Sunday, May 15, 2011

May 15, 2011

It was nice to have a Saturday morning. No alarm and an easy pace for what passes for breakfast here: a cup of tea or coffee, maybe a roll and some juice. I’ve gotten to where I’m not really all that hungry in the mornings anyway. This was our day for sight seeing and shopping. Carol had heard about another castle that which was right across from an artisan market that we heard was a bit cheaper that the one I went to on my first weekend here. The castle was only a few subway stops away from our hotel. It was an easy and (need I say?) crowded ride.

The craft market wasn’t open yet when we got there, so we decided to try out the castle first. I couldn’t get over how similar it was to the first castle that I’d visited with Alberto. There was a statue to Neptune, a touristy shop full of indigenous tchachkies, statues commemorating the great patriots of Chile, a garden dedicated to Darwin… Hey, wait a minute! It was the same castle!! Oh well, Carol hadn’t visited it yet so I got to be a tour guide again, get another tour of Castlillo Hidalgo and take some more pictures.

There was a statue dedicated by the local Rotary Club, which my friend Dayle is very involved in. So that went into the camera. After that it was just a matter of taking a second look. There was plenty there for that. The graffiti, for example. I hadn’t noticed it as much before. I was especially impressed by a tree that seemed to be popular with the local amantes. The really cool thing about the castle is the contrast it provides with the surrounding city. There were statues and stone and wood carvings galore with almost no explanation of what they were. One of them was a sculpted mural of a tragic family, trudging with their child and their dog through some dark era of Chile’s past. Again, no explanation. I hope they’re OK.

The omni-present dogs were there. At one point a small pack seemed to be following a couple of the security officers. I think they were drawn to the sense of importance imparted by the uniforms. There was a certain business like swagger to the dog’s stride. But I don’t think they were really connected. I got a shot of one of the canons this time, before it shot me. And the fountains had water in them for a change. After a downhill walk down a dead end path and a much longer uphill walk back, we discovered an elevator that takes you down to street level. Since we didn’t find it until we were already up, we took it down.

By then the craft market was open and we headed in, committed to putting a really earnest effort into being tourists. There were dozens and dozens of little stalls offering musical instruments; Lapislazuli carvings and jewelry; woven scarves, jackets, panchos and what-have-you; food kiosks; leather workers; in short, just about everything you would imagine. There was a cat on the roof of one of the stalls watching the world go by. It seemed disconcerted that I had noticed it. Carol and I both bought gifts and souvenirs and then headed out to walk around some of the Santiago Barrios.

We’d been directed to a nearby barrio that was supposed to have some older houses in it. On the way there we saw a church displaying a really graphic example of as yet un-repaired earthquake damage. We found the old neighborhood, La Republica. But it just didn’t measure up to the charm of Valparaiso. It did feature an old fire-station that’s still in use that was interesting. The reflection from the windows made for a somewhat confusing photo.

Carol wanted to go to Los Dominicos, the much pricier craft market that Alberto took me to on my first Sunday in Santiago. So I got to be a tour guide again for another visit to a place I’d already been to. Like my other second glances, it was well worth it. Los Dominicos is located on an old Monastery. Many of the craft stalls are housed in the spare, small rooms originally used as dormitories for the monks. It was kind of fun to imagine the ghosts of all those monastic acolytes waking from a long sleep in their once spare and Spartan rooms and wandering through the now colorful stalls and kiosks, alive with the sights, sounds and smells of a busy and modern market.

This second time around Carol and I found a whole area of the market that Alberto and I had missed before, and I got to snap some shots of the entrance, and some of the birds. Compared to the one we visited earlier it’s a much more expensive place to get your tourist fix. But it has a lot of charm. There’s an artificial waterway that courses through the whole place that, added to all the trees, shrubs and potted plants gives the place a really lovely ambience. I noticed some fruits growing on one of the palm trees there that I hadn’t seen until then.

We had supper at home again. Carol loves tea eggs and is anxious to bring the recipe home to Argentina. After supper I went up onto the roof and took some night shots of Santiago. Then we both did a little bit of packing for the next day’s trip to Antofagasta.

1 comment:

  1. Good to see Captain Jack Sparrow has made it to Chile too!