Today is a rest day, and at 3 in the afternoon, I am tired. So, I will do the blog early, perhaps take a siesta, and be ready for the longest ride of the tour tomorrow. (Needless to say, I will work in a good dinner after the siesta).
We started this morning with a visit to the Museo Colchagua, which could easily be the subject of a short book. It is a private collection, founded a former gun runner who fled to Chile and reinvented himself as a preservationist. The Museum does not have a single theme, but has collections and exhibitions related to pre-Columbian art and artifacts, paleontology, jewelry, mining, agriculture, railroading, technology, armaments (ancient, as well as WWI and WWII), and many more. To me, the most interesting (and moving). was the extensive exhibit related to the rescue of the 33 Chilean miners who were trapped underground for months, several years back. Here you can see the capsule that brought the miners back to the surface.
Our guides say that they have visited the museum on each of their tours through Santa Cruz and have yet to see the entire collection. It is vast, and very impressive. Speaking of our guides, here they are in the hotel lobby:
|Pablito, Santiago (Santi), and Juan Pablo (Jata)|
And here is the view from my hotel room:
After the museum visit, I explored the city a little more. Using directions from the hotel staff, I found an optical shop which was able to repair my primary pair of glasses for 1000 pesos. (About $1.50). I had lost the screw which holds the right temple in place.I had thought that the directions I had were a little vague, but when I got there, I noticed that there were three optical shops on the same block. As I continued walking, I noticed the same pattern -- three or four bike shops clustered together, then another block might have multiple shoe stores. There was very little "upscale" shopping -- everything was simple and utilitarian.
The delivery bicycle is very common.
After a few hours of exploring, I returned to the hotel for lunch. The guides had told us that the hotel restaurant was excellent, and when I saw them eating there, I had to believe it. I ordered a "Chupe," which is best described as the best crabmeat dip you ever tasted (really rich in crab), topped with cheese and popped under the broiler. It was served piping hot -- the picture does not show how bubbly the cheese was when it was delivered to the table. (Yes, I will pay for all this wonderful food when I get home and get on the scale.)
I frequently forget to mention some of the little oddities that I see along the way. For example, last night I stopped in a pharmacy looking for an eyeglass repair kit. Although I did not find one, I did notice the sign that cautioned people not to try out (or sample) the deodorants.
Tomorrow we head west for the Pacific Ocean. The last 45 minutes or so will be in the shuttle because of the poor road conditions, but we will still bike just about 100 kilometers (65 miles) with a few short, steep hills.
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