Tuesday, March 31, 2009

My day in the hinterlands, a story by Eileen Smith

Say you want to do as we do. We being your new best friends who live here in Santiago. Well, first you've got to get together a group of friends. Take these for instance:

foto grupal/reflejo

Then you've got to find a time when they're all free. Half of you work a half day on Saturdays, at the optical shop and at a family-owned business. The other half of you work from home and/or are students. So Saturday afternoon it is.

Meet in a central location and take a series of busses. In our case it was the 405 from Plaza Italia, which is actually called Baquedano, up to Clinica Alemana on Vitacura, and from there the C07 feeder bus.

metro sign

Here you get of at Rotunda Lo Curro. Bring tissues for the possible nosebleed. You are way above the city in an area called Santa Maria de Manquehue. You will be the only pedestrians, unless you're lucky enough to see a gardener or a nana (household employee).

Walk up, past some houses of people who used a grape arbor as inspiration for their home's design.

when you wished you lived in a grape arbor

And some others which have a more ginger-bready fantasy architecture to them (but who still did not invite you in for a coffee, despite wide eyed thirsty looks towards the castle itself).

country home in the city

Keep walking, not minding the security reconnaissance, which will pass you no fewer than five times, both by car and on motorcycle, and finally get to the entry at the end of Avda. El Condor. Take a right, and walk and walk. Get a little lost, then unlost, then lost again. wash, rinse, repeat.

Marvel at the view with the glider up above.

glider above the city

As it starts to get dark, take a totally different route home, accidentally surprising a group of 30 six year-olds at a birthday party, and musing on the irony of the street name, named for the logger/lumberjack who must have come to denude this hilltop, which used to be covered in native trees (though there are still some beautiful laurel-like groves and forested areas, with the native Peumo and Litre (this one you have to say hello to, or it gives you a rash, I am not kidding), and lots of other trees, which housed a virtual storm of chortling, flapping birds, but I forget which.

Street sign:

but then they cut all the wood down, and the leñador ended up out of work

And don't forget to discuss the difference between a real and false chestnut, and if you're planning on planting native trees at your beach house, stop to fill your cargo pockets with seeds, including some from this tree (false chestnut).

false chestnut

And the best part? (aside from not getting a rash, because I did actually say "Hola Señor Litre), with one of these:

bip card. say "beep"

The whole shebang will only cost you 800 pesos (less than US $1.50 at today's exchange rate).

So what's stopping you?

No comments: