Sunday, March 11, 2012

Following My Mom's Footsteps

Santiago is immense, much bigger that any city I have ever seen. It continues for miles in all directions with close to 5.5 million people. There is so much to do in Santiago. While I was there I was able to visit the house of Pablo Neruda, a famous Chilean poet, and the Memory Museum, which covered the happening of the military coup on Sept 11th 1973 and the Pinochet dictatorship. I also went on a walking tour of downtown Santiago where I was able to see La Moneda, the presidents office, Santiago's Plaza de Armas and Cerro Santa Lucia. At the bus station I was lucky enough to see a performance of the Cueca, the national dance of Chile, I hope to learn the dance before I leave. I also tried mote con huesillos, a traditional Chilean drink. Santiago was absolutely wonderful and I hope to visit again some day.

Simon and me at Neruda's house

On Friday I headed to Vina del Mar, an hour and a half ride in bus from Santiago to Vina del Mar and Valparaiso are right next to each other, but they are totally different. Vina del Mar is a nice quiet city with skyscrapers and fancy hotels. Valparaiso is a bohemian town with cerros filled with colorful houses. I am staying with my Tia Coty in Vina del Mar, blocks from the center.

Today I visited Valparaiso only minutes from Vina del Mar. I passed by the house my mother grew up in and picked up some fish on the way to Valparaiso. The port of Valparaiso is filled with tiny fishing boats, yachts, military vessels and huge cruise ships. The city of Valparaiso is built onto rolling hills called cerros. To get to the top you can either hike up the never ending staircases or like me take a acensor, which is kinda like an elevator but at an angle.

Acensor in Valparaiso

The narrow winding streets and passageways and colorful houses built one-on-top of the other give Valparaiso its character. After exploring Valparaiso I headed to my mom's childhood friend, Nancy, house in Quilpue, a city inland from Vina del Mar to have lunch. At Nancy's home I was able to call my mom through my computer so they could talk for the first time in over 30 years. Nancy got so emotional when hearing my moms voice that she could barley talk.

It was great to hang out with my mom's best friend growing up and it was even more enjoyable to hear them talk again after so many year. I hope one day I can also reunite with my childhood friends.

Nancy's son Guillermo took me out into the town to show me around. Quilpue is a small pueblo with a zoo, many stray dogs, a small mall, and a couple cerros. Nancy's family was very welcoming. It was great to meet her two sons and her grand kids. I hope to see them again sometime soon.


  1. cuuute story :) how long are you in Chile for?

  2. For another 3 weeks. I am heading south.

  3. I'm so happy you've had the opportunity to visit various "out of the way" places and meet some of my warm Chilean compatriots. Next time we'll go together. It's been 30 years, wow !! Love ya.

  4. That's so cool you got to meet up with your mom's friend! Looks like you're having a blast. take care