A quick catch up on Chile.
Valparaiso sprawls over the hllls in an exuberance of colour.
You can get around using the metro, crazy speeding buses or one of the many funiculars, all of which are cheap. Bars and clubs seem to be open all night – Chileans don’t seem to eat much before 10pm or later. They have their own version of “Pisco Sour” which is slightly different from that of Peru, and is a favourite with locals and tourists alike.
I stayed in an eccentric hostel tucked away behind a fruit and vegetable stall in the market. The owner took a small group of us to a private beach by his idyllic home in Tunquen, nearby.
I arrived back in Santiago in time for May Day. The main thoroughfare of eight lanes (O’Higgins Avenue), was closed for a demonstration in favour of greater democracy and against corruption in politics.
and flags of Che Guevara and the hammer and sickle. The police presence was minimal – a handful of them here and there, with no riot gear or body armour. It was good to see this happening in Chile, of all places.
Like many people, I visited the Museum of Memory and Human Rights, where you can see just how bad it was here under Pinochet. Though it was not on the same scale and no-one was keeping such scrupulous records, the mass graves and accounts of torture were disturbingly reminiscent of Cambodia.
On a lighter note, in Valparaiso and Santiago I visited two of the three houses of Pablo Neruda, poet, Nobel Prize winner, national treasure, diplomat and self-proclaimed Communist. After his death the houses were vandalised by supporters of the military regime, but have been lovingly and remarkably restored. You’re not allowed to take pictures of the delightful flights of fancy that clutter the interiors of the buildings, (very 60’s), but I bought a small book of postcards as a reminder.
On 6th May I flew to Rio. In the end, Chile did make me smile, but sometimes it was because that was all I could do. It was a pity that I did not go further South, as I am now unlikely to ever see Patagonia. But a page has turned and my next post will be about Brazil.