Santiago, Isla Negra, and a few other days!!!

Santiago y Isla Negra

Sorry about the bad grammar, but mom and Aunty Pam are complaining because they want to read this. So here you go. You probably want to pour yourselves a glass of rum and coke first. As this is long!


Friday (Day 20)

YAYA the weekend is finally here! I just have to get through classes first. 3 hours of indirect and direct pronouns in Spanish is incredibly painful when you have an awesome weekend planned. After class we went to Val’s house where her mom fed us delicious Chilean lunch. Then the BUS STATION!!! It is so cheap for a ticket from Valparaiso to Santiago. Only 3 mil pesos. Which is $6 dollars for a two hour bus ride. After I was talking to my host sister and my teacher and they said because it is so cheap it is not uncommon for students or workers to live in Valparaiso, yet work or study in Santiago, or vice versa. I cannot even imagine how much it would not be to have 4 hours of transit each day.

When we arrived to Santiago the bus driver let us off a block away from the station as there was a traffic jam and it would have taken about an hour and a half to move the block. THERE WAS SOOOOO MANY PEOPLE!!! It was ridiculous. I have never felt so much like I was going to get pickpocketed!! We have a snack and proceeded to find the metro. I thought the Metro in Valpo was huge. I now realize it is tiny as there is only one line. In Santiago there is 5 lines, like twice as long as the one in Valpo.

After 1 switch we got to our stop. Val has a lot of friends in Santiago as she lived here for a year and a half before. So we stayed with one couple on Friday night, and a different family on Saturday and Sunday night. Anyways the couple we stayed with Friday night was soooooo nice. Vanessa spoke English as that is what she is studying in school. Her husband doesn’t but we still had an awesome visit. And she made the best completos in the world! There was a homemade salsa with the avacados, tomatoes and mayonnaise. It was so good!

We went to bed decently early and had an awesome sleep!

Saturday (Day 21)

We woke up very early and Vanessa insisted on making us breakfast. With orange juice that I made…. Mmmm fresh. We left to go and find a free walking tour. It was alright but the tour guide clearly was doing it only for tips and not because he liked it. He brought us by the Moneda Palace, La Chascona (Pablo Neruda’s other house), San Cristobal Hill, A church, and many other things. But he did not know much about them and Santiago so it was more just pointing them out.

After we went up San Cristobal Hill, one of the major tourist spots in Santiago. We rode in a funicular. Which was built and started to be used in 1925, it was so sketchy I was waiting for the cables to break, and there was way too much creaking for my liking. When we got to the top of the funicular we walked about another ten minutes up to the huge Virgin Mary Statue at the top. There was lots of smog so we couldn’t see the Andes like apparently you can when it rains. From all sides you can see miles and miles of Santiago! There was lots of smog so we couldn’t see it all. But when it rains you can see Santiago runs all the way to the Andes on all sides because it is in a valley. We sat for probably an hour enjoying the view before we headed back down.

Vanessa wanted to make us Almuezido so we headed back. She made us a delicious Chilean dish. I forget what it is called but it was like a soup broth. Then it had a piece of chicken, a potato, half of a corn on the cob and some other delicious vegetables.

After Val wanted to go and see a bunch of her friends but I was exhausted so I had a nap for an hour while she visited. When we got back we got our stuff together and headed to one of their friends. This friend was very nice and drove us to the next house.

The next house was Elisa, Emerson, Tamara and I am not sure of the father’s name but they were SOOOOO nice as well. Kudos to Val for hooking us up with incredible families to stay with in Santiago. They had once ready for us, and cookies. They spoke no Spanish so I really had to think. Every day I am getting a greater appreciation for whoever comes to Canada to learn English as it is not easy, at all.

We had a visit for a few hours but we were all tired and had a long day planned for Sunday so we went to bed at like midnight.

On a side note Friday night’s house and this house both had a consistent temperature of warm water in the shower! It was awesome!!


