Sunday, May 13, 2012

Couchsurfing in a suburban city of Santiago - Melpilla

After overnight bus from Orsono to Santiago, we arrived at 6am and had a hard time finding ATM to get cash to pay for just 1300 Chileno peso (around 20 HKD) each for the bus to Melipilla, where our next host Diego live. The exchange house had not opened yet as it was Saturday. That took us the whole morning and finally got that.  We had told our host Diego not to wait for us but we would call him once arrived. An hour later we were in the suburban town Melpilla. Our next task was to find a coin phone to call him, or a wifi hotspot to email/skype. It was the first time I figured out that only the old version of 100 Chileno peso coin could be used for the old coin phone in the nearby pub. The kind old bartender helped me use the phone. Having only four such coins myself, I could only make one minute call to Diego. After another hour of waiting and we were about to give up by taking a local bus to the nearby coastal town San Antonio. Diego came.

To our surprise we still had to wait for another half hour for a couple from USA. They were going to couchsurf with us at Diego’s home. We wondered whether he had a large home to host two couples. Anyway our expectation in couchsurfing was for a local life more than a free place to stay, we just welcomed anything coming before us. While we were waiting for another couple, we tasted the local pastries, mostly small tarts sweetened by mostly dulce de leche. We thank Diego for serving us the delicacies. He was studying TV directing in a university in Santiago, joining him that day was his friend Alex who came to Chile to start an IT business. We just knew that the Chilean government, in order to encourage IT development, gives project fund for six months for people starting business in the country.
Finally the couple from USA, Jessica and Alex from Ann Arbor, came. We first visited a pastry workshop where Diego’s mother work. Maria and I were so excited about that and we wish there would be an opportunity to assist in production and learn some tricks.

After we settled at Diego’s home (we were lucky to stay in his brother’s room and had some privacy, while his brother was studying university and moved away), he brought us to a nearby town called Pomaire. It is famous for clay and ceramic production. I like the cute piggy pot for saving coins and other pottery utensils were so cheap. If I would go back to Hong Kong right away I would have bought them. There were also local delicacies such as the largest empanadas we saw in south America so far, the plum juice, chicho. We then had dinner in a local restaurant, where we tried the avis soup, the soupa of maze and the local chili sauce. It was yammy. We also share our traveling stories: it was the first time fo Jessica traveling outside her country. She picked Chile because she believed price was cheap, but we all corrected her that Bolivia was much cheaper, although we had not gone there yet. After we came back to the town square we walked around the night market, where we saw a stall selling puffed cream candies, also from the production of Diego’s mother’s workshop. There was another stall selling bundled flower, Diego made the flowers too, how talented he was. We also bought locally made honey. There was also one with anti oxidant like the manuka honey that we bought a little,while Maria had some sour throat and would benefit from that. It was supposed to be mother’s day in the next Sunday so there were many gifts sold by the stalls about that. On the way we walked home we bought beer and also pisco sour in bottle. Pisco was a sweet alcohol of grape made in Chile, although Peru also claimed to make better pisco. The bottle we bought was the pisco of milk taste, It was like bailey and not expensive. Only 3500 Chileno peso, converted to around 55 HKD, for 300ml, it was quite a good bargain.

On the next day it was Sunday, there was a farmer’s market. We were so happy that we bought many fresh vegetables with good price, also some meat that we made good chinese food for the afternoon and evening. So much time was used on the cooking and eating that. we did not go to San Antonio as planned, but Maria got the chance to learn the pastry from the workshop, which was actually opened by Diego’s maternal grandmother, a talented woman with magic hand of pastries. While she made pastry I made chinese food, of sweet and sour ribs, stir fried vegetable. All people enjoyed that.

We had such a good time enjoying ourselves in local life of the suburban town Melipilla. Thank Diego for the hospitality and we are ready for the city life of Santiago.

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