February 11, 2020, Santiago, Chile.
The shore lecturer said that there was not much to do in San Antonio, the container port for Chile’s capital Santiago, but there were a lot of tours that the cruise line offered to take you out of town. There were tours to Valparaiso, visits to wineries and trips to Pablo Neruda’s house, and there was one offering to go to the capital, Santiago. I would have preferred that they offer a shuttle to the capital (they offered one to Valparaiso) but the only thing to Santiago was a tour of the city. We had considered getting a public transport bus there but the ship sailed at 4:30 PM and we were concerned that the bus being, even a little late, could cause us to miss the ship. So, I thought the tour would suit us. It did and it didn’t
Sebastian, the tour guide, is a natural story teller who kept us entertained. He was more than a bit political, favoring the demonstrations that have been convulsing the country. He made it a point to tell us the story of the demonstrations and to take us to “demonstration ground zero,” a square where the statues were repainted and where slogans mingle with broken glass. He pointed out that since the traffic signals were torn out demonstrators are directing traffic (the police have other things to do.) He also pointed out that there were more street performers than in the past, jugglers, street vendors and buskers (the police have better things to do.) He let us know exactly how he felt about the Pinochet era constitution that was still largely in place and privatizes things like the water supply. He pointed out the corrugated metal over windows and doors at the cathedral and told us that the churches had not spared the wrath of the crowds. More than a few folks think the church complicit in their economic woes.
At the presidential palace Sebastian told us the story of Allende’s overthrow by (“Sorry Americans but I have to say it”) the CIA. He told us his mother had been a political prisoner of the military regime and his father had suffered under Allende. He was not alive then but had to keep an open mind about history to better interpret what’s happening today. He thought both Allende and Pinochet were wrong but today Chile is living with the Pinochet legacy, the constitution and appointed Senate, and that’s a cause of many of the problems. We enjoyed Sebastian’s comments on other parts of Santiago, like the financial district, with its new skyscrapers, called Sanhatten.
That part of the tour was good, but the part that wasn’t good was that the tour tried to cover too much in too little time so there was no time to really explore on our 4 stops. One stop should have been axed and for my money that stop should have been lunch.
They took us to an “intimate” little restaurant that could seat 800 called “Los Buenos Muchachas” or “the Goodfellows.” They greeted us with pisco sours. A clumsy guest (not me for once) dumped mine into my lap. We called for a waiter, hoping for a napkin or something else to mop it up. Instead he brought another pisco sour, which another waiter tipped over while pouring wine. Now I needed more napkins. We tried to make this point and finally a waiter came with a few silly little cocktail napkins, AFTER bringing me another pisco sour. Enough pisco sours and wine and I wouldn’t notice my soggy and sticky lap. By now the sodden table cloth was dripping more pisco sour onto my shoes, which were beginning to stick to the floor. Finally, someone brought me a couple of regular napkins. I mopped up my lap, my shoes and folded the end of the table cloth up onto the table, tucking it under my plate, to stop the dripping.
The pisco sour was the best thing about the lunch, the wine the second best. The main course was (farmed) Chilean salmon, so yeah, the sour was the best part. By the time we got to the bus I was dry, sticky, and a little loopy. Our laundry is included in our cruise benefits so back on the ship I put the jeans and shirt into the laundry, had a hot shower and a good story to tell at dinner.