Monday, April 11, 2011

Santiago, part two

Thursday, March 24
After coming down from the Cerro San Cristobal we went back to the Plaza de Armes and visited the PreColumbian Art Museum. It's a small, well organized collection showing PreColumbian Art by district. These mysterious figures at the end of one gallery are carved, wooden, larger-than-life sized statues that were placed by graves. I believe they were supposed to be some protection for those buried, but don't recall their exact function.

Leaving the museum we were hungry and stopped in one of the many, many small restaurants. This one advertized a 1/4 chicken dinner, which proved excellent. The dinner came with a choice of French fries or salad, and we both had the salad, which was a heap of fresh tomato slices, accompanied by cold, sliced green beans and cold green peas. Just outside the window where we were sitting was a small park with a flourishing Hibiscus bush covered with flowers. A bus idled noisily by the curb, and we were relieved when it finally left.

One thing that struck me about Santiago was the large numbers of people walking around all the time. The sidewalks are crowded with people strolling along. Hardly anyone is striding briskly, as you would see in a North American city. You often see a pair of police officers in the crowds, looking very neat in their clean, pressed uniforms. The other notable thing is the number of people working at what must be very low wage, menial jobs. There are groups of people hand-watering the grass in parks, raking the bare ground, and even sweeping the sidewalks.

This city employee is using a unique "broom." The green cart shows that he is an official city worker.

Other people just make up their jobs. Many spread some wares on the sidewalk and sell from there. Some
are more inventive. We saw individuals stepping in front of traffic stopped at a red light to perform a sort of fake toreador act with red scarves. This couple had something unique: a high class gymnast/cheerleading act. They were very good. Did about a 20 second routine and then ran to the cars to see what they could collect. I do wonder what sort of take they get. It would be impossible to keep that high energy going for very long.

Again we stopped at a little shop to pick up some food for the evening. The two eggs proved NOT to be hardboiled as we thought. Fortunately they were in a plastic bag, and went directly in the trash, because by the time we had them to the hotel they were smushed! We had also bought a container of what we thought was yogurt, and had a hard time figuring out that it was probably sweetened, condensed milk. Fortunately the jelly donuts dusted with cocoanut and filled with some sweet custard were delicious!

I'd been on the lookout for an ice cream vender, as I am an avid fan of ice cream. And we found some, but I'm almost ashamed to admit where we bought it: at a McDonald's! We sat on the rim of the fountain near the hotel and enjoyed our indulgence.

This had been a beautiful day, with the temperature at +27ยบ by 10:30 in the morning. In the evening people are out strolling, visiting, relaxing in the public places.

Back at the hotel we made arrangements for a wake up call and a taxi to the airport the next morning, then had a shower and a good night's sleep.

This picture goes with tomorrow's post, but I can't seem to get rid of it. Quite often, I'll lose a picture that I've put on the blog, but then again there are times like this when I can't make one go away. So this is the hostel in Punta Arenas, part of tomorrow's story. It's the yellow building with "erratic rock" painted just above the first floor. And we'll get there tomorrow.

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