Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Santiago de Chile

If there's one thing I didn't think I'd be doing at 5.42am my first night in Chile, it was being tucked up in bed, typing a blog post. I got to Santiago yesterday morning after a fourteen-hour flight fropm Madrid during which I only slept for about two to three hours. About five international flights landed within twenty minutes either side of ours and the queue to get through passport control was incredible. Still, my driver was there and we made it to the apartment exactly when my employer predicted we would. Just time to have a shower, head out and get a coffee before starting work at 11 o'clock. The lunch break was taken up with basic shopping and a maiden Skype with Mrs. Fingers back at the ranch, then it was back to work. When I got in last night, I couldn't wait to get to bed. Nonetheless, if I'd gone too early I'd have been awake even earlier but I really did think that turning in at 11pm would keep me comatose until at least seven this morning...how wrong I was, and here I am.

I've only seen a tiny fraction of the city but it looks and feels good. Our neighbourhood, Lastarria, is fantastic: full of trendy new cafés and restaurants, it's a bit like living in Neal's Yard. There'll be time to discover more. Since I now appear to have a good five hours before work starts I'll head off and visit the Mapuche chemist which is only about fifty yards from work and then hunt down some decent coffee. That, gentle readers, is easier said than done, believe it or not. There's still a marked preference for Nescafé and the like, yerba maté is not widely drunk and, as an Englishman, the only decent tea is the cup I make myself. There's a Starbucks here, which I'll avoid as long as I can, and a little Santiago Starbucks clone called Starlight Coffee, run by a trio of rather attractive Chilenas just next to the office. It's good, it's pretty cheap so I'll probably end up going there, again.

The supermarket I went to, Unimarc, was interesting: a reasonable selection of fruit and veg, lots of meat (ribs, in particular), a bit of fish, loads of different types of flour, virtually no jam despite having an 'English' bread selection that could hold its own with anywhere on our still-fair isle, lots of pasta, sweets, flavoured yoghurts and scores of different types of fizzy drinks. It was like shopping in Rotherham, honestly. Maybe I've been spoiled by living in France these last few years but I can assure you there are other countries who eat just as badly as we're supposed to. Chilean recipes look wonderful, just as British ones do in colourful cookery books, but I get the feeling that Señor Pablo Publico's everyday diet is just as dangerous as anything you'll find north of the English Channel. Anyhow, I've been craving Chinese food for the last week, so I'm off this morning to find an Asian supermarket and get my jollies that way.

The Chilean first division has entered its playoff phase, so I'm going to try to get to a match or two. There's also a good production of Tosca to see and that's before I've even started looking for things to do. These next three weeks should be quite enjoyable...

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