I am writing this in the pre-dawn hours of Thursday, December 12th. Our flight takes off tonight at 10 p.m. for Dallas-Fort Worth, followed by a layover and connecting flight to Kansas City. This will be a brutal 28 hours in transit, on par with the 24-36 hours that some of our friends have had to endure as they traveled home from Chile to Colorado, Oregon, Minnesota, or Canada. Not exactly a silver lining.

Santiago is one of the largest cities in the Americas. It has not changed since our arrival on the 9th, but our impressions of it have. Two full days and two half days were barely enough time to take the pulse of the 2 or 3 Barrios that we have wandered about, but it was enough time for us to adapt and become charmed. Our travel was exclusively on foot, averaging nearly 10 miles each day. It was good to walk after the more sedentary experience aboard ship. This morning our friend Kris posted a Latin phrase, “Solvitur ambulando” which loosely translates into “It is solved by walking”. That describes our experience of the last few days.

We made Wednesday into a walking tour. Nothing in depth, no museums, no cultural centers, virtually nothing inside… just walking and taking it in…

A literal highlight of the experience was ascending Santa Lucia Hill, enjoying its gardens, pathways, and the spectacular view of the city from the top. The Andes Mountains were barely discernible rising above the urban haze.

We peeked inside the 18th century Colonial era church, Iglesia San Agustin, which is one of the oldest buildings in Santiago. It has successfully withstood a number of devastating earthquakes.

We wandered by the Presidential Palace…

The Municipal Theater…

Through market lined boulevards…

…and throngs of humanity.

We returned to Food Park Tepeyak and tried out different vendors. The food was excellent and I enjoyed the candid sight of Christine consulting “Mr. Google” to translate a menu.

After siesta time we returned to Barrio Brasil where we intended to take in a splurge dinner at a highly regarded restaurant. It was closed. However, as we continued walking we were drawn to an unusual edifice bearing the name, Ocean Pacific. A seafood restaurant that also serves land proteins (after all, this is Chile!).

In English, a rugged looking gentleman in sailor’s attire bid us enter, We did, and it just got better and better. The “sailor” was Rikardo and his smile only hinted at his larger-than-life personality. He was assisted by the equally charming Mercedes who apologized repeatedly for her poor (it was excellent) English.

We placed ourselves into their capable hands and allowed them to virtually select our wine, main dishes, and sides. It was a fun experience that included camaraderie and excellent cuisine. This was beyond any expectation that we had held for a final meal in Santiago, and a real silver lining to the intended but closed first choice.

In retrospect, these 4 days have been filled with “silver linings”. One must just be open to seeing them.

Our “hotel”, turned out to be a less than distinguished apartment. However, it was clean and the location could not be better. No air conditioning, but there was a fan and the evenings cooled quickly from 90 degrees to the 60’s. The desert-like dryness rendered the daytime temps very tolerable.

Traffic was constant, but drivers obeyed the pedestrian signals so negotiating intersections proved safe. A feature of some of the signs is that the “walk” figure becomes an animated running figure when the signal nears the end of the cycle. It made us smile.

We found that the city gave us helpful people at the right moments. A history professor, a taxi driver, a protester, and even a pedestrian who cautioned me to keep my camera secured.

Even the police and military personnel proved friendly to us.

The food was good… the beer was good, and so was the wine.

These and other “silver linings” more than eclipsed any thoughts that we originally held of “dark clouds” in this city.

This may be my final post from this journey. Like virtually all large cities Santiago’s first impression can be overwhelming, impersonal, and uncaring. However, under the examination of opened eyes and an open mind one becomes aware of children laughing in the parks… toddlers testing the limits of their parents’ resolve for their safety… teens happily jamming to their tunes… lovers (young and old) holding hands and exchanging an occasional kiss. There are “suits” hustling to and from work, partially eaten sandwiches in hand… and beggars with hands out in search of coins for their next meal or next bottle. Vendors eye pedestrians with anticipation for the potential customer and suspicion of the possible thief. Life lived by millions, played out one person at a time.

Once again in a far-away place we have found what is familiar.

Peace Everyone. Pete

22 thoughts on “Silver Linings in Santiago Chile. December 11, 2019

  1. Nancy Schmidt Boulay says:

    I really enjoyed following your trip. In looking at your photos of Santiago, it does seem more industrial, say than, Buenos Aires (where I have spent some time). But you seemed to find and enjoy the beauty and experiences that city has to offer…and the people!

  2. At first glance, the Municipal Theater could be mistaken for Union Station! I am not certain what was on your plate at the last restaurant, but appeared to be oysters, perhaps, and not sure what the side dish was. This girl is so tired of her own cooking, I sure would like to follow you guys around for a while! Always wonderful food wherever you go! Happy that you are home in time to enjoy great-grandpa and the Little People for Christmas! Have a happy one!

    • Thank you so much Babe! Mine was a salmon dish baked and covered with Parmesan cheese. There were potatoes on the side and vegetables in the dish. It was excellent! In just a few more hours we will be home. It’s been a long transit and I’m ready for my own bed. Love to you from both of us. Pete and Christine

  3. Thank you for showing us the southern Americas. Hope you can sleep on a plane. You need a long summers turning to winters nap. Hope you have some warm clothes. Cold and snow this weekend in KC. Welcome home.

  4. Welcome home. After travel to Panama and Europe each year, sometimes multiple times in a year, I am aware of how incredible it is to enjoy other places, especially people one encounters in those other places. I am happy the two of you travel so well and that you share so well your experiences. Ginny and I enjoy reading and learning from you and your experiences. But – very happy that you are safely back in KC for the holidays. Enjoy being back home!

    • Thank you so much Roger! Travel, such as you have enjoyed, certainly opens one’s eyes. The world is much smaller and people are alike in the most important ways no matter where you are.

  5. As always … an open mind, an open heart, a new experience to be captured by a colorful turn of phrase – only to paint a picture for all that you share your journey with. Thank you once again for sharing your trip with me, with all of us.

    • Thanks Liz. Writing has become a therapy for me. When I finish a piece such as this one, I find that I have dug deep within myself. There is a feeling of meditative peace that lingers long after.

  6. Welcome home Chris and Pete! You showed us a great adventure, Hope you and Chris can get together with us sometime once you have settled in.

What Do You Think?