Week 1. La comida y naturaleza: The food and nature
My first full week in Chile was a busy one! On Tuesday, we went to watch the solar eclipse, which was only visible in a few parts of the South America. We were very near to the zone of totality, but only one of us was able to locate eclipse glasses before the event. Luckily/unluckily, however, my friend Ally had brought her x-rays with her (she had twisted her ankle on Sunday on our excursion to Playas del Norte) and we were able to view the eclipse through those! I now have a new goal of seeing eclipses on as many continents as possible. The whole experience was very interesting because we went to a branch of PUCV (my university) which was further out from the city and which felt much more like a traditional American college campus. We ate our galletas and watched the eclipse, with our DIY eclipse glasses!
After the eclipse, we went to eat chorillanas, a Chilean favorite. The chorillanas restaurant is at the bottom of my cerro, which may prove to be dangerous: they are so good, but so unhealthy!
On Wednesday, we got our first official tour of Valpo, exploring the art of Cerro Alegre. Cerro Alegre is Valpo’s most famous cerro, where artists have been commissioned to paint murals on its many winding roads. Valpo is a series of steeper and steeper hills, so I got the chance to work off some of that chorillana while viewing a variety of art, much of which had political messaging.
These stairs have song lyrics written on them, saying: “tu no puedes comprar la lluvia, tu no puedes comprar al sol”. “You cannot buy the rain, you cannot buy the sun.” This song is anti-imperialist and anti-capitalist in nature and demonstrates the important role of social movements and protest in Chilean culture. Social protests are extremely common, so much so, that the local students at my university are on strike right now for better mental health services. There was plenty of apolitical art too, which was no less beautiful.
Yesterday, we went on a hike in la Campana. La campana is just at the end of the metro, and it only cost 1500 Chilean pesos to get there: approximately $2.50. At the peak of La campana, we were able to see both the Pacific Ocean and Argentina.
I have never considered myself a “nature person”, but between the eclipse and this hike, I think I am starting to be converted; and as always, even though I am 4000+ and 5000+ miles away from my two homes, I was representing New Orleans and Notre Dame.