Ciao Santiago, Hola CDMX

Plus: A Visit to the Dentist in STGO and From Summer to Winter in 8 Hours

While we never say we regret being in a place (mostly because we don’t), we were ready to leave Santiago. We’ve also mentioned why: It’s a little rundown and a little too quiet for us, although the people are very nice. Chile as a whole is a beautiful country and we would definitely come back … but not to Santiago. I hope it’s fortunes change.

Before we left, I had a little bit of excitement. We’ve been extremely lucky because in all our travels (except for one vacation in Costa Rica several years ago), we haven’t needed medical treatment — until now. While eating a bowl of oatmeal Wednesday, I heard a crunch and was thinking there was something really icky in my food. I was right: It was part of a crown on my back molar (I keep telling her that all this healthy food isn’t good for her). At first, I thought I would hold out until we got to Mexico City, but it was bugging me and I didn’t want to wait. I asked at my Spanish school and they suggested the clinic down the street.

In Chile, clinic means private medical care, including emergency services and hospital. Hospitals are public.

After school, my teacher walked me over there, helped me get registered and then took off since I was supposed to have an hour wait. An hour and a half later, I asked the receptionist what was up. Turns out the dentist had a real emergency, a dental surgery. I was really hungry and feeling like I should just go home, but instead, I headed to a food truck and got a gigantic seitan sandwich that I could only eat half of. When I got back, the wait was down to 20 minutes, so there I sat.

I managed to explain myself to the dentist in Spanglish and I mostly understood his Spanish. I was out of there five minutes later with a filling — all for about $150. Pero … two days later the rest of the crown fell out. Back I went to the clinic, this time for a 45-minute wait and a different dentist who spoke no English, he covered the rest of my tooth as a temporary solution. Tomorrow, I have an appointment with a dentist in Mexico City so I can get a new crown. Wish me luck (Good luck!).

All-in-all, the clinic experience was positive. Everyone was very nice and patient with my so-so Spanish, plus it didn’t break the bank.

The band at The Jazz Corner

Thursday, we went to The Jazz Corner, with Rania. We heard — kind of blues? Random American music.Steven’s favorite was a rendition of “UnchainS my Heart” and mine was “Moostang Sally.” I know I shouldn’t make fun of people’s accents, but it was funny. The band was pretty good, but the singer left a lot to be desired. It sort of sums up Santiago: It’s fine, but not great. Everyone is nice and trying hard, but only partially succeeding. The company was great, though (Rania is going on a road trip next week to Atacama and is taking a 24 hour bus ride from Atacama to Valparaiso!).

The airport lounge

For our last meal in Santiago, we chose to have the papas fritas with toppings at Papachecos again. That says a lot about the food there. It is a bit uninspired.

Saturday morning, we arose at 5 a.m. for our flight to CDMX. I didn’t realize just how large South America is, but it is about an 8-hour flight. (It is more than 4,000 miles.) Luckily, we upgraded to the comfy business class seats for not a crazy amount extra (but we do owe $$ to charity, Steven!). We stopped at the LatAm lounge and tanked up on coffee. On the plane, we dozed, watched movies, and ate. We were the second and third off the plane and there was no line at immigration. We were out of the airport and in a taxi, with the OK to stay here 180 days if we so choose in about half an hour.

We quickly unpacked and made it to about 9:30 p.m. (which was 12:30 for us) before we crashed for the night.

Winter

We forgot that we were shifting from summer to winter when we got here. We were particularly puzzled by the sunset time of 6:30 p.m. What? So early! In Santiago, the sun set around 9 and rose around 7-7:30 a.m. It’s a weird time zone because Lima, Peru, which is pretty much directly north, is two hours behind Santiago.

It is also chilly at night. Like, actually chilly. Not 70 degrees chilly. People here are wearing winter coats, which is a bit of overkill, but if you get up early and it’s 50 degrees and that’s the coldest you’re used it, maybe it’s understandable. It does get into the mid-70s, maybe 80 during the day, so no complaints here.

Sunday, we spent the day getting organized. Every time we move into a new space, we check to see what’s missing. This time, we needed a colander, storage containers, aluminum foil, plastic wrap, and spices. Plus, of course, food. We stumbled upon a street market with several restaurants and since we didn’t eat dinner Saturday night, we ended up stopping for brunch(?). You basically sit at long folding tables on plastic chairs and the food is cooked on portable grills right in front of you. The place we went had vegan meat. I ordered chilachiles and didn’t realize it came with the vegan meat, so I asked if they had eggs. The guy said no, but then one of the chefs went to another booth and got one for me. Nice! We managed to communicate in Spanish and he explained the 10 different kinds of sauces: three-levels of picante, ensalada, y dulce. Boy did we miss comida picante! Steven had chicken enchiladas that were also muy rico. We were very happy.

