Monday, April 20, 2009

On knitting your own weekend

This weekend I played cultural philistine, and purposely avoided several big events happening in Santiago.

There was the Cumbre Huachaca in Estación Mapocho, a throwback festival/party that celebrates a kind of Chilean hick culture. There's dancing (usually popular music), sandwiches with perníl, which is some kind of meat, a drink called a terremoto, which is a mix of pipeño ("green" wine, that is, not very aged), and scoop of pineapple icecream plopped on top. There are sopaipillas, those fried disks of dough, and long lines, and drunk people and folks using strips of toilet paper to emulate the pañuelo (hanky) they're supposed to twirl around while doing the cueca (national dance of Chile, not to be confused with tighty-whities, which is what the word means in Portuguese). I'd like to say I purposely didn't go to this. So I will. I've been before, and without a giant group of people, it's not that much fun, and (for me), even with a giant group of people, it's still not really my style. But it's Chilean excitement, and if you're ever in town on the one weekend of the year when it's happening, you totally should go. Or to one of the Sept. 18th festivities called fondas. Which, I've been told are totally different. There's no perníl! Try La Piojera or El Hoyo if you're here in the off season for a taste of what you've missed.

I also did not go to the RenFaire here in Santiago, but Pablo, my super talented photographer friend did, and you can go see his take on it on his flickr page, but I have to warn you that regardless of your sexual orientation, you will get trapped looking at stunning photos of (tastefully nude) tattooed women that is part of a larger project he's working on.

In addition, I skipped Museos de Medianoche, or the midnight museum walk. Museums open late for family browsing. Also free. I like museums as much as the next philistine, but I gave this a miss as well.

The last major event that I didn't go to this weekend was the "Vendimia" (grape harvest festival) up in Vitacura. Vendimia is celebrated in the wine-growing regions, like the Colchagua Valley and Santa Cruz. This "vendimia," complete with pisada de uvas (grape stomping) took place in a park in Vitacura, a fairly exclusive, pricey part of town that's still relatively close-in. It's not filled with ostentatious houses, just lots of wealthy people and their dogs. And sometimes their nanas (household employees) walking their dogs. And sometimes they have on matching outfits, the nanas and the dogs, and no I'm not kidding. Anyway, this was in Parque Bicentenario, ex Parque Las Americas, because nothing in Chile can have just one name, everything has been named and renamed several times again. It's like they're all following the "artist formerly known as Prince's" example.

Here's another place where they've done it, in case you thought I was making this up:


Rather than enlighten myself with any of these activities, I took lots of long walks, went out to dinner with a friend (at Kintaro in Bellas Artes, if you were wondering), out for a late lunch at Café Amadeus near Parque Bustamonte (get the piadina filomena), went to a couple of parties which won't be written up in the farandula (celebrity gossip) pages and on Saturday afternoon, went to Club de Portugués (email me if you want details, you can come, too) with a very multi culti crew (we were from the US, Chile, Argentina, Cuba and Poland/Canada), and I can now falar portugues. (a tiny bit).

On Sunday, while I was shirking yet more high-profile events that I could have attended, I went to the Huerto Hada Verde Bazaar.

huerto hada verde

where organic this and that was for sale:

Eli working hard at the bazaar

and the kids wandered freely and one of them laid down in the tomato plants to have a snack.

L, eating tomatoes

and then later went into the gallinero (chicken coop), and came out with this lovely hen (sorry, don't know her name).

L, playing with chickens

And Bernardita, a talented bassist/singer (with the band Guiso, which meanns stew) /skateboarder/marmalade coach and breadmaker showed us all how it was done. And I'm eating some of the whole wheat pesto bread right now.

bernardita, queen of bread

Bernardita weighing dough

I know that living in a big city is all about the capital E events that you go to, and line up for and spend your hard-earned money (or not) on, but this weekend fit me to a T, and I wouldn't have traded it for a free tasting glass or the chance to rub shoulders with winelovers from uptown, or to get sweated upon and have terremoto sloshed upon me downtown, or seeing people in overdone costumes, or even peeking through the museums at night. Though if it had not been for the Portuguese club, I really would have gone to the garage sale that a reader invited me to, and which I'm sorry I couldn't make.

