Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Two Days in Santiago

Yesterday we took an hour long walk along the south side of the Mapocho River to the Sculpture Park (Parque de las Esculturas). Surprisingly, we were able to stay in a narrow strip of green space for most of the way to the park. The park lies on the north side of the river and the bridges on either end of the display are lined with sculptures. The 22 pieces in the park entertained us for about an hour before we headed back the way we had come.

On the way back to the hostal we passed this huge fountain.

We also saw a new use for a wheel barrow!

When we tried to find a restaurant for lunch, we discovered that most of the restaurants near the hostal were closed due to a water main break. We also tried to visit the museum home, La Chascona, of poet Pablo Neruda (Nobel Prize for Literature in 1971), but it too was closed due to the water shortage. When we ventured forth again about 2000 we found an excellent eatery in the same Bellavista neighborhood.

Today we took a 20 minute cab ride to visit the Parque por la Paz on the former site of the Villa Grimaldi which was turned into a secret torture and execution site during the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet. It is estimated that 4500 people were held and tortured here and over 250 were executed on the grounds. The buildings were razed by the regime shortly before its fall, but the site has been preserved and is now a powerful reminder of those dark days of the recent past. The most graphic display is that of sections of railroad rails that were tied to the bodies of the executed before they were dumped from helicopters into the Pacific Ocean.

As was the case yesterday during our visit to the Scupture Park, a raucous flock of bright green parakeets provided a cover for the street traffic noise.

This afternoon we were successful in visiting La Chascona--a home with three separate sections none of which are accessible from any of the others! A very eclectic dwelling built into the side of a steep hill. We look forward to seeing his other homes in Valparaiso and Isla Negra at the end of SAm 13.

Tomorrow we will be up early for our flight to Calama in the north of this long, narrow country. After a 100 km van ride we will arrive in San Pedro de Atacama, our home for the next five days. We will be making several excursions to various sites in the Atacama Desert. Hopefully the wi-fi connections will be good as I'm sure we will have some good stories and great pictures to share.




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