Pueblito Los Dominicos: Artisans at Work

Art in Pueblito Los DominicosQuaint, narrow alleys lined with traditional adobe buildings, straw roofs, artisan shops, and the irresistible smell of pastel de choclo—this is the enchantment of Los Dominicos, Chile’s largest artisanal center.

Many people say it’s a must-see for tourists, but Edwin and his mother had never visited.  (The life of a foreigner is so different from that of a local!)

So in hopes of amending the fact that we had forgotten her birthday, we took my mother-in-law on a day trip to Los Dominicos.

A maze of shops

Narrow streets Los DominicosThe Pueblito de Los Dominicos has some 160 shops and unquantifiable amounts of talent.  We enjoyed watching artisans in their workshopschipping away at wooden statues, heating metal for jewelry, or weaving wicker baskets.

Condor in LapislazuliI found the prices to be very reasonable, even in comparison with markets like Santa Lucía.  It’s important to remember that Los Dominicos has a wide range in its quality of work.

There’s a difference between works of art by master artisans and smaller, touristy or utilitarian items.  In Los Dominicos, you can buy both: beautiful artwork to cherish for your whole life and unremarkable souvenirs for your nephews, nieces, or friends at work.

In addition to handicrafts, you can buy plants and pets, or explore art expositions and plays.  We bought a lemon tree and some tomato plants as a gift to my mother-in-law.

Eats

The food is a little pricey considering it’s the kind of food that you can find in picadas, the Chilean “hole in the wall” food joint.  If you want to buy the pastel de choclo, it’s probably worth it.  But for other vegetarians out there, it’s slim pickings—salads, cheese empanadas, french fries or maybe mashed potatoes.

History

Did you know? The Iglesia de San Vicente Ferrer was printed on the back of the 2000 peso bill from 1997 to 2010.

Did you know? The Iglesia de San Vicente Ferrer was printed on the back of the 2000 peso bill from 1997 to 2010.

The Church of Los Dominicos, officially named la Iglesia de San Vicente Ferrer, was built during the first half of the 19th century in the skirts of the pre-Andean foothills.

During the late 1970s, artisans started setting up shops in the small adobe buildings that had made up an hacienda-style pueblito.  In 1983, the church was named a National Monument, and the “little town” next to it was dubbed the Pueblito de Los Dominicos.

It is now owned by the Cultural Corporation of Las Condes.

Visiting Los Dominicos

If you want to learn more about Los Dominicos before visiting, check out this gallery of photos or this video (Sorry, the chick’s pretty awkward).

Summer schedule (October to April): Tuesday to Sunday 10:30 to 20:00 hrs.
Winter Schedule (May to September): Tuesday to Sunday 10:30 to 19:00 hrs.
Phones: 8969841 – 8969842 – 8969843
Theatre phone: 8969840
Avenida Apoquindo 9085, Metro Los Dominicos

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Poisoning Pigeons in Peruvian Plazas de…pArmas*… Spring Break!

Plaza de Armas at night

After so much time (sorry it’s been a month! I’ll try to catch up by the end of the week…), I feel overwhelmed by the task at hand: to share with the world the fantastic and absurd adventures of our spring break in Peru.
It starts on September 9th in the Santiago airport as we await our 4 am flight to Arica, the northernmost city in Chile, from which we plan to cross the border into Peru.  The flight was lovely, except I missed out on the little cookies LAN hands out instead of lame snacks like nuts (thanks, Piñera!).  Anyhow, upon arriving in Arica, we had no time to process where we were before being swarmed by the taxi, colectivo, and bus drivers that stood around yelling their destination and animatedly pursuing their next customers.  We were swept away to a colectivo to join a young German man, Temme (we’re now friends on facebook), in the journey across the border.
We arrived in Tacna, Peru at the bus station, bought tickets to Arequipa, the first city on our list, and had a bite to eat with our new friend, Temme.  By this point, as drinking tap water is out of the question in Peru, Charles and Emily began their steady decline to dehydration-induced delerium (more on that to come), and I ate an entire fish.  Sliced in half, battered, fried, head, tail, and all.  Or better said, I ate around its bones.

Arequipa, a city you don’t want to miss

The bus ride to Arequipa was not particularly interesting or picturesque; much of northern Chile and southern Peru is desert.  The transformation from desert to the second-most-populated city in Peru started with an unimpressive thread of water in a river bed, which quickly developed into a lush valley and POOF!  White buildings, women walking around in traditional clothing and carrying babies on their backs with woven rectangles of cloth, and three distant, snow-capped volcanoes that cut into a perfect blue sky.  We made our way to the Plaza de Armas, found our hostel, and I quickly fell in love with this city.  If you have the chance to be in Peru, go to Arequipa.Note the volcanoes in the background

We spent the night in a hostel very close to everything we wanted to see: Plaza de Armas, the Monasterio de Santa Catalina, and the artisanal market near San Francisco.
Plaza de Armas: Every city that’s ANY city has one.  But Arequipa does it better with buildings made of sillar, a gorgeous, white, igneous rock that is used in the city’s remarkable architecture.  We arrived in the evening to see the Plaza lit up and shining… the sillar buildings seemed to carry their own glow.  (We weren’t expecting to see around 300 pigeons there the next day, nor did we expect Charles intense hatred for them.)  We decided to search around for “authentic” food. After wandering the shopping center in search of authentic Peruvian cuisine, we found that if we didn’t want to eat half of a chicken with French fries, we’d have to settle for some quasi-pizza place… but it had chicha morada = legit.Chicha morada... work that boy scouts hat!
El Monasterio de Santa Catalina–The next morning, we woke early to beat the tourists to the monastery.  After four hours of exploring the enchanting town behind those walls, Emily and I had some serious conversations about becoming nuns…  As you can imagine, for three college students to spend that much time in a nunnery, it is either a fantastic site, or they spent the entire time acting out both Sister Acts from start to finish.  This is a must-see.A street in Santa Catalina Monastery

Mercado Artesanal: The biggest regret I have from this trip is not buying more things in Arequipa.  We assumed that there would be more opportunities to buy things like sweaters, hats, and mittens from alpaca wool, but this market turned out to be much better than the very touristy ones we encountered in Cusco.  It took a while to get used to the expectation that we barter down prices, but when in doubt, Emily and I could always call Charles over… he has a way with these things.

Next to come, the bus ride from hell.

Walking down one of the streets inside the monastery

* Hey! I noticed those words start with the same sound!  I think that’s interesting.