Sunday, January 10, 2010

Chile, Day 14

After yesterday’s long trip, and getting too much sun without quite knowing how, I woke up in the morning feeling more tired than I had felt before going to bed. After breakfast and a shower, neither of which woke me up, I decided to lay low for the day and focus on securing accommodations for the rest of my trip. Or as much as I possibly could in only a day. (Planning takes a lot of time, especially when you’re waiting for responses.)

After breakfast, I only emerged from my lair to get lunch at the nearby seafood market. It was a good choice, as it wasn’t terribly far – and walking downhill is a nicer prospect than walking back up – and I took the recommendation of two Irish women on yesterday’s tour who said that if I went to the market I had to eat at Marisqueria Anita’s.

The seafood market, which I commented on in an earlier post, has no seafood vendors per se indoors. At least not on a Sunday. I passed a few vegetable vendors on the way to the second floor, which is the real draw once you enter the building. On the second floor one only finds seafood restaurants. There is a third floor, but it looks closed off, quite likely because it appears ready to collapse.

Anita’s was definitely the right choice. It was by far the busiest of the many small restaurants, which is usually a sign of a place with a good reputation, and the woman corralling customers had a quick smile that won me over right away.

I sat at a table in the corridor just beyond the entrance to Anita’s and ordered something I’ve long wanted to try here in Chile: machas parmesana, or pink clams in their shells with melted Parmesan cheese.

At only 4000 pesos, or about $8, the price for this dish was very reasonable. And though this dish might seem a bit plain for lunch, I have to say that the clams and cheese, which I wouldn’t think would go well together, really hit the spot. The clams were obviously fresh, and the melted cheese was still warm when I was served. Again, the people who run Anita’s were some of the smiliest of anyone I’ve met in Chile thus far, and the food won me over as well.

Anita’s can be found at Mercado Puerto 2, Piso Local 81, in the Barrio Puerto. Tel: 223-8052.

From the seafood market I was going to proceed to the bus terminal on the other side of town, but I realized that I’d stupidly forgotten to bring enough money. So I tromped back up the endless hill to my hostel in Playa Ancha, grabbed my wallet, and headed back down again and across Valparaiso. I bought my bus ticket to Santiago for tomorrow morning, with the hope that I’ll be able to go directly from the bus station there to the airport, where I’ll fly in to Puerto Montt and then figure out some way to travel another 20 miles to the city of Castro in Chiloe. I’m pretty excited about the trip, as the national park there is supposed to be spectacular.

Once I’d gotten back home, with a blister on my heel from so much walking, I hung out to do more accommodations research. However, I got sidetracked when a Belgian-Danish couple approached the table on the terrace where I was sitting and we began talking. I think we talked for around two hours about all kinds of different things. They were very nice, but at a little after six I was feeling hungry again – the machas parmesana wasn't exactly filling – and so it was time to go have dinner. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think I’ve eaten at the same place twice in my six weeks of travel. But I wasn’t going to walk with this blister any farther than I had to, so I returned to Café Arte Mirador for a quick bite.

Tonight I went with the pollo espiada, which I think means chicken cooked on a spit – then again it could mean “chicken spit,” in which case I’ve obviously gotten the name wrong.

It was nicely cooked, with a crisp, salty skin, and the French fries, though spilling over my plate, were seasoned with what almost tasted like cinnamon. I chased this down with a Valparaiso ale, and then decided to be bad yet again and ordered what I was told was a fruit tart as well as a cappuccino con leche pero sin crema (as in whipped cream).

The meal was good if not great, and the waiters were excellent as before.

Now I’m back home again and looking into accommodations in Uruguay. I think in a week from now I may just be on my way to an estación

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