SANTIAGO, Chile — When the news spreads through the neighborhood that a small aquatic park is being installed in the local plaza, the children are the first to show up and excitedly watch a water truck fill up inflatable swimming pools.
For a few hours, the kids play in the cool water during the hot Southern Hemisphere summer, forgetting they live in a concrete city. Their parents are relieved they no longer have to explain that they don't have the time or money to go to the beach in one of the most economically unequal countries in the world as the temperatures here reach 38 degrees centigrade (100 degrees Fahrenheit).
The plastic pools set up by local officials are only one of the ways that kids have been cooling off during a heat wave in one of the hottest summers ever in Santiago. Others frolic in public fountains or open up fire hydrants to enjoy the refreshing spray.
When it comes time to close the water park for the day, the children are sad and ask the workers if they'll bring the swimming pools back soon.
The workers shrug their shoulders as if to say, "I don't know." An unidentified boy says if they don't return, he'll just have his brother open the fire hydrant on the corner.