Life, Love & the Pursuit of Taking a Chance (Santiago, Chile and surrounding areas)

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do…Explore.  Dream. Discover.  So as I head to Chile’s sprawling capital, I keep this Mark Twain quote in mind and allow myself to be open to the universe and all possibilities…

Oh Santiago, where do I begin about my time here?  I keep talking about how travel is about the people you meet as much as the places you visit or things you see but that holds even more significance in this city.  I am only expecting to reconnect with people that I had met earlier in my South American travels and share some good times but the level of hospitality and friendship that is extended goes beyond anything that I could have envisioned.I had met her and her sister in Cartagena and she offers to let me stay with her when I come to Santiago.  She doesn’t just pick me up and take me to the airport, welcome me into her home, allow me to stay the entire 9 days I am in Santiago with her; she and her husband show me around town and take me to the beach, and in fact, become my surrogate Chilean family and parents.  They go above and beyond in such a way that I am just overwhelmed and not sure how I can ever repay them.  And yes, I am well aware that I am living an incredibly blessed life and am so thankful for the amazing friends and family that I am making along the way. image-78As Santiago is so large, they decide that they will take me to as many places as they can that I may not get to on my own and we start the first night exploring Barrio (neighborhood) Lastarria to look at the lively street performers and crafts for sale.  Afterwards, we enjoy a delicious meal at one of the many trendy restaurants there.  The next day we explore the more residential barrios including Ñuñoa and TL & TR: Plaza Ñuñoa with some great restaurants and bars BL & BR: And come across the 17th annual book fair of Ñuñoa image-77TL: My walk to the Metro station included this view but rarely was the snow visible…typically masked by smog or clouds ~ I highly recommend the metro (and bus system) in Santiago as it is a great, clean and easy way to get around TR: Mote con huesillos in front of the colorful tree called Jacaranda Mimosifolia in Los Condes ~ it was really sweet of my Chilean parents to introduce me to so many Chilean specialities BL: Sidewalk chalk art BR: Mercado Central-with an indoor shopping area and many seafood restaurants – with fierce competition to get diners I also meet up with another friend I had met in Cartagena and have an incredible time exploring the city including going to Sky Costanera – South America’s highest observatory at ~ 984 ft (300 m) high offers a 360° view of Santiago as seen in these photos (TL, BL, TR & MR). BR: On floor 62 looking up at the sky.  The views and building are quite impressive and I only wish that I had come back to watch the sunset from this vantage point.  It is sweet and a bit entertaining to be brought here by someone whose fear of heights makes mine feel so mild in comparison L: The Costanera Center as seen from the street also R: contains a six floor shopping mall. With the 80°s summer weather, it did not feel like Christmas time for this Coloradoan no matter how large the tree or grand the decorations! We also go to the center of Santiago where I see and learn so much from him L: Statue of Salvador Allende in front of Ministerio de Justicia building TR: Palacio de La Moneda ~ First the building was the Mint hence the name (Moneda means coin), then it was the presidential residence and now houses the seat of the President.  On a side note: this is when not planning things in advance doesn’t work in my favor again. There are free guided tours but they have to be booked seven days in advance MR: The White House – seat of the local government BR: Catedral Metropolitana de Santiago – Main Cathedral of Santiago TL: In the Plaza de Armas de Santiago (Main Square) towards the Cathedral ML: Loving the clouds and this city BL: One of the many large plaques commemorating Santiago’s history in Plaza de Armas TR: Edificio Ariztía considered to be the first ‘skyscraper’ in Santiago on Calle Nueva York ~ New York Street BR: Impressive looking doors and I believe to a bankTL: At the Japanese garden on Cerro San Cristobal (Where we start an almost perfect day for me.  Even though it ends up that we went the wrong way and don’t realize it for another 3/4 mile! ~ never made it to see the Virgen statue or the pool here) TR: Inside of Catedral Metropolitana de Santiago  BL: Playing chess near the Plaza de Armas BR: Chilean Flag as the sun begins to set and the end of the day and… I had met a third group of Santiaguinos (so crazy how big and small the world is!) and meet up with them at the TL Patio Bellavista. It’s another place with cute shops, some great restaurants and bars located in BL: Barrio Bellavista. This area some say is Santiago’s bohemian quarter but my friends showed me is the happening place for nightlife TR: Cutest and tiniest little pup that I wanted to dognap but luckily had someone there to talk me out of that heinous crime BR: Water fountain – Parque ForestalTL: Cerro (Hill) Santa Lucía ~ a respite in the middle of Santiago ML: The view part way up and look at these colorful buildings BL: The mountains are always calling to me – here in Santiago, the Andes TR: Lots of stairs to the top (and later I find out there is a free elevator) BR: Wooden statues ~ Chemamull and benches for resting and having lunch or a snack from the various carts in the park

