Sunday February 28, 2016: Santiago

On Sunday morning, Maria walked to the apartment from the hotel and we walked together to Plaza de Armas to meet Gary and Susan at the Cathedral.  As we were walking down a quiet street, I suddenly felt something I thought was water drop on my head. Immediately a couple walking behind us offered to help me clean up what looked like bird poop, and wanted Maria to help clean my head while the woman stood close behind her. After an initial few seconds,  we both recognized this scam – neither of us took our hands off our purses (tight to our bodies) and strategic pockets, and they gave up and left us. The fake bird poop smelled of vinegar – not sure what else was in it, but my blouse has a small area that looks as tough it has been bleached – luckily it is a pale color so it is not really noticeable.  A few years ago I was tested by the gold ring scam in Paris but knew what was going on there too so nothing lost. I wonder what other ploys we will experience during this trip!

As we arrived at the square we saw another demonstration – this time for equal rights to government benefits for the immigrants (apparently mostly from Peru) who live in Chile.

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In the Square, we saw the Monument dedicated to the Pueblo Indigena. apparently a very controversial monument on a very controversial subject.

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We walked to the Museo Chileno de Arte PreColumbino and really enjoyed a ginger and mint lemonade in the courtyard cafe before we explored the collection.  We found the many artifacts fascinating and spent more time in the museum than we had expected to do..  Easter Island (Rapa Nui)  belongs to Chile, but the statues from there are more reminiscent of Polynesian culture.  I am sorry that I did not have enough time to add a trip to see the island – another reason why I have to come back some time in the future! There are items from what is now Peru as well as Chile as they date from centuries before the countries existed.

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There were some wonderful examples of fabrics used in decorations, clothing and items for horses.  After the Spaniards arrived the Mapuche, the indigenous people of this area, were renowned as excellent horsemen and there are examples of how important their horses were to them.

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I loved the variety of hats too, especially one that looks like a loose ball of yarn and has hat pins.

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There was also some beautiful jewelry which is mostly large pieces reflecting the status of their owners.

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There were several examples of quipus, the largest of which has 586 cords holding 15,024 items of data!

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One of my favorite pieces was a woman holding an animal on her lap with a rope around its neck.  Animals had an important role in many American cultures and were used as symbols of powerful spirits.  This statue confirms that they were also kept as pets.

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Pregnant women were often represented in preColumbian art as well as in the act of giving birth.  These were symbols of cosmic fertility.

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Seven thousand years ago fisherman from the Arica coast of Chile developed  a complex surgical procedure by which they replaced all the body’s soft parts with branches, plants and mud, mummifying the dead.  This practice was 2,000 years earlier than the Egyptian technique.  This was used not only for the highest dignitaries but was used for people of all ages and statuses.  There was an example of a mummy of a small child.

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There was a display of many images of men chewing coca leaves – they all have a wad in a cheek!

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There was an excellent display of textiles on the upper floor.  Sadly, no photos were allowed.  We were amazed at the variety of techniques used, including weaving and knotting, that resulted in some very beautiful and, in some cases, very delicate fabrics.  There was a very good explanation of each of the techniques used  and the tools involved. We learned that the creation of these fabrics predated any in Europe.

After the museum, we walked back to Barrio Lastarria.  We saw some interesting architecture along the way.

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I loved the orange pots and the pink and yellow table and chairs on one balcony.

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We had an excellent early dinner with great Chilean wine then Gary, Maria and Susan went back to their hotel and I walked back through Lastarria to  Cerro Santa Lucia, the hill and park by my apartment. I decided to walk up the hill to see the view from the top.

The hill was conquered by Pedro de Valdivia  on December 13, 1541. That day celebrates Santa Lucía, hence the name.  It was originally used as a lookout, then in 1816 two forts or castles were built and cannons installed at each. On one side of the hill, Fort Hidalgo was finished in 1820 and is open to view, but not when I was there.

There are a number of intersecting paths up from different parts of the park.  What they have in common is their roughness – I had to keep my eyes firmly on the ground to make sure I was not going to fall. In some places the stairs were particularly uneven both in surface and also in riser heights – you would never see anything as risky as this in the litigious US!

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Because it was the weekend it was quite busy and there were Chilean families and couples as well as visitors from other countries.  I got to the lookout area on the top, which was a very busy spot, and was rewarded with a 360 view of the city.

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On one side near the top is the sepulcher of Benjamín Vicuña Mackenna,  a Chilean writer, journalist, historian and politician of Irish and Basque descent.

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I rested out of the sun for a while with a granadina (frozen juice drink) from a kiosk – I loved the design of the building, and the drink was refreshing and only cost about $0.70 US.

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On my way back down I walked though the Japanese Garden, which was looking a little miserable after a hot summer.

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I got back to the apartment in time to see the sunset.  It was a hot day and I had left the windows open so the apartment was quite pleasant.

One thought on “Sunday February 28, 2016: Santiago

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