Charming isn’t the word I would ever use for this city, a hauntingly stretched metropolis if you view it and its ever spreading horizons from Cerro San Cristóbal. But then there is a certain feel of delight in the streets of my favourite quarters, from Bellavista, Patronato, Barrio Brasil and even those of the out-of-place Barrio Paris-Londres.
I chased it among the modest pretty houses and their enthralling paintings, the richness of a particular museum, called las calles, in the organized chaos of central markets, its delicious fruit or smell of fish, the fried, greasy, sweet or cheesy comfort street food, the fruit salads and freshly pressed juices or cold mote con huesillo. And then in the confidence and body positivity of Chilean women, the abundance of tattoos and a light rebel spirit you feel in this nation. In a desperate search for decent coffee, in the leafy shadows of the cemetery where you chill like locals seem to, in the parks where the screams promoting ice-cream are omnipresent, … but certainly not on the main plaza or the cathedral or the government palace or the busy, but boring center avenidas. You can hardly breathe there when the traffic and the heat join forces.
In the end, of course, it is there I finally found it for real, right next to the crowded avenue and packed shops … on the Cerro Santa Lucia. Where the air gets lighter among the trees and the flowers, the city even somehow appealing in all its stripped-down display. It is the place to get away, read a few pages, relax in the sun and re-find your joy. Then go right back to the bohemian laid-back-ness of Bellavista and re-find some glorious street art, too. Because you already know these are the two places you’ll miss when you leave this city after a week or so.
You are right.