National Naval Museum and a Little Shopping

Is it any surprise that my favorite part of the National Naval Museum was the room dedicated to its Marine Corps? No, not really. As you can tell from the pictures below, I most enjoyed my time with Marine Corps history. And as with so many things, it all sounds very familiar . . .

The Chilean Marine Corps was “born with the independence (of Chile)”. The “Naval Provisional Regulations . . . decreed the creation of a Naval Battalion and Artillery Squad . . . (consisting of) 80 men of troops and a competent number of naval artillerymen”. They were first commanded by “Lieutenant Colonel James Charles”. They remained onboard ships through most of the nineteenth century, until the War of the Pacific.

They are also claiming to have conducted the first major, modern amphibious assault IN THE WORLD. (See below excerpt from the War of the Pacific, and the amphibious assault conducted in 1879 in the north of Chile) I do not know if this is historically accurate – obviously I have some more research to do! – but it does not surprise me that the Chilean Marine Corps is claiming grandiose accomplishments that transcend anything else anyone has ever done in the history of the world. 😉 And of course, this initial assault led to the land-phase of the war which would culminate in complete victory over the Peru and Bolivia. Of course, I’m certain it took more than a few Marines to win against Peru and Bolivia, but the way the placard reads, you’d think the Marines did it all themselves. We have so much in common.

But, not to be too much like the United States, the Chilean Marine Corps’ motto is “Fortis Atque Fidelis” (Strong and Faithful). They, too, have transitioned a few times since their nascent beginnings. Born an arm of the Navy designed to provide security aboard ships and conduct amphibious operations, the regiment was disbanded and reformed as a Coastal Defense Force after the War of the Pacific. With the entire length of Chile running along the Pacific Ocean, this is no small task. After WWII, they reformed again to become the Marine Corps that exists today.

Like the U.S. Marine Corps (and others), the Chilean Marine Corps remains part of the Chilean Navy. They have a base here in Vina del Mar, stationed next door to the Naval Base and War College. I was like a kid in a candy store the whole time. I am such a Marine. 🙂

The week concluded with the need to buy a bus ticket and a bit of shopping. By now, I’ve gotten really good at buying bus tickets. I can almost have an entire conversation with the person behind the counter (if it’s not too noisy in the station). I got through most of the transaction seamlessly, but needed to ask the woman to repeat something once. I have found that actually asking someone to repeat, “Puede repetir, por favor?” works much better than simply, “Lento, por favor”. Full sentences are always better received.

She smiled as we spoke, and was very nice.  Successful in that mission, I found my way to the mall. As I had walked around Vina, I noticed that I wasn’t passing quite as easily as a Chilena this time. Why, I wondered. Since it must have something to do with how I was dressing, I observed what the Chilean women were wearing now that the weather had turned cooler.

Aha! I concluded that my boot-cut jeans and lovely, slightly too-big, warm, wind-proof jacket were giving me away. I wasn’t willing to change the jacket, but the jeans I could do something about.

All the women wear close-fitting pants or jeans, that taper all the way down the leg. Essentially, they wear skinny jeans and leggings, all the time. Oh goodness. Seriously? All this advice in the U.S. about wearing clothes that fit your body, accent your best points, etc. etc. and NOW I’m going to start wearing skinny jeans. Ha! If they could see me now. Well, when in Rome and all. 😉

I found a pair of skinny jeans and a pair of black pants I felt sufficiently met mission. I also happened to find a dress. How could I not? 🙂 I feel much more comfortable walking around the city. It’s amazing how such a little thing can cause one to stand out. So much happier!

After an afternoon of walking, I treated myself to a bus ride home. As I boarded the bus, I asked for my stop: “el rrrrreloj de las florrres”. Oh, the rolling “r’s”, how they vex me. But the driver smiled at my attempt, and handed me my change without a word. Two smiles today!! What a great way to finish my time in Vina. Today I am off to Con Con (just up the road). I can’t wait to see what my next adventure will be.

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