TODAY I navigated Santiago all by myself!!! As you probably know I get lost in GP, which has a population of around 55000 people. Santiago has a population of over 6 million people. AND I didn’t get lost!!!!

I went back to San Cristobal Hill first because I wanted to go to the zoo. I ended up being there for like 4 hours, it was so nice to take my time, wander around and look at the animals. I think my favorite was the grizzly bear and it’s sauntering. I don’t mind seeing it at the zoo, but I sure do not like seeing them in the mountains. The armadillos made me laugh as well. The mapuches (indigenous people) of Chile used to play an instrument like a guitar made out of armadillo shell. It is cool because I have seen it played on the streets, it sounds like an off tune guitar. At Isla Negra, Pablo Neruda’s other house he has a whole table full of them! But we will get to that later.

After I went to the second house of Pablo Neruda called “La Chascona.” It was named after Pablo’s third and final wife, Matilde. Since when they started dating he still had his second wife, Matilde was a secret affair. She had fiery red hair, this is what “La Chascona” means.

I learned lots about Neruda here from my tour guide so I am going to try and type it to make sense.

La Chascona was built for and for the most part by Matilde from Neruda. She was hired as the person to care for and prepare the house. Neruda and Matilde had a secret affair that for many years few people knew about as I do not think divorce was legal then. One of Neruda’s friends who was a Mexican painted this picture for him:


The face looking at you is the face that everybody knew, including Neruda’s second wife, Delia. The face looking to the left is the secret face of Matilde looking off into the distance longing for her true love Neruda. Also on the right side of the picture, in the hair of Matilde, the painter drew the outline of Neruda’s face looking off into the distance longing for Matilde.

On a different note about Neruda…

Quick history lesson if you don’t know the basic history about Chile. In 1970 Salvador Allende was the first Marxist president of Chile. He was president until 1973. From what I understand the people of Chile were happy and doing alright. One of Allende campaigns was to give each child a glass of milk a day. United States saw this and did not like that this was potentially a successful company who did not follow the capitalist policy they do. So the U.S decided to feed a bunch of money to a dictator called Pinochet who then bombed Moneda palace and took over Chile. (The next 17 years were hell for the Chileans as thousands of people went missing, went to concentration camps and were murdered.) Anyway that is a whole long topic you can google, there is the very short story.

Allende and Neruda were very good friends. Before Allende became president in 1970, he along with any other Chileans wanted Neruda to become the president of Chile. Neruda however had no interest in it and was quite happy with what he was doing. In September 1973 when Pinochet was bombing the castle and taking over, Allende was in the back of the palace giving a heartfelt speech before he supposedly shot himself.

When Neruda, who was already ill, heard this news about his friend he became very sad. It is then said a week later he had a heart attack and died.

However it has been much controversy if that was the real reason he died. At that time it was impossible to find out the cause of death because Pinochet wouldn’t allow it and he had taken over “La Chascona.”

2 years ago Neruda’s body was taken out of his grave at Isla Negra and a test was done to figure out what the actual cause of death was. About 2 months ago the results came in but it has not been released to the public. There is much controversy because many believe he did not have a heart attack. Some believe it was Matilde, or he was assassinated by one of Pinochet’s people. If it was Matilde then why, she was supposedly his one true love. And had he not been murdered it is believed he knew enough people and had the power to overthrow Pinochet. Had he done this the whole history of Chile would have been different.  Maybe today there wouldn’t be the huge divide there is now.

I am SO interested in this! That was the very short story.

During the tour I met a girl from France who speaks English. She had just arrived in Chile and she is doing a complete semester in Santiago, like I am in Montevideo. She doesn’t know a person in Chile so after we went for lunch and had a great visit about Chile, France and Canada.

