Sunday, 12 May 2013

Getting the most out of Santiago de Chile…

What I've seen in Santiago these last three weeks (aside from working full-time):

Cuestión de principios

Baño Morales

Cerro San Cristóbal

Vitacura, Santiago
Museo de Arte Colonial, Santiago
Museo de Bellas Artes, Santiago
Museo de la Memoria y Derechos Humanos, Santiago
I went to the Violeta Parra museum, La Jardinera, but it wasn't finished.
There's so much to do in this city. I've not even scratched the surface...

Friday, 10 May 2013

Smog-watching on the Cerro San Crístobal, Santiago de Chile

If you ever look up 'Things to do in Santiago de Chile', chances are you'll find the tip 'Go to the top of Cerro San Crístobal' pretty near the top of the list. Having just returned from there, I'm not at all sure why. The level of pollution in Santiago is no secret and the fact is all you can really do once you've taken the cable car (or walked or cycled, yeah, right…) to just below the summit is get a cup of Nescafé and admire what you imagine must be a great view, save for the fact you can see nothing except the buildings nearest to the bottom of the hill.
Here's an artist's impression of what the Santiago Tourist Board would like you to be able to see:

…and here's what you really will see:

Take a deep breath, now…

Still, you can always take pictures of the statue of the Virgin Mary, Santiago's very own Corcovado:

…or try to see the Andes from another vantage point:

No, fine, give up. It's OK. Take the cable car back down and walk back through Bellavista:

Much more entertaining than standing gazing at the muck we breathe every day in this city.

Friday, 3 May 2013

Pablo Neruda and Augusto Pinochet

It's funny. Last time I came to Chile, deposed former president Salvador Allende was exhumed the day I arrived, to see if he really had committed suicide and hadn't been the first high-profile victim of the nascent Pinochet era. This time, they exhume former poet and sometime ambassador Pablo Neruda, widely considered to have been, er, the first high-profile victim of the nascent Pinochet era, who was, apparently suffering from prostate cancer when the military junta took over the country on September 11th, 1973. Neruda's former chauffeur had always insisted his employer's state of health was better than officially considered and finally succeeded in provoking an official autopsy. This morning, the government released the verdict that the great man's cancer was far advanced and that, consequently, his death was due to natural causes. A whitewash? Who knows. It's not as if Chile is averse to mental reconstruction: I'm going to the Museum of Memory and Human Rights in Santiago this morning, a building opened in 2010 by former (and possibly next) president Michelle Bachelet and dedicated to the Pinochet Era, 1973 - 1990, and its attendant atrocities. Should be a fun trip out.

Here's the museum:

God only knows why these collective memory buildings always have to be so ugly.