Some people do not enjoy big cities at all but for me traveling is seeing everything including metropolitan areas and I really love Santiago.  But sometimes a respite is needed from the hustle and bustle and luckily there are some great places that are a quick drive or bus ride away:First stop on the weekend trip with my padres chilenos is to the cute town of Pomaire along the Chilean coast. TL: Along the main road where we stop for some lunch and ice cream and then do some shopping TR: Beautiful and colorful plants at the local garden shop BL & BR: Pomaire is famous for its pottery and earthenware – oh how I wish I had room to take some home but we all agree that it is another reason why I’ll have to return soon We then head north to El Quisco when the weather turns and it is too late that day to visit the TR: La Casa de Isla Negra ~ Pablo Neruda’s old house. Neruda was a Nobel Prizing winning Chilean Poet and diplomat. ML & MR: This house is his favorite of the three he owned in Chile and where he lived with his third wife and where they are now buried.  BL & BR: He was a huge collector including ship figureheads and bottles as can be seen in these photos.  You can walk around the outside without paying but there is a really good audio guided tour for the inside of the ship inspired house that gives a great overview of his collections.  The next day when we return, I stick to the rules and do not take any pictures.  TL: A stone statue of his head looking out to sea…it is easy to imagine how this house and view are said to have inspired many of his worksTL, BL, & MR The walk includes going through a forest (BR) then down towards (TR) to the main beach at Algarrobo (MR) I learn that the water is definitely not the warm Carribean and equatorial beach water I had been enjoying in Colombia and Ecuador!Viña del Mar is part of the Valparaíso (Valpo) region and can be accessed by the Valpo Metro or bus from the port city of Valpo. T: Working flower Viña del Mar clock (and I love the globe) B: Nothing beats going to a beach on a weekday afternoon even with chilly water Oh the TL: port city of Valparaíso (Valpo) is so worth a visit!  It is a quick 1.5 bus ride from Santiago and there are many departure/return trips daily.  The area around the Valpo bus station is a bit dodgy (as the Valpo locals kept warning me) but once you get to the UNESCO section and see all the colorful buildings (TR, ML & MR), you can see what all the fuss is about.  And there are some really cute areas (BL & BR) with some great restaurants so stay awhile and try some incredible food and desserts! The other cool thing about Valpo is all the TL: colorful street art and murals and my favorite activity of seeing if you can pick out any cultural references such as BL: this homage to The Little Prince and the city itself TR: There are also ascensores (elevators) that can take you up the steep hillside BR: Or walk a lot to see as much of the art as you can and discover this place where you can reward yourself with a delicious craft beer and decent burger here as we did! More cool street murals and two that remind me of time spent with my friends here TL: Hodgepodge of Vincent Van Gogh paintings and BR: Piano stairs

It may not have been what I was hoping for when I came but it ended up being amazing, beautiful, unexpected, sometimes complicated, and so much more for me.  Haha guess it worked out that I taught some Chilean slang because this is so apropos: pucha!!! and the bittersweet way I feel about leaving and…


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