Nation e-Edition

A day exploring Santiago

Busy streets of Santiago, Chile. (Carol Martindale) Painting in the Plaza. (Carol Martindale) Another attraction in the Plaza. (Carol Martindale) Taking the train was an adventure in Santiago for (from left) Nicole McDonald, Alicia Dunkley, Lisbeth Ayuso, Dan Carruthers, Nicole Best and Adam Harris. (Carol Martindale) Imposing buildings were seen Santiago. (Carol Martindale)

By Carol Martindale | Mon, October 08, 2012 - 4:23 PM

The Nation's Online Editor Carol Martindale recently passed through Santiago, Chile on the way to The Falkland Islands for a one-week media tour.

She was travelling with five other Caribbean journalists, as well as a representative from the British High Commission.

Carol blogs on the day of activities in Santiago.

Who would ever imagine that so much could be done in Santiago, Chile - all in one day.

Six Caribbean journalists passing through on the way to The Falkland Islands for a one-week media tour, were prepared to do as much as possible in the hours we had.

We arrive in Santiago early Friday morning after flying for about eight hours from Miami the night before.

Did I mention that even before that, the jet setting crew of journalists, plus the British High Commission’s 2nd Secretary, Dan Carruthers, had also already travelled for four hours or so from their respective countries?

It was even extra hours for at least two of them, namely Nicole Best of CMC from Grenada and Adam Harris of Kaiteur News from Guyana, who had some extra flying time under their belts in order to secure the necessary visa for entry into Chile.

Recognizing that taking on Santiago after all this travel would be no easy feat, we were still all up to it.

The brave soldiers also included Nicole McDonald of The Star Newspaper in St Lucia, Lisbeth Ayuso of the Reporter Newspaper in Belize and Alicia Dunkley of the Observer in Jamaica.

Let me start at the very beginning.

We arrive in Santigo, Chile around 8 a.m on Friday. 

Flying from Miami International Airport it took eight hours to make it to Chile. I was happy it was a night time flight which left Miami around 10:30 pm so sleeping was made easy, even though it took some time to settle in and find a comfortable position.

It was my first time in Chile or anywhere that part of the world for that matter and I wanted to soak up any experience that I could.

First though I had to brave the cold. Somehow, even though I had downloaded The Weather Channel on my iPad, I didn’t expect it would be that cold, or windy. Luckily though, we were well prepped by representatives at the various High Commissions in the different islands and were suitably dressed for the change in clime.

In short, it was cold - not freezing cold, but there was a brisk wind lurking that required you to bundle up and keep warm.

Dan had earlier informed us that after a couple hours rest, literally, at the Holiday Inn right opposite the airport (great move Dan) we would be off to meet and greet the British High Commissioner to Chile Jon Benjamin.

That meeting at the British Embassy turned out to be very interesting and educational.  Benjamin gave some insights into our upcoming trip to the Falklands, although he tried hard not to influence our opinions suggesting that we would form our own when we arrived and engaged the people who live there and hear their stories.

That conversation with the High Commissioner proved worthwhile too because no one in our small group had ever visited The Falkland Islands and, therefore, had no idea what to expect.

What most of us knew about The Falklands was what we had read and again, most of that  literature  focused on the conflict in 1982 between England and Argentina. So needless to say we were all thankful for the information shared.

Then it was time to grab some grub, which initially proved challenging. On a strip filled with sidewalk cafes and restaurants we found it difficult to find a spot to settle and eat because they were all packed to capacity.
We finally spotted one, but had to break up into two groups and were seated separately.

By this time, Dan, with his trusty map of Santiago which he picked up at the hotel and was studying in detail, suggested we go on an adventure.

We were about to take the train into Plaza De Armas. After a short ramble, we were hopping on a train, albeit during peak time.

By this time the weather was more what we in the Caribbean were accustomed to and we took the Plaza by storm taking pictures, sightseeing and watching the talents of some who performed for tips.

We were taking in some the Chilean culture and we were determined not to let a minute go unaccounted for while we were there. After all, none of us was sure when we would get there again, if ever.

Tired, but troopers to the end, we all decided it was still too early to call it a day in Santigo. So we were even more adventurous and headed to Barrio Bellavista where we would take a cable car to see the statue Santa Lucia which sits atop a mountain with a great view of the City. That was the plan, but alas it was not to be, as this tourist attraction was closed off for the next two months.

Still though, the drive there was fascinating as we kept our eyes peeled to the streets of Santiago to observe the culture and the people. Not to mention, catching glimpses of those snow-kissed mountains in the distance was simply awesome.

Not daunted by the disappointment, we headed to find a spot to relax before calling it a day - or rather a night. Again, with Chileans in their numbers eating and drinking outdoors, it was difficult to find a spot - almost as difficult as it was to hail a cab.

But we persevered and found a street walk cafe where we sat and talked for a bit, getting to know each other before heading in before it was too late, a caution we were given as it related to the part of the city we were in.

Back at the hotel we were able to reflect on the day we spent in Santiago, Chile, amazed that we had done and seen so much in the time we had there.

It was nothing more than remarkable and enjoyable and most of us lamented the short time we had there, while others expressed their desire to return.

However, we were all anxiously awaiting our next journey - our trip to The Falkland Islands.

NEXT: Heading to The Falkland Islands

carolmartindale@nationnews.com

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