November 21, 2009
Since lunch was on our own, we asked some of the local guides where we could eat. They recommended a sandwich shop a block away, called "Fuente Alemana" or "The German Fountain".
There's a strong German influence in Chile - lots of German immigrants - but there was no wienerschnitzel on the menu. Instead we ordered the "lomita plata" (sp?) which turned out to be a pork and avocado sandwich. Tasty, but big! Dad's Spanish studies paid off - he ordered his cerveza all by himself, although neither of us understand the various beer options available. He settled for pointing at a random bottle among the choices displayed above the counter.
Then we moseyed around the corner to the little grocery store from last night. We stocked up on bottled water and bought some little cans of palm honey - "miel de palma" - as souvenirs. This stuff made the same way as maple syrup, but using palm tree sap. We figured they'd exemplify the traditional Chilean sweet tooth.
After lunch Dad went on a partially-successful quest for postage stamps and postcards, while I boarded the Optional Excursion bus and drove off to the Pueblito Los Dominicos. This was a fun way to spend the afternoon! The Pueblito is a handicraft village - sort of a Chilean Yankee Peddler with a permanent address in what once was a Dominican monastery. It's out in the country, surrounded by gorgeous mountains:
Once you get inside you can wander around twisty little pathways with quaint little shops on every side.
I saw leatherworkers, some decorative ironwork and pottery, folk art
and several shops selling wool and alpaca garments, woven and knitted. I was on a hunt for yarn - lana (actually that's wool, but the shopkeepers told me it meant yarn) - and I was eventually successful! I brought home some pink alpaca souvenir yarn:
There were lovely flowers and plantings,
and some of the shop doorways were decoratively accessorized by cats:
There was also a large cage filled with various fowls, presumably for sale.
Just as I spotted this guy
I heard a girl behind me exclaim, "¡Mírelo!" to her friend. I actually understood: "Look at it!" (I was proud of myself because usually I can't understand anything people say - they talk too fast for me.)
After I had explored enough, I found a bench and watched people. Three kids were playing with weighted streamers they'd bought from one of the vendors:
until one of them got stuck in a tree. (the streamer things, not the kids!)
Gradually the rest of the group came back together, and we got one further treat: our guide Patricio (no, not Patricia; this one's a guy) got us a local specialty: a drink called Mote con Huesillo, made with stewed barley and peach juice, with a dried peach soaking in it. It was tasty and refreshing!