Now that we’re home safe and sound, we wanted to present the data we collected during our trip. While Ken was the clear winner in hikes up the stairs to our apartment, I totally killed it in the race for empanadas eaten. These are our final numbers, accurately reproduced in handy infographic form.
Chileans have two favorite national dishes, the empanada and the completo. Ken will tackle the mysterious glory that is the completo in another post, but this is my numero uno.[space_80]
They are sold everywhere, even in the little neighborhood bottle shops. They are all slightly different, and we have been on a “quest to ingest” as many of these as possible for comparison. The most common is the empanada de pino, which is ground beef, carmelized onions, cilantro and spices, a single slice of hard-boiled egg, and one whole black olive, complete with a pit. (The first time the pit was a bit of a surprise, but now we just call it the “lucky” olive.)
They are not only delicious, but make a great lunch at around 600 pesos, which is only a dollar. Here is a banana for scale. ———>
I wish I could fill up my suitcase with these so you could all try one…
“I’ll sit down right here
while you go get a closer shot
of that mural over there.”
[space_80]Then Ken runs around like a crazy person for a few minutes while I drink some water.
Then we decide to go up just one more hill.
Then we find another set of cool stairs. With more art.
Pretty soon, I look like this (of course, 95 degree temperatures didn’t help)…
The entry to the Polanco Hill ascensor; we heard it was cool and were so excited to ride…[space_80]We walked a good deal straight in to the mountain, which was actually quite refreshing. It was nice and cool on a day that wound up being upwards of 95 degrees.
The walls were drippy, and it was slightly unnerving to be in a tunnel under a mountain. (especially in a town that gets several earthquakes every day)
When we finally paid our 100 pesos for the ride up, it was just an elevator.
I won’t bore you with the inside of the elevator.
But the views from the top were totally worth it. And, frankly, we walked enough that day; sometimes being able to start halfway up the hill is kinda nice…
[space_80] A view of the same building from above.
The traditional start to a meal here is with hot fresh bread and a kind of salty olive salsa, I really like it…
…then maybe the Chilean version of a caesar salad.
It’s pretty inexpensive to get a complete meal with a starter, entree, and dessert for around $8-10 US. This is just one of the desserts we got one day, and, yes, those are flower petals on top of a fresh berry custard pie.
We’ve been eating pretty well just on trips to the markets, too. And lots of fresh fruit for cheap. Ken’s chicken tacos were some of the best I’ve ever had.
You can’t walk three blocks in any direction without running in to a park. Some of them take up a whole city block with fancy statues and fountains. Others are what Ken and I call “pocket parks,” just shady spaces with trees and a few benches to rest in the heat of the day.
Everybody uses these parks. Kids playing, teenagers skateboarding, shoppers pausing with their bags to rest in the shade, old men chatting or playing chess.
In this park, I was thrilled to see they have folding tables and stacking chairs for anyone to use for games. They had probably 30 or so tables going when we walked through. Backgammon, chess, cribbage, poker, gin rummy and some card game I’d never seen before, and they all had money out to gamble.
I wonder how they’d feel if a tall blonde woman asked to sit down? Might be fun, since I don’t think they’d see me as much of a threat…