Saturday, February 5, 2011

Leaving Santiago

Our time in Santiago draws to a close.  The goal was to live here instead of merely visit.  I think we succeeded at that.  It was a very laid back time.  I was bored at times, to be honest, but this was on balance a positive experience.  We don’t know anybody here in the city, and so we did not socialize much.  We have enjoyed the company of visitors, and we got out and about a bit with each of them to places in central Chile.  Penny said just this evening how much she has enjoyed not having to be “on” and not being responsible for anything.  Like when we used to go to Big Bear Lake.  I understand that completely.

We hatched this walkabout idea a year ago in Lima.  Pepe Almenera, a Peruvian friend, was a little skeptical about staying in Santiago.  He thought that there was not enough to do here, and that Buenos Aires was the best city in South America for culture, fun, things to do, and so on.  He basically said that Lima and Santiago were like…St. Louis and Kansas City, and that Buenos Aires is New York in comparison.  (These city choices are my analogies, and neither Pepe’s nor anyone else’s.)    Perhaps.  We shall see.  We have made a couple of short trips to Buenos Aires before, and stayed in the downtown area which we didn’t enjoy as much as Santiago. Narrow sidewalks lead to lots of hustle and bustle.  Even so, somehow or other, I like Buenos Aires.  We have a week there in March before we go to Montevideo, and this time we will be staying in the Palermo neighborhood.  Apparently that will be much like Providencia here in Santiago, except with the benefit that Buenos Aires is a livelier town.  But we don’t know anybody there either, and we will be there only a short time.  The real key will be to stay occupied in Paris during July and August.  I am thinking in terms of a four-week intensive French course for starters.

Now I have been able to work on my research agenda here, thanks to the Kindle.  I need to immerse myself in antebellum United States society, culture, and history the same way that I did with late colonial Latin America.  I trained in U.S. history in graduate school and took doctoral exams in it, but I think I need to get a command of literature.  So I have been reading a great deal of Hawthorne, Alcott, Cooper, Emerson, etc.  I could have done that anywhere, and because Santiago is where I am, I read them here and will continue with them until we arrive in New York in October.

Although it won’t be for a couple of years, our next trip to South America will need to include Lima for six to eight weeks because I have research to do there.  The subject of my research, John D. Sloat, spent a great deal of time in Callao, and so I hope to find related documents in the archives there.  This means weeks of paging through file after file, one page at a time.  Miraflores is much like Providencia, and we have friends there.  Lima has been called “Lima the Horrible” and not without some reason, but somehow or other, I like Lima and I like Peru, just as I like both Chile and Argentina.

For the next several weeks, we will shift into the tourist mode.  Shopping will be different.  We won’t be cooking for ourselves at home.  On board the ship, there will be activities related to Antarctica every day.  When we get back, then we will make our way to Valdivia in southern Chile, and over to Bariloche, Argentina.  The adventure continues.

Some Santiago scenes:

Plaza de Armas.

Ex-Congress building, now houses Senate offices.

Central Market, now houses several mediocre seafood restaurants.

Museum of the City of Santiago, currently under renovation.

La Pica de Clinton, an eatery in central Santiago.

The Plaza de Armas attracts people for many different reasons.

Bellavista district restaurants.

Another Bellavista scene.

Santiago from San Cristobal Hill.

Another view of urban sprawl from San Cristobal Hill.

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