Afterwards, we walked to my school, signed up for a gym, and went to Mercado Medellin, an indoor fruit, veg, meat, fish, and random other stuff market right near us. We had an adventure trying fruit we’d never seen before (again, everyone was muy amable), and bought lots of fresh produce. We dropped that off and headed to the Asian market for more supplies. Finally, we hit the regular supermarket for the few things we still needed.

Still, we didn’t have a colander, so we tried the outdoor market, but it mostly had clothes, toys, and some makeup. Then, we went to the weirdest department store I have been in and I have been in department stores that sell motor bikes. Sanborns was one floor and had a tiny selection of about everything you would expect to find in a department store. One shelf of kitchen appliances, two racks of women’s clothes, one display case of electronics, etc. Weird. It was in a mall where upstairs there was a store called, “Canadian Store.” Basically, a dollar store where we were able to get the rest of the kitchen items we needed. Phew!

Getting all this done early helps us feel at home. Now we are sitting in our new living room watching football.

Dead Person Bingo sin Steven

Plus: Decent pizza and an intro to the Atacama Desert

Wednesday I signed up for one of the cultural activities my Spanish school offers because it was tour of Cementario General. My classmates, Rania and James also signed up, but warned me that the tour guide was a bit, how shall we say? … scattered. They were right! We Americans (and apparently Brits, too) find the laissez faire scheduling and organization in South American to be a bit challenging.

The tour allegedly began at 1:30 p.m., but classes end at 1:30, so, yeah, I was thinking not. At a bit before 2 we walked to the Metro (where not everyone had a BIP card for the train so we waited for everyone to pay), took it one stop, changed trains, took it one more stop and walked to a buffet restaurant. We didn’t have reservations and there were about 20 of us, so we waited. Did I mention that we could easily have walked there or perhaps gone to a restaurant somewhere near the cemetery? But, no. Rania and I had brought our own food, so after warnings about the dangers of the neighborhood (OK, then why did you bring us there???), we walked about two blocks to the central fruit and veg market (Vega Central Santiago). Think many fruit and veggie stands at good prices. The surrounding area is not pleasant. It’s dirty and smelly. Once inside, we found excellent produce, but I wouldn’t recommend going there alone even though we didn’t see anything bad happen.

After everyone ate and paid one at a time with the portable credit card machine, we finally headed over to the cemetery, which took another train ride. The cemetery was reminiscent of the ones in Paris — a little overgrown, but beautiful. Our guide did know a lot, but she also uses the random approach to showing people around. Different nationalities had different areas of the cemetery, there were many mausoleums and tributes to freedom fighters plus a very icky mausoleum dedicated to Pinochet’s henchmen. It was the only place where I thought the graffiti was warranted.

Speaking of Pinochet: Allegedly the unmarked mausoleum in the cemetery is where his parents are buried. It is unmarked for obvious reasons. I think I believe that, but if everyone knows it is unmarked and really a Pinochet grave, why isn’t it defaced? We also saw Salvador Allende and Orlando Letelier, who was assassinated in Washington, D.C. by Pinochet’s order (and perhaps with the help of the CIA). Letelier was part of Allende’s government and was in exile in the United States.

The cemetery technically closed at 6, but our guide was still talking as students peeled off to go home. It’s hot in midday in Santiago and there’s no shade. We were done, but she wasn’t. She did tell a fun ghost story about a widower who appears near his wife’s grave whenever there is a storm. Of course, she also claimed she did not know the story when she saw him on a different tour. What do I know. Maybe ghosts do exist.

Thursday, Rania, James and I had lunch together since James was headed to Colombia. He had said he found good pizza and I was game to try. My hopes were not high, but the pizza was pretty good and the company even better. Steven and I had a flight to Calama, the airport closest to San Pedro de Atacama, at 6:30 that evening, so I expediently returned home to pack at 3:40 so we could leave by 4 (did she mention that she had not yet packed?). We got to the airport in plenty of time and had an uneventful 2-hour flight. Our driver picked us up for the hour long drive to our hotel, Noi Casa Atacama, and we marveled at the number of stars we could see on the drive. By the time we checked in and got settled, we were tired and just relaxed on our terrace.

The Atacama Desert is the highest (non-polar) and driest desert in the world with an average rainfall of 0.004 inches a year. Measurable rain falls only once a century. No significant amount of rain has fallen in 500 years. It’s dry. Beautiful, strange, and very, very, dry. The driest place on Earth. Bring your eye drops and water bottles (and lip balm) everywhere. Low- sodium salt is abundant and one of the tourist attractions are the salt flats. Salt mining had been big business since it was used in the copper purification process (along with sulfur). Salt is still mined using electrolysis, but you can’t buy it in the store to sprinkle on your papas fritas.

The town of San Pedro sits at 7,900 feet above sea level. It’s a dusty little tourist town of about four blocks full of artisan markets, restaurants, lodging and tour services. None of the roads are paved and the buildings are mostly adobe. Bring a hat and lots of sunscreen.

