September 11 (1973, 2001 and 2014)

As much as I would love to be dramatic and say that this week has been weird or scary, that would be a lie. As you may or may not know, two days ago, a bomb exploded in Escuela Militar, the metro stop where I work. It is also the stop that is two stops away from my house. The bomb injured fourteen people and since then security around metros has increased dramatically. A few weeks ago, a bomb was found in a Metro in Los Dominicos, which is the metro stop I use when I ride my bike to the metro, which is almost daily. Although a bomb was found there, life continued without a second thought of the situation. Obviously, the circumstances of this second situation have changed the environment of the Metro-of Santiago really. People are scared, tense and bothered.

I have not had a situation in Santiago where I have felt unsafe-but I have to admit I was very uneasy riding the metro yesterday to and from school. Usually during Taco (or rush hour), the metro is hot and you’re squished against an average of three to six other individuals, but this time the Taco-hour Metro was full, but not as it normally is because many have opted to take the micros (Santiago’s bus system) as a precaution. Despite the fear, life continues. People take the Metro; people ride the micros- the busy worker bees continue to work. 

Last night, I was unable to switch metro lines because a suspected bomb had been found at Baquedano. This added a twenty minute walk to my already hour long commute home since I had to walk to a stop for the other line. When I boarded the train, I noticed that everyone in the car looked at me. As I snagged an open space to stand against the back window, I noticed that everyone would stare at anyone who boarded the metro. Although eye contact is common on the Metro, more so than in the United States, all eyes on you when you get on the metro was something I had not experienced. As much as I didn’t like this experience, I was equally comforted by everyone’s unanimous concern for the safety and well-being. 

Thirteen years ago, September 11th shaped the history of every United States citizen and left a print on the world that will not be forgotten. Every US citizen I know can recount where they were, whom they were with and their emotions and reactions when realizing maybe the world isn’t as safe as I thought it was; that day remains crystal clear in our minds.

Forty-one years ago, September 11th shaped the history of every Chilean citizen when in 1973 the military coup removed socialist President Salvador Allende from power. The events of the coup still intensely divide Chilean society, and the anniversary is habitually a time of protests that often turn violent. It’s hard to tell whether the bombs of this week are related, but it makes for a better explanation than… no explanation.

Leading up to September 11th, many Chileans as well as the Spaniards I work for have told me I need to be careful on September 11th. People are unnecessarily violent on this day and so it is best to take it easy and head home early. As I have said, I have never(okay maybe once or twice) felt afraid in Santiago, but this week I was afraid of what could happen. With that said, I have continued about my daily life, because if I were to live my life afraid of the bad things that could happen, it is likely I would miss out on all of the good things that do happen.

Luckily for me, I will only be going into the city once in the morning and then in the afternoon I head to San Pedro de Atacama, the driest desert in the world. It’s been a busy semester, I’m sorry I haven’t updated you all more, but I promise all is well and I promise to post an update soon since I have a lot to share!