Saturday February 27, 2016: Santiago

After staying awake late, I slept in and it was very good to take my time making and drinking coffee at a leisurely pace.  I agree with the description of my apartment in Airbnb, that highlights the location next to Cerro Santa Lucia, a park on the hill just opposite the street that makes a very green and soothing view.  It is on the 5th floor in an older building (there is a small elevator though I used the stairs when I didn’t have to carry suitcases etc.) and the air conditioning is only the windows that open wide and the shutters you close to keep the sun out in the heat of the day.  I liked the idea of living as locals live.  The neighborhood itself, Barrio Lastarria, is very charming and full of life, and also an easy walk from the center of the city.

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Maria and Gary and Gary’s cousin, Susan, had flown in that morning and checked into the hotel (they started out in the same hotel the Grand Circle tour will be using) where they took naps to recover a little from their flights from San Francisco and Portland.  We got together in the afternoon and ate a late lunch in the Barrio Lastarria, which is only 8 minutes walk from the hotel.  Then we took a cab across the river to see Pablo Neruda‘s house, La Chascona, which literally means the one with tangled hair, named after his beloved Matilde Urrutia for whom he built it. The house consists of several buildings which were built on successively higher levels over the years from the entrance level, with a garden courtyard, up the hilly plot to the top.  He reflected his love of the sea in the design of the house, one part like a ship.  He thought of himself as the ship’s captain.   It is charming and the garden is very pretty.  It was very interesting learning more about Neruda and his poetry as well as his love for Matilde. The P and M motif was in several windows.

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A plaque at the top level reminded us that Neruda was not born with that name but adopted it as a pen name after the Czech poet Jan Neruda, and later changed it legally.

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Just outside the house there is a mural that clearly includes Neruda and Mathilde.

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We noticed some other interesting street art nearby.

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We stopped to admire a building with intricate metalwork.

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Gary, Maria and Susan took a cab back to the hotel, but I walked back through the Barrio Bellavista, another neighborhood like Lastarria, with lots of restaurants and bars.

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I crossed the Mapocho river, which is rather uninspiring at this time of year, but apparently much more impressive after the rains come in fall and winter. There are a few padlocks on the bridge I used, like those that couples attach to bridges in many cities these days, but a rather meager selection compared with those in Paris, for example, that have to be cut off to reduce the added weight.

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Back in the Lastarria area, I walked through a different set of streets to get back to the apartment.

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Santiago has bikes for rent as many other cities now do.

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Most of the Government departments are in the central district, so it took me by surprise coming across the Ministry of Defence in the middle of this residential and restaurant area.

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As I got close to my apartment I passed a big protest march.  I could not make out what it was about and asked one of the marchers, but could not fully understand his response, though I did understand that it was about some aspect of women’s health.

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