Friday, we had a morning massage (included in our hotel package). The massage therapist was very kind with our poor Spanish and told me that she loved living in a tranquilo town where she could bike everywhere she needed to go (I have no idea what she was saying to me). After our massages, we had our first tour of the weekend: Valle de la Luna, which you may have guessed, looks like a lunar landscape. Our perspective is skewed, because we thought there were a lot of tourists there, but in reality, compared to a weekend at Yosemite, we had the place to ourselves. We have also noticed that the Chileans haven’t quite figured out that a snack bar and souvenir shop at every tourist spot would net them mucho dinero.

The landscape can’t be described and I doubt pictures will do it justice, but if you don’t realize how small we are when you see the formations created by winds and blowing sand, the sun glinting off the mountains and salt, and the natural amphitheater, nothing will. At the end of the tour, we sat and waited for the sunset. Steven and I would have prefer to forgo that, mostly because it is summer and we had almost 45 minutes of sitting around in a spot with a steep drop-off that he wasn’t going to go anywhere near, before the sun slipped behind the mountains. We all know that the sun’s fall below the horizon is not the peak of the sunset, which we saw later on our drive back. It’s almost as though you cranked up the saturation on your photos, only you don’t need to because it’s real.

Steven is going to take over and describe our weekend, but like many of the other places we have been fortunate enough to visit, the Atacama will stay with us. I hope someday we will be able to return.

Writing in Chilean Time

Oops, it’s taken a bit longer to write this blog than we usually like to take, but I started Spanish school and Steven hit the ground running at work after a quiet holiday week. We were very exciting people on New Year’s Eve: we binge-watched “Bad Sisters” and had a glass of wine at midnight. In Santiago, people celebrate holidays by not working and this mostly includes the people who would serve you if you went out to a restaurant, so many of them are closed. Obviously, they are also closed for New Year’s Day and a lot was closed Monday, too.

First thing is school. I decided to keep going with Spanish classes even though people told me Chileans use a lot of slang, never enunciate the S, speak quickly, and don’t open their mouths when they talk. All this is true, but it’s still worth it. I am in the advanced class because I was good at the grammar test I took. Speaking is a lot more difficult, especially because my aging brain doesn’t retain vocabulary that well. The other person in the class is a MUCH better Spanish speaker than I am, but I am struggling along and learning a lot about Chile in general. Or at least, I am learning what I think I am understanding, but I’m not really sure.

The cone of (shame?) fries and a happy customer.

We have been wanting to go to a movie in a Spanish-speaking country for a while and we finally made it. Unless they are massively popular movies that children and illiterates want to see, the movies here are in their original language with Spanish subtitles. We saw “El Menu,” which was very strange, darkly funny, and had excellent Spanish subtitles that I could mostly understand since everyone in the movie was speaking English! The theater was an old-fashioned, one-screen affair with a balcony and velvet seats. As far as I could tell, there was no popcorn, or any other refreshments. That didn’t matter because before the movie, Steven and I went to Papachecos, which serves fresh papas fritas (French fries) in a paper cone with the toppings of your choice. I’m not talking ketchup here (although it is available). I had sauteed mushrooms and tapenade and Steven had pollo mostada (mustard chicken) and salsa barbacoa (BBQ sauce). The fries are made on the spot and the line is always long, but moves pretty quickly (for South America). Yum!

The rest of the week moved on quickly and we had a trip to the coast to look forward to. Saturday morning, we headed to the airport to pick up a rental car. After a bit of confusion (which seems to be the norm when we do something new here), we were on the road. First we drove about 90 minutes due west to Isla Negra, where Pablo Neruda had a home on the ocean. Neruda seems to be the only internationally famous Chilean, unless you count the dictator whose name no one says here. We toured the museum/house, which was interesting, but the audio guide was a bit too detailed (some of the rooms had 5+minutes of narration), but the grounds and the view of the Pacific were spectacular. Our guide in the lakes region of Patagonia, Manuela, has a house there, and her grandparents were friends with Neruda, so that added to the fun. This also served as our Dead Person Bingo (short game, only one person), since Pablo and his third wife, Matilda, are buried on the grounds. Before heading to the museum, we grabbed some empanadas and they were freshly made, so that was also a nice surprise. Often, they are sitting in a display case waiting to be reheated.

From Isla Negra, we headed north to Viña del Mar, a resorty beach town. We decided that if we were going to go there, we should stay right on the beach. We got to the hotel around 4:30, headed up to our room and realized there was no reason to leave the grounds. We had a balcony with an ocean view and the pool and bar area was right on the water. Aaaaah. We spent the evening looking at the water. I sipped a pisco sour, Steven had beer and then we shared a vegan ceviche, which is basically veggies in lime sauce. Excellent. We were so enamored of our balcony that we just ordered room service and sat listening to the ocean and trying to see the stars. With the full moon, it was a bit tough, so the Southern Cross will have to wait until Atacama.

