Silver Lining

While I’m beginning to think our van may never arrive, the silver lining here is that it feels like we have a luxurious amount of time to spend enjoying and exploring Santiago. The feeling almost doesn’t sit well – I feel equal parts guilty and fortunate to be able to just experience with little agenda. Maybe this is what travel should actually feel like?

Venturing a bit outside of the center we wandered to Barrio Brasil. What we found was a surprising mix of beautiful but crumbling buildings and beautiful street art, all seemingly begging for gentrification. This perfect little square, with its slightly decrepit fountain and cobblestones, surrounded by stately but slightly sad mansions, seemed to capture the feeling well:

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Walking a bit further uncovered more of the same: once-lovely buildings paired with colorful street art.

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During breakfast prep this morning I noticed the french press in our apartment seemed to have some foreign… shall we say, creatures, lodged in the wire mesh. While that in itself is disgusting, the real unfortunate part about the situation is that we didn’t notice this little treat before making and enjoying coffee the morning before… I know. It’s really very gross. I’ve spared you a photo.

The point here is that as a result of this discovery, we’d been caffeine-free for most of the day. Which gets pretty scary quite quickly. There’s a brief window between the time one of realizes coffee is needed, and the time when it is too late. For Wolf, that window was suddenly upon us. Ducking into the nearest coffee shop, I was devastated to find that they did not have any ice for an iced coffee. However, having forgotten the word for ice, I instead was asking the nice teenage barista for “coffee that is very, very cold” in my best broken Spanish. Choosing to suffer rather than deal with a hot beverage on a hot day, I went without, Wolf got his cappuccino, and, armed with the word for ice (of course: hielo!) off we went in search of something very, very cold to drink.

Which is how we came to find a very, very large beer. As you can see from the photo, it is roughly the size of Wolf’s torso. And it was much needed. We watched the local firefighters run drills at the building across the street and laughed a lot. Fueled mostly by a torso sized beer.

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Refreshed, we headed across town and through a few more markets a bit more authentic than the Mercado Central, and full of fresh produce, huge barrels of pickled veggies, clothing, you name it… always such an interesting slice of life. between destinations, we also wandered through several streets of what looked like the garment district. Peeking into partially closed doorways revealed rows upon rows of automated sewing machines working furiously. I thought about all those Made in Chile labels I was probably wearing.

We arrived at Barrio Bellavista which started as leafy streets with colorful houses and more street art and ended, surprisingly, with a long street packed with bars and restaurants, with tables and chairs spilling out of each. Most of the city had seemed deserted, but this must be where everyone had escape to. At the end of a long day it was almost too much, and the square around the corner that the guidebook suggested was a little slice of Orange County here in Chile. Also too much.

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Rounding out the day with a walk through the riverside park, Parque Forestal, we could have just as easily been strolling through the Jardin des Tuileries in Paris. Perfectly manicured paths, lawns, and trees, set off by the afternoon light made for a magical walk home.

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