I arrived in San Pedro de Atacama, and proceeded to crash. I had engaged in so many tours in a row without a break that I was completely knackered. Over the last three days, I was even too destroyed to write in the blog. This town has all kinds of tours, but I didn’t do any of them opting instead for 14+ hours of sleep per day. Actually I didn’t feel as if I was missing anything because the 3-day Salar de Uyuni tour pretty much exceeded anything San Pedro had to offer, and frankly I needed the rest. You’ll see why once I finish the Bolivia post. Add to that the Machu Picchu Peruvian experience. I did it all in one felled swoop at altitudes ranging from 11,000 to 14,000 feet. I think you get the picture.
San Pedro de Atacama
MAIN STREET – SAN PEDRO DE ATACAMA
EL MUSEO DE METEORITO
The Museum of Meteorites is the only thing I did in San Pedro de Atacama other than sleep, groan, and buy a nice Lapis ring for myself.
SPECIMENS FROM OUTER SPACE
This diminutive 1 1/2″ lodranite meteorite is the only one of its kind in the world. It allowed me to gratefully feel as if I had actually accomplished something in this frontier town other than purchase myself a lapis ring.
CROSS SECTION OF A METEORITE
PARK HOTEL CALAMA
It didn’t say anything about the desert in the name. After living in agony for three days in San Pedro de Atacama, I booked a nice hotel in Calama from which I would fly to Santiago in the morning. Hoping for a change of scenery from the desert, I arrived to find my desert decorated hotel room complete with greenish yellow paint trimmed in stained cactus interiors. I was not pleased. The bed was really comfortable, and I continued my hypersomnia until the next morning.
What do you say about a city that resurrected you from the dead, and then proceeded to treat you like one of their own? Can I get a hallelujah? I’ve been all over the world as you know, and I have never found such a warm and friendly big city in all of my born days. I cite not one but multiple experiences to back up this claim. Stay tuned and enjoy Santiago, the big city with a big heart.
PARQUE FORESTAL – My neighborhood park.
LASTARRIA – My Neighborhood
CRAFTS FOR SALE IN LASTARRIA
FORMER U.S. EMBASSY – Right around the corner from my hostel in one of the best neighborhoods in the city.
Why do they do this to these nice buildings?
Bella Vista Self Guided Street Art Tour
I love this one.
Why, why, why???
Some nice tag resistant mosaics.
LA VEGA – The big market.
One of a plethora of high-quality street bands in Santiago.
This one had dancers and a marching band. The weekends are like Carnaval throughout the city. You’re never out of earshot of music.
Very cool building in the upscale Lastarria neighborhood in which my hostel is located.
Some street art just down the street from my hostel.
CERRO SANTA LUCIA PARK
In the daytime, you can climb a labyrinth of pathways to a fantastic viewpoint. The park is absolutely charming as well with many interesting gardens and building to explore.
I was up until 4 am on my first three days in Santiago trying to get caught up on the blog on the night of April 1st. There was an incredible amount of noise coming from directly above my room. I really didn’t give a damn since I was working on the blog so I wasn’t trying to get to sleep, and it wasn’t distracting me in any way since I was just doing busy work. Eventually, it got to be about 1:15 am, and the revelry was showing no signs of abating. It sounded like some sort of drinking game was going on.
Eventually, curiosity got the best of me, and I ascended the stairs outside my window to find the twelve smiling faces you see depicted above. Turns out they were all from Santiago and friends with some of the folks who work at the hostel. I got to bantering with them and found them to be a super friendly bunch of kids.
At some point, I made reference to my age and realized it was past midnight and I had turned fifty-nine. Well, they let out a roar and proceeded to sing Happy Birthday. It was so great having such an outpouring of goodwill so far from home wherever that is at this point. They offered me booze, but I don’t drink. Then that delightful third person from the left rolled up a joint and cut me loose on the thing.
There she is again standing next to me.
What a fantastic birthday celebration. I went back downstairs and carried on with my blogging with a big smile on my face.
TAMBO – I went to this Peruvian restaurant on the night of my birthday.
Michelle in the middle here took my reservation the night before and knew it was my birthday. It was her night off, and she went out of her way to stop by with her cousin to wish me a Happy Birthday. As if that wasn’t enough…
A piece of chocolate cake with two candles, and I am treated to a second rendition of Happy Birthday in as many days. I think maybe now you may have a clue as to why I have a soft spot in my heart for Santiago. They have forever blown my mind. So much so, the candles almost burned all the way down before I got it together to blow them out.
