La Isla Negra

I went to La Isla Negra with our Resident Director and some of the other exchange students. The house of the late Chilean author, Pablo Neruda, is now a museum and it is beautiful. We couldn’t take photos inside of the museum but I’ll try to describe the general layout briefly.

The house is one room wide and is comprised of around 16 rooms. So it is very narrow and long and each room is designed to look like a ship or a train from the inside.  It is filled with many intriguing and beautiful artifacts and collections and fascinating furnishing. Ship sterns shaped like women, wooden angels, half a model ship against a mirror, a round table, huge windows overlooking the ocean, a bar which has the names of his friends carved into the beams, Japanese theater masks, butterfly collections, bottled ships, a totem pole that supposedly didn’t like to be looked at so Neruda removed one of it’s eyes, a plastic life-sized horse with three tails, a desk made of drift wood which he and his wife retrieved from the ocean together, a stone mural wall fashioned by his best friend, a glass table set on top of a huge ship wheel, several weird instruments, a writing desk and a random porcelain sink which wasn’t connected to anything, a room dedicated to his childhood memories, beautiful paintings, other random interesting items, and a bed which overlooked the ocean and faced east to west so the rose at the head and set at the foot. The last moments he spend in that house before he was taken to a hospital were spent in that bed.  His life seemed so interesting and wonderful! I felt very inspired by that trip.

We also visited some nearby beaches. Here are several pictures that I took that day.

The house from the outside:

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A majestic dog and a selfie:

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The contrasting mystically misty and super sunny beaches.

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P.S. I haven’t updated my blog in like a month so there is so much to tell you all about! I’ll be posting about Patagonia, Pomaire, Machu Picchu, and general life very soon.

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The Jewel of the Pacific

 

 

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“The Jewel of the Pacific,” aka Valparaíso, is a beautiful city right next to Viña del Mar. It is historic, artistic, and fishy. (By fishy I mean there are fish markets. …)

On Sunday, a Valparaíso native gave us a tour of the city. He told us all about the city and showed us some really cool stuff. And now I’m going to impart this fascinating knowledge to you cause everyone needs to know how awesome Valpo is.

In the glory days, Valpo was a port city. The most important port city of the pacific, because it was the first that ships would stop in after sailing around Cape Horn.

But the completion of the Panama canal in 1914 made the importance and value of Valparaiso become non-existant overnight. The booming economy crashed, hard, and the city is still struggling to recover. Today, the people of Valpo live in the memory of their city’s Golden Age.

The port is still one of the most important industries in Valparaíso. Now, instead of a hundred ships, there are maybe twenty docked in the bay. Fishermen fish and there are huge, crazy marketplaces in which the fish and vegetables are all sold right next to each other and the cats climb and weave through the baskets of cabbages and apples.

It’s a city of contrasts. Some areas are really beautiful and clean and wealthy, but you walk down a staircase and across and alley and find people living in dirt poor conditions.  It’s also extremely different from her sister city, Viña del Mar. Valpo was once wealthy, but after the earthquake in 1906, the upperclass moved to Viña or Santiago, leaving the lower class to clean up the mess. In contrast, Viña is rich with palaces and highrises and vacation homes.  And there’s only a ten minute bus ride and a sign saying “Welcome to Valparaiso” to separate the cities.

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The architecture of Valparaiso is fascinating! I’m not usually one to be interested in how buildings are build but this is actually cool. Okay so in 1906 there was a huge devastating earthquake that leveled the city. The people of Valpo needed to rebuild using cheap materials that would withstand earthquakes. The used wood frames filled with mud and covered it all using the sheet metal off of ships. These materials are strong but flexible so they would stand in earthquakes.

That worked well, until the metal began to rust. So the people looked to the shipyards for anti-rust paint. If the shipyards painted a boat yellow that week, they had yellow anti-rust paint so the person’s house would be yellow. Then their neighbors would say to themselves, “what an excellent idea!” and they’d head down to the shipyards for some yellow paint. But the ship dude would be out of yellow paint. However, since there was a blue boat today there was blue anti-rust paint so the neighbor’s house got painted blue. Thus, Valparaíso is a city of vibrant and unique colours.

Also, there are between 43 and 45 different “hills” or neighborhoods and each one has a unique architectural style. This is because when people began immegrating to Valpo all those years ago, the different countries would tend to live together. So there are British, German, Italian, Chilean, etc styles of architecture.

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Valparaíso is the art capital of Chile. The walls of buildings and the streets are covered in beautiful art and murals.  My camera died before I could take a picture of my favorite mural, so half of my adventures are undocumented, sadly.

We met some street artists and a little old Chilean man with a guitar who sang us Valparaíso’s two most famous songs.  Here are youtube links to the songs:

Osvaldo ‘Gitano’ Rodriguez – Valparaíso

La Joya del Pacífico : Jorge Farias

Here are some pictures of the amazing artwork that can be seen somewhere or other in Valparaíso.

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The city is a labyrinth with more staircases and broken cobblestone alleyways than streets. The best way to explore is to get lost.

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Go to Valpo and get lost. I highly recommend it.

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Are You my Mummy?

I went to D.C. on Tuesday.  See my last post for more of what I saw there. This post is about my favorite exhibit; ancient Egypt.

This culture was one of my favorites to learn about when I was in school. This particular exhibit focused on mummies and artifacts found in the tombs of kings.

 

This is the case in which the mummy is preserved.

This is the case in which the mummy is preserved.

This is the mummy.

This is the mummy.

The sign by this guy’s head reads: “Remove Brain and Organs. Insert a long hook up the nose to pull out brain tissue, and add oil of cedar to liquefy what is left. Cut the body open and remove organs – except for the heart. Dry the organs separately, and store them in canopic jars.” Yummy!

I kid you not – here is a picture to prove it.

T.M.I. gosh.

T.M.I. gosh.

 

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In the bottom corner of this one are little tiny mummified crocodiles. There are also cats.

SO COOL! See:

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Seriously, there are dead bodies of dead kings from centuries ago in glass displays for millions of people to stare at. It somehow seems dishonoring.

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This is what the mummy would look like if he was inside the case thing. Much prettier, no?

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They mummified a bull’s head… It’s terrifying.

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These are some of the decorations and masks.

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I think this was one of my favorite displays.

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This is the inscription on Idu’s tomb in Giza c. 2200 B.C.

I said and repeated good things

I said what was just

I did what was just.

I gave bread to the hungry

Clothing the naked

I was respectful to my father

I was kind to my mother

I never said anything evil

Unjust or malicious to anyone

Because I desired a good character

So that I would be honored by the god

And by people forever

It’s fascinating to read this and know that people have the same basic desires and values throughout the ages and across cultures.

So these are the mummies which I looked at. What did you do this week?