Tear Gassed!!

Trip Start Jun 03, 2006
Trip End Jul 05, 2006

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Flag of Chile  ,
Monday, June 5, 2006

So, today was our first day of classes. We all met up outside the building to go to the school via the metro. Last night, we had been briefed on the current student protests in Chile. We were told that if we get caught in a protest, to calmly walk away and go to another metro station (the police sometimes close the metro station near the university street).

At school, we had our two classes back to back. In the second class we were randomly assigned to advocate for or against Free Trade. I got against. The classes were awesome. I have never taken an economics class so this international trade class will be difficult but I am already loving it, so far.

After class, we decided to head back to the dorms for a cheap, homecooked lunch. As I walked toward the metro with a couple friends and a guy here from Al-Quds, I noticed a lot of kids about, some holding signs. I was excited to see these high school kids out on the streets and protesting. However, all of a sudden, everyone in front of us was running toward us and there was a huge truck slowly moving down the street. The truck then started shooting its water canon. My first thought was to grab my camera. My second, more rational thought was to turn around and start walking the other way. Then, we ran. Soon after, the water hit us about the face. My umbrella was useless. When I sniffed, I noticed that it was not water but tear gas. That was a fun realization.

When the truck passed us, I thought about going back toward the metro and away from the truck. However, there were police in riot gear and shields advancing from that direction. So, we started walking back toward the school again. The truck then back tracked and sprayed us again but much lower, knocking down a couple of people. About then, I notice an open door and so a few of us scooted indoors. However, my friend from Al Quds was then gone.

We stayed in the building for a while with a bunch of the high school students. One of them gave me a lemon wedge with which to rub around my eyes to help with the stinging. Tip: Lemon works well against tear gas.

After a while, we were kicked out of the building. It was now Myself, a friend Bende, Erin, my roommate here, and another guy. One woman who spoke English was very kind and decided to show us to another metro stop. A friend of hers joined us. We didn't get their names but they were awesome. One told us why the schoolkids were protesting, which was very interesting. They left us at the metro stop and we continued from there.

I love being lost in other cities. It was great finding our way back to the dorm without any guides. Bende, Erin, and myself were having a good time, calmly finding our way back and discussing the protests. The other two, however, seemed very jolted by the experience and it was probably good we were there to help them out.

Okay, others need internet. I hope that is not the only time I get to see this popular democracy in action while we're here. Oh yeah, if you get tear gassed, don't put water on the areas for a few hours. Unfortunately, it's raining today.
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