November 3, Viña del Mar; November 4 and 5, Santiago, Chile
We have found the warm part of the Chilean coast. Palm trees in Viña del Mar.
Lots of sand.
Holiday playground for the more affluent residents of Santiago.
Parks and hotels everywhere.
The central park across from a multi-storey indoor mall.
Inside the mall.
Scrumptious dinner at the Casino in Viña. On the trip, Tom earned the title of the King of Desserts. He had eight that night. Never had less than three, yet remained a lean, tough long-distance motorcycle rider and Iron Butt Rally winner—charming, too. The Iron Butt motorcycle marathon is held every two years in the USA -- 11 thousand miles (nearly 18 thousand kilometers) in 11 days. Fewer than a dozen people have won it.
Mauricio is probably just happy that the trip is at an end, and that Tony and João have finally arrived from Puno with the truck and the rest of our luggage (don't ask about the trailer). Or maybe he’s just happy about all the wine they served at dinner.
João is too hungry to look up.
November 4 and 5, Santiago de Chile
The motorcycle trip was over, but the two of us went to Santiago to explore the city for a couple of days.
A pleasant city at the foot of the Andes, Santiago has a downtown of wide promenades and trees—and cell phones. We were lucky that its notorious air pollution wasn’t too bad.
Lovely old houses.
The real subway is super clean...
...unlike the river Mapocho which winds through the centre of the city carrying untreated sewage and liquid industrial waste. Fast and full, the water flows down from the Andes, but not what you’d call a fresh mountain stream. (There is a plan afoot to build a sewage treatment plant.) Although the air pollution was not at its worst, it still obscures the lovely Andes in the background.
Mauricio found a charming little hotel for us.
Lovely downtown church. Chileans are predominantly Roman Catholic.
But not too conservative in the city, it seems.
In fact, one might say quite the opposite. VOTE FOR ME. The presidential elections were approaching, with a female candidate as front runner for the first time in Chile’s history, so that’s the connection. But this is not a political poster. It’s a company selling high fashion jeans with a hip/risqué ad campaign.
Obviously not all can afford fancy consumer goods.
This man is anxiously trying to convince Madeleine that Brian should not carry his camera around his neck—it’s not safe.
Cerro Santa Lucía is a park on a steep conical hill with a castle on top, smack in the centre of the city. At the foot of the lovely hill we find a statue and what seems to be a university study group. We thought we were going to have to climb up on foot.
But we discovered an elevator,
which took us up to lovely gardens
and buildings, like this secluded mausoleum.
But we still have lots of climbing to do to reach the castle. We found a Geocache.
In the distance we get a glimpse of the statue of the Virgin Mary standing amidst antennae at the top of the highest peak in Parque Metropolitano, an enormous park—more than twice the size of Central Park in New York—built on three hills slightly to the north centre of the city.
A stylized representation of the city of Santiago and Parque Metropolitano in the bend of the river, with the Andes in the background. From the foot of the hill up to the statue is a funicular railway, and strung across the top of the park is an aerial tramway, the Teleférico. We knew about the funicular before we went, because we weren’t about to climb up the 300 metres on foot.
The park was established at the beginning of the twentieth century with the main purpose of serving as the lungs of the city. The funicular was constructed in 1925.
The semi-official busker entertains us with Venezuelan music (yes, we’re in Chile) with guitar and zampoña, Andean pan pipes.
A great view of the city as you are hauled up by cables, with the conical Santa Lucía hill that we just visited sticking up amid the skyscrapers on the horizon.
We couldn’t get our pictures to show how dizzyingly steep it feels. The slope is over 45°.
The air pollution may not have been considered bad, but it certainly wasn’t great. The beautiful Andean peaks are almost invisible.
The little cars of the Teleférico swing back and forth.
And glide over the tops of tress.
The Teleférico soars over the road which winds and winds up to the top.
Many leafy paths meander through the park. We brought some Geocaches to look for but that proved too difficult in such a large park without bikes to get around on.
As at Machu Picchu, there were many students groups making end-of-year pilgrimages
up to the fourteen-metre high statue of the Virgin.
South America welcomed us with palm trees in Brazil and bid us goodbye with palm trees in Chile. Adiós.