The Cute and Cuddly Cats of La Vega Central

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Remember what I said in Argentina and Uruguay about the nearly complete absence of catcalls? Apparently, Chilean men didn’t get the message that catcalling isn’t a compliment. And it’s not like I meet local beauty standards as well (long, dark hair, lipstick, platform shoes), so I’m guessing Chilean women have it worse.

It’s funny how the human mind works—after five catcalls in a row one day, I started to pay attention to… cats.

I was in La Vega Central, Santiago’s giant fruit and vegetable market—interestingly, you won’t hear catcalls there, vendors are focused on selling their produce and it’s a perfect safe place to walk around even though it does get crowded and chaotic during busy times.

That’s my top tip for Santiago, a walk through the market. “But we’ve been to the market, we spent like an hour there!” most travellers reply.

No, you’ve been to the cute Mercado Central de Santiago, a tourist magnet with seafood restaurants in the centre and stalls selling giant Pacific Ocean fishes and shellfishes you probably can’t find a pan or a pot big enough to cook.

Nothing wrong with it, by the way, but there are other markets to explore.

Take the bridge across Río Mapocho, just a few metres away and follow Avenida Recoleta—or just follow the flow of people, really. The first big building you’ll see is La Vega Chica, which is, as the name says, a much smaller version of La Vega Central. Keep on going. Trust me, you will spot La Vega Central when you get there.

If you come during a quiet time of the day, let’s say early afternoon on a weekday, vendors like to chat and show you their produce, although a few of them may be taking a nap. Most fruits and vegetables are familiar to Europeans or North Americans, but you’re looking at the super-sized version of them—corn as big as my forearm, giant zucchini and carrots… “It’s the Chilean sun,” vendors shrug proudly.

And it’s in La Vega Central, on a quiet afternoon, that I noticed there were dozens of cats sleeping on or under tables and boxes. I needed a dose of cute after exploring Chile’s history, so it became my project of the week. When I explained it to a few vendors, they lifted table covers and moved boxes to show me “their” pet, mostly cats but also a few dogs and occasionally both.

It’s not actually “their” pet, by the way, just that cat who always sleeps here and who is welcome to stay.

“Did you lose your cat?” a couple of little girls asked me. “Is it this one?”

I love kids. No, I’m not looking for my cat I would somehow had decided to take with me to the market! I showed them the pictures on my camera—“looks like cats in magazines,” they commented.

So there you go. If you like cats, giant fruits and veggies and chatting with locals, spend some time in La Vega Central.

Meanwhile, scroll down for cute cats.

La Vega Central, Santiago

La Vega Central, Santiago

La Vega Central, Santiago

La Vega Central, Santiago

La Vega Central, Santiago

La Vega Central, Santiago

La Vega Central, Santiago

La Vega Central, Santiago

La Vega Central, Santiago

La Vega Central, Santiago

La Vega Central, Santiago

La Vega Central, Santiago

La Vega Central, Santiago

La Vega Central, Santiago

La Vega Central, Santiago

La Vega Central, Santiago

La Vega Central, Santiago

La Vega Central, Santiago

La Vega Central, Santiago

La Vega Central, Santiago

La Vega Central, Santiago

La Vega Central, Santiago

The cats of La Vega Central, Santiago

The cats of La Vega Central, Santiago

The cats of La Vega Central, Santiago

The cats of La Vega Central, Santiago

The cats of La Vega Central, Santiago

The cats of La Vega Central, Santiago

The cats of La Vega Central, Santiago

The cats of La Vega Central, Santiago

The cats of La Vega Central, Santiago

The cats of La Vega Central, Santiago

The cats of La Vega Central, Santiago

The cats of La Vega Central, Santiago

The cats of La Vega Central, Santiago

The cats of La Vega Central, Santiago

The cats of La Vega Central, Santiago

The cats of La Vega Central, Santiago

The cats of La Vega Central, Santiago

The cats of La Vega Central, Santiago

The cats of La Vega Central, Santiago

The cats of La Vega Central, Santiago

The cats of La Vega Central, Santiago

The cats of La Vega Central, Santiago

The cats of La Vega Central, Santiago

The cats of La Vega Central, Santiago

The cats of La Vega Central, Santiago

The cats of La Vega Central, Santiago

The cats of La Vega Central, Santiago

The cats of La Vega Central, Santiago

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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.

2 Comments

  1. Funny, how you said that you were not meeting local beauty standards. Many years ago, when we were walking in Italy, my best friend, her sister, another friend and I, we noticed that the two skinny girls (the sister and the other friend) who were probably more attractive for the French standards were not even looked at by Italians, on the other hand my friend and I who were quite self-conscious in France (narrow waist, fat bottoms) were cat called a lot. After a while you ignore it, but It was a boost to the morale for us.

    • It’s funny, I noticed that… in many parts of the world! Men do seem to be attracted to what women think are “big butts”! Why on earth are we trying to look thin… it’s really weird. Fashion says one thing, but men appreciate another.

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