Walking around Santiago, Chile

posted Mar 23, 2011, 5:35 AM by Darren Cannell   [ updated Mar 24, 2011, 8:50 AM ]
We left the apartment on Saturday morning at 10 am to go for a stroll around the lovely old and worn buildings.  We even snuck inside one or two.  The apartment building that we were staying at was close to the presidential palace and the Castillo. 
The buildings surrounding our apartment were brand new or old and full of character.  While walking you need to look up, way up, because the prettiest part of the building is usually up higher but while you are doing this you also need to be aware of what you are walking on because in South America there are always very precarious spots on the sidewalks or square holes around trees which are one foot straight down or maybe a tile is loose or there is dog poo or you name it, it is dangerous to the ankles etc.  We all have done a few toe picks and almost fell on our faces quite a few times.
The stray dogs here in Santiago kill me, they act like they own the place and will just lay down wherever they want to and that might be in the middle of a busy sidewalk or on a road or at the entrance to a store.
They sleep like the dead and you think they are dead until you watch for the rising chest of their breathing.  There are many stray dogs here and they seem to do quite well, only a few were bony and mangy looking.  Chileans much like the Argentineans like their pet dogs as well.  There are many dogs and especially white poodles; you would think that you are in Paris.  They do like their dogs and they seem to treat the strays well too.  The strays were all friendly and they would follow us.  One guy looked like the ‘Littlest Hobo’ and he had his eye on Dax and followed him around the whole castle grounds.
We walked to the Castillo and up the many stairs through the gardens.  We saw a Datura tree that was about 15 feet high with huge white trumpet blooms and a Dracena tree that was about 30 feet high.  Normally you would not see these higher than 4 feet high.
The vegetation is lovely in Santiago and there are many palm trees.  We eventually found the entrance up to the Castle Peak and there are some fairly precarious steps up that are carved out of granite and directly into the rock and they are extremely steep and would be a very difficult climb for an elderly person.  When we got to the top we took pictures of the city but the smog is fairly bad in Santiago so the pictures usually don’t turn out.
That was fun climbing up to the top and exploring the grounds around the Castle.  We later found an Indigenous Indian store under the castle and it was housed in a very long cave like structure that must have been used for a huge wine cellar or horse stable in the past.  Jackie as usual bought something.
When we got down from the peak we saw a building that we wanted to make our way to and it turned out to be the National Archives which we went in and walked around.  It appeared to be a palace once upon a time because no country is going to spend the amount of money on this type of building, it was lovely.
We continued wondering down the street to get to the set of lights to cross the road and make our way to the artisan market.  Everyone was thirsty so we got a bottle of water and sat down at a set of tables.  Two Chilean people came up to us and warned us not to set our cameras down and to watch our purses.  We said thanks and moved along down the street.  I was walking holding on to Dax’s arm and he was eating ice-cream.  All of a sudden I felt a hand at my throat and I quickly grabbed my 18 carat gold chain with the crucifix and grabbed it back from the thief’s hand who had snuck up behind me.  My sisters were also all behind us and it all happened so fast that we were all in shock.  I then realized that i still had the chain in my hand and looked over to my left as the thief was running away across the street and through the traffic.  I was still in shock and yelled out “you f_____r”.  But I felt sort of empowered because I was quicker than him who is probably a chronic thief (it was probably my Ninja like reflexes that saved my gold chain).  He had the nerve to keep looking at me as I yelled out the swear word and this is when I wanted to chase after him and beat the hell out of him.  It was a good thing that Daxtin was with me because I may have.  My sisters were in a bit of a tizzy and asked me what exactly happened because they more or less missed it because it happened so fast.  I looked at my broken chain and got angry that the little shite had broken my chain and then I put it in to my wallet and also took off my gold hoops and put them in my wallet also.  As I was doing this I then realized that I had forgotten my Chilean friend’s (Cynthia) warning to never wear gold in Santiago because they will rip it right off of you.  I then felt stupid that I had not remembered her warning until it actually happened to me.  Everyone at this point was about ready to pack it in and go back to the apartment.  We scrapped the idea of going to the market or Mercado in Spanish; we were apparently in a thievery zone.
We ate lunch at the apartment and then ventured out to a different area where there is a square and a beautiful church. 
We walked in to explore and said a prayer, well Dax and I did (my sisters are non-believers).  Most of the stores were closed on Saturday afternoon, which I found strange.  We found an art exhibit under the presidential palace a couple of stories down to explore.  We had no further incidents but it left us all with a very sour taste in our mouth for Santiago which is too bad.  We were a bit over cautious about where we were for the next two hours but that is not a bad thing, we still continued to explore not letting the little thieving shite wreck our day.