Happy New Year!
Last night I opted to await the New Year on the rooftop of the building adjoining my hotel. (Because of the rooftop pool, the hotel’s guests have access to the area.) Although only about 10 other people were there when I arrived at 11:30, by the time midnight rolled around and the fireworks show started there were well over 100 people. The main fireworks show was far from grand, but the nice thing was that there were four other fireworks shows going on simultaneously on the outer edges of Santiago, and from the rooftop, if you were sitting on, say, a rotating platter, or a Sit-N-Spin, you could have seen a new explosion of color in the sky with every 90 degrees that you turned. It ended after 20 minutes and I returned to my room and went to bed.
At around 10 in the morning, when I finally managed to leave the hotel, I found a city without people. All the shops and restaurants were closed, no one was on the sidewalks, and not a car could be seen or heard in the streets. It was a little eerie. But I figured there’d be people in the Plaza de Armas, so I walked there, stepping gingerly over a scattered army of sleeping drunks, and decided I’d enter the one place that happened to be open to the public: the Catedral Metropolitana. I’m not religious or anything, but on New Year’s morning it felt kind of nice to enter a huge cathedral in Santiago’s main plaza and be greeted with an overwhelming silence. Since I was wearing shorts I didn’t venture too far inside, but it was enough to hang out in the back and just observe people’s goings-on.