We had a bit of a cash incident in that we were unable to get cash. All the ATMs were shuttered on Saturday when we left Santiago and the machine in the hotel was broken. We learned this because two men had its guts open and one of them made the universal signal for dead — a finger swiped across the throat. We tried again Sunday, but were rewarded only with the message below.

The good news is that because we had to find a bank, we met a Dutch couple, Sabina and Jean Luc, and they were really nice! After a successful ATM transaction, we walked on the beach, bought our usual souvenirs (fridge magnets) and then headed back toward Santiago. It was lunch time so we stopped in the town of Casablanca. From Google, it looked like there were tons of restaurants on the main drag. One lesson we have learned: Don’t trust Google in Chile to find businesses. After driving in circles for a bit, we found a restaurant that turned out to have a nice patio — and two items on the menu. Fried fish for me and chicken for Steven. Not my first choice, but it was tasty and the people were (as usual) very nice.

After lunch we headed back to the airport, dropped the car, took a cab back to our Air BnB, grabbed our grocery bags and hit the Metro so we could go to the really nice supermarket. We shopped only for groceries at the Jumbo, which is in the fancy mall that has all the international brands, instead of the barely adequate one in our neighborhood. We hauled our six grocery bags out the door and right into a cab.

Another weekend in the books. I wonder what next week will bring?

A Jewish Feliz Navidad

In Santiago, everything closes early on Christmas Eve and stays closed on Christmas, so naturally we decided to go somewhere else where everything was closed: wine country, or at least one of the many wine-making areas of Chile. We chose Colchagua Valley, mostly because there is a hotel there, Hotel Santa Cruz Plaza, that had a restaurant that would be open.

Needed a pic here. This moon shot is pretty, right? I took it from the hotel walkway so it is relevant.

We rented a car for what should have been a 90-minute drive, but we figured it would take longer because of the holiday and we were right (no big deal). But let’s backtrack. Our comedy of errors began when we tried to get a taxi. Cabify is big here, so we called one. He was supposed to arrive in 3 minutes Excellent! But, as we waited and watched the little car on the map, we noticed he didn’t turn at the appropriate corner. OK, rerouted. 5 minutes away. Then, he did it again. 7 minutes away. Then, he texted us to say he was outside our building, which he clearly wasn’t. We replied, asking him where he was. No answer. OK, cancel, try again. The next guy showed up promptly, but then decided to take us on a tour of the side streets instead of going on the highway, which we could see from the road. A 15-minute drive took 40. Finally, we arrived at a gated building that said Budget Rent a Car. We went in only to find, in our broken Spanish, that we were at the office, not the rental car spot at the airport. We walked back out the the street to call another taxi, when the very kind Budget worker came running after us to tell us one of the workers was coming to give us a ride to the airport!

At the airport, there was more confusion. Hmmm, somebody (me) had booked the car for a Budget near the apartment, not at the airport. Seemed like a good idea at the time. Anyway, another very nice Budget agent found us a car and said that our mistake was small compared to the people who book cars in Santiago, Cuba! Finally, we were off and yes, it took an extra hour or so because of traffic, but the drive wasn’t bad and Chile is a beautiful country full of mountains, farmland and vineyards (and many people selling watermelon on the shoulder of the highway).

We were a bit leery because the hotel advertised that it had a casino and visions of Las Vegas danced in my head. I should know better by now. First of all, Chile does not commercialize Christmas the way the U.S. does. Christmas music is minimal and people did not greet us with “Feliz Navidad” anywhere. In fact, I think we said it more to others. Maybe Chileans haven’t figured out how to capitalize on holidays for tourism, or maybe they don’t care, because the hotel was pretty dead and that was fine with us. The casino turned out to be a room full of slot machines — and it was closed. They do offer more activities at other times, if you happen to be in the Santa Cruz, Chile, area.

The hotel was a little compound with several buildings, a pool, a museum, gift shop, wine shop, restaurant and bar. Image what you think of as typically South American architecture. You got it! Tiles, painted furniture, bougainvillea, wooden beams, etc. Very relaxing. We arrived Friday evening and wandered around town. There was the obligatory Christmas fair with artisan goods as well as junky stuff and various stores. We love a good grocery store, it’s a cultural experience, and there were several, all packed with holiday feast shoppers.

Food can be a challenge for us (me), so we retired to the room and looked for a good restaurant. We lucked out and found Casona Bistro. We felt a little odd because we were the only ones there (another couple arrived later, but they sat outside), but the bistro was in a house with a view of the mountains so we decided just to enjoy. Our waiter was very friendly (a theme in Chile, it seems) and indulged our bad Spanish. We discovered he is from Colombia, so we started joking about how I wanted a giant emerald and Steven learned how to say, “She is not worth it” in Spanish (ella no vale la pena), which became a running joke. The food was delicious as was the wine the waiter recommended.

