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Thursday, November 30, 2006

ADVENTURES IN CHILE; BACK IN SANTIAGO, THE KISSING CITY

THURSDAY, NOV. 30/06

Here we are back in Santiago Chile, which I have dubbed the ¨Kissing City¨because one thing that has impressed us since arriving here were the numbers of times each day, everywhere you go - in parks, on park benches, on the grass under shady trees, on the street, the metro, the bus...absolutely everywhere, there are couple (young and old) embracing and tenderly kissing. It´s a lovely sight to see and lends a very beautiful, personal atmosphere to this otherwise bustling city.

Our return trip from Mendoza, Argentina was spectacular. The bus came on a different route through the Andes than on our first trip. All the way along we were gawking out the windows, snapping dozens of photos of the amazing scenery. It was a warm, clear day, blue skies and no clouds sheltering the snow caps. It turned out we actually passed by Puente del Incas where we´d intended to go yesterday, although we couldn´t see the Ínca bridge´from the bus. Later on, coming down from the highlands on the twisty ´carocal´´ highway, we reached the green lush valley where herds of hores grazed. I saw several groups of pack horses all geared up and ready for their mountain treks. Eventually after passing through a very long tunnel we were at the Chilean frontier.

There is good security but little hassle at the border crossings here. They have sniffer dogs and lots of police patrols, but there is none of the tension and paranoia you meet at American borders. We had to give up the left over fruit from our lunches but that was about it. Otherwise we passed through with no problem, everyone being friendly, calm and polite.

Later we passed by the town of Los Andes which was founded in 1791 by Ambrosio O´Higgins, viceroy of Peru. The town is near the spectacular ski runs of Portillo near the Argentine border and is noted as the home fo two famous women; Nobel Prize winning poet Gabriel Mistral who taught here for a time, and Saint Teresa de los Andes, a Carmelite nun beatified in 1993.

Back in Santiago by 4 p.m. and happy to be ´home´´ again with our ´family´who were excited to see us so we were greeted by lots of hugs and kisses.

We are down to our last few days now and feel sad that soon we´ll be leaving. The next couple of days will be devoted to seeing some more sights and shopping and on Saturday we plan a day trip to Valparaiso. Tomorrow Cecilia says she´ll tour us around the General´s Cematery near her house where Allende is buried and there is a memorial to the disappeared.

NEXT; More about Santiago

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