A few years ago, I had the opportunity to spend a Friday afternoon in Santiago, Chile, a huge, modern city of about six million people with wide streets and cool buildings. Looking down any intersecting street you could see they were just full of cars and people. There were a number of streets that appeared to be pedestrian only and people were on them by the hundreds. The place was truly alive.
After a while, I noticed a couple or two kissing. The longer I was there, and the more I looked around the place, it was literally alive with pleasure. Young, middle-aged, older, it did not matter. Everyone was making out. Lying in a park. Sitting on a bench. Walking down the street. In a donkey-drawn garbage cart. I busted a young kid and his girlfriend getting busy behind a tree. This was getting embarrassing. Santiago, I realized, was the Make-out Capitol of the World. They just didn’t care. No worries about public display of affection here. Live and let live.
In front of the Hall of Justice, I saw some young dude being treated rather fairly. At the Presidential Palace, the armed color guard, resplendent in white uniforms and white rifles, saluted a couple, oblivious in a passionate embrace. Outside the Plaza de Revolucion, right on top of a gigantic iron cannon with a wooden base … well, you guessed it. In the middle of a massive quadrangle, a huge Chilean flag stood on the hallowed ground where La Prima Beso took place in 1536, truly making out with a grand historic sweep. At the Ministry de Ancillary Affairs, housing records of every sly make-out tryst ever recorded on Chilean soil, murals depicted the great struggle of the people to ensure their right to display affection in a public manner no matter how embarrassing.
We rode a funicular up to a great park with a super-high vantage point on the city. There, the massive sweep of Santiago below, in a late afternoon haze, was a chance to reflect. I didn’t see one problem in Santiago. Maybe a few more stray dogs than normal, but, hey, they were friendly. And that just might be the point. Perhaps the world needs a little bit more of what Santiago has. What I saw that Friday afternoon six years ago couldn’t hurt and it probably helps. Santiago de Chile, the Make-out Capitol of the World.