Posts tagged ‘Pablo Neruda’

September 30, 2011

La Sebastiana

This afternoon I took a little jaunt to Valparaíso to visit the second home of the famous Chilean poet, Pablo Neruda. I hopped on a micro and we climbed up, up into Cerro Bellavista. The driver was very amiable and said that he “might be able to manage advising me on the location of Neruda’s house and driving the bus at the same time…” He let me off literally two three houses away from La Sebastiana. That is the name that Neruda gave his home to pay homage to the original owner who died before the house was completely finished.

Neruda owned on the top two floors and the terrace on the roof, while his friends occupied the first two floors. When he was first searching for an a place to live he gave this criteria:

“I feel the tiredness of Santiago. I want to find in Valparaíso a little house to live and write quietly. It must have some conditions. It can’t be located too high or too low. It should be solitary but not in excess, with hopefully invisible neighbors. They should not be seen or heard. The house should be unique but not uncomfortable. With many wings, but strong. Neither too big, nor too small. Far from everything but close to transportation. Independent, but close to commerce. Besides that it has to be very cheap. Do you think I would find a house like that in Valparaíso?”

Pretty particular eh?

Funny thing though, on the top floor is a map of the Americas that fills the entire wall. I’m not sure when it was made and I’m kicking myself now for not looking, but Chile was amazingly accurate. North America on the other hand, almost completely wrong. I say almost because the general shape was correct, though majorly distorted; Cuba was the size of all of the southeastern states. And also the great lakes where in the correct position. Other than that, California was an island, Illinois was in the middle of the country, and Canada was touching Mexico. I wonder what would happen if we swapped out a 4th grade classroom map with one of those…

In my opinion this home wasn’t as special as Isla Negra, but it never was supposed to be. Neruda certainly put his mark on everything, but this house was a working house instead of an escape. That being said, there is nothing like the view of the port and all of the colorful houses of Valparaíso. Just seeing that vista every morning is inspiration enough.

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August 28, 2011

Five Day Weekend

If you were to ask an average American what he liked to do in his spare time, you would probably get a variety of responses. Activities such as watching sports, hanging out with friends, playing music, and working out certainly would find their place on the list. If you were to ask the average Chilean the same question, you’d get a different list. At the top of it would be protesting.

This week I had two days of classes. That’s it. Monday and Tuesday class, Wednesday – Sunday free. This happened because all government workers organized a national, two-day protest. Across the country, workers rioted in the streets and businesses were forced to shut down. There was no public transportation and no public services. Things weren’t so bad here in Viña, but a friend who lives in Valparaíso told me it was pandemonium in the streets. Rioters broke into the first level of his apartment building and proceeded to break all of the windows out, trash the place, and set fire to all of the computers out in the street. (You can check out his blog at: http://gringodelmar.wordpress.com/ )

I decided to lay low Wednesday and Thursday. Not being able to leave made me get all of my work done, but by Friday I was ready to get out. My friend Ben and I took a little excursion two hours south to a tiny town called Isla Negra.

The name is decieving. It’s not an island, but it does sit on a beautiful rocky beach. Isla Negra was once home to the famous Chilean poet Pablo Neruda. This was his third and final house that he lived in before his death. I can’t even begin to describe the details inside and outside his house. Everything was handmade and he was a crazy collector, so every time we would turn there would be more and more to look at. For example, here are a couple my favorite bottles in his collection. Other than bottles he had collections of masks, colored glass, shells, sail boats, and lots of other things that I can’t remember.

The living portion of the house was set up just like a ship, with small door frames and creaky wooden floors. His working part of the house was decorated in the same nautical eclectic style, but the shape of the rooms were just like train cars. What an imagination!

After exploring the house and gardens, Ben and I bought some empanadas to enjoy on the beach. There is nothing better than eating a tasty empanada on a cloudy day while sitting on the rocks watching the waves come in. It was a much needed break from the hustle and bustle of the restless city.