Saturday morning, we had booked a tour of the only winery that was open, Laura Hartwig. I mostly did it because I thought we were getting a horse-drawn carriage ride, but when we got there, we learned that the place stayed open only for us (and the horses had all gone home for the holiday). We got a general tour of the vineyard with a very lovely guy who spoke Spanish and then translated when we didn’t understand because we told him we were trying to learn. We tried three wines with cheeses and had a chill conversation. We tried to hurry because we realized that we were the only reason he was working, but he wouldn’t hear of it. We were buying a couple of bottles when he said he had to go. As we were leaving the vineyard, he hurried by us with his backpack. It was 11:56 and he was trying to catch a 12:10 bus to Santiago. He again insisted it was OK. We gave him our contact info, so maybe we’ll hear from him again.

We had eaten breakfast at the hotel, which had a nice variety of foods(everything from eggs and toast to cold cuts and cheese) and juices (and a honeycomb that dripped fresh honey into a bowl!) and skipped lunch. We wanted to have Christmas dinner at the hotel (mostly because it was the only place opened) but the menu was set and was king crab and turkey. OK, never mind. We were assured that the room service would be available. We had massages schedule at 4 so we went down to the pool and relaxed until then. We had booked therapeutic massages, but Wow! Both of us felt like the massage therapists had really pounded the knots out of our old muscles.

We relaxed by the pool some more (it’s a tough life) and then decided we were hungry. Room service menu is available meant salad or pizza, so pizza it was. We watched “The Glass Onion,” which was fine entertainment for the room but not nearly as good as “Knives Out.” It was a surprisingly good time considering that we were sitting in a hotel room eating mediocre pizza (and drinking a very nice Chilean wine that we had bought the day before in our wanderings).

Sunday, we decided to go for a drive. A tour guide in the hotel had mentioned a hike up a hill in a nearby town, but when we got there, we couldn’t figure out where it was (her directions were go the center of the town and go up the hill on the path. We found the center of the town, and could see the hill, but could not find the path). Our contingency plan was to keep heading west until we hit the ocean — so we did. Guess what? Things were open. The little town of Bucalemu, Chile, was like a little Jersey Shore town, only smaller and you didn’t have to pay to be on the beach. Oh, there were horses on the beach and a bunch of old fishing boats. But other than that. we tried mote con huesillos, which is a refreshing drink made with dried peaches and poured over wheat berries, and discovered cochayuyo, an edible kelp, but didn’t try it. We bought some snacks and a fridge magnet (naturally), wandered a bit, and headed back to the hotel for more pool-sitting since outside the walls of the compound it was a ghost town, BUT the restaurant was open for dinner! We had another good meal and bottle of wine.

Monday, we had another hearty breakfast and then drove back to Santiago without incident, even stopping in a supermarket along the way for provisions.

Hard Landing in Santiago

Today it’s time for some lessons from the road:

  1. Keep track of the compromises you made
  2. Remember where the hip neighborhood is (and that you were a few minutes walk from it)
  3. Wide-angle lenses lie (which we knew but …)

Perhaps it was partly because Patagonia was so magical, but even before we got to Santiago, we deflated. I looked back at our AirBnB listing only to find that the WiFi was inadequate. To be fair, the host had told us that, but we have no recollection about why we thought that was OK. Steven is very diligent about work and I could feel his anxiety ramping up.

Our view 😦

We got there without any trouble, headed up to the ninth floor, opened the door and … the apartment was smaller and a bit more, how shall we say it — basic — than we remembered. The view is of some rundown buildings and a patch of dry grass. Certainly no snow-capped volcano. After the host’s very nice niece departed, we realized there was only one small AC unit in the living room and the place was hot. Late afternoon is the hottest time of day, so that didn’t do much for our spirits.

Then, Steven took a shower. Well, he tried to take a shower, but water merely dribbled out of the shower head. Sigh. I tried the shower in the other bathroom, but I could barely turn around to get my back wet. It was not shaping up well.

We did have a very delicious dinner at Le Bistrot Viet (yay! Asian food with many vegan options!!) a 10-minute walk away, but on the way there, the city seemed desolate. Lots of metal grates covering closed shops. Plus, we were one of three couples eating (of course it was VERY early, 7:30). We were not feeling hopeful. Also, the streets seem to be lined with people selling what our Spanish tutor, Marcela, calls tanteria, or crap.

It didn’t really improve when, after a 25-minute walk with the host’s other niece, who speaks no English, and 2-hour wait at the Entel store, I returned with a hot spot that did not really improve the WiFi speed. Oy!

We had high hopes for the grocery store because we went to one in Puerto Varas and it was large and had a selection of the food we like, but the one near us here is smaller and not as well stocked.

Finally, there’s a state of emergency in Lima and we are understandably reluctant to go there, sooooo we were searching for alternatives. The AirBnB market is getting tight (more on that in another blog) and our options were limited. We thought we would just move up Medellin and hope that Lima would clear up, but we came to the conclusion that we want to stay somewhere for more than six weeks. Because, by the time we settle in, we have four weeks of routine and exploration and one week of getting ready to leave before we move on. Just not enough time. We are hoping, instead, to spend three months in Mexico City. Fingers crossed that our AirBnB comes through.

