Saturday, December 12, 2009

Judi meets Sir Heimlich and other Santiago Adventures

The Restaurant Patagonia

A Catholic Church on Plaza del Armas

Two Gals preparing to imbibe and have a blast!

Note: My mother has graciously allowed me to be a guest writer on her blog as we traverse Chile. If she does not approve what I have written, she would be free to edit, however, she cannot remember her password and therefore...this is all the truth!
December 9
Mom's plane arrives on a sunny Santiago, Chile morning, along with 4 other international flights and clears customns and immigration. She walks right past me, out the airport as I stand staring at the television screen showing passing out of customs. We eventually find each other and sit to have a celbratory beer in the cafe! We grab a cab for 13,000 pesos and are spirited into Santiago. We had a lovely little suite in Sa Foresta, which is an old hotel situated at the foot of historic Santa Lucia Hill (Cerro Santa Lucia). The area is quiet, filled with eclectic cafes, restaurants and next to the hotel is a little piano bar called Bar Don Rodrigo, which will come into play later.

After unloading the bags, a frenzy of "Oh! Oh! Look what I brought you!" we had the living room part of the suite completely strewn with the contents of mom's suitcase, and having strummed my new dulcimer a bit, we headed out into the city, Just a short walk around the corner is a wonderful corner restaurant with sidewalk seating called Patagonia Alma del Sur (JV Lastarria 96) which serves what it calls "traditional Patagonian fare". To there credit, they did have lamb meatballs. We chose a pot of four-cheese fondue served with grilled eggplant, zuchini and toasted bread. It went well with mom's house white wine and my Kross Stout. We sat under a jacaranda tree watching the locals come and go, dodging some of the best looking street dogs I've seen. The day is warming up quickly as we pay the check, and wander up the street to catch a cab to the Plaza del Armas.

Every city and even almost every small town has a Plaza del Armas, Santiago's is SPECTACULAR! Cobblestones stretch out from the center where towering traditional and contemporary statues stand side-by-side with giant palms and indigenous trees. Benches, people, protesters, street performers, political rallies and impromptu parades fill the square. Every side of the square is bordered by magnificent architecture. We wandered into a church built in the early 1700's and mom was hard pressed to stay standing up...the frescos, the Stations of the Cross, the carvings, a group of Evangelical Catholics singing some sweet song and flicking candles. We aren't Catholics, but the sense of something powerful and overwhelming permeates the sanctuary. I think it's the archetecture and people. Mom says, "Get me out of here, I'm tempted to turn Catholic!"

We visit the Correos Chile building, also old, and spectacular, built over 200 years ago with a four-story atrium and fabulous wrought iron and beveled glass. It is packed now because of the Christmas holiday, but lines move quickly.

Back out in the plaza, we find a table at a little cafe and order bottled water and watch people. An old man with a small bible skirts the area around the outdoor cafe declaring in Spanish and English that God is love, and Halleluja! A Pinara parade pounds by with young people waving flags and passing out flyers for his rally later in the day. The Presidential race appears to be a happy affair, with people singing and marching, the Pinera's, the Fries, and various other candidates are all represented by happy people. Mom works her way around the plaza snapping photos of all the chaos and fun. Later, as we are working our way down a pedestrian street to a corner to find a taxi, and after checking out an underground public restroom facility, we find ourselves in the middle of a LOUD and vigerous protest against all the chain pharmacies...A large group of people with horns, whistles, confetti and signs stop in front of a Cruz Verde pharmacy, beating drums, chanting, shaking signs, blocking customers in, and customers out. The clerks and pharmacists stand inside and say nothing, and after five minutes or so, the lively group moves on to their next store after writing something on the windows in red paint. No police come and beat back the protesters, in fact, a couple of Caribineros on foot patrol walk by on the other side of the street unconcerned. We are swept up in the protest for a half a block and caught up in the spirit. Mom and I give the thumbs up and the protesters cheer back with us. Someone offers to take our picture with a protest sign, and we are suddenly having a blast with our new-found cause...not that we really knew what it was, but I guess we were caught up in the fun and freedom of being ABLE to protest without getting our knees cracked. It was fun. We parted with our new-found comrades at the corner and caught a cab back to the hotel to rest and wind down.

Back at the hotel, we stretched out on our beds, opened the double window onto Cerro Santa Lucia and let the noise of the city in. We yapped, caught up on old friends and family. I couldn't keep my hands off the dulcimer and after a few minutes picked out "Storms Never Last" sang along. We dozed a little, then decided agains showers and hair re-do's, and around 7 pm we headed downstairs to Bar Don Rodrigo where I have arranged for the piano player to play "As Time Goes By" for Mom. We hit the bar and order Chelado Shopps, watching as the seven-fingered bar tender squeezes lemon on the rim of our mugs and splashes in some hot sauce in the draft beer. He sets a small dish of peanuts mixed with raisins on the bar and we chat with two young fellows sitting next to mom. Mom is having a blast, and I am having a blast seeing mom have a blast.
She is CHARMED by Santiago. The nice cars, she says! No junkers. People sweeping the streets. The small band of clowns beating drums and passing the hat. The lack of beggers (compared to Costa Rica and Panamna). The quainty restaurants and cafes. The Hotel we are staying in...a little worn, but quaint and more than comfortable. "You can smoke in the room?!"
Down in Bar Don Rodrigo, the bartender asks me something, and out of the corner of my eye I see mom stiffen with her face in her hands. She's making jerking motion in her torso and I realize in a nano second that she is choking! I stand up and say are you choking and she nods furiously. In one motion I lift her off her chair, turn her around and do the Heimlich in three quick jolts and she gasps. Everyone is frozen for a moment, then I hear a collective sigh. Mom can breath, but I have released a hot gush of gastric fluids into her esophogus and as she sits on her chair and tries to compose herself she lapses into a coughing spasms so hard that I get her into the bathroom and it takes several minutes until the spasm has calmed enough for us to head upstairs to chill out. We consider going to the hospital, but after 20 minutes, the spasms stop. An hour later we are out the door, and on our way to Azul Profundo (111 Constitution) in Bella Vista for seafood appetizers and pisco sours.

Fudors lists Azul Profundo as best seafood restaurant in Santiago the past two years in a row. While slightly expensive, it's reasonable and definately some of the best seafood I've ever had. Mom loves her pisco sour and implores me not to let her have another. We choose Parmesean Scallops and a lightly smoked salmon plate with cheese and capers. Excellent! We walk a bit after our late-night snack, peeking into other restaurants which are just now gearing up. It is 10pm. We grab a cab back to La Foresta and the elevator is out for "routine maintenance" so we tromp up to our fourth-floor room and collapse.
(Mom tells me later that when she was choking and I was yanking her around like a rag doll as I performed the Heimlich, the only thing going through her mind was, Oh God! Please do not let my dentures fly out of my mouth!) And Mom.
We will post a slideshow of good photos later on her blog here. In the meantime, we are attempting to keep it clean and simple. on the blog for the present moment. More later....


Anonymous said...

From; Mablasar Hari - It looks great. Send me pictures.

Anna said...

You guys look great!! Judi, I love your haircut!! And we're so happy that Vicki is familiar with Sir Heimlich :) Looking forward to reading more posts! Love you guys!

Anonymous said...

From Mabalzar Hari,

Where is the next installment? Wassup? Did you get sold into the south American white slave trade for grey haired people?

Helen said...

I'm waiting with bated breath for the next chapter! Funny we crossed paths in Chile this year, again Vicki! You both look great.