With an evening flight to Miami, I still had most of the day free to explore Santiago. I visited the Museum of Memory and Human Rights. Franco from yesterday’s walking tour recommended this as the must-see museum in the city. On the way there I encountered some sort of protest march. I couldn’t work out exactly what was going on but quite a few people were marching down the Avenida Liberator Bernardo O’Higgins. Amazingly after nine weeks in South America this was the first protest that I’d encountered. While in Brazil and Argentina a couple of years they were literally an everyday occurrence.
The Museum of Memory and Human Rights was extremely sobering and at times not particularly palatable. It was nonetheless enriching. I was able to hire an English-language headphone commentary to view excellent exhibits that were part historical teachings and part tribute to those who were tortured, missing and murdered under the brutal regime of the 1970s and 1980s. There’s a wall displaying photos of those killed and missing which was particularly moving. The fact that democracy wasn’t reintroduced until relatively recently, in 1990, made it even more solemn.
I had some time during the afternoon to do a bit of clothes shopping. The rate at which my clothes have recently been falling to bits has been quite alarming. They seem to last for years at home although I suppose that I’m living in the same three or four outfits while travelling. With it’s relatively high standards of living, Chile is one of the more expensive countries in South America. Books are ridiculously dear. Most paperbacks seemed to be about £15-£20. On the other hand wine is dirt cheap. A Chilean in the hostel said that any bottle of wine over £4 will be very good. The cheap boxed stuff in the supermarket costs about 80 pence for half a litre. Or to put it another way, you can get about 12 litres of this for the same price as the latest James Patterson! Clothes are about average price and I managed to pick up a couple of new tops that hopefully won’t be left in a tumble drier any time soon.
That was my brief week or so in Chile over with. Santiago has certainly been an underrated city, as has Chile as a country. It has a reputation as being a bit boring but I’ve found all sorts of interesting this to do. There’s also a bit of a stereotype among other South Americans that Chileans are a bit aloof and although I found most people to be friendly. That said I didn’t have people trying to drag me into their restaurants as in Peru or waving and smiling from across the street in Colombia. I’d like to have stayed for a bit longer although as I still have ambitions to visit Patagonia so hopefully I’ll be back in the future.
Right that’s it then. All finished.
When I was deciding upon a title for this blog, Easter Island was my planned final destination and I had every intention to return home to the real world at this point. However a few weeks ago I reassessed the situation and decided that I’m fortunate to be in a position where I still a bit of money left to carry on. As I’m still enjoying it and likely won’t be able to embark on such a trip again, I may as well keep going.