“In those days people will live in the houses they build and eat thefruitoftheir own vineyards.”
Isaiah 65: 21
I was talking with one of the Gallery owners in Alegre, he was a medical Doctor, who loved art and opened the Gallery because it was his passion. As we walked through the rooms he explained to me about each artist’s work.
The conversation somehow moved to family and I discovered he was Basque. We discussed our families and when I told him my family name was Barrenechea, he laughed. He said there is a District in Santiago called Lo Barnechea, settled by Basques. He told me it was a very nice part of town and that I must visit it while I was in Santiago.
We packed up the last of our belongings early on Saturday morning before heading to breakfast, our last meal on the ship. The trip was a wonderful experience, and met our expectations, but, after 21 days we were ready to spend some time on dry land. We left the ship for the last time and boarded a bus for the 1 1/2 hour ride to Santiago from Valparaiso. The drive was scenic through the hills and across picturesque valleys dotted with farms and vineyards, with tractors moving through the fields.
As we arrived in Santiago the vast city was laid out before us. We dropped off at a hotel which would be our departure location in the evening for the airport. We met a friend of ours Steve who lives in Santiago and he showed us the town on the final day of our trip. We visited the Basque Club (Mary-Beth’s father had spent time there in the 1950’s) for lunch with Steve and his two daughters. We shared an authentic Basque meal and then headed for Lo Barnechea.
The taxi dropped us off at a corner cafe where we went in a had dessert and coffee. The Lo Barnechea District was nestled at the foothills of the towering Andes. They almost did not look real, more like a painting as they soared into the sky. Wow, it was impressive!
Santiago is a bustling modern City of almost 7,000,000 people. We enjoyed the summer heat, a nice contrast from Southern Patagonia. It was great to see this impressive city and learn some of its history. Most of all, it was a fine place to end our journey to the end of the world. Thanks for joining us for this journey of a lifetime.
“My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power.”
I Corinthians 2:4
In the cool of the morning we approached our last port of call in Valparaiso, Chile. This was a much anticipated destination on our adventure because in the adjacent community, Vina Del Mar, was where Mary-Beth’s parents Don & Sue Zarraonandia married and lived for a time in 1957.
We were excited as we disembarked the ship, because we had no time we had to be back on board, a totally free night. We began our day trekking into downtown Valparaiso, and took an Ascensor up the hill to the Alegre Arts District. It was a slow and steep climb up the hill where we wound through the streets to find rustic restaurants with culinary delights, bars and art galleries. We wandered through the galleries and enjoyed the street artists creative work. Before we left for Vina Del Mar we had to purchase a small painting of a fishing boat on the sand with the Valparaiso pier in the background. Art is almost always our favorite souvenir when we travel.
We took a long staircase down the hill and found a bus stop where we could catch a bus to Vina. It was an adventure although a short 15 minute ride from downtown. We got off the bus and could see the Casino that we had heard Sue speak about so many times. It was a beautiful white building with a red tile roof. On the inside in was more reminiscent of Las Vegas than the elegance of the velvet couches and roulette tables it housed in her description in 1957.
We walked along the beach watching as the powerful waves slammed into the rocks that had been piled along the sand to protect the shoreline. The sound of the waves and power of the water struck a little fear in our hearts. We were reminded of the way God reveals His power in the things He has created. The beaches were full of people, yet no one dared venture into the powerful waves. We were hungry and found a nice restaurant right on the sand and shared a salad of celery and avocado, quite a Chilean delicacy!
We visited a museum that told the history of Easter Island and the Rapa Nui people who inhabit the island. It is believed that they immigrated to the Island between 700-800 AD from Thailand. It was fascinating to learn the history of the Moai statues, how they were constructed and what their significance is to the Rapa Nui people.
Back in Valparaiso we headed back up to Alegre district to see a few more galleries and found a contemporary restaurant perched on the hill with a terrace overlooking the city below. The view was amazing and the food even better. Shrimp & artichoke soup for me and fresh salad for Mary-Beth. After dinner we walked back down the hill and the city was coming alive with young people on this Friday night. We passed an outdoor concert near one of the town squares that was thick with people. So much fun!
We arrived back on the ship in time to prepare for our trip to Santiago in the morning, our final day on this great adventure.