Days: 324-325 & 330-331 (15th May 2015 – 16th May 2015 & 21st May 2015 – 22nd May 2015)
Total distance travelled: 62,334.46 kilometres (38,717.06 miles)
After twenty four hours on a bus, it was nice to be able to stretch the legs a little on hazy Chilean afternoon.
It felt weird after being in the clean air and beneath the clear skies above San Pedro de Atacama, to suddenly find ourselves in a place that even well into the afternoon, had an early morning feel about it.
It wasn’t long either before we quickly tired of what ultimately proved a pretty long walk as well. Our destination, the central Plaza de Armas.
Incredibly, that was right where our pre-booked hostel was located and with breakfast included, it ultimately wasn’t a horrible price either.
We eventually located the building, then discovered that the only way was up… our hostel was on the sixth floor!
After quickly abandoning plans to catch up on emails, or just use the internet in general (it was horrendous in the hostel), we set about exploring our immediate surrounds.
The early afternoon sun (that still resembled an early morning sky) shared little warmth, and our fatigue from the long journey meant our wandering didn’t take us too far, the sights skirting the plaza an obvious starting point.
Of course there was also our stomachs that needed attending to, and for this we got our lips around our first Empanada de Pino.
This baked delight was chock full of delicious savoury mince, with the added pop of some boiled egg (which Sarah didn’t love) and a solitary olive (which I didn’t love).
Despite this, it was still a ridiculously tasty treat.
Incredibly, when we returned the next day for another each, the shop (which was chock full at lunch the previous day), was closed!
No business acumen…
Waking somewhat refreshed, but still unused to the late rise of the sun (that’s how we were up later for breakfast than planned), we opted to ignore the organised city walking tours, and instead take a self guided version of our own.
That’s how we found ourselves wandering the Yungay neighbourhood, home to many stately buildings, many sporting reminders of the seismic nature of the region (one block is essentially condemned from earthquake damage… although this doesn’t seem to have deterred some folks from living there), and also one of the richest street art (or graffiti if you prefer) scenes we’ve observed anywhere!
It was an easy, obviously colourful stroll, but at the end of our walk sat a rather sobering experience.
Free to enter, the Museo de la Memoria y los Derechos Humanos (Museum of Human Rights) stands as a monument to not only the victims of the brutal Pinochet military regime (which controlled Chile from 1973-1990), but to victims of human rights violations around the world.
It was made all the more sorrowful, to think that I actually lived through much of this period in history, to think that much of the world not only sat by and watched this occur, but it was a regime that was backed into power by the CIA!
September 11, truly a sad day in history for many, just as meaningful reasons beyond New York…
The mood wasn’t lightened when we discovered the aforementioned empanada’s could not be had, but when we ultimately dined on chocolate cake (yes, that was lunch), the lovely colours of autumn as well as the interesting flavour of Mote con Huesillo, apparently the national Chilean drink, did cheer us up some… okay, it was probably mainly the cake!
We rounded out the afternoon by ascending one of the inner city’s two grand hills (or Cerro’s), but as we’d suspected, the hazy afternoon didn’t really lend itself to the greatest of views.
That said, they weren’t truly horrible, whilst the park itself around the Cerro Santa Lucia was a gem to simply wander.
Lovely trees, old fortifications, water features, and on a clear day I’m sure commanding views of the city and mountains.
We had two short stints in Santiago, but it was a pretty cool city with some nice neighbourhoods.
But when we did ultimately leave for good, it wasn’t one of those cities that we found terribly difficult to drag ourselves away from…
* Entrance into the moving Museo de la Memoria y los Derechos Humanos is FREE!