Perfection, of a kind, was what he was after, 
And the poetry he invented was easy to understand; 
He knew human folly like the back of his hand, 
And was greatly interested in armies and fleets; 
When he laughed, respectable senators burst with laughter, 
And when he cried the little children died in the streets.

– W H Auden – Epitaph on a Tyrant

It’s just coming up to 7pm in Santiago. The sun is out. The sun is strong. It is high summer. It is about 30 degrees and Pookaverse has been sleeping off a boozy lunch – the first boozy lunch in South America – taken in ‘The Clinic’. It is a’gastro-pub’ situated in central Downtown and is named after a popular satirical newspaper which in turn named the first edition after ‘a clinic’ that General Pinochet attended in London for back surgery and his subsequent arrest on 17 October 1998.

One view from St Cristobal's Hill...over Santiago, Chile

One view from St Cristobal’s Hill…over Santiago, Chile

You can sit in four separate themed areas all with a complimentary decor. The Conservative Lounge, the Communist Bar. The Havana Club and finally a small black cell-like room with a satirical montage of pictures devoted to Pinochet. Or ‘Pinocchio’ as his detractors often referred to him.  Later the name ‘Daniel Lopez’ as this was the name used on several bank accounts to deposit subsequently frozen funds.

Another view from St Cristobal's Hill....

Another view from St Cristobal’s Hill….

Following one of the many Riggs bank scandals. His supporters used to call him ‘the Grampa’ (el Tata) perhaps the most unlikely of all from a Gringo-eye’s view.

You see Pookaverse has been doing a little climbing. Trying to get higher out of the heat and calamity – traffic roar and constant beeping. There is no traffic like Santiago. Not even Boston. Or Newark. To try. To at least earn some tranquility.

The statue of the Virgin Mary that looks down from St Cristobal's Hill

The statue of the Virgin Mary that looks down from St Cristobal’s Hill

In ancient references, climbing a mountain is a spiritual quest. An attempt to seek the truth. Just like Simon in William Golding’s  Lord of the Flies. Simon was murdered by the rest of the boys as ‘The Beast’ when he descended during their beach ritual and bonfire.

An installation outside one of the many museums..."Before I die..". This wall was well attended less than 10 days ago. But today, 21.12.2012 it was clear enough to photograph

An installation outside La Cupula Theatre reads…”Before I die..”. This wall was well attended less than 10 days ago. But today, 21.12.2012 it was clear enough to photograph

To tell them the truth about an unfortunate airmen. For Pookaverse. A different truth. Less bloody.

And the truth is that Santiago is a very, very big city. As earthquakes are a fact of life in this country. This city. Steepled on the ‘Ring of Fire’. Every 25 years there is a ‘big one’. Like February 27 2010 with the epicentre close to the city of Concepcion. It is only a matter of time.

A separate installation topical for today, 21/12 next to the entrance to La Cupula Theatre...

A separate installation topical for today, 21/12 next to the entrance to La Cupula Theatre…

So yesterday we took a further Spicey Chile walking tour around the quieter neighbourhoods of Santiago with our young guide Franco. 24 and just completing his law degree, Franco has also dedicated a year of his life to providing pro bono work for the less well off people of Santiago. One of the places he took us to was a barbers shop that was literally like stepping back in time to the early 1930’s. Then next door to the adjacent cafe and a museum of everyday items, forgotten toys and faded wood panels. And recalcitrant services. The English disease.

Just through that door is 1930...and where Humphrey Bogart came for a shave...

Just through that door is 1930…and where Humphrey Bogart came for a shave…

One of those places that you can see in your mind, causes a crease in your heart but if asked You would not know how to describe. Or more importantly where to go looking. Without someone. The right someone. To show you the way.

At the table were a friendly couple from Brazil – Henrique – well built and immaculately groomed translating for his wife who did not speak English. As well as Lea. A German visiting her friend in Santiago who will be travelling into the nearby countryside for a wedding (tomorrow) on Saturday. Germans are very lucky for Pookaverse as we have discussed before. And Lea proved no exception. She has lived in both Italy and Australia and can speak English with all it’s naughty rules as well as knock out some pretty critical Spanish.

Even the Gran Torre Santiago 300 metres (980 ft) tall is no match for the Andes...

Even the Gran Torre Santiago 300 metres (980 ft) tall is no match for the Andes…

Pookaverse. With Lea’s help. Took it’s first South American ride on the vast, clean and well-maintained Metro system. Stations as large and swooping as an Airport departure lounge. Impressive and crowded.  With fans that also spray a steady stream of cooling mist onto the passengers as they wait on the platform.

