Friday, June 10, 2011

La Moneda: Take Two

As my loyal readers may know, I visited La Moneda back in October of last year. You can read about my first visit to La Moneda here. If you're too lazy to read it, La Moneda is where the President of Chile works. My mom and Joe have never been, so my aunt scheduled a tour for us. The tour consisted of two parts. The first part was the regular tour on the ground floor and outdoor patios. The second part was a super special second floor tour. The second floor is restricted to the public, but my aunt is awesome and was able to show us around. But I'm getting ahead of myself. 

The last time I went to La Moneda it was just my aunt and me. And because of language barriers I had only a vague idea of what I was looking at. This time we had a English speaking tour guide. Not to mention the added bonus of 9 students and their professor on a school trip from a Pennsylvannia university. 

It was the professor who provided the most entertainment on the tour. While in the Patio de los Canelos, as the tour guide was explaining to us about the indigenous people of Chile, the professor decided it was an appropriate time to let everyone know that one of his students was half-Chilean. I had to suppress the urge to one-up him by letting everyone know that my mom is two-halves Chilean. 

In the center of Patio de los Canelos is a Canelo tree. The tree is sacred to the Mapuche, one of the indigenous groups in Chile. Around the tree are statues representing the different indigenous groups. 

The tour concluded with a question and answer session with the professor. Not the professor and the tour guide. Just the professor. After the tour guide asked if anyone had questions, the professor proceeded to ask her questions and then answer them himself. At one point I actually thought I would lose it and burst out laughing. 

Okay so after the first tour finished and the professor and his students left, we began the second tour . This time our tour guides were my aunt and a La Moneda carabinero (police officer). Before we began we made a quick stop to the infirmary. Joe was having pretty bad back pain, so my aunt had the nurse give him an injection of pain medicine. I can't imagine that happening at the White House.

Joe and the nurse.
On the second floor, we went into several different salons. I'm not sure what each room is used for, but they're all incredibly decorated, usually based around one color scheme. I'm sure the rooms have official names, but I don't feel like looking them up on the internet.

The Red Room
The Yellow Room
The Green Room
The Blue Room....also known as the President's office!
Sitting at the President's big deal. 
After seeing all the colored rooms, we visited Allende's office. Salvador Allende was the 29th president of Chile. He died while the military overtook La Moneda on September 11, 1973. There has been controversy over the cause of death. It was initially reported that Allende commited suicide. However, many people doubted this and about three weeks ago his body was exhumed after new evidence had surfaced.
Inside his office.
A statue in his office with bullets and bullet holes.
The adjoining room to his office where Allende died. 
In the last photo you can see the phone that Allende used to make his now famous, farewell speech to the citizens of Chile on live radio. 

The last room we visited was, by far, the most exciting place in all of La Moneda: the presidential kitchen. Someone left an apple core on the kitchen counter. I can only assume it was the president's, seeing how it was his kitchen. 

a presidential apple core

Okay, the President was in France, so it probably wasn't his. 


  1. Maggie, this was a wonderful post! You manage to bring that afternoon back so vividly in our minds. It was truly a wonderful experience, and I will never forget Joe getting an injection for his back pain at La Moneda. It reminds me of the lyrics of a song called "Si Vas Para Chile":

    Y verás como quieren en Chile
    Al amigo cuando es forastero

    (Just in case your Spanish fails you, it says how much Chileans love a foreign friend, or something to that effect).

    I was truly proud of being Chilean when that happened, it was such a NO BIG DEAL, he was in pain, and they could do something about it.

    OK, I'll shut up now.

    Very, very proud of you!

  2. This was a wonderful experience and well blogged.

    1st part of the tour memorable quotes:

    "Don't touch the cannon" 1st Tour guide (needless to say I was touching the cannon at the time)

    "Wah wah -- Wah wah wah? Ah, yada yada yada... ad ininitum" -The professor
    What he didn't say: Oh by the way do you mind if I hold you captive while I lecture to my students?
    (sorry that was the pre-shot pain speaking)

    Intermission quotes:

    "You should eat something" The Nurse (this became memorable only after I had my second encounter with extremely kind Chileans ... Maggie might tell you about it if you ask her nicely)

    "How big was the needle?" - Maggie (Asking a question she really didn't want the answer to - Maggie hates the very idea of needles)

    The second part of the tour was wonderful Thanks to the nurse, Maggie's Tia, and the officer/lawyer/font-of-information who told us so much of the history surrounding the history of La Moneda.

    The entire tour was definitely an excellent example, in so many ways, of "Si Vas Para Chile" - everyone involved was generous with their time, patience, understanding, and information.
    Thank you Chile and thank you Maggie for another great blog.