Until recently, to my knowledge, the only French-cut green beans I'd eaten were canned and from the store. Enter the Wonderful Man. As I'd mentioned in a previous post, he has a few family members who work with him. He's a quiet man who prefers that his younger helpers assist the customers, collect payment, and make deliveries, while he mostly stays back in a far corner of his produce stand, keeping the zapallo wedges cut and replenished.
He also slices (not snaps) green beans back in that corner. He slices them longwise, and they. are. so. good. I usually cook them the day I buy them, which is the day he cuts them, so they're super fresh. I prepare them the way I imagine my mom's mother would: boiled/steamed in a bit of salty water with a spoonful of meat drippings. Yum! Wish you could be here for dinner tonight!
Doesn't that sound like an oxymoron? Wal-Mart's stores here are called Lider ("Leader"). What's funny is that old meets new on Pedro de Valdivia, the cobble-stoned avenue in front of the local Lider Express.
We know of only a few cobble-stoned streets here, and I'm happy to report that for now, the city is maintaining them. About a month ago, while out for a walk toward the center of town, a work crew was repairing a section of cobblestone. Stone makers had a pile of stones and were chiseling them as needed before laying them.
As I mentioned in my last post, there are little sidewalk businesses and gigs all over the place in Santiago, Chile. Most businesses here are small - even the ones not on the sidewalk. The mall across the street is full of tiny shops that are just packed full with merchandise. (If you don't see what you want/need, you should ask! There's simply no way to see all the things packed into these little shops, so just ask. You'll be surprised by how quickly the merchants can put their hands on what you're looking for.)
Well, among ourselves, we started calling the owners of all these small outdoor businesses "little men." "I'm going down to the little man to get some produce." And, "If you decide to buy some sunglasses, you should check out the little man at the corner of _______."
At some point, Sudoku said, "Why do you call him the 'little man'? He's not particularly 'little'..." Continue reading
Perhaps it's like this in any big city. I don't know. But when you're out and about here in Santiago, and you think of something you need, chances are decent that within 10 minutes you'll see someone selling that very thing. Someone may even approach you trying to sell just what you were needing. At La Vega, when the sun is out in full force, someone will be walking around selling hats. When it's raining (which is almost never) people are selling umbrellas on the sidewalk. When you're getting a blister from your new shoes, someone will walk by selling band-aids. When you're digging in your purse for a pen, a disabled man in a wheelchair rolls up with a fist full of Bics. (And yes, you can buy just one.) When, on a cold winter morning, you're standing outside in the 1/2 mile-long line, waiting for the extranjeria office to open, someone is right there selling hot coffee to folks standing in line. At a red light and realize your windshield is dirty? Here comes a youth with a bucket and a squidgy! Continue reading
It looks like I'm going to beat Carman and Sudoku with a post (finally!) about our trip to the south of Chile (relatively speaking). One could go MUCH farther south in this long, skinny land, and hopefully we will some day. While we can now technically say we've been to Patagonia, there is so much more to see and explore. More to explore in the north too. They say the night sky is just incredible there. One day. Maybe.
In December, just before the high summer season hit, we took an overnight bus to Puerto Varas. The bus trip could be a post in and of itself. [This post has turned into that!] We were impressed with the bus line (we used TurBus, I think) as well as the bus terminal. The terminal for the private bus lines is very big, relatively clean, orderly, and the buses were arriving and leaving on time. Our bus left around 9pm. Seems rather late, huh? But the bus terminal was totally bustling with people and buses. Continue reading