After it was time to meet up with Val again to head home. So I navigated the metro again ALL BY MYSELF! She invited me to go to something with her friends from Santiago but I was very tired and wanted to stay at the house, with the family that spoke no English. Once she left I visited in Spanish for like 4 hours with the mom and daughter Tamara. And there was ONLY like 3 things we couldn’t understand each other on!!! We also played dominoes. FUE MUY DIVERTIDO!! And a huge learning experience for me. After however my head hurt I am pretty sure the most it has hurt since I have been here.

Monday (Day 24)


Val and I got up really early for this day to go and meet Langston and Evan, then proceed to find our driver.

We drove for about an hour through the beautiful Andes and foothills. It was so beautiful and quiet. We drove along the Maipo River which starts in the Andes and eventually runs through Santiago. It was very cold this morning (not like Canada cold, but still cold.)

When we got to the park we went to information to register, then we went to get our wetsuits for white water rafting on the MAIPO!! Since the sun was still setting when we got our wetsuits on it was quite a process, first of all it was cold. And they were still kind of wet, it was a two man process for Val and I, it got real close lol.

After that process we met our tour guide…. Who I call awesome because I do not remember his name and it was very Chilean. I definitely felt safe because our tour guide is on the National Chilean rafting team going to compete in the world cup in New Zealand. We had many, many laughs and enjoyed the beautiful scenery. I mean really how many people can say they went white water rafting through the Andes. There was twice in the river where he said we could get out and swim so Val and I did in the ice cold water. It was soooo refreshing. After we were talking about contamination in it and our guide told us that the people who live along the water throw their sewage into the river. But I would rather not think about that.

When we got back we headed for our free lunch at the restaurant. This whole day including the lunch cost me $160. The lunch alone I’m pretty sure was worth $50, sooooo delicious, and we got our money’s worth in that lunch alone.

After we went zip lining over the river and back. It was so cool. Apparently the look on my face was priceless the first time I left because my roped flipped me around. I would definitely go zip lining again.

Our driver was waiting when we finished to bring us to the vineyards of Concha y Toro. And damn our tour guide was very, very passionate about his wine. All I could think of was how painful it would be that man to watch me drink my wine straight from the bottle when I party. Poor guy….

There were two wine samples on the tour, since Val doesn’t drink I was a good friend and chugged my glass, then switched with her to finish her glass.

After the tour our driver brought us back to Santiago and me to the bus station so I could go back to Valpo. When I returned to Valpo I used my direction asking skills and asked people where I was and ACTUALLY understood somewhat…. WINNING!

When I got home here I passed out as I had another awesome early day planned for tomorrow.

Tuesday (Day 25)

WOOHOO A DAY DEDICATED to Pablo Neruda. Yet another early morning. No I did not skip school yesterday or today, we did not have classes as today was a holiday.

I met Sumi, a girl from South Korea in front of my school, and we proceeded to go to Vina del Mar to meet up with the rest of our group. Which was a guy who teaches is Red Deer (yes Red Deer, Alberta), Sumi, Evan, Langston, and two Chilean ladies. Enrique’s host mothers, sisters, not totally sure what. Anyways we drove about an hour and stopped at a beautiful beach! (There are pics in my album on Facebook.) Right beside the beach is a swimming people for rich people, it was massive, over a kilometre long. There were a bunch of very nice apartment building on the other side.

We continued on to you guessed it “Isla Negra” the last house of Pablo Neruda, and his favorite house where his memorial is now.

This is taken from the website:

Because the evoked power that the objects contained and because its surroundings dominated by the presence of the sea, the house of Isla Negra is a kind of visual and material compendium of the imaginary poetic of Neruda.

The place was originally called Las Gaviotas (Sea gulls).  The poet renamed it: “negra” for the colour of the rocks, and “isla”, perhaps because over there he could isolate himself to write. On his return to Chile from Europe, in 1937, he was looking for a place to dedicate himself to his Canto general, a great book about American history and nature.  “The wild coast of Isla Negra, with the tumultuous oceanic movement, allowed me to surrender with passion to the venture of my new song” – he annotated in his memories.

