One of the things that I highly value as a traveller is acquiring souvenirs that both benefit local businesses and enlighten me about the culture and country that I am visiting. A few days before taking off from Buenos Aires and heading to Santiago, I stumbled across a great article on the internet entitled "Souvenirs from Chile" The article proved invaluable to me in helping me not fall into the trap of spending my money on high priced touristic souvenirs.
I ended up buying a couple of things from the list of things the article suggested. Pablo Neruda memorabilia (in my case a souvenir mug), a copper pan almost exactly like picture of the one featured in the article, and last but definitely not least this beautiful Lapis Lazuli pendant.
Lapis Lazuli and copper products can be found on any street corner in Chile and probably the majority of the stuff is decent quality. However if quality is important to you then the best thing would be to buy products from people who have family run business that specializes in a trade. In my case, both the copper pan and the lapis lazuli cross came from family owned and operated businesses.
On my first morning after arriving in Santiago, I decided to visit the same shop that the girl had made her purchase from in the article "Lapis Lazuli House" As I browsed through the shop and perused all the beautiful exquisite hand crafted items, it became apparent to me that quality and craftsmanship were in abundance everywhere I looked around.
|Rough and polished Lapis lazuli. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
As someone who was keen on saving, my eyes soon spotted a plate piled high with pendants that were all on sale for 5000 Chilean pesos each ($10). I ran my fingers through the sea of pendants much like the way one runs their fingers through the top of the ocean's surface. As I played with the pendants, scooping them up and letting them fall back in the pile over and over again, one pendant seemed to shine brightly than all the others. It was a lapis lazuli cross.
All the pendants were beautiful and exquisite but this one enamated strength and power. I took another stroll around the store but the little cross burned its image into my mind and imagination. As if it were sitting on that pile waiting for me to take it home. Something about the pendant kept drawing me. I don't know whether it is my Christian upbringing or if there is truly something special and supernatural radiating from the pendant but the cross kept drawing me to itself no matter where I strolled about in the store.
Thus the pendant became my very first souvenir in Chile. To those of you interested in the metaphysical, note that Lapis is is believed to have supernatural properties that release healing and harmony in many different areas. This article entitled "Lapis Lazuli Meanings and Uses" delves into the spiritual side of this fascinating gem.