We did enjoy the party after Argentina won the World Cup, but I wish we had been in Buenos Aires for that.

And now for the good news …

Steven’s life philosophy is: It’ll work out. Sometimes, when he says it, it’s calming, but other times, I want to strangle him (or put a pillow over my head when I am sleeping – luckily I sleep with one eye open). THINGS DON’T JUST WORK OUT. But, actually, they do!

  • We have settled into the apartment and it’s just fine, if not luxurious.
  • I fiddled with the shower head and now the water pressure is adequate (again, not luxurious, but fine).
  • There’s no humidity, so while temperatures get into the 80s around 4ish, it’s in the 60s at night and heats slowly during the day, so the one AC unit is fine.
  • If we go to the supermarket in the morning, they have a better selection and we found a semi-bare Chinese market that had a few of our staples.
  • Best of all, we decided to go for a walk yesterday (the coffee we bought at the market is yucky and I saw a hipstery-looking cafe that I hoped would sell bulk coffee) and found a great neighborhood! The streets were still lined with people selling things, but it was art fair not cheap socks. I even found Frida! Plus, the streets were also lined with cafes full of people.

But wait, it gets better! We wandered up and down the street and decided to sit at a wine bar, BocaNariz. I mostly did it because I thought it would help up acclimate and feel better about Santiago. Boy, did it work!

Not only did we try flights of Chilean wine, but we made new friends who I hope will be lasting ones (Hi Ken and Natacha!!!). They were sitting next to us and we struck up a conversation. They are writers who live in San Francisco, although Natacha is French (and speaks great Spanish!). She was meeting up with colleagues, so we sat and bent Ken’s ear for a few more hours while we shared a bottle of wine.

The street was lively and full of performers. A group (see video) danced in the street and cars (mostly) good-naturedly waited them out.

Oh, and I haven’t mentioned that Chileans are warm, friendly, helpful people who will talk to you in the grocery store, give you guidance, and speak English if you ask or Spanish if you want to try.

We walked home feeling much, much better about Santiago.

Later today, we are headed to the Colchagua Valley wine country. Nothing is open here or there on Christmas, but we figured it would be nicer to be in the hills and go for a nice death march (nice death march? Isn’t that a tautology?) than to be in the city. Stay tuned.

Patagonia Flat

We said ciao to the end of the earth and headed to Puerto Varas, where we started with a short tour of two towns on the lake that were settled by German immigrants – Frutillar and Puerto Octay. Puerto Varas is a pretty big tourist destination and the “gateway to the lakes region of Patagonia.” If you need outdoor gear, this is the town for you. But it is on Lake Llanquihue (pronounced Yankee Way – just like the road in the Bronx to the greatest baseball stadium in the world)(it’s a very deep glacial lake – a great place to put the team), a glacial lake with beautiful scenery everywhere you look.

The first night, we went to Santo Fuego, a parrilla (of course), so Robin and Steven could eat meat for dinner. We left satisfied and tired after a long day. We were grateful because the pick-up time for our excursions for the next two days was a luxurious 9 a.m.!

Promptly at 9, Manuela and the driver arrived. Steven and I had been trying to figure out how to get laundry done, but in a harbinger of good things to come, Manuela said she would have the driver take us to the laundry service the hotel recommended. Hmmm, closed, but Manuela to the rescue! She knew a woman who did laundry and would bring it back to us at the hotel before we left the next morning. We dropped off the dirty clothes and started on the 1.5 hour drive to Parque Nacional Alerce Andino to hike through the temperate rain forest to a 3,000-year-old Patagonian cypress or Fitzroya cupressoides,  named after Robert Fitzroy of the HMS Beagle and Tierra del Fuego expedition fame. He got a mountain named after him, too (seems like a worthy reward for the effort he put in to schlep Darwin far enough so he could change our entire thinking on the way the natural world works).

We lucked out with Manuela, because in addition to finding us laundry service, she was an excellent guide to the trees and flowers in the park. We had great timing because everything was blooming so the forest was a deep green, punctuated by tiny red, purple, yellow, pink, and white blossoms. The hike itself is what we have learned is “Patagonia flat,” meaning you won’t be climbing a mountain, but don’t imagine the Midwest either. Rolling hills are a polite way of putting it.

Both on the way in and out of the park, we passed waterfalls on Rio Chaicas. I know I’m starting to sound redundant, but everything we saw was on a grand scale and beautiful. I think part of it was that we didn’t really have any expectations, so we were just amazed at every turn.

Our excursions came with a lunch, so we sat at the base of the giant tree and ate. The whole hike was about 8 km or 5 miles. Perfect for enjoying the environment without overdoing it on our step count.