“… It was in the afternoon, we arrived on horseback to those solitudes…” – remembered the poet in his book A house in the sand – “… Don Eladio was ahead wade through the Cordoba estuary (…) for the first time I felt like a sting this smell of marine winter, a mixture of herbs and salty sand, seaweed and thistle…”

Don Eladio Sobrino was a Spanish marine who stayed definitely in Chile when his ship left him in an Austral port. He sold Neruda in 1938, the lot with a stone cabin.  Then, as the poet wrote in his poem: “The house was growing, as people, as trees…”

In the winter of 1943, with the Catalan architect German Rodriguez Arias, the poet started a series of additions that ended in March 1945.  In that time it wasn’t easy to build in that zone:  all the materials should be transported by carts pulled by bullocks that should cross ford of Cordova´s river.

The first important intervention was the unroofed tower, with reminiscences of the Europe Mediterranean architecture. Later the poet roofed it to leave it as the towers of the houses in Temuco, city in which he passed his childhood.

Neruda wrote: “the pacific ocean came out of de map. There was no place to put it on.  It was so big, wild and blue that couldn’t be contained in any place. That is why they left it in front of my window”.

The house of Isla Negra is inserted in a coastal landscape.  Over there the sea with its waves, breakers, beach and rocks, updated the enormous impression the poet had when, being a child, confronted the ocean for the first time, in Puerto Saavedra.  Later the sea was converted in one of the mythical scenaries of his poetry.

The most important collections kept in this house, are related to the sea: figure heads, retort of sails, ships inside bottles, seashells, cachalote´s teeth.  There are also spaces that commemorate his friendship with some death poets, whose names he made engrave in the beams of the bar. Other collections shown to the visitors, such as bottles of strange shapes, masks, antique shoes and smoking pipes.

Sergio Soza, architect and friend of Neruda, projected the new additions to start on 1965: the arcs that joint the bodies of the house, and the enclosure that lodge the room of the horse and the Covacha. This was a space where the poet recluded himself to write.  He put on it a zinc roof, to hear the song of the rain and evoke, again, the feelings of the house he habited in his childhood, in the rainy south of Chile.

In the house of Isla Negra, Neruda wrote an important part of his literary work, gathered in there the majority of his books and also exercised the hospitality, other of the legacies of his southern childhood.

The poet always celebrated the Fiestas Patrias.  Even though the situation the country was living, after the military coup, on the 18th of September of 1973 some friends came to Isla Negra. But they only brought alarming news.

The next day, Neruda severely sick, was taken in ambulance to the capital, from where he only would return to Isla Negra in December of 1992, when his remains were transferred there, beside to the remains of his wife, Matilde Urrutia.   This funeral was realized with all the honours that the poet deserved, and with the assistance of the highest authorities of the nation.  In this way was fulfilled the request Neruda had expressed about fifty years before in his poem “Disposiciones” of Canto general:

“Companions, bury me in Isla Negra, / in front of the sea I know, to each wrinkled area of stones/ and to the waves that my lost eyes/ won’t go back to see…”

That about sums up the story of this beautiful, breathtaking house, because I sure cannot.

After we went to a little cove, to a fish restaurant to watch the sun set. The fish was so fresh that they were almost out and we watched the fishing boat come in with more that they proceeded to gut and cook! I am not a fan of fish, but I tried it and it was not the worst thing in the world.

We drove home for another hour and I got home and passed out.


I slept and went to school, later when I got home this afternoon Natalia and I went to return the 3rd blow dryer that I have broken since I have come here. It really is an annoying trend. But long story short we couldn’t exchange it and ended up with a gift certificate worth its value. Naturally we bought some booze.  Pisco Sour the Chilean national drink and a bottle of wine to be exact. Later for Once Natalia, Ingrid and I were having tea and a nice Spanish visit. We were in our Pajamas and decided it would be a great night to stand on the balcony, while Ingrid smokes and we drink a bottle of Pisco Sour. It was beautiful.

