Right now I am writing this blog post from the rooftop of my hostel in Santiago Chile. I’m on about 4 hours of airplane sleep (as I just arrived this morning) and I may be a tad bit delirious from the Jet lag. One of the cardinal rules of setting your clock when you travel is to power through the day and sleep at night so that you start your sleep pattern off right. It’s a good thing to do, but I arrived at 8:45 am this morning so it is getting really hard not to just pass out on this deck. I’m staying in Barrio Bellavista, a bohemian neighborhood that boasts some amazing public art and some of the cities most known intelligentsia. Of all the places that I could’ve ended up in Santiago, this may very well have been the one I NEEDED to be in. Walking amongst the small boutiques and artist lofts one can’t help but get inspired, something which I am in need of in this juncture in my life. I’m kind of in a weird transition in my life right now, I’m looking forward to new projects and a new life but I have yet to establish the road ahead of me. Truth be told, it’s the most control that I have given up in a long time, once in awhile you have to let the winds of change blow you in a direction you’re not familiar with (in this case it blew me to Santiago, Chile). I don’t know much about Chilean culture outside of what I learned when I was studying for my introductory sommelier exam, I find it kind of weird that I know more about the grapes they grow, soil types, and weather patterns rather than their food, history, or culture.
I’m slowly rectifying that with each dish consumed and every block walked. The first thing I had was a no brainer for me, an Empanada. There is something in foods made into a pocket that just charm me, whether it be calzones, wontons, dumplings, or meat pies. My first Chilean meal was a very traditional empanada de pino, which consists of ground beef, hard boiled egg, raisins, black olives, and onion. It was just a bit smaller than my hand, and while I consider my hands to be quite dainty and lady-like I was impressed by the size of this empanada as most that I have had are not as large. After a little bit of research I learned that the empanada is one of the most consumed foods on September 18th and 19th during Fiestas Patrias, a celebration of their independence from the Spanish royalist government. I love how food can tell stories about the people that consume it, it contributes it’s own amount of folklore to national identity and brings people together in it’s own unique way. I found myself just getting lost for a couple of hours, poking my head into random streets and cafes trying to see if there was anything interesting to see or eat. I like travelling around this time of year because there isn’t much congestion, almost everyone is in school and it’s not a holiday month for anyone but it also means that there are less things to do (and usually not as many people to do things with). Whilst walking through the open market, I noticed a lot of young people eating a round yellow disk with sauce on it, of course I was intrigued by it so I walked in the direction where they were coming from. With a confused look, Broken Spanish, and 200 Chilean pesos I was able to enjoy a sopaipillas, which is dough mixed with pumpkin and fried like a donut. The lady at the cart gave me a quick tutorial on how to eat it, I had mustard and a pureed tomato/Aji pepper sauce called Pebre; It was quite good, a nice quick savory snack to keep you satisfied before dinner. The combination of jet lag, no sleep, and deep fried dough is not ideal if you are trying to stay awake, I could feel myself falling asleep while I was walking, so I did what I could not to fall into the Mapocho river and I headed back to the Bellavista Hostel. And this is where I leave off, on top of the roof with my laptop watching a swiss guy roll a joint and talk about his travels through Patagonia. The community of travelers is an interesting one, I’ve never been on to be overly sociable, but seeing as how I am alone it might be good for me to start talking to people, perhaps pass around stories (not so much the joint, it’s not really my thing.).
Wow, I’m in Santiago Chile right now…