Santiago was splendid. Warm. Vibrant. Full of color and youth. Walked around a lot.
Travel plays mind games on me. Wonder at the never-before-seen wars with the desire for order and familiarity. It makes my brain crazy, synapses desperately firing to make sense of the new by locating it in the old. "This is like..." "This reminds me of" Remember when...?
Hiking up a series of worn stone steps to the top of an ancient castle in a park in Santiago I alternately flashed to the Roche de Doms in Avignon, Les Baux de Provence nearby, Israel's Masada, and, less warlike, a long climb to a Buddhist shrine in Seoul.
I am frustrated and a little amused by my inability to just enjoy the moment for the new experience it is instead of trying to convince myself that it's all one big deja vu. I guess it's human nature to try to connect oneself from the before through the now to the after and I do enjoy the kaleidoscope of memories that travel unleashes for me.
Requires lots of meditation to be where you are.
In lieu of that we ate some fabulous food. Good, fresh, updated versions of Chilean themes. Flavors -- smoked paprika, peppers, tomatoes, terrific cheeses, olives, Quinoa, corn, potatoes, dolce de leche. All kinds of meat (surprise!) Good stuff.
Nothing too molecular. Read that Santiago is such an up and coming foodie city that one chef injects carrot sticks with penicillin to make them white and cheesy. Ugh.
Had some terrific stuff. Night #1 Chilean hake for me and short ribs for Jer. Lots of roasted vegetables and corn casserole. Amazing salsa -- cilantro and tomato and onion but smoky? Yum.
Night#2 really first rate. J had a tomato and goat cheese caprese type salad but the tomatoes were plum and poached and skinless. Sweet (a drizzle of honey?) Goat cheese sharp and creamy. Excellent. I had vegetable antipasti that had all kinds of good things. Amazing caponata. Smoky hummus. And then J followed with smoked trout stuffed with cheese and Serrano ham and I had -- shout it from the roofs OUTSTANDING -- squash tortellini. Fantastic. And Jerry had one of his all time best desserts ever. Pistachio creme brûlée with strawberry sorbet.
Night#3 we went to a wine bar and had a cozy (but chilly) meal outdoors. J had osso buco, I had a potato tortilla and salad and a side of roasted vegetables. Cherry cheesecake for dessert. Actually had a server come back and tell us that they thought we had ordered too much food. Who, us?
The next day the Santiago portion of the odyssey was at an end. Driver picked us up early, drove us through the valley and across the mountains and to the shore. Toured Vino del Mar and Valparaiso and found me some rocky lapis (bought from a smiley old guy from the trunk of his car) and got us to our lovely ship.