Sunday, April 17, 2011

Art and Nature

I paid a visit to the Museo de Solidaridad Salvador Allende which is full of art from around the world...artists donated it to commemorate Allende's successful election. Of course, all the art ended up exiled, but has since returned. There are works by Picasso, Frank Stella, Alexander Calder and tons of others, including my favorites below:
"Devocion" Leo Ferrari, Argentina

Amalia Riera, Espana (reminds me a lot of Ernest's later work..for those of you who don't know Ernest Posey's work, I'm the executor of his estate and his biggest

I seem to have forgotten to get this artist's info

Bascula de la Igualidad, Enno Halleck, Estonia/Switzerland
(a beautifully and simply rendered spot-on comment on class)

Chile's parks are incredibly clean due to armies of cleaners who sweep them up each morning. They even clean the river, the rushing Rio Mapocho (note the orange bags)

The wondrous zapillo, a giant squash that has become one of my favorite foods in South America. You can buy it by the wedge, they are so huge. ...I met this sweet babushka of a lady who told me about all the vegetables in her market while feeding me tunas (cactus fruit like our prickly pears) and a big empanada de aceitunas (olives). It was funny because she was out of another century--the apron, the scarf, the big flower-print dress--and yet she kept checking her cell phone :)

And I found Middle Eastern food! Cheers Stella!

Well, once the sign goes up, it's obviously over. It's kind of like the Haight/Ashbury or North Beach that way...the boho neighborhood nowadays is Barrio Brasil and adjacent Yungay

Another nice piece of statuary in front of the Museo Bellas Artes...this one titled Death and Glory...two strikes me as very gay and to me feels like a memorial to the AIDS epidemic...we all live our subjective realities after all.  Cute kid eh?

My class celebrating Jun's last day (a truly intl crew, l to r: Anna Maria (Brazil), Treb (EEUU), our two teachers Fabian and Luis (Ch), Lorenzo (Italia), Jun (Australia/China), Vanessa (Brazil), Marie (Quebec). We also have a Russian girl in the class as well as another guy from China. We also have an American Baptist minister....first he commented on men kissing men in south america (I brought it up of course....I think it's lovely that men greet each other cheek to's not a kiss, and while very common in Arg, it's only common between very close friends/relations here...but Sr. Baptist went off about all his mission recruits from Africa who he had to teach not to kiss or touch men so people wouldn't think they were homosexual...and if people did think that? there a problem here?). He also mentioned to me 'they had a problem with communism here'...yeah and a problem with capitalism too! These are the moments one really doesn't miss America. We all went to the National Cemetery one day and what an amazing place, and once again, religion reared its ugly head. The Catholics wouldn't allow any non-catholics to be buried there originally so they had to be just thrown on Cerro Santa Lucia. Eventually, sections were designated for Protestants, Jews, etc. We visited the German section and Sr. Baptist pointed out 'there were Nazi symbols' in one of the tombs... I had to explain to him that the German eagle is not a Nazi symbol but a German symbol, as in the current Germany, as well as all 3 reichs, as in the 4th you're busy building in America. And that's not to dismiss the fact that Chile harbored Nazi war criminals, ...but you can't tar an entire nation's iconography with Nazism...that would be like saying all Americans are Fundramentalist Christians! Just then, I realized that Sr. B has the same haircut as Joseph Goebbels, I kid you not. I say all this not to insult the man or make any associations--in fact my point is the opposite....these broadbrushed associations are dangerous.... that even when people don't know it, their worldview, habits, ignorance and assumptions have political consequences that destroy lives and we should all be mindful of the same (nowhere is that more apparent than what happened here in Chile). 
Whatever you do, don't a be walking victim of some ideology. And on that note, I will no longer assume anything else about Sr. B, Baptists or Fundamentalists. In fact, I plan to press my cheek against his next time I see him :)

Salvador Allende's tomb makes a nice exclamatory statement as he was an atheist. It's a soaring modernist sculpture sans cross, etc. that all the surrounding tombs are replete with. 

The tomb of President Balmaceda (a liberal reformer of the 19th c., who helped bring on a civil war that knocked him out of office c/o the military) was wonderful...there's a superstition that he can help you get good grades on tests, so his tomb is strewn with little notes from students. I had no paper on me but I made a wish for my Spanish progress!
There's also a big wall for all the murdered and disappeared by 'executive order' c/o Pinochet. It's similar to the Vietnam memorial with pictures and notes from family members. Very sad.

Then it was off to the mountiains:
First, I visited Reserva Nacional Rio Clarillo, and had one of those great travel moments because basically hiking is almost impossible to do as a tourist without guides or friends to take you. Having no friends here, or usually friends without cars, I have to be creative and vigilant...thank you Lonely Planet which always gets me started right...but I have to finish it on my own. The guidebooks only get you so far. Bus 74 to El Principal, which turned out to be an intersection with a minimart and a bunch of guys coming and going on horseback. Luckily, there was another bus that got me a few kms further, and then it was just a gesticulating bus driver pointing up the road to nowhere:

But not more than a mile down the road, I reached the gate, completely deserted of course, though there were rangers soon afterward. All in all, there was hardly anyone here and I had the long trail all to myself. It looked a lot like Mt. Tamalpais, really amazingly like California, as Chile, along with Cal, Australia and South Africa are the only mediterranean climates outside the Mediterranean itself, with some micros in Asia.

I wasn't quite so lucky the next day. The ranger at Rio Clarillo had recommended that I go up to El Morado, a peak in the Andes, accessible via the cajon de maipo, a canyon that runs southeast of Santiago and that is very popular among tourists, rafters, hikers, etc. (It's also the site of an attempted assassination of Pinochet who had a summer home up there .... fictionalized treatment of such by the awesome Chilean writer, Pedro Lemebel
Anyway, one bus, two bus, and then it was the usual road to nowhere, but this required another 25 kms, and so, thinking that yesterday's ranger's idea might be a good one ("sometimes the Carbineros will give you a ride"--thats the national police) I approached their office, but all they wanted to do was issue a permit and recommended hitchhiking. I tried, for about a half hour, with only one bite from a guy going somewhere else, and figured, as I'd had a late start, it wasn't gonna happen. So I hung out by the river for a while and headed back to is the exact spot that Trebor's luck ran out ....
I might be able to make another stab at it as there is a very early bus that goes up there next week, but it's autumn and a lot of services have shut down for the winter, so I might only get there if I can find a friend with a car. A lovely canyon all the same, considering what I saw of it....

Demoralized and waiting for the bus back, a little kid of 5 seemed to sense it and came up to me and held out his open bag of chips. Fuerza Chile!

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