Then to the local market with smells that neither hooms new existed before. Strawberries as red and well-hung as a Pit Bull’s knackers. Papaya. Mango. Melons. Lemons. Avocados as big as rabbits. And cherries – real cherries – like noting either hoom has ever tasted. Like elephants holding tails. Rohan watched Leas bag and Alison watched the day sack.

Still isn't....

Still isn’t….

Finally after more Pastel de Choclo (Corn Pie) and Chilean ‘Fish and Chips’ for Lea. A taxi ride past the ruins of the funicular railway – 3km to the top of St Cristobal’s Hill. And that qualifed view of urban sprawl. In every direction. Under the clouds but still warm from an an apocalyptic shower on Wednesday evening when we landed. Lea said goodbye at this point and both Pookaverse hooms sat on pews in the open air and listened to a range of nasal Christmas Carol instrumentals. With the Madonna. Arms spread wide in the air to encompass. Or declare. Above our hoom heads.

Our lovely horse...Pookaverse hooms smile each time they pass it...

Our lovely horse…Pookaverse hooms smile each time they pass it…

It is the closest that Pookaverse has been to Christmas so far. Whatever that means. Thoughts were spared to what you are all going through at the moment. Getting ready for Christmas. The office parties. Or tedious congers within congregated corporate events. Last minute shopping. Driving rain.  Streams of red-tail lights into the distance. “Here it is Merry Christmas”. Slade, Jonah Lewie, Paul McCartney. All there competing shrills driving the excitement. Sales. Stocking fillers. And the expectations even higher.

In the Conservative Sector of 'The Clinic' in Santiago, Chile

In the Conservative Sector of ‘The Clinic’ in Santiago, Chile

Sir Cliff and The Darkness. Now that would be a Christmas duet wouldn’t it? Sir Cliff warbling a cosy ditty while gargling blood from an upended skull like a kitten licking milk from underneath a cow’s udder.


Let’s leave it a few more days shall we. After all it’s only Friday. And not next Tuesday. People are buying their Christmas presents in Santiago. For the shops or so it appears. The tide has come in at last. No baying Santa’s in Santiago. Outside the ‘Dixons’ of  Patagonia. Microphones and jolly jingles. Espanol.

This morning the Andes were crested with snow. It didn’t look real. But we took some pictures from the park on Cerro Santa Lucia  anyway. For you to have a look at. So that you can disagree and say it is only the clouds over Sanhattan. It is a mirage. We agree. It cannot be. But it is.


Tomorrow we travel to Valparaiso for the Pookaverse Christmas.  And a cooking course on the 23rd. Which for the third time we learn to make Pisco Sours. There are no Pisco Sours in Costa Rica. But we will buy Pisco nether-the-less. And spread the word North.

Tonight as Pookaverse finishes. Is finished. By bloody happy hour in Barrios Bella Vista. 6 Pisco Sours between both hooms for £12. And a bag of crisps for the finale.  See you tomorrow. Which is what we should have said yesterday.   Only now it is tomorrow. Always tomorrow. The 22nd of December, 2012. What else would it be?


2 Responses to “Apocalypto”

  1. Rach Says:

    Hi Guys, Well we’re all still here – quelle surprise!!
    Santiago looks amazing – I think that South America looks far more appealing than its richer northern neighbour. The art itself looks so varied and unrestrained and a joy to see.

    After a series called “Doomsday Preppers” being shown here in the UK for the last few weeks, I can’t help but wonder what those people are doing now?

    With any luck they have taken to their steel and concrete reinforced shelters and we won’t have to listen to them anymore!
    There was one particularly weird individual who periodically crept up on his children with a gun to see if they could disarm him! A bit like Cato from Inspector Clouseau but with Guns and Kids. Unbelievable – it was apparently for their own good.

    Christmas is fast approaching and we miss you both very much but are happy that you are still having such wonderful experiences.

    All our love
    Rach & Bri

  2. jose Says:

    By now you will be in the middle of your cooking course but don’t understand how Pisco Sours fit in to the course. I can remember drinking Brandy Sours in Cyprus,(lethal stuff) the pavement came up quickly to meet me one night, didn’t put me off them though! Its nearly CHRISTMAS the pogues, cliff and slade are singing their little hearts out, never mind its only once a year !

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