The building in the background is meant to look like a cell phone.
ANOTHER QUALITY GROUP OF STREET MUSICIANS
Nathaniel, Hugh and a couple of Scandinavians as we make our way to climb the mountain in San Cristobal Park.
Hugh and Nathaniel leave us in the dust.
We made it to the top.
Greeted by Pope John Paul II
Somebody nicked the decorative tip to his scepter so someone inserted a rose.
A slightly more cheerful cross than the usual gruesome spectacle.
Here’s the facade of one that even had a picture of Jim Morrison of the Doors!
Then the big payoff for our efforts – There was a big tarantula just waiting for us
TALLEST BUILDING IN SANTIAGO
MUSEO DE BELLAS ARTES
COTI – Our delightful tour guide.
DOOR HANDLES – When Pinochet took power he turned all of the door handles upside down which indicated shackled hands. They are now right side up again signifying “power to the people.” Regardless of the terrible struggles in their recent history, the Chilean people have embraced an unyielding sense of optimism. It is infectious how they value their freedom and express it in so many positive ways. It is a city and country I shall return to in the not too distant future
CENTER FOR THE ARTS – Pinochet used this building for his governmental offices during his tyrannical rule.
FANTASTIC MURALS IN A TRAIN STATION
STATUE OF SALVADOR ALLENDE – This is the man whose overthrow the US facilitated during the Nixon administration. As per their usual generous nature, the Chilean people retain no ill will to American visitors choosing to blame their government for the suffering caused them.
PRESIDENTIAL PALACE – It was bombed at the start of the military coup led by Pinochet. As it was clear he would be overthrown, Allende killed himself with an AK47 after delivering a moving address, declaring that in the future freedom would reign in Chile sometime after his untimely death.
MAIN POST OFFICE
These are homeless shelters for the Quiltro of Santiago. Quiltro are stray dogs.
Some of the Hostel family.
The faithful staff of Hostal Forestal – Juanito, Guilherme, Javier.
QUILTRO – The name of the stray dogs of Chile. Many of them are healthier than regular dogs in the U.S. This guy is a big favorite of Carmen, our tour guide. He and his friend always accompany her on her tours throughout Valparaiso.
SPY vs SPY
FUNICULAR FROM 1862!
VALPARAISO – Bustling main square.
FLOWER CLOCK – Replanting in process.
CHILEAN MEGA KING CRAB – I was burping this baby all day long! I prefer Alaskan King Crab.
VIÑA DEL MAR
A real, honest to god, Easter Island statue, and my inspiration to visit the island next year along with Fiji, Palau, and a few others en route to Australia.
VIÑA DEL MAR BEACH – Cold as hell.
Back in Santiago
THE HEAVY MUSEUM
MUSEUM OF MEMORIES AND HUMAN RIGHTS – Depicting the crimes of Pinochet against the Chilean people.
SYMBOL OF HOPE – These seahorses were found in the buildings where people were tortured, and subsequently became symbols of hope. This one is in the square outside the museum.
CERRO SANTA LUCIA – Wonderful Park In the Middle of the City.
SLEAZY DRUNK – Bumming change for booze outside the gate.
Many different spaces to enjoy before heading for the view.
Climbing to the top for the stunning view.
WORTH THE CLIMB
My oh my are we having fun, now?!
See the couple on the left. Prepare for a serious P.D.A.
P.D.A. CHILEAN STYLE
CERRO SANTA LUCIA – Main Entrance
The Travel Zealot Farewell Party – Cuba Libres for All!
I had such a good time here and enjoyed my visit so much that I stopped into a market and bought a party.
Celine Bitter from Germany on the Left – As hostel hosts go she’s one of the greats.
LAST GASPERS AT 3:00 AM
THE GANG FROM TAMBO RESTAURANT
JUANITO – One Tequila, Two Tequila, Three Tequila, Floor! Actually, he was drinking Pisco, but the result is the same.
La Chascona – Neruda’s House In Santiago
The architect said that even though he was credited with the design, Pablo was responsible for most of the design. It was very much a Neruda creation.
These personalized window decorations are stand for Pablo and his then mistress Matilde who he later married. This was their love nest in Santiago for many years.
Unfortunately they didn’t permit photography indoors. There is much I would have liked to show you. His furnishing were not ostentatious, and the emphasis was upon entertaining guests. The yellow enclosure is one such space. It is the summer bar where he entertained in the warmer months. The yellow wall just installed to protect the space.
A nice piece of street art with Pablo adjacent to his former home.