But instead of all these storied events, I spent a weekend with my people. And this is something no newspaper and no guidebook can walk you through. It's all about the world you build for yourself. What was in your world this weekend?


Margaret said...

Hold on just a minute there sister! I beg to differ with the "hick" description!! I would've gone to the Cumbre in a heartbeat if I had been able to find that darned white hanky I keep misplacing (seriously, couldn't talk my husband into it)... But I love the idea that it happens... Chileans--young Chileans-- are finally taking pride in their own heritage... taking back their roots... The cueca was lost to politically-backed (enforced?)staged fake-lore for way too long... and a well-danced and really coqueta (flirty)cueca can be pretty hot stuff!
Ah- and pernil is ham, by the way!

Eileen said...

Didn't mean to offend. The point is, it's a country fair brought to the city. Like a greased-pole climbing contest, or food-on-a-stick, it's a messy special occasion that doesn't happen everywhere or all the time.

Thanks for explaining perníl, I have to say that as a non-meat eater, it all starts to look the same, though I'm sure it's delicious. errr, something.

And I have seen some awesome cuecas, most notably at the semana Cochamonina last summer. But the drunken tp-swinging version didn't do that much for me. I'm not much of a dance afficionado though, so maybe you could point me in the right direction if you hear of something watch-worthy!

And thanks for the comment!

Anonymous said...

Nice pics--I especially like the one of Bernadeta weighing the bread.

I want a red kitchen someday.

Margaret said...

No offense taken... just a desire to set you on the straight and narrow! ;-)
And while I'll concede the drunken toilet paper cueca point... ick! the Guachaca movement is rooted in la ciudad, and the cool cueca is the Cueca Urbana, also known as the Cueca Chora or Brava or Porteña... And there's nothing countrified about it... (todo lo contrario)... For an introduction check out some of the links at "Cachando Chile" or better yet, go to Catedral (above Opera on José Miguel de la Barra con Merced) late on a Tuesday night.
Can ya tell I kinda have an obsession going on here?

Bystander said...

Eileen, the "guachacas" are not rural but urban. They flourish in Valparaiso and bits of Santiago below the Plaza Italia. Their motto is “Humilde, Cariñoso, Republicano” (humble, affectionate, republican). They prefer a good marraqueta with pebre to a McDonalds and, of course, pernil. . The cueca urbana and cueca brava are more their style than the "traditional" cueca and they don't dress up for it. But the guachaca summit isn't for everyone, I agree!

Eileen said...

I concede! Margaret and Bystander said it best. La Cultura Guachaca/Huachaca is not hick, not country. It is urban. They should think about changing the clothes then, shorter little-house-on-the-prarie dressed with pinafores on the front look poco urbanos.

But if you look at it from the outside (which is, apparently, what I do), you will see it as fairly... colorful and not very city-like. Oh! and I have a book called "La Cultura Huachaca" maybe I should give that a read now.

Still glad I didn't go though, and happy to have had neither a terremoto nor a réplica (aftershock, which is what you call the second terremoto).

Margaret said...

haha- I can certainly do without the terremotos too... And the replica should be sold with at least 2 ibuprofens to help clean up the aftermath!
And I would be surprised to see those silly frilly fru-fru square dance dresses to be showing up at anything related to Guachaca!
And yes, as I understand it, it all began with that book, which, I'm sorry to confess, I have never read... Yet!

Sharon said...

I would've loved to go to that renfaire. Some days ago the boyfriend and I wondered when those were held, so we could take a look.
The cumbre huachaca was a no-no because we were broke, but I think we might go there next year, if we manage to convince a group of friends