We are staying at a wonderful hotel, Castillo Rojo (yes, a red castle) in the middle of the Bellavista part of Santiago, right next to La Chascona, the Pablo Neruda museum and the Parque Metropolitano, that includes the second highest mountain in Santiago, among other cool places like a zoo. Perfect for the start of today’s adventure—a hike up to the top of San Cristobal hill where the enormous statue of the Virgin of the Immaculate Conception reaches out her arms.
At the bottom of the hill again, we found the museum that my aunt, Nancy, reminded me about (in New Mexico where she graciously welcomed us into her home). Thank goodness, because it felt like another spiritual pilgrimage (like standing in courtroom where a young Nell Harper Lee would watch her father). Every room in Neruda’s home was chock-filled with such interesting things that conveyed his irrepressible love of life: images of the sea, art from the many places he lived and visited, paintings of his wife Matilde, words, maps, art, and photographs. A home filled with beauty.
Of course, I bought one of his poetry collections, The Sea and the Bells, published posthumously.
On the first page of the introduction, the translator, William O’Daly, writes, Neruda says that the sacred duty of the poet “is to leave and return.” He must leave his country to encounter other people and places, and he must be aware of the process of spiritual rebirth as one element of the journey.
Though it’s taken me a while to say I am a poet, I do feel like Neruda was speaking to me, affirming the need I feel (and Ben feels) to travel, the present-ness that being in a new place provides, the people we meet who teach us, and the immersion into nature.
Here is tiny sip of Pablo Neruda, an untitled poem in the book:
I am grateful, violins, for the day
of four chords. Pure
is the sound of sky
and the blue voice of air.
Ben and I left the museum and headed out into the city, ten miles of walking my phone tells me, along the Parque Forestal, through the busy Mercado Central, and sat for awhile watching the world in the Plaza de Armas.
I am grateful for the small girl I saw skipping in the shade of trees. She made me smile and think about the last time I skipped.
Some images from the day:
Stay safe everyone.