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Farewell to South America.... Dec 30/31, 2013


On our last full day in Santiago, we wanted to revisit Cerro Santa Lucia, an easy walk from our place, maybe a couple of blocks.  Cerro means hill in Spanish, and getting to the top of this hill involves climbing lots of stairs, mostly irregular old stone steps.  And along the way, this small hill is adorned with wonderful facades, fountains, and it even has a castle on it (Castle Hildalgo).  At the highest point, a popular tourist spot is perfect for picture taking. 

On one side of the hill, Fort Hildalgo was finished in 1820 as a defensive point.  A few years ago, Fort Hildalgo was restored and reopened to the public.  Traditionally a cannon shot is fired exactly at Noon. The first day Jimmy and I were scared out of our wits when walking nearby and that shot was fired.  Today, we were directly above the cannon when it was fired at Noon, and I let out a bellow like I'd been shot and just about jumped in the moat.  It's that loud!

Moon rise (not set) at dawn on Monday - most amazing!  We leave our sliding glass door and curtain next to the bed partially open all night, inviting cool air in.  Hence, when birds begin to sing and light comes in, I'm awake.  I watched the moon rise above the trees, and took this picture from bed.

Up, up, and away!

Halfway up the hill, overlooking the city, we stopped for a look-see.

We fell in love with beauty of the city.

Speaking of love, isn't this a great picture?

A place to sit near the top, enjoy an orange Popsicle, and admire the views.

The Andes were part of the view!

At the top, crowded with tourists.  Many Brazilians are in Chile on holiday this time of year. 

That's a whale of a century plant growing out of that hill!

Window in the Sepulcro de Benjamin Vicuña MacKenna, appointed mayor of Santiago in 1872.  He began extensive remodeling of Santiago and Santa Lucia Hill.  The works of 1872 consisted of a road which crossed the hill, which at the top accessed a chapel that he also built there, illuminated by the then-novel means of  gas.  The actual hill is watered by a sophisticated irrigation system.  Jimmy and I became engrossed with the area's history and beauty.

When it came time for dinner, I suggested we find a restaurant that featured real Chilean food.  We walked hither and yon, vetoing as we went, till we saw this place.  We walked in and were guided upstairs to a pleasant window table overlooking the street.  Again, the restaurant was empty... but not for long!  We thanked our lucky stars -- our waiter spoke passable English!  Jimmy and I each ordered an appetizer, and decided we'd split the main course.  I'd tell you what we ordered if I could remember it and pronounce it, but nope, not gonna happen. Suffice to say, the two appetizers were so large (and delicious), we wondered how we'd be able to make a dent in our main course. Just then, our waiter came to the table, leaned over to Jimmy, smiled and said, "Sir, do you still want to order?" We ixnayed the main course and ordered a piece of chocolate cake instead.  It turned out to be half a cake and soooo good!  We couldn't finish chocolate cake!!!!  The kicker?  It was a Peruvian restaurant!

After dinner, here's Jimmy relaxing on the roof of our building (18th floor, near the pool).   

 Self-portrait from the roof.

Whoa, looking down at the street!  

Back in the apartment, we finished packing for our very early rise tomorrow morning.  Our COPA flight to Los Angeles leaves at 6 AM - yikes!  We have to be at the airport at 3, and we've arranged a TransVip van to pick us up, but the only time they can get us is at 1:30 AM for our 6 AM flight.  Heck, that's the middle of the night - why bother going to sleep?  

* * * * * * * * * *

 COPA from Santiago to Panama City, Panama:  6 1/2 hours.  Two meals!!
COPA from Panama City, Panama to Los Angeles:  6 1/2+ hours.  Two more meals!
End of day, end of month - December 31st - Two weary people.

Farewell to South America.  And farewell to 2013.

Outside air temp at -58 Celsius = -72.4 Fahrenheit.  That's cold!  

Our month is finished:  17 days on a Princess cruise and ten days wandering around Chile.  People have asked me what part I liked best, or what was the most memorable.  I can't answer that, except to say we loved it all.  It was a real learning experience for us, being out of the country on our own, and we feel fortunate to have made the trip.  The excursions, food, friends, it was all good.  Some days were cold, some were hot, but we lived those days!  BTW, altogether our trip from Nevada City to Punta Arenas and back? Close to 18,000 miles!

Son, Matt, picked us up at LAX, drove us to their place in LA, fed us (yum) and excused us to hit the sack, after about 24 hours w/o sleep.  We crashed, missing the ball drop at Times Square, but it seemed to get along fine without us.  Matt and Jen went out to a party and we slept peacefully on and on and on.... 

6 comments:

  1. I've heard your bellow... it's loud! :) welcome home! love from your seester.

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  2. Now that was truly an adventure!

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  3. I also wanted to know what part you loved best as I was reading, and you answered my questions. What a great trip, Nicki, it was fun following along and seeing a part of the world I haven't yet seen. Chile and Argentina are a couple of countries I would like to visit someday...not sure where they are on the big list, but there are definitely there. I used to be fascinated with the Andes when I was in grade school.

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  4. I can never answer the "what did you like most" question either. Welcome back ... even though you've been back for a while now.

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  5. Anonymous5:24 PM

    Well, I finally had an uninterrupted chance to read and enjoy your So. American blog. Very nice job you do with your blogging. Felt like I got a good taste of your trip and know you guys had a nice time. Thanks for sharing. AM

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  6. Thanx, everyone -- it was "a most enjoyable trip!"

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