Santiago, Chile...Catching a few sights
Sep 28, 2005
|As usual, the bus arrived early, and spent an hour and half sitting in the adjoining shopping plaza, until it was a decent time in the morning to knock on the door of a hostel. Though intended to have a quick recharge, ended up sleeping most of the morning away...
The next day, feeling more refreshed, set out to explore a little of Santiago's sights. As had limited time, decided on going to only one or two attractions. After securing onward tickets for the next day, took the metro westwards to Banquedano for a short walk to the acclaimed poet, Pablo Neruda's house.
I was asked what I thought of Santiago's metro. Well, it's definitely much simpler than the London's tube, with only three lines. It had more in common with its American's counterparts as well, in terms of appearance. I had believed that having been well trained in navigating the London Underground, I can pretty much handle any other train systems in the world!!
The entrance to the poet's house included a guided tour. I had the fortune to have the guide Benjamin all to myself. He had a wealth of information, and I was tapping so much more out of him that we were overtaken by the next group of tourists! But I was very pleased to have gone there, as I went away having learnt so much more about Neruda, whom I had known nothing about previously.
Anyway, the house in question was known as "La Chascona", which in Chilean Spanish means "messy hair", after Matilde's hair. Matilde was Neruda's third and final love, and the house was built for her, and for them to meet in secret, as Neruda was still married to his second wife at the time. Having said that it's their secret hideout, it was a well known secret to Neruda's close friends, and the artists circle, who were regularly entertained there.
The house itself had lots of thoughts put into it. All in all, there were two architects employed (both Neruda's friends), but they were more like builders putting Neruda's dreams and crazy ideas into reality. Neruda loved the sea, but was scared of water. Despite having held various diplomatic posts overseas, which required lengthly travelling on a boat, he suffered badly from seasickness. Still, he had an obsession with the sea and boats, and was a fanatic collector of objects relating to these themes. All three of his houses, which he took part in the construction of, were filled with numerous symbols of these. I wasn't allowed to take photographs inside the house, so cannot share the images with you.
After a long lunch of lovely falafel, went on a walk through a tree lined boulevard park alongisde Santiago's busy thoroughfare. It reminded me of the road through St. James' park towards Buckingham Palace in London. Well, it took me to near the Plaza de Armas, which wasn't really that special, having seen many already on this trip. But there were some cheap internet places nearby, with also cheap call centres for a quick chat with Mum.
Sebastian, whom I had met in San Pedro, invited me to his house for dinner. He lives in the eastern suburb of Santiago, in a new shiny apartment building with views of other similar tower blocks. His wife Trini opened the door for me, and we had a quick chat about my next destinations. She had travelled extensively throughout the southern cone, and had also reached as north as Peru, so we were able to exchange some travel stories.
When Sebastian arrived home, she was able to practice more English, as the three Chilean guys I'd met always conversed with me in English. We spent a very lovely evening chatting about stuff, but mostly they helped me plan out more destinations to the south, showing me photos of their own trips along the way. What's more, when they didn't know the answer to my questions, such as how feasible it was to make connections etc, they called up the bus companies, and their friends for me, so I could make the best decision possible, and making sure that I wouldn't get myself stuck in Chile again!