Sunday, January 6, 2013

Dias tres, quatro, cinco y seis

So much to talk about!  Spent New Year's Day sleeping in, wandering around the 'hood (on this side of the river) and discovering a restaurant called "Wall Street" close to home. Wall St. on FB  

They make a mean pisco sour, and when I asked for the WiFi password the manager counted to 9 in English.  Score!  I'm trying to speak Castilliano as much as possible, but at my level, that's not much.  My cute waiter Antonio spoke a little, so we had a good time trading (simple) info about the totally unfamiliar food on the menu.  I can't remember the name of what I had, but it had a BIG bun, smushed avocado, steakums, cooked onions and tomatoes. And boy was it good.  Topped it off with a Pisco sour aperitif, just to see what they were like, and went back to the Hotel to take it easy, but Brian and Lya were pouring Sauvignon Blanc in the living room so we ended up spending the first of several late nights trading stories.

Hotel Genross, Brian and Luz Maria (Lya) Davis, their story

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This is a great love story, one that began in 1972 when Brian was a dashing young man of the world and Lya was in Chile praying for the right man to come around.  Somehow Brian decided to give up the idea of moving to Australia (from Canada) for a voyage on a freighter to South America. 

This was at the time of Allende when things were uncertain and could be dangerous in Chile.  The middle class was under siege, seen as the "haves" by the Communist/Socialists, therefore the enemy of the people. An older Chilean woman traveling on the same freighter was very concerned about Brian being on his own and possibly not as wise in the ways of the world as he pretended to be at the ripe old age of 27.  She told him she had a place that was safe for him to stay, and when Brian looked around a bit, he decided being with a family was much more desirable than the other options available.  

So he went to Lya's house and with almost no Spanish, was adopted by the family, particularly Lya who liked the looks of him.  Her mother, Lely, thought he was a sailor and a bum, since he arrived with holes in his sweater, looking not very reputable or dependable.  What kind of person would take a freighter to Chile?  Didn't he have a job? Sure he was nice, but come on...

Lya, who had been in a dead end relationship for a long time, was praying daily for someone to come and get her.  The result?  That "coup de foudre" (lightening strike as the French call it) that's love at first sight.  Three weeks later they were engaged, 5 weeks after that they were married and off to see the world.  And they are still like a newly married couple, starry-eyed and excited to have each other.

They've lived in Bermuda, and Calgary, which is Brian's home town, and Victoria, BC as well.  Twenty years ago they decided to come back to Vina/Valpo and see whether they could run their own B&B.  The rest is a successful history of a beautiful house lovingly restored, a nice garden for sitting, cheerful rooms and great breakfasts watched over by caring and amiable hosts.

Seeing Vina with the locals

We spent so many hours over days three to six talking about our lives, how to survive in Chile happily, wine,now and then attempting to help me converse in Castilliano, and laughing, laughing, laughing. They decided it was time for me to get out and see their favorite spot.

The ocean and have happy hour cocktails (two-fers) at the Sheraton called us so we sat out on the deck and enjoyed the sunset and the saw the stars coming out.  We all used the Android App "Marine Traffic" that identified the ships in the harbor. (One was a large container ship taking on agricultural produce for N. America!)  These are the views.

It's an easy walk from Hotel Genross to the coast, and Brian and Lya are favorites of the staff, greeted as old friends and valued guests.

Another fascinating jaunt took us downtown to go shopping for groceries, with a stop for a reward along the way:

Yes, we are in the civilized Starbucks world.  We're also in the world of another global giant that came from America.

This is the Hiper Lider.  My friends from Texas might recognize "hiper" as the same as Hyper, and the rest of you might find the yellow sunburst familiar.  Yup, it's the Chilean version of Walmart, a joint venture with a Chilean chain.  And it's every bit as big as the old HyperMart on Cooper in Arlington, TX or a Walmart Super Center is now.  

Brian and Lya shop selectively.  We stopped at a fruit and vegetable stand on a corner on the way to the store, where they picked up fresh fruit (blueberries!) and veggies (asparagus!).  Walmart supplied fresh baked bread, meat from a butcher case, and unbelievable deals on wine.  Three bottles of red/white (Cabernet/Chardonnay/Sauvignon Blanc) for $7.999 (under $15.00) And let me tell you, this isn't vintage last week $2 Chuck.  It's the good stuff. 

That left us loaded down with groceries, about 2 miles from home and me about to experience the next big Chilean innovation, the "collectivo", a small black vehicle (Toyota, Honda, Hyundai, Chevy) with a yellow sign on the top that identifies its route.  They drive the same circular route all day long picking up passengers on the way.  It cost us about US$1.20 to get back to Agua Santos, clutching our groceries as we zoomed past everything. 

It was worth risking life and limb to bring home the goodies that later went on the BBQ and onto our plate.  It's a gift to have summer produce and fruit twice in 6 months.

1 comment:

  1. Brother John checking in. Nice post, you is a good writer. (smile)