Back in town, we wandered a bit and then ended up eating at the Hotel Puelche (where we were staying) restaurant – a burger place that had veggie burgers, too.

Steven here – we have done some much in these last few days that we decided to split up the blog – I am taking day two.

The next morning, first the laundry showed up on time – whew! We had clean clothes. Manuela and Ronaldo (our driver, but no not the futbol player) showed up promptly at 9 again. This time we loaded all our luggage into the van because we were checking out. The plan for today was to do shortish (6km) hike along the base of a volcano. According to Wikipedia (which will tell you not to use Wikipedia as a source), there are 105 volcanos in Chile that have been active during the Holocene – which is the current geologic period and has lasted about 11,000 years. We were hiking around the base of Volcán Osorno, which is in the Vincente Pérez Rosales National Park. It is the oldest national park, established in 1926 after Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt visited the area and allegedly suggested that a park be established because it was the most beautiful place that he had ever seen. At least that is what they tell the Americans. The area is a temperate rainforest, so the forests are very green and lush. The hike took us through part of the forest and then across a lava field (the lava was no longer hot as the last eruption was in 1869, so it was safe to walk across) and then back through lower and more scrub-like vegetation. The entire hike was on black sand. We considered climbing up to the top (2,600 meters) of the volcano and sacrificing our cousin Robin to ensure that volcano didn’t erupt, but Manuela recommended against it, and we are afraid of Aunt Es.

After we finished the hike, we took the van to another part of the park (which is huge, something like 250,000 hectares or 1,000 square miles) and stopped to eat our box lunches at the Petrohué waterfalls. The falls are formed from the runoff of glacier water from the volcano so the water is a turquoise blue. As always, my words cannot express the beauty and power of nature, but hopefully these photos and videos will.

The cold tree

We walked a couple of trails near the waterfalls, one of which was full of a tree called Arrayan or Luma (Luma apiculate). The interesting thing about this tree is that it is always cold to the touch. We wandered the trails for another couple of hours and then called it a day.

Ronaldo drove us to the Petróhue Lodge, where were staying for the night. The lodge is on Todos los Santos Lake just on the outskirts of Parque Nacional Vicente Pérez Rosales and is rustic and beautiful. The owner is the great grandson of a Swiss archeologist and explorer who mapped the area and then settled here. He (the great grandson) has established a little museum next to the hotel about the history of the area and gave us a really nice tour of it.

Back to me (Sue, that is) – Yesterday was Robin’s last day with us, but we had time for one more hike with her. We couldn’t do the 7-hour Desolation Pass (oh boy were we sad we couldn’t do another death march), so we settled for a 3-hour loop which included the beginning of that hike and then headed back along the beach.

We were a little confused about where the trailhead was so we tried asking a park ranger. Apparently, my Spanish is very bad and I didn’t get across the point that we just needed directions to the trailhead, but he was very nice and used Google translate voice to give us a whole history of the park before pointing us in the right direction.

Wow! We had another perfect weather day in which the clouds lifted to reveal the Osorno volcano (among others). The hike took us from the lakefront, through the forest, across alluvial fields, and along the volcanic sand shores of the lake. We got back in plenty of time for Robin to get ready for her travel back to Atlanta and have a last lunch with us.

Steven and I had booked a hot tub for 4 p.m., so we relaxed for a couple of hours and puzzled over where to go instead of Peru, where there is a state of emergency. We are crazy, but not stupid. The hot tub is heated by a wood fire, so the staff tended it for four hours before it was the right temperature. The water was perfect and we sat in the wooden vats amid the trees feeling very lucky. The pisco sour and beer didn’t hurt either. Tomorrow, we go back to Puerto Varas for one last day of vacation before heading to Santiago and reality.

Today was the last day of our vacation. We spent the morning getting our last looks at Petrohue before we transferred back to Puerto Varas. We wandered around the town, admiring the cloudless view of the lake and volcanos and treated ourselves to T-shirts and ice cream. It is vacation after all. I had lemon with mint and ginger, which has become my favorite soft drink and Steven had something called harina tostada, which is toasted wheat. It doesn’t sound like a great ice cream flavor, but it was. Special shout out to our tour guide Manuela, who went out of her way to find us a special pepper made from leaves she pointed out on one of our walks. Can’t wait to see you again, Manuela!

This has been an amazing vacation. Tomorrow we fly to Santiago to begin the next phase of our adventure.

Onward and upward (plus a bit of downward)

Friday was our last day at the Hotel Las Torres in Torres de Paine. Steven decided to take it easy, but as you know, I never decide to take it easy and so I didn’t. We had a part-horseback, part-trekking all-day trip up Cerro Paine to get a different view of the Towers and because I wanted to do a horseback trip. We thought it would be mellower than the hike up to the base since it was 4 km on the horse and 4 km straight up the hill.

