DAYS 28 and 29: I went to La Serena's archaeological museum
Near the entrance was an absolutely ingenious native raft, made buoyant from inflated seal-skins lashed to a wooden frame. A drawing on the wall suggested the ancient Chilean seamen hunted whales from these tiny rafts.
There was even an oar paddle made from fossilized whale bone:
...and two' tsantas', or shrunken heads, from the Shuar tribe of Ecuadorian Amazonas. One was a lot smaller than other, possibly it was of a child.
Here is a Chilean ceramic pot with the so-called "coffee-bean eyes" - a style with almost identical parallels in Asia and Africa, leading some people to speculate there was cultural contact between these continents in pre-Hispanic times.
Some ancient gold necklaces looked surprisingly modern-looking in their design
Chile claims sovereignty over Easter Island, so seeing an exhibit about the giant Moai statues is half expected. What I didn't expect, and which made this museum visit especially worthwhile was seeing this giant, genuine Polynesian statue in its own room.
Initially I thought it was a replica, but according to the displays it is genuine, having travelled to Italy, France and Spain before being brought back to Chile; previous to this it resided in a park before being brought to the museum to preserve it from the elements and vandals.
There was this piece, described as a 'house boat in volcanic stone'; on Easter Island there still exist stone foundations of boat-shaped buildings. This piece, strangely enough, reminds me of some ceramic models of Inca buildings that can can be seen in Cusco's Museo Inca.
Another extremely interesting exhibit was the bones of an extinct American horse; horses evolved in the Americas, went extinct here, but survived in Asia from whence they spread around the world, eventually coming back to the New World with the Spanish.
An astounding Diaguita ceramic pot
Pan pipes carved out of solid stone
Walking back I saw a few interesting signs like this one for a Tango Club
Chilean Nazis or National Socialists? Depends on who you believe
Pinochet may be long dead but there were plenty of posters advocating resistance against the 'Pinochet model'Poster
Like many countries, saving relics from looting is a problem. The headline story is about how thousands of archaeological relics unearthed during a building construction have vanished
In a hunting, knife and gun shop, I saw boomerangs for sale. Which is actually appropriate, as the boomerang was originally used as a weapon for hunting
Settled in Las Luces in La Serena, with my bike parked in the lobby, breakfast included, and free-wifi, I felt like my trip was progressing like a dream
But dreams can turn bad all of a sudden, as I found out when I read an email from my father, stating his doctor is 90% sure he has cancer, pending more tests.
I had a restless night, as I could not call home due to the time zone difference.
However, when I spoke with him the next day, he assured me he would be OK... statistics were on his side, but it depends upon whether the tests show cancer, and if the cancer has spread.
I wrote about this terrible disease in two previous blog entries. Cancer has always been dreaded in my family, since it claimed so many relatives on my mother's side. Now it has appeared on my father's side.
All I can do now is wait the two weeks or so till these test results are known...
Text and photos copyright © Glen David Short 2012
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