Jo retold the story, surrender hands and all, to CNN the next day (cheers doll).

We were due to fly out of Santiago on Thursday which also happened to coincide with the first day of the official National Strike. Brilliant. All shops and transport were on lock down, but we managed to flag down a lone taxi and got to the airport 8 hours early (there is prepared, and then there's me :). But the arrivals lounge had power points and free wifi (a travellers dream duo), so we caught up on admin or Facebook as its more commonly known. Then 8 long hours later boarded our LAN flight to Australia, and our first English speaking country in 3 months.

 
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Comments

Derek on

C'mon guys ... everybody knows that the Daleks are susceptible to the Movellan virus - should've tried that on them. Failing that, just climbing up some steps will leave a Dalek circling far below! (Damn these wheels)

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