Harrison Farm

for now, the only thing we're growing on this farm is kids - not the goat variety

Category: Chile (page 2 of 8)

Fresh French Cut Green Beans

fresh French-cut green beans

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!

Wal-Mart + Cobblestones

Wal-Mart plus cobblestones, new meets old

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.

cobblestones in Providencia, Chile

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.

The Wonderful Man

verduria in Santiago, Chile

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

Need Something? We’ve Got you Covered. Almost.

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

Puerto Varas Trip – the Bus Ride

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

Chilean Harley Riders

American style, anyone?

It’s always fun when you come across something in a foreign country that feels like a little piece of the U.S.

Something of this type happened just yesterday. I came out of our condo, leaving on a bike ride. Parked nearby were three big Harley-Davidson touring motorcycles. They were apparently about to leave on a trip. The riders had bandannas and tattoos. One of the bikes was playing AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck”.

Can you get any better than that? They looked like they were straight out of Vegas.

I can’t think of anything more distinctively original to the U.S. than Harleys and the people who ride them.

Low speed limits in the Atacama desert

This, folks, is the Atacama desert in northern Chile. It is the driest desert in the world. It rains here about once a year.

It is desolate. It is flat. It is the land of strangely low speed limits.

In the U.S, this situation would result in a speed limit of at least 65 mph.

There is apparently a speeding problem out here.

And thus, it appears that the government is trying to fix the problem by setting very low speed limits that they can’t enforce.

Sure, there are some areas where the speed limit is 100 kph (62 mph). But it’s often lower than that, as shown below.

Here, buses and 18-wheelers are limited to 31 mph, and normal cars are limited to 43 mph (a sign about a mile back said 70 kph).

Really? Am I missing something here? I wonder what percentage of traffic actually respect that limit? This isn’t unusual, it occurs in multiple places.


Here’s a cool feature of the Atacama desert. In the far northern part of the desert next to the coast, the silt builds up in a huge dune around a thousand feet tall.

A Bit about Mary

Mary is a fellow Gringa who’s been in Chile with her family for about a year longer than us.  She’s been volunteering at an orphanage for 4 hours a week for about a year, and she invited me to join her.  I’ve been five or six times now – helping out by playing with the 1-3 year old kids for a couple of hours at a time.

Mary, Susan, and I were on the playground with the kids one afternoon.  Mary got a big smile on her face and said, “I just love to hear the kids talking to each other!”

Susan: “Yeah.  They used to not do that.”

Me: “Really?  Why not?”

Susan: “None of the kids talked at all.”

I just looked puzzled.

Susan: “That’s right.  Things have changed here so much since we first came.”

Me: “Why? What happened?”

Susan: “It’s was Mary.  She’s the difference.”

Susan and Mary then began to describe what things were like pre-Mary.  None of the kids talked or interacted very much with the adult workers or with each other.  She said that the kids were so bored they would just sit and rock.  Sometimes they would sit and rock and knock their heads against the wall.

Mary played with the kids, hugged them, kissed them, swung them around, talked to them.  It wasn’t long before the kids started babbling, trying to talk to her.  Then she brought some picture books and would point and name things.  When she realized some of the kids didn’t know what “perro” (dog) was, she started collecting magazines and cutting out and laminating pictures.  She pasted them around the play room in the orphanage.  Some of the kids would copy her as she pointed to and named what was on the card.

Slowly the rocking and head knocking all but stopped.  Now, all but the youngest speak at least a bit.

Now, it might sound like the paid workers are cold and uncaring, not interacting with the kids.  That’s not the case at all.  The truth is, even though they may have (this is a guess) one worker for every 5 kids, many of the kids are still young enough to need to be spoon-fed.  They all need help with their daily bath, bathrooming, dressing, and teeth brushing.  It’s like being a stay-at-home mom to 5 very young children all at one time.

Your energy gets drained, and while you may have brief connecting moments with Johnny as he’s getting his bath, you’re thinking about how very tired you know little Suzy is who is crying, waiting to get her bath so she can take her nap!  There is just not enough time/energy to go around.

I love that one person cared, wanted to make a difference and did.  These kids will either be adopted or moved to another orphanage by age 5.  (So far, Mary has not seen any child “graduate” to the orphanage for older kids; rather, they have been adopted before they have a chance to move on.)  It’s highly unlikely that these kids will remember Mary.  But she labors anyway, and she’s making a difference.

Southern Chile/Illinois Similarity

Observe. These first three pics are in Illinois,

Continue reading

A Foodie Post

Slowly but surely I’m developing as a cook – trying new foods and methods.

Ever heard of a custard apple?  Me either.  It’s call “chirimoya” in Chile.

It’s a super sweet, soft tropical fruit.  You don’t eat the peel or the black watermelon-seed-sized seeds; the flesh is soft like that of a banana.  It’s so sweet, it reminds me of a meringue.  It’s nice in a fruit salad paired with sliced bananas and blueberries. Yum!  They are on the pricey side, as far as fruits go, so we eat them like we eat dessert – once in a blue moon.  Okay, maybe it’s a bit more often than that…  After all, chirimoyas are in season right now. Continue reading

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