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Friday, November 24, 2006

ADVENTURES IN CHILE: BARRIO LASSTARIA AND A BEAUTIFUL PARK

THURSDAY, Nov 23-06

Barrio Lastarria is on the eastern fringe of Santiago Centro, just beyond Cerro Santa Lucia. It´s an oasis of architctural, culinary and cultual delights with Parisian style buildings, tree'lined streets and shady plazas, a tranquil pleasaant partof the city and the hub of Santiago´s cafe culture.

We visited the Musio de Artes Vusuales and the Museo Arqueologico which are housed in brand new quarters. We watched an interesting film about Easter Island (which is part of Chile although several thousand miles off'shore. ) The museum has artifacts dating back to the earliest inhabitants of Chile and ester island which included the tiny mummy of a child. These people were the first in the world to mummify their dead, going back to 5000 BC. Among the artifacts was pottery fromthe Incas, and objects fromthe Mapuch0 people incluidng curiously, items used for smoking, pulveriziing and storing hallucenogenics and other drugs and colorful bags carried by the men to hold their coca. There were also indigenous carvings and beautiful silver jewelry (earrings, necklaces and belts= worn by the Mapucho women.

After our tour around the museum we headed back to santigao Centro the Cafe Cecilia by the river. She had prepared a most delicious lunch for us which we really appreciate├▒
grandma took me on a tour of estacion Maphocho to find the toilet. They were setting up for a huge anquet of 3,000 men )alumni and stdents= to celebrate the 100th anniversary of
San Ignacio school, a wealthy Catholic boys school. Grandma book me through the banquet hall, introducing me to people along the way, and ushered me out the back to a little plaza wherethere is a memorial to some of Chile´s poets and writers. Of course she waned me to see Pablo Neruda. And there was a plaqu honoring him and his ¨Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair"

After that rather comical excursion Patrick and I headed back to Barrio Lasstaria with a quick stop at the Mercado Central right across from Cecilia´s cafe. It wasn´t asinteresting as the big market we had gone to theother day so we didn´t stay to browse long but got the metro back to Cerro Santa Lucia.

A 19th century city mayor, Benjamin Vicuna Mackenna, wasinstrumental in transforming Santa Lucia Mt. from a rocky hillinto a beautifullylandscaped park. Its footpaths and stone stairways lead you up to the top of the mountain where there are castle turrets and a magnificent viewpoint of the city (and today the Andes were visible again!) At the entrance is an ornate fountain Terraza Neptuno and up he curved staircase you come to the tomb of the mayor, Mackenna. The vista from the top isone of the best, as commented on by Charles Darwin whose signature appears on a plque emedded on the rocks commemorating his visit there in the 1880´s.

Back to Recolta and a little visit with Cecilia and grandma before bedtime. Plans made for our trip to the Coast, leaving Friday evening. Both Patrick and I are very excited about this trip and looking forward to a few days by the sea enjoying a swim and a visit to Isla Negra to see another of Neruda´´s fantastical houses.

NEXT: Travelling around by bus, metro and by foot and a visit to another barrio or two.

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