I've never valued the weekend as much as I value it now as a teacher. I come home on Friday ready to crawl under my cozy bed covers, but I know that I have to go out and do something for myself!
It was Friday, March 4th at 2:00 PM when my friend and I decided to go to spend the weekend at the beach. Only an hour before school ended, we booked an Air Bnb and began exploring potential bus services that could get us there. Unlike living 15 minutes from the beach in Los Angeles, going to the beach from Santiago requires planning. We rushed home throwing bathing suits, shorts, and tank tops into bags then made our way to the Bus Terminal.
We walked past the bustling food stands outside to enter a hot stuffy hall with high ceilings. It was filled to the brim with people who had the same idea as us. We locked eyes and instantly knew our plan — pick two lines and see who gets to the front first.
After 20 minutes of waiting, we knew this was going to take a while. I clutched my duffle bag close to my chest and placed my arms on top of my backpack to rest. Around me kids were crying, adults were napping, vendors were laughing. Finally, I reached the front of the line. The attendant began speaking. With the mask and the glass window and the quickness of Chilean Spanish and the sounds surrounding me, it was impossible to understand what she was saying. I turned up my focus and leaned towards the glass. "No hay sientos disponibles a Concón pero sí hay para Viña del Mar en dos horas." I bought the tickets and needed to brainstorm of what we could do for the two hours before our bus left for Viña del Mar.
We sat on the road, chatting, looking at cars. We went to a local restaurant and I ordered their most popular dish — simply pork and french fries. They were delicious!
Finally, we made it onto our bus on the second level with a beautiful view of the sunset. We sat in traffic moving 0 KM per hour for one hour and then began to feel the bus increase in speed. We arrived at our air BnB in Concón at 11:00 PM exhausted.
The first full day we spent walking along the beach taking pictures and looking at various birds. Though a bit chilly, I sat on the sand with sweatpants on my arms for warmth reading a book. We found a little market near the beach where I bought a sweatshirt to cure my shivers. After noon a gurgle rose in my stomach and I knew it was time to eat. My friend, Christy is more spontaneous whereas I like to plan, so I spent 15 minutes reading Trip Advisor reviews and settled and the restaurant Mar y Tierra.
The reviews were right. The food was incredible. We shared reinata — Chilean sea bass — and pastel de choclo — a traditional Chilean corn pudding. Our mouths were left watering with pleasure after such a delicious meal.
Next up was a trip to the famous dunes of Concón and the view was breathtaking. Nature had somehow created giant sand dunes right next to the ocean. We climbed up the mountains of sand to see the glistening water on the other side. We laid down in the sand not caring that the sand swept itself into our clothes and eyes. The sun began to fall as beautiful shades of pink and purple surrounded it.
Two weekends later, I went on another adventure. I didn’t come to Chile for the music, but the fact that one of the biggest music festivals in the World was happening two months after I arrived in Chile was an added bonus. Another thing I didn’t expect - going to a music festival with teachers. Being a teacher has introduced me to a secret life I didn’t know before.
After school on Friday, a group of us waddled to the parking lot with papers to grade in our backpacks. However, grading wasn’t on our minds. Instead, we awaited the great music of the Foo Fighters! We squeezed into a van and began the journey to Lolapalooza, Chile 2022.
I’d love to say I arrived and everything went smoothly, however, being a new resident in the country unaware of the little things, my roommate and I walked for an hour trying to find the ticket booth. In the blazing sun walking past young people wearing crop tops I felt old, sweaty, and thirsty. Finally, we found the ticket counter and struggled to figure out what documents we needed. I tried presenting my expired Chilean ID from two years ago but upon scanning the card gripped by my sweaty hand, the staff member’s eyebrows shot up as the scanner sounded an alarm. I thought to myself this is it, I guess I’m not getting in. I’m too tired and stressed! But she ushered me to the “extranjero” or “foreigner” line to present my passport.
Finally through all the stress, we made it inside and I lit up inside. Walking past groups of friends sitting on the grass passing beer cans, I saw couples dancing in the middle of the field hundreds of feet away from the nearest stage, then I saw the stages and the crowds of people surrounding them. I went to the nearest stage and had no idea who was playing but I knew that I loved the rhythm. My friends and I swayed back and forth to the music and hit our hands on our legs synchronized with the drums.
We wandered around the massive park now converted into a home for a music festival and saw food stands, lights, drink stands, and more. Later that night we moved our way towards the stage for Foo Fighters. I’d only heard stories about how epic their concerts are so I couldn’t wait to experience it myself. The stage was dark but then all of a sudden, bright blue lights flashed and pointed out at the audience. A drum beat began. The audience began to shout and holler. Then the band came out onto the stage and hundreds of phone screens flashed up in the audience trying to get the best video.
The entire show was fun, energetic, new, and loud! The best performance was by the drummer Taylor Hawkins who halfway through the show sang “Somebody to Love” while the main singer took over the drums. It was a celebration above all else and I loved the energy and warmth that surrounded me in the crowd of people. Less than one week later, we learned that Taylor Hawkins had died. The energy he presented on stage was infectious. One couldn’t help but be drawn beyond the singer to the skinny man with golden blond hair flying about his face as he slammed on the drums.
Two days later, I went back to the festival for more. I heard LP, Kehlani, and the Strokes were playing and I needed to see them. LP was unknown to me before 2017. But one day my sister and I were in a hotel watching TV and heard LP’s song “Strange” come on the MTV channel. The beats, the harmonica, and LP’s enrapturing voice made LP our favorite artist of the day. I continued listening to their music and following new songs. So when I heard LP would be performing in Chile, I was thrilled. I brought my friend along and we both agreed it was the best show of the festival. We were close enough to see LP’s face and to be picked up off our feet when the rest of the crowd jumped. Audience members threw flowers, stuffed animals, and papers at LP and she so gracefully responded and incorporated the audience into her performance. The songs I had only heard on the radio and my phone came alive when LP performed it live.
Another highlight of the day was seeing Kehlani. I had seen her in October 2021 at a music festival in New York City and she was incredible! I couldn’t wait to see her again, and I was happily surprised when the stage she performed at was more intimate because it was small and the audience was as well. Her voice is warm and soft in some songs then hard and raspy in others. She can dance better than I ever will and she has an amazing performer personality.
The last show of the night was the Strokes and it was a blast. The crowd was three-times the size of the crowd I saw for the Foo FIghters and so the energy was three-fold but we were much farther away. It allowed us to dance more and feel the music without people pressed up against us.
Overall the festival was a BLAST because I got to see some of my favorite artists and learn about new ones. Plus, I got to find out what teachers do on the weekends.