viernes, 23 de octubre de 2009
Chile is a country of startling contrasts and extreme beauty, with attractions ranging from the towering volcanic peaks of the Andes to the ancient forests of the Lake District. There are a multitude of very good parks here, and plenty of opportunities for fine adventure travel. Chile is justly famous as the location of Torres del Paine, considered by many to be the finest nature travel destinations in all of South America.
Location, Geography Climate
For anyone who has ever been fascinated by geography, the long, impossibly thin line of Chile has always produced a tiny moment of astonishment. Chile stretches over 4,300 km (2,700 mi) along the southwestern coast of South America, a distance roughly the same as that from San Francisco to New York, or Edinburgh to Baghdad. At the same time, its width never exceeds 240 km (150 mi), making the country more than eighteen times longer than its widest point.
The most obvious factor in Chile's remarkable slenderness is the massive, virtually impassable wall of the Andes, a mountain range that is still rising and that contains more than fifty active volcanic peaks. The western border is of course the Pacific Ocean, but it is a misconception to picture Chile as nothing more than the steep western slope of the Andean peaks. All along its length Chile is marked by a narrow depression between the mountains and the sea. To the north the land rises and becomes more arid, until one reaches the forbidding Atacama Desert, one of the most inhospitable regions on earth. To the south just the opposite transformation takes place: the land falls away, and the region between mountains and ocean fades into the baffling archipelagic maze that terminates in Chilean Patagonia. Chile's southern extremity is marked by Cape Horn, a treacherous headland surrounded by almost continuously storm-tossed seas and passable only through the foggy stillness of the Strait of Magellan.
In the center of the country, however, is a long and expansive river valley, a five hundred mile corridor occupied in the north by vineyards and great farms and in the south by primeval forests and enchanting lakes. Santiago, the capital, anchors the northern and more prosperous section of the central valley. The lush Lake District to the south, however, is the homeland of Chile's indigenous peoples, the Araucanians.
Also part of Chile are two notable Pacific possessions-the Juan Fernandez Islands and the famous Easter Island, both of which are administered as national parks. The Juan Fernandez islands are located about 670 km off the Chilean coast, while Easter Island is situated 3700 km distant.
Chile's climate is as diverse as its geography. Aside from the obviously extreme climatic conditions of the Andes an the Atacama, however, the country enjoys a comfortable temperate climate.
Capital City: SANTIAGO
Resting on an inland plain, with the Andes glimmering in the distance, Santiago, the capital of Chile, is the fifth largest city in South America. Santiago is a city that seems destined for growth. The Mapuche destroyed it in 1541, only six months after Pedro de Valdivia founded it, but soon the Spanish were back and building it up again. Today, it is one of the most modern cities on the continent, home to nearly 5 million inhabitants--over a third of all Chileans. The city is one of the largest in South America and Chile's center of commerce.
Santiago is also the central point of a region filled with attractive sites and activities. Only 60 km away are the main South American ski centers, and the beautiful beaches of the Pacific are only an hour's drive to the northwest. Just south of Santiago lie the rich and beautiful vineyards of the Maipo Valley, one of the world's most esteemed wine producing regions.
The city is bisected by the Rio Mapocho, which gently weaves through from East to West, before descending to the flood plain below. The Mapocho marks the northern border of the city center, which is defined on the west and south by the Via Norte Sur and the Avenida Libertador Bernardo O'Higgins (known to Santiagans as the Alameda). Within this area can be found all the major museums, monuments, and architectural sights the city offers.
The very heart of Santiago is the Plaza de Armas, which lies along the Alameda about five blocks south of the river. The city's European heritage is evident in the Parque Forestal, designed by a French landscaper on the model of Parisian parks. Walkers pass down tree-lined paths along the Mapocho, past small squares and the Museo de Bellas Artes. The Mercado Central is of British design, with wrought-iron ceiling parts that were imported from England in the mid 19th century. Today the market sells a wide variety of fresh, exotic produce.
Across the river, the Bellavista neighborhood is home to many restaurants and cafes. The Parque Metropolitano is Santiago's playground, with walking trails, picnic areas, and a zoo. For stunning views of the city, visitors should head to the top of Cerro San Cristòbal, accessible by bus, funicular, or by a vigorous hike. Also in the Bellavista area is La Chascona, the house designed by Nobel-Prize-winning poet Pablo Neruda -whose work recently gained popularity in the film "Il Postino".
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Divagaciones y Poesia en Destierro
El atardecer tiene fragilidad de espuma entre los dedos
Viene y va el infiel viento, siguiendo la huella de otras primaveras.
¡Como es tu rostro en este crepúsculo dorado?
¿ y tu risa de niña adolescente?
Hace minutos me llamó tu libro desde la mesa, donde todas las noches equilibrio palabras.
Hay palabras y floridos lenguajes entre sus hojas.
Hay lentitud de sueños y pequeñas caravanas de sonrisas, gestos y recuerdos.
Nombres y rostros que con el tiempo perderán persistencia y relieve,
Que dejaran mensaje y poesía como liviana siembra de juventud y belleza.
¿Cómo pondré entre todo ello mi enojosa aspereza?
Donde estará la voz precisa de tu sapiencia y encanto?
¿De donde extraeré el eco necesario para la tarea diaria?
Quisiera detener entre las manos, la arena implacable de las horas y ofrecértela.
¿No sería acaso este mi mejor regalo?