San Cristóbal

We set out to walk up the Cerro San Cristóbal. The hill with the Wireless Virgin. A lady motorbike cop is on duty in the Forestal. The Chilean police seem pretty laid back. Though it’s early there’s quite a crowd out. They’re watching drummers drum and flag wavers wave. No idea why

Through Bella Vista looking a bit rough after Saturday night. We reach the gate which starts the climb. There are lots of people walking up, a few running. There are loads of cyclists and  all levels of fitness.

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The climb is a long one, the walkers and bikers are separated. It gets steeper and steeper. Near the top we rejoin the road. There’s a cafe The cyclists stream past some fast, some slow. At the top they are checking in to a small marquee.

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This is what Santiago does on a Sunday. It walks it runs it cycles Up San Cristóbal. To see the Wireless Virgin.

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We are no longer surprised to see a dog asleep in the crowd. There is a chapel where a service is going on. The Mass in Latin is relayed to the outside. The Virgin broadcasts to the world.

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Around her feet banks of benches. An outdoor church most are sitting eating chatting taking pictures.

A few are praying.

There is a place to offer candles. There are the Seven last Words as a path.

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There us a statue of a little girl, Laura Vicuña. A sad tale of a young catholic martyr.

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All around us
All the while
The Andes
A Presence

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Views breathtaking under a blue sky, so is the pollution above the city.We walk towards the picnic area. And come upon a ruined observatory just like that. The Mills observatory an outpost of the famous Lick observatory. It is to be renovated Sometime.

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Mountain bikers pass us. We catch them up. ‘Adventurous’ says Alison to them in Spanish. They take off down the hill over obstacles, jumps, bumps. We’ve lost the path now so we follow them. Not a good idea.

It’s steep and dry we slip and slide. I fall on a prickly thing. Adventurous, not half. Watch out for other cyclists. We reach a wide track people walking casually. A lad talks to us about the pollution. How good and clear the air is here.

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We reach the road walk downwards. Tour de France melée of walkers and cyclists. We reach a cultural centre. Guess what, they’re playing drums. They pack and leave. We picnic. Rest. Take in the sun. Admire a big cactus.

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A look at the big view.The Gran Torre, yep that’s tall all right. Behind it maybe Aconcagua. That’s taller. Then off down the hill by road. One guy’s roller blading up. Fast. It’s hot. Summer temperatures flowers. Some orange, some red, many yellow.

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Back where we started there’s a market. A big lad with a llama. We sit among the stalls. Drink water in the sun.

On to la Cachcona, Pablo Neruda’s house. Or one of them he kept a few. A Fascinating house full of odd touches. He got around. He put himself about did Pablo. Mistresses too and plenty of brass but then he was a diplomat too.

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I know because there was a film of his life.bInteresting. Reminder of bad old days. Not so long ago in Chile. Sat and had coffee by a red hotel. The colour works well against such blue sky. Stroll through multicoloured upmarket Bella Vista. Past it’s well kept plants.

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Over arch bridge above the fast Mapocho. They’re doing the Parisian lock thing. In the Italian Square the drummers and flag wavers are now replaced by dancers. Skateboarders on statues.

Soon we’re home.