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Walking and running in Santiago: Getting to know the city

As it turned out, I was the most scantily clad male in downtown Santiago that sunny spring Saturday afternoon, but no one seemed to mind. The centro was crowded with pedestrians, parents out with kids and muchas chicas bonitas in their summer dresses, and I walked a couple of blocks until I came upon Cerro Sta. Lucia, a small height in the center of town with a park and a shabbily maintained fortress on it, so I climbed the stairs as high as I could. Kids swimming in the fountain despite No Bathing signs saw how I was dressed and asked me to join them (then the inevitable request for loose change, sotto voce).

From the top of the cerro, I could see the lay of the town, including the art museum not far away with it's banner outside declaring Dali. I decided to go there. It turned out to be no hassle whatsoever to turn up at a museum downtown in running clothes. It was a nice museum, laid out around a cavernous foyer with sculptures, and the Dali exhibit was ... well ... Dali!

From the Cerro Sta. Lucia I had noticed also the funicular going up the Cerro San Cristobal, the tall mountain dominating the town, and so I wandered over there through very Mediterranean, sunny, Spanish streets on the opposite bank of the river, until I arrived at the funicular, where I had to decide whether to ride up and run down and back to the hotel, or ride back. The return trip was 900 pesos, whereas one way was 600, so I opted for the return trip ticket. It turned out to be a good decision. The hill with it's small Christ statue was not much like it's counterpart in Rio, and the way back looked not worth the trouble of running it. Instead, I rode down and walked back through an area called Bellapais which looked like it might come alive at night, and I even took the trouble to return later to see if it did.

At the river, I started my jog, and ran a very long way along the parks until I came to Ave. Las Condes, where my hotel was located. But I was looking for the shopping center, Alto Las Condes, where I could change another $20. I found it after several kms running up ALC, and after stopping off at a surf shop to get the names of the best surfing beaches in Chile. In the shop were pictures of surfers riding some phenomenal waves, and the owner claimed to be world class, and was happy to pull away from paying customers (who were in turn happy to put up with the disruption of their shopping) to talk with a stranger claiming to be one of them. The shopping mall was off the main road. I found it by pausing at a bus stop and asking in Spanish if ALC was nearby. Halfway through my question, everyone at the stop turned and pointed up the road, all 6 or 8 of them. In the states you'd be lucky to get one response out of 8. At the ALC itself, I had trouble finding the money changer amid the boutiques and supermercados. But here again, the leggy ladies promoting some vacation spot were more than helpful, as was everyone I met, in general.

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Last updated: November 12, 1997