Thursday (Day 27ish)

So like normal I went to school, then I came home and slept for a while. After I did my homework. When I came to Canada a brought a travel board game of crib. I taught Natalia to play and by the end of the game she understood, and even beat me!!! I am so challenging her to a round two by the end of this week.

Friday (Day 28)

Tere, my friend who just came for a semester in Canada from Chile, met me at my school after class. She brought me to an awesome place for Chorillanas. I think it was even cooler than J Cruz, and cheaper. It was called “Mastodonte” which in English means “Mammoth”. We ended up sitting downstairs which was literally decorated like a bat cave. With bat sculptures everywhere. Upstairs we only walked by briefly, but it had mammoths all over, and other jungle like things. It was a great lunch with great company.

After I came home for a nap. For Once Natalia and I got to talking and we decided tonight would be a great night. Earlier today I bought us a new bottle of Pisco Sour so we drank that while we got ready. Proxima we vamos in Spanglish! (Next we went out talking Spanglish).

We went to a pub and had so much fun visiting. Her friend Pablo came as well. We stayed out till 4 in the morning and went home as she had to work at 9.

Saturday (Day 29)

I got to sleep in till 11 then I got up to get ready for another beautiful day with my other Chilean friend, Gisella. I just met her when she came to Canada as well last semester. She brought me about 40 minutes out of town to the Science campus for PUCV (My school). On this campus is a lake that we walked around. There were not many people so it was nice and quiet. We went out on a dock where there were some people feeding bread to massive fish in the lake. They shared with us, and we fed the fish as well. I asked Gisella if these are fish that are caught and ate, but they are not because there is so much pollution in the lake and the soil. So it is unsafe to eat them.

After we took a bus to Vina del Mar for Alumuerzo. We went to a restaurant on the beach, and it was a nice sunny day, minus a lot of wind. I had a delicious chicken fettuccine alfredo. After we took a bus back to the metro and I took the metro home. Then I slept solid for the rest of the night.

Sunday (Day 30)

I slept in because I like too, and I am sick. When I got up I studied for my test for tomorrow, after a while I was bored of that. So I got ready and wandered to the Feria, my last Feria in Chile. =( Because I leave on Friday night to go to Uruguay. It is bittersweet, I am sad to leave here, but sooo excited to see what Uruguay has to offer.

At the Feria I bought a small water painting which represents Chile to me perfectly. And a wood thing which I plan to use in Uruguay to make homemade orange juice…. YAY FRUIT!!!

When I got home I studied for a while then Natalia got home and Ingrid made us the most delicious tacos ever. Like really why can’t I make then like that!! They had avocado, chicken, hamburgers, lettuce, and tomatoes. Soooo good, and normally I do not like avocados, but here they are delicious.

Monday (Day 30)

Ugghhh school…. Normally I love school. Except I am sick therefore that makes me whiny. SO that is the only texts my mom has got today. And last night before bed after a few attempts she sang soft kitty perfectly! On top of that we started class an hour earlier.

We watched a movie today about the people’s lives during Pinochet. I knew it was bad, but I didn’t realize how bad. Literally family or friends would just disappear never to be seen again. To this day lots of the families do not know where the bodies of their family members ended up.

In grammar class we wrote a test. After class I came home and slept. And since then I have been working on this for literally hours.

Buenas Noches!!


2 thoughts on “Santiago, Isla Negra, and a few other days!!!

  1. pam binks says:

    Awesome post! I am pumped you didn’t get lost in Santiago!!!! Yeah Nick! Wow! White water rafting! And all the amazing food! Thanks for the info on Neruda.

  2. pam binks says:

    I was so tired I fell asleep in my message and woke up later and hit send. That was a great blog Nicki. Lots of info and tons of discription. What is Pisco Sour like? I’ll see if I can find it here. Tough week saying goodbye to some good friends and exciting though to be going on to Urugay! Love you tons!

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