Monday, July 7, 2014

Adios, Andes

I'm flying home tonight. Time really does move quickly, doesn't it? From February 12 to July 7th, nearly five months, here and gone. I do have several more blog posts in the works, before I wrap things up so once I get home I'll work on them.

I took a TUR-BUS here from Viña, saying goodbye to my dear friend Kathy who helped me wrangle my suitcases over to the bus. I'm leaving with three, not the two I came in with. I can't figure it out: I gave almost all my clothes and all my books away!

Once I arrived at the Pajaritos station, I grabbed a taxi and set up shop at the Lastarria Santiago Suite. There is another apartment-type hotel with almost the same name, but my Lastarria is the one you'll want to stay at when you get here someday :-). You book it through, or email Viviana directly. ( I've mentioned this place before, and it is great: the location, price, service, apartment amenities etc. Viviana is letting me stay here until 4 p.m., when my taxi (which she arranged) will pick me up.

After stowing my bags in the apartment, I headed out north toward the river, for a long walk. I ended up meandering for a while, then made up my mind and went to the Parque Meropolitano de Santiago. I thought about taking this guy home, so I could have lots of yarn in the future:
The zoo is there, along with acres and acres of park, and an ascensor built in 1925. The place was packed, it being Sunday with nice weather, so I stood in line for over an hour to get on the ascensor. Oops, I mean funicular-I was corrected by the person in the information booth. In Vapo we call them ascensores, which really means elevator in Spanish. Guess they are more proper in Santiago.

As always, I'm struck by the differences in safety between here and the US. Above you can see how you wait for the ascensor cars to come in on a set of stairs (there are several cars hooked together)...with no railing. On the way up I noticed a set of electric wires running right along the tracks, within easy reach of the cars:

This is a really long ascensor. I think the summit of this hill is nearly 3,000 meters, although the ascensor doesn't go that high. Cerro San Cristobal pops up out of the flat valley that Santiago is situated in so you can get a great view of the city and mountains. It was a sunny day, and while you can see the beauty of the Andes, there was a lot of smog.

Once off the ascensor, I walked up to the top where you can find the large statue of the Virgen de la Inmaculada Concepcion, which was opened in 1908. She is quite lovely, although it is hard to find a view that does not have some sort of antenna in the frame, I was able to manage it.

Getting to the top requires a bit of a hike up many more steps, but the view was worth it. I also spotted this statue on the way up-I'm not sure who it is, under all the ivy.  Possibly Christ?
At the foot of the statue is a shrine, where people light votive candles and leave tokens of their thanks to the Virgin.
On the way down I got to ride in the same car that John Paul II used on his visit to Chile in 1987. Steve and Joel also ended up in that car, when they visited the park a couple of months ago. It is the luck of the draw what car you get, as there are two cars, each with several sections. If you want to ride this on, aim for the lowest car in the train.
On my way back, I saw this mural and wondered if it was a self portrait of the artist:
The sun was setting on the way back, as I walked through the long Parque Forestal, where I found this very heroic fountain. I liked the spouting seal.

Adios, Santiago; Adios Andes.

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