04.08.2009 - 11.08.2009 18 °F
Valparaiso, Chile, miles travelled ….162
Santiago, Chile, miles travelled…61
Valparaiso, land of hills, sailors, artists, funiculars, the Pacific shore, and famous poet, Pablo Neruda. Since this was our first foray into Chile, everything was new. The money, the food, the prices, and the accent. Several times I missed complete conversations (lost in the change of accent from Argentina)! We ate in two fantastic restaurants our first two days and spent a lot more than we were accustomed to. Sara ate Rabbit and I had meat stuffed with meat, exquisite. Later we discovered that we had wandered unintended into the gourmet restaurants. Great for the food experience, but bad, very bad, for the budget. Our hostel experience here was enjoyable as well. The host a young man of 36, loved to converse, as I do, at great length concerning any topic. We got along great! His girlfriend was a painter and they had four extremely friendly cats. One that was missing an eye who I dubbed, “Mr. Pirate.”
On the third day, we visited Pablo Neruda’s house. It is fascinating and beautiful, and it seems that Mr. Neruda had a very active political life that we did not know about. He was senator, embassador, presidential candidate, and an exiled communist. Besides writing and politics, he gained great fame for hosting parties of his friends, drinking, eating, being playful, making jokes, and having breakfast in bed while reading the paper. In Neruda, I believe I found the role model for the life I want! Later that day we found a great restaurant that served more typical Chilean food. I ate a Churrillano, an enormous fantastic plate of sausage, pieces of beef, sautéed onion, fried egg, and French fries YUMMY! Sara had the equivalent of a pot roast with rice which was delicious too.
We did some economic conserving after our initial folly and bought some wine at the corner market. We enjoyed the Carmeneres very much, and enjoyed the Sauvignon Franc a little less. The grape is complex with less intensity than the cabernet or Carmenere.
After our short visit to Valparaiso, we bussed on to Santiago, the country’s bustling captital. There, we stayed with our friend, Anibal, whom I had worked with at Andre House back in the day. As part of his preparation for his Church wedding to Camila in October, he just moved into a new apartment close to the business district in Las Condes. They are a great couple. She is a young attorney who wants to specialize in environmental law. She was very cool and fun; they are a great match.
On Saturday, he and Camila took us to see the “Moneda” (where the president has his offices),
The Casa Colorada (where the first government of Chile formed), and the Art Musuem.
Santiago is a beautiful city. They also took us to the market to eat a delicious fresh seafood lunch. We started with razor mussels with cheese and sea urchin soup!
A little strange for us but tasty. Sara and I had Cangrejo a lo pobre for our main course. Cangrejo is a type of creature about half way between an eel and a fish. “A lo Pobre” roughly translates to “working man’s style”. It was an enormous plate of fries with fried onions, fried fish, and fried eggs on it. IT WAS fantastic…great recommendation Anibal. We enjoyed the meal with a nice Chilean white wine.
We also visited the main square where there was a dance honoring Mary.
We also went to the Metro Park (zoo +overlook+Marian Shrine). It was beautiful.
That evening we went to a great pizza/pub that is owned by one of Annibal’s school friends.
It was packed and had a great ambiance. Art, wood, and metal décor gave a relaxed but modern feel. Sara and Anibal reflected on Andre house days and the meaning of service. It was really touching to see that Anibal maintained his Holy Cross connection to service and that it still meant a lot to him. He remembered the staff and many of the people that he had served. He also spoke of the St. George’s community’s service projects in Santiago which were quite impressive in their comprehensive, dignified, long term scope.
Sunday we relaxed before going to mass with Camila and Anibal at St. George’s, his Holy Cross Alma Mater. The campus was beautiful and the mass was very nice. Fr. “Pepe” introduced us to the congregation. We had another nice dinner and looked through photo albums of Anibal’s time in the US to spot friends and tell stories. We checked out the Andre House page on facebook where Anibal has been elected “Pope.” Our time with Anibal and Camila was really touching and amazing. Their hospitality kept us comfortable and we learned a lot about Chile, and spoke about the world and its problems.
We were very sad to leave the friendly confines of 55 Magdalena apartment #404, but Panama beckoned us northward into the tropics.