If you’ve spent any time in Santiago you’ll quickly notice the deep divides between neighborhoods and the social caste of the people that live within them. Your future can seemingly be determined by which side of Plaza Italia you live in.
Case in point. Among the tasks I’m charged with is promoting our tours, one of which take visitors to La Vega Central, and more than once, when mentioning this panorama to hotel staff or a tour operator I’ve gotten some rather intense stares. “You’re taking them where?” By no means is it everyone, but there’s a pattern.
It’s unfair really. The vast majority of people that work there have as much love for a thief or delincuente as a lawyer sitting at Starbucks in Las Condes. And frankly there are plenty of thieves circulating in the well-off neighborhoods, even if they are better dressed and carry smartphones.
One spot that has inspired more glares of danger than La Vega is Persa Bio Bio, a large, popular mix of warehouses, simple galleries with basic stalls, restaurants and more. It’s something that could be described as a mega flea market. It’s a mix of everything under the sun at an abnormally low price. Furniture, clothing, household items, pet accessories, antiques, bicycles, pirated software, hole in the wall bars, street performers, puppies and more.
It has a reputation in many circles as being a dangerous place, even though it’s not rare to find people from uptown coming downtown for a deal. The call of the economics and color of the neighborhood are heard well into the hills of the US suburb inspired La Dehesa.
But things are changing and you can find some great reasons, apart from a deal and elderly lounge singer, to visit the Persa. For one there has been somewhat of a Gastronomical revolution in a couple of spots. There have always been typical spots for abundant sandwiches and Chilean home cookin’, like the Pica de Jaime.
Now you can add to this another round of immigrant influences, with the most famed being Lai Tai, featuring authentic Thai food in a small little stand. Surround it, in something of a street food mecca, are Jamaican pizzas, Mexican tacos, Kebab, fried empanadas and fresh, fresh juices. Haven’t got around to a proper Lai Tai write up, but you can visit this link for a bit more info.
The food isn’t the only option either. At the Fabrica del Arte Santa Rosa, opened in November 2010, you can find a restored cultural space designed to bring Chilean artists to the masses. And this January, on the 28 & 29 to be exact, it will be home to an event gathering some 30 Chilean artists in a market style sale.
Browse a selection of more than 300 pieces of art from Chile’s finest contemporary artists. The perfect opportunity to meet the makers and art community and acquire exclusive artwork from established Chilean artists, all while visiting the Persa.
Featured Artists Include:
Bruna Truffa, Gonzalo Ilabaca, Hugo Marín, José Santos Guerra, Paula Dünner, Claudia Peña, Ismael Frigerio, Jorge González Lohse, Lorenzo Moya, Cristián Velasco, Yaikel, Magdalena Vial, Mauro Boscarín, María José Mir, Sebastián Maquieira, Jorge Vilches, Mauricio Garrido, Teresa Ortúzar, Fernanda Levine, Alejandra Villasmil, Claudio Herrera, Daniela Santa Cruz, Patrizia Bordoni, Paco León, Florencia Onetto, Macarena Smith, Nicole Reiss, Ana Taulis, Sebastián Lavados, Álvaro Hoppe, Tito Calderón, Sebastián Schmidt, among others.
So if you’re on a visit to Santiago or if you’ve been here for years, remember to experience that contrast of neighborhoods and witness the small drops of change eating away at a divided status quo. And better yet it’s a great excuse to peruse the flea market, eat good food and pick up something for that blank, white wall.
Verano del Arte in Persa Bio Bio
• Jan. 28 & 29, de 11:00 a 18:00 hours
• Factoría Santa Rosa / Persa Bio Bio
• Av. Santa Rosa 2260. Second Floor, at the intersection with Placer. Metro Franklin
• Entrance is free. Prices for the artwork starts at CHP $35.000
• Verano del Arte is an event produced and organized by Kunst.cl
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