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Santiago: Going against my gringa ways

Friday, July 22, 2011

Here’s a hint: When did I buy my plane ticket for Santiago?  June 28, two and a half weeks before I arrived here on Sunday from Buenos Aires.  Six months ago I never would have done that, but it turns out that here, not planning sort of works.  And it’s fun.  I’ve managed to patch together a stimulating urban week of exploring on my own and meeting up with various friends and contacts, new and old, Chilean and otherwise.  There are rewards to this laid-back, non-gringa lifestyle.  It is a thrill to throw my iCal out the window and just sleep, eat, walk and wander with my vacation essentials: wallet, Tarjeta Bip! (metro/bus card), keys to friend’s apartment, dinky Movistar phone, Lonely Planet guidebook, journal, Borges short stories, chapstick.  Here are some photos:

Plaza de la Ciudadanía.

Treating myself to a lunch of Indian food!

Evidence of student protests I’ve only heard about in Palena.  Banner outside la Universidad de Chile: “This is the fight of the whole society: everyone for free education.”

Barrio París – Londres.

Cerro Santa Lucía (see how those mountains never go away?  That’s what was weird about Argentina — flat).

One of Santiago’s many posh, international-chain-dominated malls.

Daniela, Pablo, me and Marisol.  Pablo and Marisol are my neighbors and English students in Palena, who invited me to explore for a day with them, have lunch in their family’s house, and meet some of family, including Marisol’s niece, Daniela.

La Vega Central, big food market.

Atop San Cristobal, the really big view of the city.  Notice how buildings just fade into smog.

Barrio Bellavista, home to one of Neruda’s houses.

Memorial to the victims of the military dictatorship.

My newly beloved metro.

Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, with some interesting modern exhibits.

Breakfast in bed at Mignonette’s house, a Smith alum I looked up!

Me and Mignonette outside her house.  She is Chilean, studied at Smith in the 50s, holds a PhD from Yale and recently retired after decades as a psychology professor in the prestigious Universidad de Chile, and eventually director of the department.  She generously hosted me, showed me around, introduced me to new teleseries, and even got me and a friend into a play directed by her daughter: a Brazilian classic, La Fallecida.

Me and Nena, who has worked and lived in Mignonette’s house for over 30 years, and delivered me breakfast in bed.

Me and Caroline, another Smith alum, who has lived in Santiago with her Chilean husband since the 1970s, working as an English teacher and now as a translator, doing simultaneous translations for companies and embassies.  We had lunch (focaccia pesto sandwich, salad, brownie, cappuccino) at a newly opened cafe run by an Irishmen and his Chilean wife.

Missing: coffee with Paulina, director of the Fundación.  Soon to come: photos of my last night here (or two?  see how spontaneous I am?  I don’t even know if I’m leaving tomorrow or Sunday) and generous hosts!  My head and heart are spinning with thoughts about the future, especially after meeting these Smith women, but for now I am dreaming rather than planning — there will be time for list-making and my other gringa ways in August.  Besides, though it’s still winter, we’ve enjoyed some sunny afternoons (though chilly nights), and bottom line: no fire-making.  I like Palena and I’m liking Santiago, too.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. Jane Woodman permalink
    Friday, July 22, 2011 9:43 pm

    It all looks wonderful Margaret!! I miss doing the adventure with you. I’m still having travel dreams every night, different places, people, not quite knowing where I am but it ain’t Ipswich. So nice to see the pictures… please pass on our hellos and thank yous to Santiago and your people. Such generosity! p.s Go Smith, right?

  2. Lauren permalink
    Monday, July 25, 2011 9:01 am

    How fun! Meeting Smith Alum’s all over!

  3. Lauren permalink
    Monday, July 25, 2011 9:03 am

    Bah, and I can’t figure out how to edit my comment to fix my grammatical error!

    • Tuesday, July 26, 2011 5:43 pm

      don’t worry about it! I’m glad you love the Smith alums stories. = )

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