I got a visit from Ky’s Flat Stanley. These are his many adventures around Chile and Argentina
Stanley showed up to visit me down here in South America about three weeks ago, and we have had a wonderful time together. He arrived in Santiago, Chile where I am currently studying abroad, but we didn’t stay in Chile for long.
He arrived the day before my trip to Mendoza, Argentina, so he got to take an overnight bus with me over the Andes Mountains to this small city on the Western side of Argentina.
Mendoza is the number one producer of wine in all of Latin America, so we went on a tour of a couple wineries. Stanley was impressed with how big the fields of grape vines were. We had to drive forty-five minutes from the gate just to reach the factory in the center! The woman who gave the tour was very nice, but I had to translate everything she said for Stanley since they speak Spanish in Argentina.
Stanley in the Winery
On some of the plants there were black tarps covering the top parts of the leaves. When Stanley asked what they were for, the tour guide told us they protected the plants from hail. Apparently, Argentina gets hail the size of hamsters! Stanle and I were lucky enough to not get caught in a storm.
Next we went to see Cerro de la Gloria. The summit has a massive statue dedicated to the Army of the Andes and a great view of the city. Argentina and Chile were under the colonial rule of the Spanish Empire before they began their war for independence in 1810. José de San Martin led the Army of the Andes though Argentina and over the Andes to liberate both countries Chile and Argentina. This statue is dedicated to the men who fought for independence from colonial rule, and a continuous reminder of the bond between Chile and Argentina.
Stanley and the angel; Stanley with the view of Mendoza
Stanley loved the statue of the Angel, but he loved the view more. From the hill you can also see all of Mendoza and the Andes. The Andes are the longest continental mountain range in the world. I told Stanley that from the foothills the Andes actually look a lot like the coast of California.
Stanley and the Andes
Mendoza is also home to a lot of homemade artisan shops. We got to take a tour of a chocolate factory that’s been passed down three generations of one family. They gave us a sample of every chocolate flavor they had in the store! Stanley liked sight seeing, but eating all the chocolate was definitely his favorite part of the trip.
Stanley and the Chocolate Factory
Argentina was fun, but we spent most of our time in Chile because that’s where I’m studying. Chile is a long skinny country on the Western side of South America. It occupies all of the territory between the Andes and the Pacific Ocean. It looks like a rather small country since it is so skinny, but Chile’s actually huge. It would take only about 5 hours to drive all the way across Chile, but from the top most part to the bottom most part is about 3,500 miles. That’s about the distance from New York to California! It’s climate ranges from the driest dessert in the world, Atacama in the North, to some of the coldest land in the south, Patagonia (near Antarctica). Before the Panama Canal was completed in 1914, Chile’s costal town Valparaiso was a major stop in the sea journey around the Straight of Magellan (the bottom most part of South America). But, with the Canal and the invention of airplanes, Chile’s most profitable industry is nitrate mines (used to make explosives) found in the deserts in the north.
Santiago, the capital of Chile, has a strong colonial history. So we went to Santa Lucia, La Plaza De Armas, and the Cathedral. The Plaza De Armas is in the center of the city, and back when the land was settled by Pedro De Valdivia, it was the main square that housed the Church and the government. Unlike the US, Chile has a national religion, Catholicism, and the church has a lot of say in politics. I took Stanley to see the Cathedral in the square, the largest Catholic Church in Chile.
Stanley in the Plaza de Armas; Stanley and the Cathedral
The square also has a statue commemorating the Mapuche indigenous group who lived on the land before the Spaniards came. The Mapuche never disappeared and to this day remain a strong part of Santiago’s population.
Stanley and some Mapuche Art
Stanley liked going to Cerro Santa Lucia more then the square because he got to do some hiking. During the colonial period, Santa Lucia was a lookout post/ battlement in the middle of the city where Spanish soldiers used to sit and watch for attackers. We got to hike all the way up to the top of the Cerro, and from there we could see the entire city.
Stanley and Neptune’s Fountain at the Bottom of Cerro Santa Lucia; Stanley at the top of Cerro Santa Lucia
After climbing the Cerro, we had to go the mall in the Torre del America Del Sur, the tallest building in South America, because Stanley forgot to bring a coat! In the US, it’s almost Summer so it’s warm but because we are in the Southern Hemisphere the seasons are opposite here. So it’s Winter here and it’s cold.
Stanley in the National Park on the way to the Torre
I told Stanley that it is strange that Chile is home to the tallest building in South America because it has some really strong earthquakes. In 2010, it had an earthquake that measured an 8.8 on the Richter Scale. That’s the sixth largest earthquake ever recorded in history! Luckily, Stanley didn’t experience one while he was here.
Stanley and I had a wonderful time exploring the Southern Cone of South America together. He’s happy he came, but he’s excited to come home. Thanks for sending him to visit me!