Monday, 25 July 2011


Pablo Neruda, July 12, 1904 – September 23, 1973. He was born Neftalí Ricardo Reyes Basoalto but legally changed his name to Pablo Neruda after Czech poet Jan Neruda. Neruda was a Chilean poet and politician and in won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1971.
I have to admit, I'd never heard of him. But Mr E and Neruda's work were well acquainted, and so he made the formal introductions. In Santiago you can visit one of Neruda's three houses in Chile. They're all now national museums. Mr E took me to the one in Santiago. Visit to a dead poet's house? Hmmm. I was skeptical to say the least. but after offering to wait outside while he took the grand tour, he was convinced I should go in.
And I'm very glad I did. Our guide introduced him as an eccentric collector who'd amassed a serious collection of toys, glasses, china, furniture, artwork, books, and many other things during his life. Bam! Hooked! A man after my own heart! We weren't allowed to take many pictures in the house, I'm sorry to say, but if you're ever in Chile it's worth visiting. Firstly, he designed his houses to look like ships: think small cozy rooms and narrow hallways, low ceilings, even down to porthole windows, and decorated with light fittings and furniture from ships. Amazing. And the majority of the house was like a going into a 1960s time warp. Way cool. It's quite modest, so won't take up too much of your time, and is is one of the coolest areas, so well worth a visit.
So, that was the first house. And number two...
On a road trip to Valpariso (see tomorrow's post) we visited the second house. Also nautical in inspiration, and equally as impressive. In a hillside full of almost shanti-town houses, like the one pictured above, is Neruda's house.
Above, the house, which doesn't look like much from the outside, but trust me, it's worth venturing inside.. You can't really see from the photo below through the haze, but on a clear day the house would look out to the ocean.
Buried in amongst the brightly colour houses of Valpariso, it's a little gem and the location makes for a wonderful drive. It also had wonderfully preserved rooms filled to the brim with all sorts of interesting pieces. Next step, to read some of his work.

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