Santiago – friends and fiestas

Australia Day arrived, and I was excited because I had a BBQ to go to that night with my new horse riding friends.  Not a typical Aussie BBQ, but a Chilean asado and, what better way to spend Australia Day than outdoors with a group of friends and a few drinks around a BBQ?  In the meantime, I decided to check out the artisan market at Los Dominicos, which is at the end of the metro line.

20130212-121746.jpgWhen I arrived, there was a small Farmers’ Market set up on the promenade leading from the metro station to the church.  Handy, because I needed a few things for the BBQ that night.  There was a lot of colorful fresh fruit and vegetables, some interesting seafood, and delicious artisan cheeses.  The surrounding neighbourhoods are popular with Expats and there were a lot of foreigners shopping on the market, some just pointing and holding up fingers to indicate the desired quantity, and others trying out their various degrees of Spanish.

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20130212-121808.jpgLos Dominicos itself is a beautiful whitewashed colonial church, and the markets are located to the side of it.  The artisan markets are permanent installations and are opened every day, but some stallholders decide to take a day off here or there during the week and there’s a lot more activity on the weekends.  It’s a really pretty location, with bright coloured flowers popping against the white buildings with their terracotta roof tiles.

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It’s not your generic, mass-produced keyring and t-shirt kind of place, and amongst the range of jewellery, clothing, metalwork, ceramics, homewear and art, there’s bound to be something to suit everyone.  There’s also a couple of nice little cafés to sit at and eat lunch under the trees, a little art gallery with some quirky sculptures and artworks, and a bonsai garden where the caretaker encouraged me to hug a 400+ year old tree and soak up the benefits of its energy.  Overall, a very nice, cruisy Saturday afternoon.

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A quick stop in the food market to get my supplies and I headed home to make salad and guacamole for the evening’s asado at Antonio’s apartment.  Antonio lives in the beautiful downtown area of Lastarria, which is full of character and nice restaurants and bars.  He had secured the rooftop of his building for our asado, and we all pitched in to cart supplies from his apartment to the roof.  It was a beautiful night, and the view was amazing, particularly as the sun dipped and reflected off the surrounding mountains.

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Antonio had not entertained in this apartment before, but we are a resourceful group and we’d all brought along goodies to ensure there was plenty to eat and drink.  Antonio had bought a baby asado just for the occasion, and Fernando supplied an electric grill to cook the salchichas for the first course of choripan (snags in bread).  There was plenty of cheese, nibblies and salads, and the Colombian boys manned the newly christened grill and went about cooking the meat, which was delicious.  Antonio had even managed to organise a full moon, which had risen above the surrounding buildings and complemented the balmy night beautifully.  Natacha had prepared two different desserts, a rich chocolate specialty of Brazil that was a crowd pleaser, and a delicious apple tart that I loved.

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Once the food was out of the way, and the night progressed, we fired up the music and, this time, the Colombians led the charge with the salsa.  We took turns, switching partners and swinging around the rooftop to salsa music blaring from the sound deck.  It was an unplanned part of the evening and a lot of fun.  A great way to finish the night.

The following morning, feeling a little tired and sporting a salsa injury in the form of a blister under my big toe, I dragged myself out of bed to go and meet Dorothee for a recovery lunch.  We met at a metro station in Providencia and walked the short distance to La Jardin (The Garden), a “pop-up” restaurant.

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The entire place has been constructed using reclaimed materials, with a whole wall made out of old window frames, a canopy made from old clothes, vegetable beds made out of, well, beds, and a number of other inventive and creative fixtures and fittings.  It’s a temporary installation unfortunately as the land has been earmarked for development later in the year.

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We sat under the shade of a makeshift umbrella with an old cable spool for a table and ordered what anybody would for a decent recovery from the night before – pizza.  Unfortunately, the pizza arrived cold and, when we asked if they could heat it a little more, I think it met the same fate of being forgotten on a pass somewhere and, despite the 20 minute wait, still arrived tepid.  Although tasty, I couldn’t help but think how good it would have been hot and, although our waiter was pleasant and sympathetic, I don’t think I’ll go back.

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After lunch, we walked back towards Plaza Italia where Dorothee had to leave me to go and do some work.  I intended to jump on the Sunday Cultural Circuit bus, which is the price of a standard bus ticket and was established to encourage residents to explore the culture of their beautiful city.

20130212-122119.jpgI got distracted however, first by an open art exhibition, then by the temptation of an icecream from arguably the best gelato place in town, Emporio La Rosa.  They have a range of unique flavours, and I had Piña Thai (pineapple with ginger) and Lemon, Mint and Basil, which is my all-time favourite.  By that time, it was too late to think about getting on the bus, so I took my icecream to Parque Forestal to sit under a tree and enjoy the surroundings.  Another Sunday of people enjoying time with their friends, family and dogs in the beautiful outdoor spaces.

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There was a book fair in the park which I wandered through, then continued to wander aimlessly around the Bellas Artes area and the museum, before heading back through town.  By the time I arrived home, I had covered a lot of ground, experienced a bit more of Santiago, and thoroughly enjoyed the lazy afternoon that closed out a lovely weekend.

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