These first photos are from Viña del Mar. We stayed there until 3 January, then took the bus back to Santiago. Our first apart-hotel was all booked up, so we're in another apart-hotel, in not as nice a neighborhood. But the apartment is comfortable, even if there aren't as many restaurants and such around, or museums, or even beautiful buildings for me to enjoy.
Our past four days have been focused on getting a FedEx box out of Customs. I explained back when we were in Australia (2013) that we both have prescription medications we need. And that it's easier, and probably more medically suitable, to keep getting our medications from pharmacies in the US. My brother receives them, and then sends them via FedEx to us every few months.
Each country has different regulations and requirements, so we always visit the FedEx office in country and find out what needs to be included in the package, or what we need to do in order to receive our meds.
Well, this time the package came, complete with all of the requisite paperwork. However, Chilean Customs requires the receiver to present their passports in person. It took a while to understand this, because we had not been told this ahead of time.
Our concierge at the first apart-hotel was prepared to receive our package. We talked to him, he called FedEx, they told him we should go to Customs, we talked to FedEx, they agreed they'd tell Customs that copies of our passports were in the shipping address and documents packet. We waited 24 hours. Nothing. So we called again, and FedEx said they delivered documents to our shipping address (former apart-hotel). Back we went to pick up the documents. We took them to the original FedEx office we visited. And were told we had to go to Customs, at the airport. But they close at 1 PM, and it was now noon. Another day to wait.
So today we went out to the airport, managed to get the FedEx office inside Customs (Aduana in Spanish). It took a while, but we finally left with our package in hand. YAY!!!!! (And WHEW!!!!)
We also spoke with a few car rental agencies (since they're all located at the airport) and worked out a deal. So we pick up our car on Saturday, and we'll head south to explore more of Chile!
Of course, we still manage to have fun and find interesting things to see and do. Gorgeous flowers. Interesting traditional churches. And a chocolate café.
No, we don't seek out chocolate. It finds us. Really. We walked out of the FedEx office, headed down the street to catch a taxi, and then there it was, "Cacao Much," a 100% chocolate café.
They have other food, and the salads are great. But they make amazing Belgian chocolates, and the place is absolutely worth a visit. I had three dark chocolate truffles, which were delicious and rich and sooooooooo yummy!!!!!
So if you're ever in Santiago, Chile, try to get to Cacao Much, up in the Providencia neighborhood. SO good. You'll thank me. (And I'll keep the photos of the truffles small so you don't eat your computer.)
Their website is: http://www.cacaomuch.cl/
In our neighborhood, there's this beautiful old church that looks vaguely like Sacre Coeur in the Montmartre area of Paris. Except that the church seems to have been abandoned. We have no idea how to say this in Spanish, so I asked a friendly waitress at a nearby café if the church was closed. She said she has never seen it open, she has worked there for a few years and never ever open. The belltowers look as if stained glass windows were removed, parts seem to be missing, statues are broken.
I find this to be SO sad. Not that I'm a huge fan of religion per se. I just find it horribly sad that people designed and created this beautiful edifice to glorify their concept of the reason we're here, of humanity created in the image of a deity - and then this wonderful building is just abandoned. Cast aside like a used toy. Thrown away like an empty water bottle or something.
Just, sad. Pitiful, even. Like an abandoned pet by the side of the road, I want to pick it up and find someone to love and cherish it, and make it beautiful again.
So I played with a few photos and tried to fix it up. Except I can't seem to make a blue sky and white façade, like Sacre Coeur. Keeps coming out sort of golden. Which would be nice too.
Our neighborhood seems to be comprised mostly of huge apartment buildings, and some small businesses. But also abandoned buildings scattered around. Apparently the area is in flux. We have no idea if people are moving out, or back in. If the area is going downhill or is in the process of gentrification.
I can only hope that someone eventually decides to fix up this church. That the Diocese sends a new priest or minister (I'm thinking this place is most likely Catholic, though) who rejuvenates this building, and brings in a new crowd of families and singles.
That this wonderful building is saved before it totally falls apart.
And that it comes back to life again.
A friend was interested in this church, and did some research. She found the following information on Wikipedia (I'm not sure how, there are so many churches in Santiago it would be difficult to find this particular church online!) - here goes:
"It is called: Iglesia de los Sacramentinos.
"The Church of the Blessed Sacrament and the Blessed Sacrament Parish is a temple Catholic located in the commune of Santiago, the capital of Chile, on the corner of Arturo Prat and Santa Isabel. The architect Ricardo Larrain Bravo was in charge of the construction work, the design of this temple is inspired by the Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Paris, France. His style is Byzantine Roman.
"In 1911 he began building the crypt, which was inaugurated on June 15 of 1919. Then he continued with the construction of the top of the church in the year 1920, and surrendered to use the 22 March of 1931.
"It is run by the Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament which was founded by St. Peter Julian Eymard on 12 June 1856. The first Sacrament arrived in Chile in 1908.
"The crypt was opened on June 15, 1919, continuing the construction of the upper church in 1920, and gave partial use for the March 22, 1931.
"The carved pulpit and the confessionals were made in the workshops of the Salesian Fathers, as well as the choir stalls where religious pray the office. The pews were made in the same workshops.
"The September 11, 1926 the contract for the sculptor Aliro Pereira, of the School of Fine Arts, sculpt the worshipers are in the front of the church angels, the Sacred Heart of Jesus as well as St. Peter Julian Eymard is signed who are facing the Plaza Almagro. All these sculptures are made of white cement.
"This is National Votive Temple (in memory of the first centenary of national independence ) and from August 30, 1928 is also parish.
"It also says that in 1991 it was made a national monument. It doesn't explain why it is abandoned.....There is also a website I found that talks about the parish and church events, which makes me wonder if it is entirely abandoned or if only parts of the building are not in use?"