The Young and the Restless: Santiago

Happy Lady of Carmen Day, everyone! Chileans love their holidays, and today we have the day off. Which of course means that we have class on Saturday to make up for it, but whatever. A day off is a day off. The sun is shining, the grass is growing, and Luz is making sopaipillas. I don’t care where you’re from, or how much you care about Lady of Carmen, that’s a holiday.

As I’ve seemingly finally conquered the craziness that is Apple’s DRM, I’d like to share an actually relatively common cultural experience. I’ve talked before about how impressed I am with Santiago public transit (under the umbrella Transantiago), but the micros (buses) have one feature that you wouldn’t necessarily expect on a commuter bus: live music.


Lame picture, but I think you get the idea.

That’s right, live music. Everyone getting onto busses has to swipe their BIP! card, but micro drivers typically let on either vendors, or more commonly, dudes carrying instruments. Vendors walk the aisles, selling everything from candy to mittens to pens and pencils. Musicians, well… play music. Typically solo, but sometimes in pairs, guitarists stand in the middle of the bus and regale the passengers with a few songs, then make an impassioned speech about the economic crisis and walk around, collecting tips. Nobody claps, and nobody even admits to acknowledging the music. And while this seems an oddly dynamic way to make a living, the average passenger coughs up anywhere from 100-500 pesos ($0.20-1) for the musicians. Coins in hand they wave goodbye and jump off at the next stop, surely heading to another bus and another couple of bucks.

On one particularly spirited performance a guitarist and drummer (!) hopped on and the drummer, turning and seeing me he exclaims “Boy, you are high!” (in English, though I assume he was going for “tall”), and then proceeds to launch into a great rendition of Proud Mary by Creedence Clearwater Revival. I did my best to capture that song and another on my phone, and take as good pictures as I could without being too conspicuous.

Proud Mary

And some other song

For now, it’s sopaipilla time, so I’ll finish up in a bit. Ciao!

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