Valparaiso, Chile – Day Two

Our second day in Valparaiso was more work and less play. Karen needed to put in several hours of work in the morning and she had to phone a client in the afternoon. I welcomed the chance to put together the blog post for our first day in Valparaiso. So today we decided to keep it simple. We planed to walk a couple of kilometers down the hill towards the ocean to find someplace for lunch. There are lots of little hole-in-the-wall type places that don’t show up on Google or other maps. The Federico Santa María Technical University is on the hills overlooking the Pacific at the bottom of the hill. We were able to get onto the campus grounds to enjoy the views for a few moments. Google maps showed a cluster of eating places in the area. It seemed like an easy mission. It turned into another lesson on the subtle but sometimes significant differences between cultures.

Taking the Good With the Bad

Both mornings we have awoken to complete whiteouts. The view from our apartment on floor 19 was white. The street below was barely visible. Fortunately the fog cleared both days under the heat of the sun. Walking down hill was easy enough, but Sydney’s sleeveless shirt looked like it expose her shoulders and arms to too much sun. We passed several places that were for people a bit more adventurous than us. After 20 minutes of descending the hill we found a place to eat that looked promising. Vegetarian, enough stools to seat us all, a bright, clean interior. Jackpot, right?

Not so fast. Lucas didn’t like anything on the menu. Sydney had doubts about the options, but didn’t want to ask what exactly was in certain dishes. Her Spanish is very good, but she is not eager to use it. Karen and I decided to share a veggie calzone to tide us over until we could find a place the kids liked. We all had some of the fresh raspberry juice and all loved it. The calzone was very good too.

The spot that was selected for lunch was perhaps not the best choice. The problem was that we didn’t have a lot of time to eat lunch because Karen needed to get back to the apartment for her call. You might think it is all fun in the sun and everyday is a holiday for us. The truth is most days, like the routine days we lived in Calgary, have some ups and downs. I am hoping that the lack of routine will help the kids’ minds stay more alert to how things work and sometimes don’t work.

 

Might as Well Laugh About It Sooner Rather Than Later

The place we decided to have lunch was on a sidewalk a couple of blocks from the university. The menu had hot dogs, hamburgers, tacos, and pizza. Each item had an accompanying pictures. They had Neapolitan pizzas and veggie hot dogs. Some items, like hot dogs and tacos were XL. Maybe that meant extra large. Maybe it didn’t. Based on the pictures, it didn’t seem to make much difference. The prices were a little bit more for the XL items, so we figured it probably did mean extra large.

Karen and Sydney talked to the woman and were assured the veggie dogs had no meat. On this trip we have discovered Sydney’s kryptonite is a menu with two or more choices she wants to try. To help Sydney get past her conundrum here Karen agreed to share an veggie dogs and pizza with her. Lucas went for the XL hot dog and I ordered a taco. The was seating under cover on the sidewalk outside. So far, so good, right?

Well about 20 meters away on the sidewalk was a work crew. As is typical with most public works gangs I’ve seen, not everyone is working at the same time. This crew though seemed to think it was important to keep the jackhammer going non-stop however. It made for a less than desirable ambiance.

When the food arrived we found out that pictures (or names for that matter) are not always a very good indicator of what you will be getting. The veggie dogs had no meat because they filled the pasty, white rolls with corn, ketchup, avocado puree, and gobs of mayonnaise.  Lucas’ XL hot dog was indeed longer than the plate, but that was because the bun was so big. He did have a couple of sad, not very hot wieners in the soup of avocado and mayonnaise. My taco was a big tortilla with fillings that included the ubiquitous avocado puree and mayo. The tortilla wasn’t wrapped around the fillings, it was just folded over. I guess that would have made it a burrito. It also would have helped the thing have some structural integrity. Karen was not pleased to find the Neapolitan pizza used ketchup for sauce and included ham. Live and learn. Sometimes you need to learn repeatedly. I am reminded of the time I ordered a salad in Japan and ask if it had meat or not. When it came with bacon all over it I mentioned that I ask for a salad with no meat. “Oh that’s not meat.”, the waiter replied. “It’s bacon.” Sometimes things get lost in translation. It has happened before. It will happen again.

Anyway, we choked down as much as we could and laughed about how very unsatisfying the whole meal was. It seemed like the best response to the situation. I predict an early supper tonight.