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where is laura? Live your questions now, and perhaps even without knowing it, you will live along some distant day into your answers. Rainer Maria Rilke

scattered notes from Santiago.. and the coast

CHILE | Tuesday, 30 May 2006 | Views [1046] | Comments [1]

staying in the neighborhood of Bellavista, a nice old house, high celing hostal. Charlie, the resident all around worker goes out of his way to make you, well to make me feel welcome. Second night we drank wine and ate cazuela together, a typical chilean dish, like soup with meat, potatoes and yam, but a more meal, less soup. he told me he was a well known champion boxer in his day, and whatever I need in town, just say I' m a friend of charlie, and doors will open.. okay.... another star for chilean hospitality.

chilean like to wear boots, it's quite the style, tucked into the pants or not.. all very popular.

there are a few unique cafes near the main plaza in santiago. these are standup only cafe bars, which mostly older men in suits frequent to goggle at the women servers who all wear very short skirts. good cheap coffee. nice decor, very classy, despite the pretext for entry.

coke tastes different here, I've converted to fanta.

valparaise, a nice no nonsense town, 90 minutes on the coast.. foghorns blow at night. cats have kicked out all the dogs, but still magically dog shit is everywhere. flowers bloom in bathtubs. cerros, or hills spring up creating different sectors, some cute, some grungy, all unique and filled with multicolor victorians pouring over the hills. students abound. seafood is bountiful and delicious. in my hostal, an eager oberlin student recites neruda verses in spanish, while his visiting parents check basketball scores on the computer.

there is a big german influence in chile, cities with german names, and lots of kuchen, a strudel like pastry.

the completo almost made me barf, its a common sandwhich which includes a hotdog, buried in guacamole, salsa and topped off with a generous river of mayo. I have to say except for the seafood, not very impressed with chilean cuisine.

education is big business here. lots of pressure from parents on their kids to do well in school, and lots of stress about going to the right school, etc.. at this point there has been a student strike, going on 19 days. high school students fill the parks and streets, occupying their otherwise empty schools, chanting, laughing.. .very punk rock... is it this educational pressure which has sculpted the society into a noticeably organized machine, govt run, with effeciency.. compared to the seemingly anarchy of people run peru and ecuador economies....

neruda, the famous chilean poet, much loved. he had three houses here, and after tomorrow I will have visited them all. quirky, pop, full of international trinkets, games, secret passageways and overall charm. all draped in a love for the sea.. .portals to view the city, ship lanterns at his bedside. I guess the ocean has to consume chilean identity, as it consumes their coastline.

empanadas.. the one food, plentiful and worthwhile to consume... from mini calzone like pockets to fried good ness. and cheap.

this morning I helped an older man use the ATM. he told me normally hsi daughter helps, and obviously she was not around at this moment. as I arrived he was inspecting the machine like some kind of spaceship.. we took care of it.

meat is back safely concealed behind temp controlled glass cases.

overall the city is peaceful, livable.. except I imagine when the smog gets very bad. the metro is its greatest asset. clean, frequent, easy to use, and the stations, all well adorned with art, history, and information.

I ate at KFC last night, and will admit I enjoyed it. afterward watched 6 ft under followed by the movie, house of sand and fog, on HBO. does this mean I am ready to come home...

ready or not, tomorrow I board the plane.

pictures to come.. when I am back in wi fi land.

Tags: Culture

Comments

1

oohhh noooo! It'll be sad to see you go home - I've loved reading your journal. Sometimes i think the most profound travel insights come right at the last moment - when you touch down in your own land and suddenly it feels very foreign... Reverse Culture shock.
Travel safely,

  crustyadventures May 30, 2006 10:14 AM

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