Monday, April 20, 2009

Hello from Santiago . . .

We’re in the heart of old town, Santiago, half a block down from the intersection of Paris and London Streets, those narrow, tree-lined, funky, cobblestoned bohemian streets populated by roving bands of students wearing long hair and dark glasses. At the little café next to our hotel, the Hotel Vegas, we can sit and sip cortados, demi-cups of strong coffee with milk, that first taste reminding me again that coffee came to the world from South America.

Today we had a Chilean national dish for lunch, Pastel de Choclo, a delicious main dish casserole of sweet corn, all ground up and crusty on top; inside, savory beef, large chunks of chicken on the bone, olives, grapes, and boiled eggs, somewhat flavored with milk, cumin and powdered sugar. I know. Is it possible to cook without garlic? But this was absolutely delicious. I can’t wait to cook it -- once I have a kitchen again.

Yesterday’s highlight was visiting the Museo Chileno de Arte Precolombino with artifacts from 4,500 years of Andean culture. Exhibits are beautifully arranged with maps, timelines, and notes to help clarify the different groups and their overlapping cultures. It’s easy to be overwhelmed by the sophisticated codes in these artifacts, and we’re at a loss without an English library.

But, here are my favorites. This Moche monkey has such expressive human hands (Zoomorphic stirrup-form bottle (monkey), Moche IV 400-800 BC, that’s over 2,000 years old. I took this picture at the Anthropological Museum at Vina del Mar).

And from the Museo de Chileno de Precolombino, these two images of textiles show complicated and sacred figures still vividly colored. The round painted cloth from the Chavin culture is over 1,000 years ago (700 BC – 500 AD), and seems very accessible to me, for its frayed edges showed that many generations have cared and protected this rare artifact.

This beautiful tapestry from the Chancay culture is dated between 1000-1430. Click on any image to see the details, please!

I'm left without words to describe our two week cruise around the Horn of South America, from Buenos Aires, Argentina, to Valparaiso, Chile, with Gordy and Lynda, and Henry and Jamie. Each day was so full, the sights nothing like I expected at all. We started with breakfast, looked out over the ocean from the 9th floor of the Norwegian Sun, and enjoyed every luxurious moment. For me, it will take a little more time to sort it all out -- but, fortuitously, Jamie has posted a wonderfully vivid travel blog with pictures. I hope you will visit and enjoy her comments at her new blog, Jamie Away.

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