Note the tasteful poster in front of the museum
Firstly a big Happy Birthday wish to my (Anthony) mom. Was great to chat, even if briefly. This was to be our day of seeing a bit of city life in Santiago. You can see there is a well established route that Marilu, our B&B host suggests, and it is worthwhile. Start with a walk along the river past some scenic museums and buildings and head to the main markets. There are a couple of markets which are split by the river. The river by the way actually flows strongly (although it is not very big) �" you can actually notice that you are walking downhill when going from Providencia to the centre. We started with the Vegetable Market, found on the north side of the river. Quite entertaining to see the variety of stuff they have. Kat and I have a habit of going into supermarkets and markets as much as we can when in new countries as it gives quite an idea of the diet, what is different etc. Avo (palta in Spanish) is very popular and you find it on the menu with everything (except on pizza’s for some unknown reason) like steak and avo or chicken and avo sandwiches are very common. In the market they had a nice variety of avo’s too. From the normal green to red to black. Nice to see. Then on to the one selling everything from batteries and razor blades to washing powder, jeans and cheese. This really reminded me of the markets in Mauritius. Very similar feel. Speaking of which, the is a local variety of music which is virtually identical to the Mauritian Sega music. You could transpose the singing from one to the other and not notice the difference at all. Of course this is in Spanish where the Mauritian is in Creole, but you hear it blaring out of car sound systems and in the market all day. (I think there is also a Creole culture in southern Peru, but will get there later). Then to the fish market. This is supposed to have some of the best fish restaurants in the city and is recommended in all the guidebooks and by Marilu as a stop for lunch. We walked through the market which had all sorts of shellfish (mussels, clams, oysters, huge spiky crabs) and fish (salmon, lots of unrecognisable and shark �" tiburon in spanish). An impressive market but not much in the way of larger fish. Strange. We then took a walk through the restaurant section and could not help but be put off by the massive number of guys harassing us to eat at their place �" all the standard things, where are you from etc. Very annoying and a sure way of ensuring that we don’t eat there. So we continued walking down one of the main pedestrian arcades, Ahumada, to the Plaza de Armas (central square). From there we found a little sushi spot before heading into the Museo Chileno de Arte Precolombino (Chilean museum of pre-colombian art). The sushi was really good and reasonably priced too. As I mentioned on the avo thing before, one new sushi item for me was an inside out roll which has avo and salmon on the outside. Very tasty. I managed to find a wine guide (finally) too which rates all the Chilean wines and has nice suggestions in price ranges. Of course this is just as we are leaving, but something to take home at least. At least I managed to find out that the Santa Ema that I had the previous night was well rated. The museum is impressive. It is not too big, thankfully, as we tend to get museum fatigue quite quickly. It covers all the way from Mexico, through Central and South America for the period of 2000BC up to about 1500AD. When most people think of South America they think of Maya (Mexico), Inca (Peru) and Rapa Nui (Easter Island). But there have been hundreds of different cultures, some of which still exist today �" eg Mapuche in Argentina and Chile. The museum contains statues, pottery, textiles and ornaments with useful explanations in Spanish and English. The piece that we found most interesting was of a little guy squatting and taking a crap. Quite a laugh that this is from between 1200 and 600 BC. They must have had a good sense of humour.