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Pole to Pole

Day 133: Santiago, Chile

Michael Palin - Pole to Pole'Pure iodine . . . '

'Iodine?'

He nods enthusiastically. 'Very good for sex.'

Having restaurants in a food market seems such a sensible idea, and my meal with Patricio at the Marisqueria Donde Augusto is one of the best. Good food, good wine and an introduction to the Pisco Sour.

Pisco is an eau-de-vie served with a third of lemon juice, some white of egg and a lot of ice. It's fresh and quite fierce. While we're drinking some musicians come by, playing traditional instruments like the quena, a set of pipes, preferably bamboo, now plastic, and a charrango, a ten-stringed instrument, preferably of armadillo shell, now, for ecological reasons, made of wood. The sound is haunting and, according to Patricio, so old and traditional that Pinochet tried to ban the instruments for being too representative 'of the left'.

For a panoramic view of the city we take a funicular railway up beyond the zoo, onto a hill crowned by a forty-foot statue of the Immaculate Conception. Following a bent metal sign reading 'A La Virgen' we toil up paths and steps only to find that the Virgin is closed. Peering inside I can see a small chapel. The wall outside is extensively decorated with sentiments of a non-religious nature - 'Norma! Te Amo!', 'Mejay 2000', 'Depeche Mode' and, intriguingly 'Gladys y Dario 1/08/91'.

Above me the steel Virgin, cast in France in 1908 and brought here 'To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception', stands arms outstretched, head slightly raised and eyes gazing into the middle distance, which is I presume how you are when that form of conception occurs.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Pole to Pole
  • Day: 133
  • Country/sea: Chile
  • Place: Santiago
  • Book page no: 297

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