A Good Friday: Mercado Central y Estación Mapocho
Santiago Travel Blog› entry 2 of 2 › view all entries
I don't particularly like to do the touristy thing. Specially not in Santiago. In fact, I hate it. So I tend to avoid it.
That being said, Carolynn was in town, and was going to couch it in my flat for a night. She wanted to get at least a glimpse of the Santiago described in the travel guides. On Good Friday, at that!
But the thing is, I just felt I had to. She's super nice, was on her own, going through some harsh stuff, all the way away from Canada, and bitchy me had gone and sort of stolen her fling on his last night in Rapa Nui (that's when and where we met). Not knowing, of course! But still...
So there I was, at the beginning of Autumn, with a traveller eager to see and learn and discover, and my city closed down.
"Llévala al mercado central", said my sister, Marisol. "El mercado le gusta a los extranjeros", said my neighbour, Sol. "El mercado. Es lo que hay, no más", thought I.
And for the mercado we set.
Getting in was an ordeal. Had totally forgotten that fasting on Good Friday has been replaced in my city by ooooooooooooh, let's eat plenty fish and seafood!!!...and in SCL, the mercado is where traditionally you can find the finest, most varied, assortment of fish and seafood from our very lengthy coastline. So...I'd say a good thousand people were fighting their way in.
And the first obstacle to be overcome was the fish stands. Not nice. Ok, it was by then 3 o'clock in the afternoon. The best fish were by then gone, but their by-then-not-so-best aroma.
We elbowed our way through the crowd and finally got to the center of it all. A vegan's heaven! The colours, the smells, the light! The men and women voicing their produce. All of it was perfect. Surely, markets are markets everywhere and anywhere in the world. But this mercado central is cool! There's the fish, and then there's the fruits and vegetables, and the preserves, and then the GREAT restaurants. Some of them began as picadas, cheap, quick-serving diners. But no more! They only keep that aura of popular place, the prices are by no means cheap for Chilean average standards, but in Santiago, seafood and fish are here as fresh as it gets, and most dishes are just lush!
Having said all of the above, getting a table was impossible. So we settled for a can of diet soda each, crossed the street and instead walked into the Estación Mapocho, today a cultural centre that houses itinerant exhibits, bookshops, cafés and your odd concert that can go from anything like Caetano Veloso to Deep Purple.
This time we saw a very strange exhibit. This lady from a población (the Chilean favelas or shanty towns) used a mixture of rightdown debris and acrylics to depict the Virgin Mary in various Chilean commonplaces...including a very shocking Bachelet-looking Virgin Mary who nestled in her arms a very dodgy looking politician/baby Jesus. Dunno if I liked it. I was just taken aback by the whole thing...
The Station used to be the end point for the railway that linked Santiago to the northern half of the country (I've been told, couldn't assure it), and thus, it talks of splendour gone and a maniacal intent on copying European architecture, but criticism aside, it's grand, and solemn, and big, and detailed, and ...covered in the right light, it sort of speaks to you about Santiago history. Not to miss!