02 October 2011

Santiago, Chile: The Exploration Begins

Today, I began my exploration of Santiago.  At the advice of Adrian, the father of the family with whom I am staying, I took the cultural circuit bus.  This bus is a city bus that only runs on Sundays, and for the price of one bus ride (approximately US$1), you can get on and off as many times as you want at each of the 15 stops.  As indicated by the name, the bus stops at fifteen of the cultural highlights of the city.  The first place I got off was Quinta Normal, the museum district of Santiago.  There are many great museums located here, but I decided to choose one for today and see it thoroughly.  I ended up in the Museum of the Memorial [of September 11] and Human Rights, the outside exhibits of which are pictured above.  For all you USA readers, it's not a memorial for September 11, 2001, but for September 11, 1973.  On that day, the Chilean Armed Forces overthrew the incumbent socialist government (with the support and financial backing of the US, due to our lingering Cold War fear of socialism) with excessive force to start a 27-year dictatorship.  The museum commemorates that day, as well as the 27-year regime that followed, which was marked by excessive violations of human rights (torture, beatings, thousands of people exiled, and thousands more stolen from their homes).  There are several other exhibits that are dedicated to past or current instances of human rights violation.  All in all, it was a very well-done and moving museum...and it gave me great practice with my Spanish, since nothing was in English :-)

After the museum, I spend a bit of time wandering around the surrounding park.  Because spring just began--according to my family, today was the warmest day so far--people were out in full force, picnicking, playing soccer, or just enjoying the sun. 

I then hopped back on the bus, and went to Plaza de Armas, the central plaza of Santiago.  Today happened to be the National Day of Folklore, so there were tons of people, an art fair, two live bands, and dancers doing the traditional Chilean dance, called the cueca (people in the crowd were doing this too...it was really cool to watch!).

Flanking one side of the Plaza de Armas, the Metropolitan Cathedral was originally built in 1541.  Though it was destroyed several times over the centuries by fires and earthquakes, the current version was begun in 1748 and finished by the mid-1800s.  Beautiful inside (see above) and out, I definitely intend on returning here in the near future!

I ended my day with a bit of shopping along the pedestrian street that extends several blocks out of Plaza de Armas in both directions.  True to form, the only thing I actually bought was gelato...but I was very happy with my purchase!  I ate it back in the plaza while listening to the live music, which was simply lovely.  Afterwards, I initiated myself on the Santiago metro, and a 20-minute walk got me back to my home, where dinner awaited.  My first impression of Santiago was a good one, and I can't wait to start school tomorrow!


linda feldt said...

Dear Katie, Thanks for sharing your day. It was right to live Sunday here today. Cleaned more of the basement and took Grandma Ruth to church. Good luck at school tomorrow. Be safe love & prayers mom Gelato looked tasty!!!

grandma feldt said...

Enjoyed another history lesson with you and seeing you enjoy all of it. Waiting to hear how your first day of class is like. Love ya

Anonymous said...

Katie, Total immersion-You are a brave soul. My prayers are with you!