What we’ve been up to

Cadu and I have gone a couple excursions that I haven’t had a chance to blog about yet. So here they are! This is what we’ve been up to for the past month-ish.

Pomaire

Pomaire is a small village outside of Santiago. It takes about an hour to get there by bus. This is a strictly tourist town that gets its revenue from selling artisan crafts and attracting people to their restaurants. They are most known for their clay products (especially piggy banks) and giant empanadas (1kg and bigger!). We spent a couple hours walking in and out of shops and we had lunch in an adorable restaurant. We also sampled the famous chicha beverage which is made from fermented grapes and basically tastes like a really sweet juice. Now for the visuals…

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The 1kg (2.2 lb) empanada we shared for lunch. It had the standard ‘pino’ filling, which is basically meat, onions, and other random things like black olives and hard-boiled egg.

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Not sure how big this guy was, but it could have easily been 5kg, or maybe more!? I think you could feed a whole table with this one empanada. Kinda sickening.

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To give you an idea of what the shops looked like from the outside.

 

Concón

We heard about Concón from some friends of ours who had taken a day trip there. We heard there were some cool sand dunes and heard it might be possible to go sand boarding! It sounded like a nice way to spend a day off, so we headed there on the bus. It’s about 2 hours from Santiago. We got a little lost because the bus driver doesn’t really announce where you are when he stops, so we ended up going past our destination and to another small town called Quintero. I didn’t mind at first because I thought it’d be worth it to check out the town. Well, there is nothing there… So we asked for directions back to Concón. That was an adventure in itself! Apparently there is a town nearby that is called Horcon and everyone gets them confused! So we had some people telling us ‘go to that street’ and other people saying ‘no, go to this street over here.’ Eventually we got on a micro (small, local bus) and made it back. When we arrived, we were hungry so we had lunch at a place on the top of a hill called La Perla del Pacifico. It was pretty expensive, but we had heard that Concón was the ‘gastronomy capital’ of Chile and had the best seafood. When our food came, it looked promising, but alas, it was not very good. (I’m working on a blog about the food here in Chile, so be patient and you will hear my honest opinion about it very soon!) 

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One of my students told me Concón is also known for having the best empanadas. This was the one we ordered. The dough was great, but the inside was not. We got the seafood one, and were not impressed with it.

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I normally like paella, but this one was pretty disappointing. There wasn’t much flavor, and there was way too much weird seafood things for my liking.

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Another famous dish is the pastel de jaiba. It is a hot ‘pie’ made with blue crab. It wasn’t as pie-y as I imagined and was more like a thick stew. It wasn’t bad, but it lacked flavor. I preferred this one over the paella, but I couldn’t even eat half of it.

After lunch, we walked down to the beach and found some people who were renting horses for horseback rides. Cadu had never been horseback riding without the help of someone else, so we took advantage of the cheap opportunity. The poor horses didn’t look so healthy though. 😦 

 

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Checking out the ocean with my sweet little horse who did not want to move very fast.

We were short on time and wanted to make sure we made it to the dunes before sunset, as we had heard this was the best time to be there. We jumped on another micro and found the sand dunes. They weren’t quite what we expected because there was maybe 1km of them and they were right in the middle of town, but they were fun anyway. We climbed to the top and got a load of the view. It was beautiful! Sadly we didn’t see anyone renting sand boards though and we just had to be satisfied with climbing and sitting at the top. And unfortunately too, it was a very cloudy day so we couldn’t even see the sun setting. 

 

 

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La Chascona

For those of you who don’t know, Pablo Neruda is a famous poet from Chile. He has 3 houses in Chile and they are all within 2 hours of Santiago. Last weekend we wanted to take our day off easier than the weekend before when we went to Concón, so we visited Neruda’s Santiago home. It’s right in the center of town and close enough for us to walk to. It’s not his most impressive house, but was still interesting to see. He had it built for his mistress Matilde who eventually became his wife. And he named the house after her- La Chascona, which means disheveled hair. Her hair was a bit crazy and he loved it. This home of his was one of two that were partially destroyed by the coup in the 70s. Matilde tried to restore the home after Neruda died in 1973. 

I wasn’t able to take pictures inside the house, but I have a few from outside. It was a cool house full of small rooms and secret passageways. He loved entertaining guests in his bar and collected lots of different things. 

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A picture of Pablo Neruda with one of his poems, and a window with his initials.

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The main door to the house.

 

Isla Negra

Wednesday was a holiday here in Chile. On the 21st of May, they celebrate a navy battle (Battle of Iquique) during the War of the Pacific. They actually lost this battle, but they do it to commemorate the captain Arturo Prat Chacón and their Navy in general. I had Cadu request the day off too so that we could go somewhere fun. We thought it would be a good chance to visit Pablo Neruda’s most famous house in Isla Negra. It’s about 2 hours from Santiago by bus. It was a cold and rainy day, but we enjoyed our little trip anyway! Neruda loved the sea (even though he didn’t like sailing) and he collected lots of maritime things, especially figureheads, ships in bottles, maps and compasses, and seashells. He also had the house built to resemble a ship. This is where Neruda and his wife Matilde are now buried. Again, I wasn’t able to take pictures inside, but I did get some of the outside and of the beautiful view! I can see now why Neruda was so inspired by the sea here. 

 

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The view from inside Neruda’s house.

 

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Matilde and Pablo’s grave outside their home facing the sea. Pablo made a request to be buried here in one of his poems.

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The outside of the house.

 

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The house had some pretty cool rock murals on the outside and inside.

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After Neruda bought this boat it never again left land. haha. He didn’t like to sail, but he would sit on the boat with his friends and drink and he said that after he got off he felt as if he had been sailing. He seemed like a funny guy!

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The front of the house.

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Me with Pablo Neruda’s head down on the beach. Why do people have to ruin beautiful things!?

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Me climbing on the big rocks on the beach in the rain!

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Huge waves!

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Rain selfie! We tried so many times and I was always squinting because of the rain.

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My lunch: scallops with parmesan cheese and ham. So good!

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Cadu’s ossobuco lunch. It was beer-braised veal over baked potatoes. This was quite good too!

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And the best part: dessert! This was called ‘ode to the garden of sweetness’ on the menu. haha. We asked what it was and the waiter said it was a ‘small’ portion of the desserts from the menu. We couldn’t decide what we wanted so we opted for this. Such a great choice! All of them were so good! There was sorbet with fruit in the middle, a manjar (kinda like dulce de leche or caramel) crepe, tiramisu, a meringue thing covering vanilla ice cream with sugared peanuts, and chocolate marquise (which is like frozen mousse). Our favorites were the last two. Yummy!!!

That’s it! That’s what we’ve been up to for the past few weeks. Now that I’ve caught up I hope I can stay on top of things. Keep checking back for new posts! 

 

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