Trip Start Aug 26, 2007
40Trip End Jan 05, 2008
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So Iīm finally able to find a "cyber cafe", as they are called here, with a fast enough speed to upload my photographs! Thatīs the good news. The not so good news is that each of my video and audio files is over 20 MBs, which is huge. It would take me 10 days to upload and it would crash your computer. Soooo...instead, I will continue to post my observations and pictures and as soon as Iīm back in the US, I can compress the other multi-media goodies and post those right along.
On a side note, I found my first gray hair. Itīs not very visible, but I know exactly where it is after looking at it on the top of my head for a few days. Itīs as if itīs my bodyīs way of reminding me that my 30th birthday is only weeks away, lest I forget that detail in all of the excitement of this trip!! But what a better 30th birthday gift to myself, than to pursue dreams and adventures Iīd always dreamed about? Even if it means Iīll be a starving writer when this is over, surviving only on tea herbs and ice shavings!!!
This trip is my first time wandering out of Santiago and on to Valparaiso, which is where Isla Negra is located. Isla Negra, by the way, is not an island. On the way to Isla Negra, I am giddy with excitement. The kind of excitement those that meet the president or a celebrity feel. Even though I am not meeting Neruda in the flesh, I am coming as close to him as is possible post-1973. Since I donīt want to miss a beat during this critical historical and personal visit, I decide to book a tour for this trip.
-As we all know, Chile is known for its wine, but what you may not know is that 70% of the wine produced in the region is red and the other 30% is white
-The typical Chilean dish is called "Pastel de Choclo", which is basically a corn pie with meat stuffed inside. Sounds like something I will definitely need to try.
-This has been a good year for olives in Chile, making this country one of the major exporters of Olive Oil (who would have thunk it!)
-The most typical Chilean drink is called the Pisco Sour, which is made from distilled grapes, sugar, and lemon. YUM. Definitely adding that to my list of "must try." Another variation of that, is the "Piscola" which is Pisco and Coke.
On the way to Isla Negra, Christian points out the Almond trees and Olive vines. We also make a stop at the seaside vacation town of Algorrobo. This is the Cape Cod of Chile, which is where most folks from Santiago come down to vacation. Itīs very pretty and the Pacific Ocean is in all its full glory. It`s also pretty deserted, since it's winter here in Chile. Did I mention that before? The seasons are reversed here, because of that whole being under the equator thing.
CASA DE NERUDA
To describe Pablo Nerudaīs house, would be to minimize its beauty. The 30 years it took him to build it, were well worth it. Each room is filled with hand-picked pieces from all over the world: female sculptures from Italy & Prague, elaborate hand-made candle sticks from Mexico, a desk made from a wooden ship door that Neruda found floating at sea one day. This level of detail is maintained throughout the whole house. Now unfortunately, we were not alowed to take pictures inside the house, which only means that you will have to add Chile, along with Isla Negra to your list of "must see places!"
His love of women (and not just whoever was his wife at the time!) was also evident throughout the house. Even though he was married three times, he had many great loves. The female sculptures from all over the world adorned each and every room. Each piece of artwork had a love story and served as a great reminder for each of the great women in his life. I can only assume that Matilde, his 3rd wife, and the one that lived in Isla Negra with him, was not a jealous lady!!
Aside from the visual aspect of the Neruda house tour, I also went through a very personal internal tour. Not to get too deep, but I was very moved by the poetīs life, his persona as a writer, his love of travel and how much he accomplished both literarily and personally. I can relate to his love of travel, as well as to his need and inspiration to write that which only he can give the world. I was so inspired, in fact, that I wrote my first (and second and third!) poem in 13 years. I have never shared my poetry, because itīs so personal and not to mention so long ago that the topics seem irrelevant and silly now! However, as I mentioned a few entries ago, this trip is also about personal discovery and insight, so here goes. Keep in mind I wrote this on a tour bus on the way back from Isla Negra.
Thank You Neruda by Judith Fernandez
Love, seashells and inspiration
A long lost soul and dedication
Brisk ocean waves brimming with passion
And the sound of my own heartbeat on its way home
Endless treasures and a clear vision
Of multiple lives interwoven loosely
Yet tightly at the same time
Living together, loving together
Yet dying apart
A single gray strand that marks
The end of one journey and the birth of another
After Isla Negra, we headed to the nearby town of Pomeira for lunch. Pomeira is known for its huge 2 pound empanadas, as well as for being the makers of the well known, Chilean pottery, known as, surprise surprise, Pomeira Pottery. I had lunch with an interesting couple from Delaware that I met on the tour bus. She was Cuban, but had a brother that lived in the Dominican Republic, so we started chatting about that, as well as their love of travel. He is an actuary, who spoke little Spanish, but loved visiting Latin American countries with his wife. Theyīve been married 20 years, which was hard to believe based on how young they looked, especially when I found out that they were both married before in prior marriages that lasted over 15 years each!
I couldnīt resist the urge to share my own divorce saga and it was so encouraging to see that they each found such long-lasting happiness with each other after not getting it right the first time around. As we chatted about life and love, we also sampled some of Chileīs finest cuisine. The empanada was huge, though in my estimation, not big enough to be 2 pounds. I wasnīt crazy about its healthy taste either. I much prefer the Dominican empanadas, which drip with grease and shave about 10 years off the health of your poor heart!!
The pastel de choclo was extremely delicious, which was a nice surprise, as I wasnīt sure what that interesting ingredient combination was going to taste like (corn, meat, raisins, onions, etc etc). Last, but not least, we also tried the Pisco sour. It came in a cute glass, but packed quite the alcoholic punch for a lunch-time drink!!!
After lunch, we all walked about the small, pottery shop lined town. The colors and textures were so vibrant. The other folks on the tour were a pretty eclectic mix. Most were Brazilian and spoke in Portuguese the whole time, but their Spanish was impressively good. I later learned that Brazilians are one of the biggest tourist groups in Chile. There was also a young French woman, who was traveling alone. We could barely communicate with each other, but we did buddy up a few times to take pictures of each other. Itīs one of the common survival strategies of the lone traveler: find another lone traveler to take your picture and vice versa. Matter of fact, "would you like me to take your picture?" is code word for "will you take my picture?"
The bus ride back to the hotel was full with excitement, especially because I knew that I was headed for the Desert of Atacama the next day! I have been in the Atacama desert for two days now, but will post those pictures and thrilling adventures when I return to Santiago, as I am headed for my next top secret destination in 30 minutes.
Want to know what the next destination is? Hereīs a hint to see if you are paying attention: I met somebody from this place in the "Getting Lost and Loving it Entry."See if you can guess!!