OK, so the Travel With Alan plan was, we leave for Santiago on the 27th, arrive on the 28th, do some sightseeing for a couple days, then take a couple hour bus ride to Valparaiso where we would meet our ship on the 30th. The day we flew out of Cleveland was the day the east experienced one of its string of blizzards. The positive effect this had on us was that the plane going to Dallas was 1/3 empty and, more importantly, the plane going from Dallas to Santiago was 1/3 empty also! The two seats behind us were empty so Dianne went back there and we both got something like sleep!
We arrived in Santiago about 10:30 am local time and were promptly met by Alan people who, after we got our bags, directed us to a tour bus. We were immediately impressed by how toasty warm it was.
Because our hotel rooms were not ready, Alan booked us a four hour tour of Santiago right off the plane. And, while we were all excited to see the sites, none of us, regardless of the routes we took to get there, were quite up to another four hours of captivity. Yet off we went. That is, some of the buses went. Ours, unfortunately was involved in a matter of miscommunication and we sat on the bus for an hour waiting for it to be settled. Then, vamanos!
After cruising around a while we arrived at our first destination, the Plaza de Armas, or central square, which features the national historical museum, the post office and the Metropolitan Cathedral:
The cathedral, not much to look at on the outside is quite beautiful on the inside…
From there we were off to the center of government, La Moneda Palace and the Plaza de la Ciudadanía (Citizenry Square).
Some of you history fans will recall that back in the ’70’s Chile elected a guy named Salvador Allende’ as president. Well, as it turned out Salvador was quite the leftist and soon a close bud of Fidel Castro. As you might imagine, a certain Richard Nixon took a rather dim view of this arrangement and was not at all bashful about getting the CIA involved in local politics. Well, one day Salvador awoke to find a multitude of army tanks parked about where I’m standing in the above photo, with their guns pointed in his direction. Like most of these guys, it was not as if he hadn’t been warned. And, before the day was over he either, a) committed suicide, or b) was assassinated. The result was the same.
And, as is typical on this continent, Allende’s successor, Augusto Pinochet, wasted no time at all in rounding up, torturing and killing Allende’s supporters, sympathizers, and suspected supporters and sympathizers. Thousands simply disappeared. Note to self: stay out of South American politics.