Santiago’s Pulse: Art and Churches

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“This?”

“Er… Jesus, I guess.”

“Dodo?”

“Yeah, he is kind of sleeping. Okay, let’s go now!”

This is my third church today. There are many churches in Santiago, and this is a quirk Mark doesn’t seem to outgrow. Couldn’t he beg for ice cream like other kids? Okay, maybe that wouldn’t be a great alternative—there are too many heladerías here.

Shit. The Mass is starting and people are singing. We were close to the door, but now Mark is turning around and he is rushing to a bench. “I sit, I sit!” He thinks this is a concert. “Mommy, sit!” he commands. “Shh! Music!”

Did he just shush me?

The music doesn’t last long. This isn’t Jesus Christ Superstar, but the 8 p.m. Mass.

Mark is clapping his hands anyway.

Can I pretend I don’t know this kid?

We are in Santiago, Chile, home of many churches and many believers, apparently. I have rarely seen that many people praying in all the churches we visited today.

Even though we’ve been to Santiago twice before, in 2001 and 2009, I didn’t remember the city that well—only parts of it. The mall, where we watched a movie on a hot afternoon. The central market and the great fish dish we shared. The park and the funicular.

It’s coming back to me little by little now, as we walk around.

We are staying at Miraflores and Merced, which is a bit like Florida and Lavalle in Buenos Aires. There are many small eateries, cafés, and bars. Nearby is Paseo Ahumada, a main pedestrian street, packed during the day.

I felt inspired in Santiago. Maybe it was the international atmosphere—there were tourists from all over the world, not just from Brazil like in Uruguay and Argentina—maybe it’s the political, artsy and hippie-ish feel. You could feel the divide between the older crowd, the one going to church and dressing more conservatively; and the younger population, having beers at bars named “Radical” and tagging political messages on the walls.

I dragged the guys to the museum. First, at the Visual Art Museum that featured exhibitions on popular art and Quino’s Mafalda, then at the Chilean National Museum of Fine Arts that had a fascinating display of art around the theme “Arte en Chile: 3 miradas”. Of the three artists, I found the art of Patricio M. Zárate the most haunting. Through Los cuerpos de la historia, he shows how the political past of Chile affected the body (and soul) of its citizens.

Mark eventually passed out in his stroller and while he was napping at the hotel with Feng, I went out alone for a cup of coffee. I picked out our laundry on the way back and paused for a second in front of one of the many hair salons. I pushed the door. I still had a bit of time before coming back. “Do you do waxing?” I asked.

Five minutes later, I was half naked on a table and the aesthetician and I were debating the merits of waxing versus shaving. (I used to shave my legs, now I use a depilator but I didn’t bring it because the voltage is different in South America). This was the first time ever I was having my legs waxed, and it went so well that I ended up having… ahem, other parts waxed as well.

I came back to the hotel hair free and happy. It was a fun experience and I felt good.

“Guess what I did…”

Feng winced when I said “wax”. “You’re a masochist! You were supposed to relax, not… have pain!”

I shrugged. “I feel awesome. And smooth. Mark, can you look away for a second?”

Catedral de Santiago

Catedral de Santiago

Iglesia de Santo Domingo

Iglesia de Santo Domingo

Iglesia de Santo Domingo

Iglesia de Santo Domingo

Iglesia de Santo Domingo

Iglesia de Santo Domingo

Plaza de Armas

Plaza de Armas

Plaza de Armas

Plaza de Armas

Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile

Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile

Catedral de Santiago

Catedral de Santiago

Iglesia de Santo Domingo

Iglesia de Santo Domingo

Iglesia de Santo Domingo

Iglesia de Santo Domingo

Iglesia de Santo Domingo

Iglesia de Santo Domingo

La Merced

La Merced

La Merced

La Merced

La Merced

La Merced

Museo de artes visuales

Museo de artes visuales

Museo de artes visuales

Museo de artes visuales

Museo de artes visuales

Museo de artes visuales

Museo de artes visuales

Museo de artes visuales

Museo de artes visuales

Museo de artes visuales

Museo de artes visuales

Museo de artes visuales

Downtown Santiago

Downtown Santiago

 Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes

Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes

 Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes

Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes

Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes

Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes

 Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes

Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes

 Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes

Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes

Plaza de Armas

Plaza de Armas

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About Author

French woman in English Canada. World citizen, new mom, traveler, translator, writer and photographer. Looking for comrades to start a new revolution.

4 Comments

  1. Oh Santiago: your pictures remind me of the last time I was in South America. It was in 2011, and there was a conference where I had two talks to give. I went with my friend and co-author, so we decided to extend our stay for a few more days after the conference. I’ve been to a couple of the museums you showed in your pictures. Most of all, this post makes me smile, since obviously you have a sense of humor that is still there even though life can be stressful, as your previous post reveals.

  2. Ah, some familiar sights for me… I enjoyed Santiago.
    HAHA the waxing story! It’s such a liberating feeling getting rid of all that nonsense. I hate it. Why do we even have it!!?? Did you do waxing or sugaring? I am a sugaring convert. Waaaay gentler, with better/smoother regrowth and less irritation.

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