Sunday, April 4, 2010

Sí, sí, habla con mi señora

Santiago de Chile.

When people in Santiago admire one another their gaze lingers a little longer than people do in Sydney- either that, or perhaps I only observed this behaviour amongst the construction workers at the airport, and tradesmen the world over are pervy in that way.

The flight was uneventful- three hotbox meals, three in-flight movies. After our mild confusion at the airport ("we thought you were running late", "no, we have been waiting in that tent over there for two hours!") we moved into Santiago, the first impression being of the airport road, Carmen and Luis pointing out the huge cracks in it caused by the earthquake.

The earthquake! What an experience it must have been, for three whole minutes the earth jumped, Carmen explains, not just up and down like most earthquakes but side to side as well, with such violence that a person could not stand up for fear of falling.

Santiago, far from the epicentre of the earthquake is only mildly affected, the Vargas' apartment is mostly unscathed. A good thing too, because it is a place of great beauty. You can see the cracks in the walls from the 8.8, especially above door frames or in front of metal pipes where they have jumped and rattled inside the walls.

The hallway that connects the rooms contains a single etruscan head sculpture on a thin dias that lances from the parquetry floor to the ceiling and from it the dining room is on the left, where a section of the glass tabletop, which had a tiny crack in it before the earthquake, has split open in a wide arc.

In the lounge room a wooden japanese sculpture has collapsed into a jumbled pile of wooden blocks on the floor, but by and large the rooms and their wonderful sketches, paintings and murals are undamaged.

Of course the room we have seen the most of is our bedroom, as the jetlag has kept us asleep until 11am one morning, and then wide awake at 3.30am the next.

Alix and I have nevertheless made it out into the city for a couple of hours each day, taking in a few of the city sights, including Cerro Santa Lucía, a kind of a fort/monastery/park on a hill with a beautifully crafted terrace in honour of the Roman sea God, Neptune. We have lunched on the local "completos"- tasty hot dogs with guacamole, tomatoes and mayonnaise, the restaurant experience prompting Alix to brush up on her Spanish and for me to learn "No hablo castellano. Por favor, habla con mi señora":- "I don't speak Spanish. Please, speak with my wife."

Above, you can see the view from the top of Cerro Santa Lucía looking across to Cerro San Cristóbal.

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