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If Ricardo Eliécer Neftalí Reyes Basoalto (above with 1960s president Salvador Allende) were alive today - well, he'd be 113, but anyway he'd also be plenty bemused by the fact that so many visitors journey to Chile to experience the places he once inhabited and wrote of. This long, skinny country in South America's Southern Cone is packed with amazing attractions - vibrant cities; varied landscapes from Alpine to desert; winelands and mountains; and lovely beaches along an enormous coastline that stretched from the Tropic of Capricorn down to nearly the Antarctic. But when it comes to Chile cultural tourism, the man fellow Nobel literature laureate Gabriel García Márquez called "the greatest poet of the 20th century in any language", Pablo Neruda, is in a class by himself.
Neruda (who, it was just very recently announced, did not die of cancer in 1973 as his death certificate stated, but may in fact have been murdered by the brand-new Pinochet régime he opposed) travelled a fair bit - thanks mostly to diplomatic postings in places like Spain, Argentina, Mexico, and France - but his heart and soul always remained in his native land, where visitors can experience his legacy - including former residences transformed into museums - in places like Santiago, Valparaíso, and Isla Negra.