And we’re off! After two gloriously uneventful flights, we arrived in Santiago early on the morning of January 9. We left the east coast still reeling from the Polar Vortex and emerged bedraggled from the airport to find 90-degree heat– disorienting, but very welcome.
We spent only two days in Santiago, as we’ve heard repeatedly that it’s not an essential destination, but we packed a lot in despite the jet lag (red-eye lag? it’s only two hours later here, but we were exhausted when we arrived). Essentials first: after dropping off our bags at our hostel, we headed to a park, bought a kilo of cherries from an outdoor market, and proceeded to eat and doze in the sun. After that, we headed to the Museo de la Memoria y los Derechos Humanos (Museum of Memory and Human Rights), which is focused on the Pinochet regime, about which we knew surprisingly little. We were both surprised to learn that it lasted 17 years and that it was still around as of 1990 when we were semi-sentient.
The museum is highly recommended (spring for the $3 audioguide) as is La Chascona, a house built by Pablo Neruda for his mistress and later wife (nicknamed “La Chascona,” or “the disheveled,” for her crazy hair) that is now a museum, and Bocanariz, a Chilean wine bar and tapas restaurant. Pro tip– “small plates” in Chile are roughly 5 times the size of similarly priced and described dishes in the U.S. We inadvertently ordered an embarrassing amount of food, and were forced to linger over wine refills in order to do it justice. It’s a tough life.
We spent the rest of our time in Santiago eating, drinking and exploring. This morning we arrived at the bus station in plenty of time for our 7-hour bus ride north to the beach town of La Serena, only to find our bus delayed by more than a hour. We used the time wisely, befriending Juan, a student (and “Chile’s number one Celine Dion fan”) who had lots of tips about La Serena and questions about the U.S.
Now to revisit some of those Chilean wines on the rooftop patio…