Neruda: His three houses, colorful chalices, and green ink

As a Spanish teacher and avid traveler through Spanish-speaking countries, I’ve gotten to learn about some unique Spanish-speaking creative minds! In the past I have enjoyed blogging about Salvador Dalí and his idiosyncracies. I’ve similarly delved into the details of the lives of Frida Kahlo and her husband Diego Rivera– it seems that well-known Spanish-speaking public / historical figures have such colorful stories across the board. On a school trip to Chile this past July / August, I got to learn more about Rivera’s good friend– the poet and Nobel prize winner, Pablo Neruda. He is unique in his own right, and my interest in learning more about Neruda is similar to my interest in the quirky Dalí and the twists and turns in the relationship between Kahlo and Rivera.

Here are some fun facts about Neruda:


1. His lifelong love of the water, coupled with his responsibilities as a politician and public figure led him to occupy various houses in Chile. I had the opportunity to visit the museum of his former home in Bella Vista in Santiago- La Chascona- aptly named after his mistress (and later wife) Matilde Urrutia’s unruly hair. I also got to spend a morning at his home on the coast Isla Negra, but still have yet to visit La Sebastiana in Valparaiso. Actually, I walked past it on my first trip to Chile, but as happens to me often while traveling to far-flung places, it was closed the day I wanted to go in! It’s understandable from the view why the beach house was his favorite; he and Matilde are buried there.


2. Neruda insisted on drinking all beverages out of colored glasses.

3. Neruda wrote his works in green ink.


4. He kept a life-sized locomotive on his front lawn in Isla Negra.


5. Diego Rivera hid an image of Neruda’s profile in this painting of Matilda and her unruly “La Chascona” hair. Can you find Neruda? You can email or tweet me for a hint.


6. “Pablo Neruda” is a pseudonym. He named himself after the Czech poet Jan Neruda.


7. Throughout his various houses are these configurations of P and M welded together (Pablo and Matilde).


8. His house in Bella Vista in the capital was ransacked by Pinochet’s troops. Neruda had a canal flowing through this property to make him feel like he was near the water; this is where soldiers threw his books to be destroyed. The house in Bella Vista is narrow and winding to simulate a nautical feeling. There are secret passages inside, and it is easy to bump one’s head during the tour!

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