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Today was cine a mil, which is a national day every year in Chile in which movie theaters reduce all prices for all movies all day long to mil (1000) pesos, which is anywhere from about $1.50 to $1.90, depending on where in the last two weeks you live.

At any rate, a movie entry varies in price depending on the day of the week and time of the day from about 1700 pesos to about 3500 pesos, also depending on which side of Plaza Italia (dividing line between, as a friend’s mother in college so politely put it, the fifty-cent side and the dollar side, which brings an entirely different image now that the rapper fifty-cent is so well known) you like to see movies on.

So a bargain’s a bargain, and all of Santiago, it would seem, was out buying movie tickets today. I went to the CineHoyts San Augustin, which is in a little underground arcade, and the line extended way down the hall and practically up the stairs. There were 137 people on line in the afternoon after I bought my tickets (why yes, I did count). Of course, since they weren’t really making change, and lots of people were in big packs, and buying tickets together, the line sped along. Also apparently the employees were encouraged to wear silly hats today. My favorite? A shark. The teeth rested against her harried forehead as she helped person after person with their wrinked luka (1000 peso) notes, or two quinas (500 peso coins) or even 10 gambas (100 peso coins). Or some combination thereof.

Which makes me wish we had cool coa (jail slang) terms for our coins in the United States. It sounds so other-era, like a sawbuck or two bits. It almost makes me almost nostalgic. Which, come to think of it, is one of the two best used-clothing stores in Santiago (the other being OrangeBlue). I wonder if that’s where the girl got the hat?