. We topped it all off with a really cute animated 3-D film about global warming. All of this in Spanish, we were really proud of our ability to understand 80-90% of it! And we were really impressed with the University of Chile in Santiago for the high quality delivery. Finally we went to the awesomest museum, the Allende museum in the University district. Unfortunately it was already closed, as we'd apparently used too much time in the Planetarium, but the nice girl in front turned on the lights for us and let us go in for our own private tour! This museum was full of art donated by the artists that were supportive of Allende’s government. Apparently the whole collection was hidden during the Pinoche era, which made the whole museum that much more interesting. There was a lot of contemporary art that just jumped off the walls, and we could have stared at many of the works for hours.
Santiago, day two, was shopping/market/sightseeing day. We climbed the Santa Lucia hill to the Castillo that had been calling us from our hostel balcony window. Because it was a rather small Castillo, it was crazy to learn that at this place they held off 550 conquistadors. There was also a plaque to Darwin, signed by him, from when he had visited the site. Moving up-city, we found a great local market. It seems that in Chile they juice everything, so we found ourselves at a stall with a half liter of kiwi and pineapple blended into fresh deliciousness
. We stopped in a small junk store because Jayson wanted a watch. Setting an absolute max of US$10, we found a fine Chinese model, Xinja, to be exact. We are not sure if the major selling point was the US$6 price or the fact that it says “COOL” across the top of the display at all times (see awesome photo). On to the fish market, we were astounded by the abundance of squid and octopus, at ridiculously low prices. A kilo of octopus for the equivalent of US$2, and a kilo of salmon for US$8. After shooting down many restaurant touts we finally let a nice lady talk us into stopping for some really delicious ceviche with lots of lemon and ají (chili sauce). Finally we picked up our packs from the hostel and grabbed a subway to the bus station to catch our evening bus to Valparaiso.
One night and two full, full days in Santiago was enough of a major city for us. Have we turned into "country folk"??? Eight in the morning off a bus from Pucon was not a welcome arrival to the city. After being turned away from three hostels we thought we may never find one, so we ducked into a café for a non-breakfast-like meal and contemplated heading straight on to Valparaiso. The food must have given us some courage, because we kept looking, joined forces with a nice Austrian guy in the same predicament, and with him we finally found a place in the Santa Lucia area, just across from the small Castillo hill by the same name. That was the day of museums. We went to the Artequín Museum, a diverse collection of rather poor-quality prints (some of which we had seen the originals of elsewhere) but housed in a beautiful and aesthetically very interesting building built in the late 19th century for some kind of French art festival. On to the Planetarium, clearly more interesting for yours truly, we saw some clever demonstrations of light, space, and magnetism, and then we went into the IMAX-style dome for a really cool video of the stars in the Southern Hemisphere