The day began with a trip to La Chascona, the Santiago house of Pablo Neruda. The sequence of spaces is the kind of house that everyone dreams of owning and that every architect dreams of designing. The reality I think is that it probably took a lot of maintenance to keep it looking it's best. Regardless of this, so much personality, passion and fun came through in each and every space.
The fact that you build a house around a garden is a much more continental European style that was transported here during the conquest. Perhaps we could learn from this more in the UK, too many of the big housing schemes focus on small front lawns and smaller back gardens, why not amalgamate all of that outdoor space into the centre of the block? The problem in the UK is the angle of the Sun, perhaps we wouldn't get the enough sunlight down into the buildings if they were built around courtyards?
While suburbia has its shortcomings on any continent, we Brits definitely prefer to have space on our little island nation where our home is our castle. Hence we fight against density of this nature with all that we have. Or is it more a sense of entitlement to space? Here in Latin America people live at much higher density, but maybe because that is the only option.
Our evening's plan was tranquilo. The roof of our apartment building was opening for the night's fireworks and we had tried to get ourselves onto the entry list but our Spanglish had not aided us in any way. So instead we had an early dinner in our apartment, got dressed up and hopped into the elevator at 11pm. It turns out smiling and waiting patiently is the best way to jump a queue!
By 11:45pm people were leaving their cars on the highway below and running up to the bridges above in search of the best views of the fireworks. Groups around us prepared glasses of twelve grapes to eat at the stroke of midnight (one for each month of the next year), despite the fact that this custom was devised by grape sellers to improve weak end of year sales figures.
Our roof had a perfect view of the Santiago skyline, with an uninterrupted view of the Entel Tower where the fireworks are set off (for this precinct of the city). The display continued for twenty five minutes, on an unbelievable scale. Other displays stretched out to the horizon and we were in no doubt that New Year is kind of a big deal here.
Another custom that became clear the next day was that Chileans wear new clothes on NYE. This explains the melee that forced us to abandon half the shops we went to earlier today. It was all mad and we loved it. Here's to 2017!