Chile up there
A very long and skinny country.
That morning in Coquimbo I asked the lady at the market : How much for the “ceviches” Madam?
-One “luca” each one! (luca = 1 000 pesos) The same price for each one, with salmon, with seafood, shrimp, Peruvian ceviche, all at the same price, one “luca”!
It was only at that moment that my trip in Chile really started. It had already been 5 days since I got to Chile but eating fresh seafood at a seafood market next to the ocean was what I came looking for when I got there.
If you are looking for a country long and slim, try looking into Chile. Very well known for its mountains, wine a huge coast on the Pacific Ocean with its big fish and gigantic seafood as on a Hollywood movie.
It was at the town of Coquimbo that I finally got to taste all that internationally famous seafood such as big clams, gigantic mussels, scallops, “piures”(!!???), abalones and quite a lot of octopuses being sold the same day they were caught in the ocean.
Coquimbo is well known all over Chile because of the seafood market and also for the seafood restaurants next to the market, you cannot get fresher seafood than that.
I got to that place following the suggestion of a parking lot guard not far away from there when I asked hi where to get good seafood:
-Go to the seafood market- He told me – Try a “ceviche” on the fourth stand on the right after the entrance- And that was exactly what I had done.
Coquimbo is a town that used to be away from the town of La Serena, but La Serena grew bigger and faster and now Coquimbo looks more like a neighborhood of a bigger city.
These two cities were my first stops after Valparaiso and Santiago which are big cities that have a lot of Spanish history and always that feeling of déjà vu because they remind me the country where I grew up: Ecuador.
La Serena and Coquimbo look weird to me because they have the people, the streets and the perfect mood for being cities on the mountains but they are both on the Pacific coast.
The same thing happened to me with Valparaiso, I was aware of that city as being a big commercial port, nevertheless when I finally got there I found the same “mountain mood” in the same way as for Coquimbo and La Serena.
Valparaiso or Valpo as it is called by Chileans, is the most photogenic city in all Chile and also the only one where you can still feel all the history that happened there: palaces huge and forgotten, old elevators to go up the hills of the bay and a lot of old traces of a more glorious past and the consequences of several fires, earthquakes and one big economic crisis.
The commercial port is still there, but it is only the shadow of what it once was. In spite of all that it is the perfect place to wander because everywhere you go you can always get a glimpse of the city on the hills, the harbor, the Andes on the horizon and the ocean….
And everywhere that “mountain mood”. Is it because the Andes are not that far away? It is the same in Santiago, the city is huge and the Andes are never far. If you mix those ingredients with some contamination, a lot of people from all over the world and several millions of Chileans and you get Santiago, the capital of Chile.
The Spanish avenues of this city get deeply wet with rainstorms during the austral Winter but luckily they are less cold than what I expected. Nevertheless the melancholy still lingers, maybe it is because of winter and all the sad things that happened in Santiago some years ago.
Santiago is most of all a huge city with too many things to see and visit. History all over the place, whole neighborhoods packed with students, souvenirs of great houses that are not here any more and from time to time a sad remembering of the dictatorship that scarred Chile and South America forever. And meanwhile, all the other countries knew exactly what was happening in Chile and none did anything to stop it.
But, it is not my goal to write only about sad things. On the other hand in Santiago we have also the archives of the first issues of Condorito ( one of the most famous comic strips in latin America), “pino” empanadas and finally all the legacy of Mr. Ricardo Eliécer Neftalí Reyes Basoalto who built one of his houses at Bellavista neighborhood and is still there to remind the whole world how much he liked to have a nice party.
The interest thing is that “Don Ricardo” had three homes: one in Santiago, another in “isla negra” (the black island) and the last one in Valparaiso. One for him, another for his girlfriend and the last one for his wife.
I should know which belonged to which because I went to those places, but to be honest, I am not sure any more. The reason is simply that the Valparaiso house has something even more impressive than the house itself….
And it is “Don Ricardo’s” tree!
By the way, Don Ricardo, was mostly known to all his Friends and several million people around the world by his pseudonym: Pablo Neruda.