Stopover in Santiago

19 Feb

“To awaken alone in a strange town is one of the pleasantest sensations in the world.”
~ Freya Stark

After a mediocre night’s sleep (stupid time change) I woke up on Thursday morning feeling reasonably refreshed and ready to explore the city. Spending Valentine’s Day in Santiago was a pretty awesome way to celebrate being a young(ish), single and independent woman. Who needs a man when you have a passport, right ladies?

My flight was scheduled for 11:30pm that evening so I figured I would probably only have time to do one or two things. First on the list was a visit to El Museo de La Memoria y los Derechos Humanos (the Museum of Memory and Human Rights). The museum functions as a memorial for and record of the victims of human rights violations during the Pinochet dictatorship.

The museum is very well designed and has a real emotional impact on its visitors. Testimonials, videos, photos, letters and other items all combine to bring this tragic period in Chile’s history to life. I actually got a little bit teary at times. Especially when reading letters written by children whose parents were some of those who disappeared.

It’s not a ‘fun’ place to visit because of the difficult subject matter, but overall I’d highly recommend it. Particularly if you speak Spanish. There are some English translations but the majority of the content is in Spanish. I certainly found it a very interesting way to get a deeper understanding of the events that occurred from 1973 through to 1990.

I spent about two and half hours reading and wandering through the exhibits before deciding it was time to move on. Because I foolishly left the hotel without grabbing one of the free maps of the city I had no idea where the museum was situated or what was around it, so I decided to take the metro back into the centre of town.

Once back in town I grabbed a quick bite to eat at one of the first restaurants I found with a ‘menu del dia’. It was while I was eating lunch that the tiredness really started to hit me. I decided to go back to the hotel and get a map of the city so I could work out where to go to next, but on the way I passed a Hoyts and on a whim decided to go to the movies instead.

I know, I know, I didn’t fly all the way to Santiago to watch movies. But I was jet lagged, and physically tired, and I’d read Silver Linings Playbook on the plane, so when I saw the poster for ‘El lado bueno de las cosas’ I couldn’t resist. Besides, it was Valentine’s Day. Everyone likes to go to the movies on Valentine’s Day. 🙂

Even though it was only 5:00pm, due to a pathological fear of missing a flight i decided to head to the airport. I figured it would be good to get there early, have something for dinner and then do the long wait for my flight to board in a hopefully comfy seat near my gate.

Well, as foreshadowed in my last post when I referred to a travel mishap, it’s useless arriving at the airport 6 hours early if your flight has actually been cancelled. Hot tip folks, always call a day ahead or on the day to confirm your flights. In my jet lagged state that’s a crucial step I forgot.

All’s well that ends well though. After an interminable amount of running around I was finally able to get my flight changed at no cost to a different one that left at 11:45pm. All I can say is thank god I speak Spanish. I had to talk to 4 different people to sort out my flight issues and it was a relief to be able to easily explain to them what my problem was.

The only real bonus here was that from when I found out my flight didn’t exist to when I boarded my new flight the time absolutely flew by. I wasn’t bored once!

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