{25.11.14} [Somewhat Sporadic] Daily Tidbits

{16.11.14} We just had an earthquake, which was fun. Legit, for some reason and against all common sense, I find earthquakes oddly entertaining. I feel kinda bad, though, because so many people here have phobias of earthquakes. I guess it’s the kind of feeling of novelty only possible from someone born in the middle of a continent. And my chilean mom knows I’ll be as chipper as ever when she calls after seeing the news on TV in Puerto Montt. She still likes to tell the story of the first time I experienced a tremor here, the one where plenty of plaster fell all over, which I saw more as a warm-up for the dancing to come later that night than a shake-up for my nerves.

two-hump camel in Barrio Yungay, Santiago

{16.11.14} I am growing basil. I’ve turned into quite the helicopter parent moving it around all day so it stays in the sun, fussing with the water, rotating it so the stalks end up straight. It may not be enough to make pesto in the end, but when I stick my face in it *snap* it’s summer in Wisconsin and I can feel weedy grass between my toes and we’re going to eat hummus and raw vegetables for dinner because it’s too hot for cooking and then we’ll play frisbee in the park after dinner as the sun sets.

inti-illimani, from the cheap seats
they were probably singing about Violeta Parra
illapu from the expensive seats

{16.11.14} I’ve gone to three concerts of chilean musical groups, mostly originally from the 70s. Los Jaivas is unabashedly on the popular side, great fusion with a lot of stage presence. Then there’s Illapu, which got popular for their protest songs and then self-exiled themselves to Europe and got popular in a more mainstream way, and some people say sold out. And then theres Inti-Illimani who I saw last night. The concert started off with some technical difficulties, and there were a fair number of interludes with various political discourses and commentaries to introduce songs. Even though I enjoyed the Los Jaivas and Illapu concerts much more in the moment because they had great vocals or a unified sound or theatrical drumming, I think Inti-Illimani is my favorite. They are very unquestioningly who they’ve always been: a group of guys who care a lot about politics and making music together. The circumstances that detracted from the moment (I was tired, hadn’t listened to as much of their music and didn’t know the words, which are super important, the venue was huge and I think they are more a small venue type of group) added to their charm in a way. And I didn’t feel like I was being sold something, just offered music that formed a perfect reflection of the hearts of its creators.

the mapuche people march for the liberty of their nation

{19.11.14} It’s 12:10 am and someone thought it was a grand old idea to jackhammer the street outside our building right about now. Time for bed… and wish me luck on my oral exam on the last 7 epistles of Saint Paul. This should be fun fun fun.

scared me with my artfully color-coded note sheet

{19.11.14} It’s Wednesday today, which means Día de la Feria. Translation: the huge paved plaza on the main road into Valpo is blanketed with people selling everything from used clothing, cheap chargers, artisan wool and leather belts, to bongs, bikini tops, incense and more. Almost a month ago, I went with María Alicia on a Saturday to do the vegetable shopping, and she introduced me to the vendor she frequents. Since she’s been away, I now go alone. It’s a couple and their son that tend the stand. The wife is the quintessential warm, plump, smiling mother-to-all. She greets me with a kiss on the cheek and asks me how I’m doing. Her husband does the same, welcoming me with open arms, and always asking how my friend is doing. I haven’t the slightest idea where this idea of a friend comes from or who it could be, but I always reply that they’re just fine, thank you. For $10 (approximate conversion) I get a kilo (that’s 2.2 lbs) of carrots, 6 huge zucchini, two heads of lettuce, a kilo of onion and a regalito (freebie) that the wife won’t let me leave without. It’s usually a bundle of fresh herbs tied in a bundle, bunches of which they hide in the back for this purpose, and she crushes some leaves and holds it up to my nose for a whiff before slipping it into my bag. Then they send me over to their friend where, for double the cost of the greens, I get 6 tomatoes, 6 avocados and a red pepper, with a couple of spicy peppers tossed in as my regalito and a handful of mints. The first time I went, the owner gave me a slice of avocado to eat, and it was so creamy and rich and gorgeous that I didn’t want to put it down, which made carrying two huge bags of produce and my backpack while trying to pay the guy a bit of a challenge. For starters, it’s an extremely effective business practice, because I would never dream of getting my produce anywhere else, but above and beyond incentivizing frequent shoppers at their stands, these are people who genuinely like making their customers happy, forming relationships with people, getting to know them. I like this, where I know exactly who my people are, the faces are familiar, and someone asks about how me and my friend are doing, even though the identity of said friend remains a mystery.

{20.11.14} That oral exam for Saint Paul turned out to be a scene. Got to class just at the turn of the hour, and people were lounging around, looking vaguely scared or incredibly tired. We decided on an order, and then the professor kicked everyone, except the first examinee, out. So we plunked ourselves down in the hallway to await Impending Doom. Every person who came out was subjected to a barrage of questions. “What did he ask?” “What texts did he refer to?” “What grade did you get?” The people who were most excited about the latter question were the ones to just slip by with a passing 4 (of 7). Everyone would repeat the questions they’d gotten, there would be a flurry of flipping through the Bible to find the correct answer and then people would return to their fervent last-minute reading. Those were the people at one end of the hallway. At the other end, people shared funny internet memes, chatted, and a game of ping pong started up. I think the ping pongers and internet memers ended up with better grades. Instead of cramming, they harnessed the power of the endorphins and beat the nerves.

and the match begins

{25.11.14} l think this will be my first year not celebrating Thanksgiving, which I guess is sad, but I just made myself 5 containers of nice hearty stew, half out of scrounged vegetables tossed out by the open air market vendors. Going through the trash piles has become somewhat of a Tuesday night ritual with my african drum class buddies. There’s always some sort of treasure. Last time, it was tons of about-to-be-discarded squash. This time, one of the vendors came out with 7 beautiful and tiny tomatoes. “Open your bag” was all he said, and dumped them right in with the vaguely questionable potatoes and onions, a couple of rubbery-in-the-end carrots and some squash seeds I’d saved from imminent destruction to toast at home. I must say, it’s quite delicious. Doesn’t beat Mary Barham’s baked sweet potatoes for Thanksgiving dinner, but the price (free!), and the act of gathering (community building, cutting down on waste) add a special spice.

last week's squashucopia it was fabulous I think my dad would be proud of the urban application of his food scrounging lessons from rural Michigan (where anything can make a good tea)
last week’s squashucopia
it was fabulous
toasted squash seeds appetizer, squash and veggies for main course, squash-‘n-apple with cinnamon and palm syrup for dessert I think my dad would be proud of the urban application of his food scrounging lessons from rural Michigan (where anything can make a good tea)

One Comment Add yours

  1. mos-health says:

    Now I am hungry for a more squash! Thankfully, our share in Angelic Organics brought many and varied squash to our table this this year. So, I guess what I really want is to eat more squash in Chile, along with good Chilean wine, of course!


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