This weekend was so much fun. The other ‘foreigners’ in graduate office invited me to go tour the city with them. The countries represented were: Argentina (Cinthia & Santiago), Ecuador (Jorge), Colombia (Andrea), and the US (me). It is so cool to learn about so many other countries and to have friends from such different backgrounds. My friends are also very helpful in my learning Spanish, and in turn I help them with English! I can really tell that I can understand a lot more than last week, so I’m happy to see improvement! It was an extremely nice day in Santiago, as most days are, with a lot of sunshine.
First, we walked up Cerro Santa Lucia, which is a pretty large hill right in the middle of Santiago. It isn’t the biggest hill in the city, that is Cerro San Cristobal. But Santa Lucia is a much easier walk and has many gardens, fountains, and a castle at the top. I later learned that this ‘cerro’ (hill) is the remnant of a 15 million year old volcano! Super cool. I got to see andesite in real life for the first time and saw columnar basalt. The view of the city was really great, and the Andes were of course a spectacular backdrop. After the cerro, we walked through Lastarria, a nearby neighborhood with lots of nice restaurants, shops, and ice cream places. We had dinner there later and then walked to another touristy spot, Bella Vista’s El Patio. El Patio is similar to Lastarria but has more indoor shops instead of outdoor tables set up for vendors. It was a really fun day of sight-seeing and practicing Spanish.
Museums of Santiago
This past weekend I visited two museums: Bellas Artes and El Museo de la Memoria y los Derechos Humanos. Bellas Artes is very close to Cerro Santa Lucia and has many beautiful paintings and marble sculptures. I especially liked the sculptures because they looked so real. I can’t imagine the talent and vision needed to produce something like that from a block of rock. The other museum, which translates to the Museum of Memory and Human Rights, was all about the dictatorship of General Pinochet that lasted from 1973-1990. I didn’t know too much about the dictatorship, besides the fact that Chileans are very divided on what they thought of it. The regime suppressed other political parties and was very restrictive on Chilean citizens’ rights. Overall, over 3,000 Chileans died or went missing, thousands were taken prisoner and tortured, and 200,000 were forced into exile. The regime was overthrown in 1990 after a national vote when 56% of Chileans voted to end the dictatorship. Also in the museum was an exhibition on Pedro Lemebel’s work. He was an openly gay Chilean novelist and the exhibition contained photographs and videos of his artwork used in his books. They were very striking and beautiful photographs, and my friend told me that his novels are even better than the artwork.
Santiago has a ton of interesting areas to visit within the city that are easily accessible by the metro. So many parks, museums, gardens, and restaurants I still need to visit!