Today was fiesta in Santiago. This means three things: 1) No one will really know what we are celebrating, though many will assume it has something to do with Christopher Columbus. 2) The celebration of said Columbus means that everyone ought to go out and party (i.e. get drunk). 3) Because of aforementioned partying on the night prior to said fiesta, none of the stores will be open today, meaning that nothing of any importance will get done. But no one really cares, because it is fiesta.
I spent the day doing a lot of nothing, which included having my German flatmate make me German pancakes for dinner. I like fiesta days.
Later, not knowing what to do on a post-fiesta evening, we wandered around town, while I marveled at how wonderful Santiago is. We visited the Alameda at night, which is just as amazing and beautiful as the Alameda by day. In the wide lamplit paseo, overshadowed by leaf-laden trees, a lone couple stood hugging, the man in a black coat and the woman in a red one. The leaves in the wind fell softly around them, creating a romantic scene that would have looked perfect in a photograph, had I brought a camera. I hadn’t. We strolled past them quietly, along the paseo, where the cathedral stood out above the city, dimly lit yet sparkling, and the little town glittered below it, asleep for the night.
The cathedral never ceases to amaze me. I stare and stare, and never get tired of seeing it, of tracing its outlines high above the city, of hearing its bells toll the hour. I never get tired of the cobblestone streets, the wrought-iron lamps, the gargoyles. I never get tired of white stuccoed houses with red Spanish tile roofs and green windowsills, pink flowers spilling over the balconies and creeping through the ironwork. I never get tired of the thick-trunked trees, the sky, the hills. I never get tired of being here.
On our walk, we passed the tourist restaurants with lavish and intricate window displays of plump purple octopus, fat silvery fish, piles of pink langostinos, legs of ham heavy with thick red meat around white bone. Some of the restaurants have lobster tanks in the windows where, pincers clasped, the poor creatures gaze bug-eyed at the passersby, climbing over mossy rocks and awaiting their demise. In one of the windows, several lobsters and crabs were piled together in an indistinguishable mass of shells and antennae and legs. They climbed over and around each other, indifferent to the struggling bodies beneath them. We watched them, fascinated, their shells covered in algae and small growths, oblivious. Suddenly one of the crabs pressed itself up against the glass, feelers flicking rapidly beneath its shell. As we watched, it slowly spread its six legs and pincers across the glass in a clear and unmistakable salute to us. It was the most personality I’d ever seen in a crab, and this one was definitely seeking attention. In its sideways saunter, it made its way across the side of the tank, balancing delicately on tiny claws over the heads of the others. We laughed ourselves silly.