The rain kills my “honeymoon” in #Satiago #Chile

7:51 pm, 17 June 2017, Santiago

It’s said that when you move to a new country, there’s a honeymoon phase. Everything in the new place is, to you, exciting, different, and often magical. This will, however, at some point, be followed by phase 2: Reality.

My honeymoon phase in Santiago is over.

It began raining here about 2 am on Thursday morning. Rain was slapping against my window so hard it woke me up — I’ve been sleeping fitfully anyway because it’s cold here, which is compounded by a lack of indoor heating except with space heaters. It continued raining for a straight 26 hours! Despite experiencing flooding in the past, and regular rain in their autumn and winter, Santiago’s drainage is very poor, so there’ve been streets flooded. It was also very windy last night, and there were broken branches landing on cars. A friend who lives near Salvador metro station had part of her building’s roof fly off.

Today, Saturday, I slept in and went to have a shower at 11 am. The water was off throughout our apartment. I had been warned this happens sometimes in Santiago during winter, because the sewage system gets overwhelmed. Buildings will be told to shut off water to keep from adding to the problem. If this had been a weekday and I had to work, I’d be going there looking and smelling like an angry cat.

The water’s come back on since, but now the power is off in all the common areas of our building. We still have electricity in our flat (thank God), but my flatmate had to rescue three wet loads of clothes from the common laundry room. She’s hanging laundry off the shower curtain rod, on broom handles laid across the tub, off the curtain rod in our living room, off the backs of the stools at our breakfast bar…!

All that, plus buses with plenty of room sometimes not stopping if they don’t feel like it. And transit fares having THREE rates depending on time of travel, rush hour being TWICE as much as off-peak (what’s called “normal” time is only a bit cheaper than rush). There’s the banks closing at 2 pm every day (including, of course, pay day). I find the drinking culture here is on par with Scotland — that is, more insane than France! Sure, you CAN say no if someone offers you another drink… it’s just not DONE.

Overall, I do still like it here. Except when it rains. And this is proving to be an unusually cold, especially RAINY, autumn.

Photos from #Chile : #FOOD

tapas

At Fuente Oficial, Santiago. Most restaurants in Chile have Menu del Dia — which will come with an appetizer (or in this case, tapas!)…

main course

…a main course (I went for the menu pacifico, tuna AND salmon!)…

dessert

…a dessert and coffee!

cream

I mistakenly bought this — ONE LITRE of PRE-WHIPPED CREAM– in a tetra pack, instead of milk!

Churros

Churros. CHURROS.

Mote

When a friend handed this to me, I said “What is it?” It’s called mote con huessillos, a very traditional Chilean drink + snack. At the bottom is a husked, cooked wheat and whole peach (pit still in). You eat that with the spoon, while sipping the juice, which is made of honey, water, and cinnamon. REALLY nice!

Another Menu del Dia example, from a little village in the Andes. The starter was bruschetta, salad was sliced tomatoes and cucumber. Main course was Cazuela — HALF A CHICKEN, with rice, potato, corn on the cob, and squash, all in chicken broth. And dessert was…a banana!

You can get mussels in a tin, like tuna! This makes me weep with happiness.

This was my first asado, the Chilean barbecue. NO VEGETABLES ALLOWED.

Ketchup. In a pouch. Why do I find this weird? A bottle isn’t more natural. It’s…just what I’m used to.

Marraquetas, Chile’s version of sliced bread. Which is not sliced, is precisely baked to come in 4s, and is more like a bun. Perfect for chorizo at an asado, for example.

pie de limon

I admit to being confused by some Chilean words: in any other Spanish-speaking country, this would be torte de limon, but here, it’s pie!

I can’t explain how good these cookies are. I’ll let their placement in the supermarket do it: These cookies can’t be found in the cookie section…but in the chocolate section.

This. This is the glorious empanada, fast food of South America. But putting this into the same category as McDonalds doesn’t do the empanada justice. They can be filled with almost anything – cheese, chicken, beef, black olives, eggs, shrimp, mussels! – and they’re available everywhere. I’m busy so I eat take-out a lot here, but take-out is usually this, and there’s nothing here to complain about.

 

 

Photos from #Chile : #Andes Mountains.

My flatmate Ileana, from Mexico, and her best friend in Chile, Hector, invited me to go on a day trip to the Andes on Saturday.

YES.

Photos from #Chile : #Bellavista , #Santiago

If you go to Baquedano Metro station, then cross the river, you’ll find yourself in Bellavista.
I haven’t captioned any of these: what could I say except that they’re beautiful!

Photos of #Chile : Cerro Santa Lucia, the most beautiful park I’ve ever seen.

Maybe one day I’ll have enough Spanish to adequately describe this place. Charles Darwin gave it the high praise of “certainly most striking.”

Vancouver, British Columbia

To get my work visa for Chile, I had to visit one of the country’s consulates in Canada…and there isn’t one in Alberta. The nearest one is in Vancouver, British Columbia.

I have two cousins, neither of whom I’ve seen in years (because I’ve been in China, they live in Vancouver and Toronto, and I’ve never been home at the same time as either of them!). There’s also a Chilean consulate in Toronto, so I’d get to visit one of my cousins no matter where I got my visa. And it made the most sense, logically, to get it in Toronto, because all flights from Canada to South America go through Pearson airport. However, my cousin there is very busy…he’s an engineer, and he’s planning his wedding…and, really, I wanted to visit Vancouver more.

I’ve been there a number of times now, and I absolutely love it. The stories about the cost of living there are outrageous, and also true. On the cab ride to my cousin’s place, I passed a new condo development on Granville Street, apparently geared towards families…they started at $2 million. There’ve been efforts to control land prices, and taxes for absentee owners who buy property in Vancouver but then don’t live there — many of those investors are of course from China, and are desperate to get any money they have out of that country. But Vancouver has always been expensive, because everyone wants to be there, because it’s beautiful.

Another story about Vancouver is you can go swimming in the morning and skiing in the afternoon, and in winter that is true. It has the Pacific Ocean on one side, and mountains right there on the other! It has Stanley Park, with one of the best aquariums in the world, totem poles, dozens of kinds of wild birds, roses and TREES, on an amazing coastline. Downtown Vancouver has (expensive) buildings right on the water which are all glass, so they reflect the water and the hundreds of boats docked there. They have outrageously good sushi, and the coffee culture is so pervasive I wonder if their blood is half caffeine; I say that having been to three excellent coffee houses in two days. They have salmon, and amazing fruit. There are so many beautiful (expensive) neighbourhoods with phenomenal houses and huge trees. The university of British Columbia sticks out into the ocean, and has its own forest, Japanese garden, and the legendary (notorious) Wreck Beach.

I know that when many people outside of Canada think of Canada, they’re thinking of Vancouver. I love that I got to spend my last few days in Canada there.

LAST photos from China.

Here are the last of the photos from my 18-month-stint in Zhongshan, Guangdong, China. NEXT: Chile!