No problem. Robin and I met another couple who were on the excursion and we headed to the stables with our guide, Valentina, to get our horses and a short lesson in how to hold the reins. (An aside: There were five women guides and four of them were named Valentina.)

First off, my pin head didn’t fit in the adult size helmets, so I go a child’s size and I believe my beige one looked way more professional than the bulky black ones everyone else had. Then we put on gaiters to protect our pants from sweaty horses. Finally, we were introduced to our horses and hopped on for the ride.

Everything was going great. The view from the horse was spectacular and we were just walking, so I wasn’t worried about how I would walk when we got off the horse. Only one problem: It had rained the night before and the ground was muddy and semi-impassable at one point. The baqueano (horse guy) found a spot that seemed OK and rode his horse across. Then it was my turn. Well, Blondie my horse had a different route in mind. A route that sucked her legs into the muck like quicksand causing her to fall and me to fall off into the mud. At this point, I am going to turn it over to Robin to describe what happened since I was in the middle of it. And, no, no one got video and I will not be a YouTube fail star.

Robin’s play-by-play

From 8 feet above:

There was some confusion as to which way we should take the horses across the mud flats. The baqueano thought he found the best way, and proceeded to cross. Sue went next and I was behind her. before we knew what happened the front legs of her horse sank 3 feet and down to its knees.

The horse fell forward and floundered and attempted to get up, but then fell again launching Sue 10 feet to the right, and planting her face first in the mud. She was already fairly close to the ground at that point, so it was more of the side launch and the mud plant which made things so damn funny. It was hysterical.

But the grown-up part of me said repeatedly, do not laugh!! This can be a dangerous situation.

Sue struggled to all fours, and began to turn around in the mud in an attempt to stand up. Unfortunately the horse, who was also attempting to regain her footing fell backwards onto SUE launching her face first into the mud again, and this time, pinning her leg under its torso. 

While the mud bath continued, I repeated my mantra, Do NOT laugh! Do NOT laugh!!  I strove to be a bigger person.  I mean, can you imagine if something terrible had happened to her and I had been seen sitting on my horse laughing my ass off and shooting a video. That would’ve been bad. I never would’ve been invited on another trip with them again.

Once she and the horse were out of danger I snapped a few shots which don’t even begin to do the story justice. Look at the ground, it’s the beginning clue to her state of her mud-caked self.

All that said she was a true champ, and incredibly gracious about the entire thing. She changed into some rain pants she had packed and a few extra clothes from the guide and carried on with a smile and a laugh and a great attitude, something that many people would not have been able to pull off!

You go girl!!!

I was not hurt at all. Mud is pretty soft, but hard to get out of once you’ve been sucked down to mid-calf. Valentina gave me a hand and Blondie and I stood and carefully made our way out the mud. Luckily, I had rain pants in my backpack, so I removed the mud- packed gaiters and my muddy pants and put on the rain gear. Don’t worry, I didn’t subject the group to my bare butt –I had another layer underneath. After I cleaned up a bit, I got right back on the horse and off we went.

(Steven’s comment – I am so disappointed that there is no video! Where is a 15 year old with normal TikTok skills when you need them? I am so sure our blog would go viral with video of my wife face planting off a horse into mud.)

The trail stayed pretty slick in spots, so we left the horses a few feet earlier than they typically would and set off on foot. My socks were a little squishy, but other than that I was fine. The trail was a steady uphill and started to look like a moonscape with lots of rock and scree. I never felt out of breath or like it was too difficult, but it was no stroll in the park. Of course, when we got to the top, it was well worth the trek. We ate lunch, took pics, and headed back down.

The way was a little slippery because of the scree, but I only slipped a few times and we were able to make it back down to the horses in about an hour. The way back down was uneventful since Valentina and Robin decided to take a less watery route. The view got even better when the clouds parted and we were able to see all three towers clearly.

I loved the trip, but couldn’t wait to get the mud off me and my clothes. That shower was one of the best of my life!

To end on an extra high note, Steven and I were sitting in the lounge area when a waiter yelled, “Puma!” We all ran to the window and saw the big cat strolling down the path at the hotel. It had just eaten a couple of baby birds and was happily wandering back into the wild.

Saturday morning we said goodbye to Torres del Paine and all three of us agreed that we wished we could have stayed longer. The scale and beauty can’t be conveyed in pictures. We took a four-hour van trip to Punta Arenas because I wanted to see penguins. We didn’t realize that there’s not much else to do here and that it is mainly a staging area for trips to Antarctica, but so be it. It really does feel like you’re almost at the end of the Earth. We are staying in a cute boutique hotel, La Yegua Loca, with a view of the Strait of Magellan.

Sunday we got up at what would normally be before dawn, but here is already full sun, 5:30 a.m., to make a 6:15 a.m. van pickup and head off to the penguin boat. Transportation seems to be the main issue we have with our tour. We really didn’t need the van transfer — we could have walked to the office and gotten and extra 30 minutes of sleep, but we didn’t know that. The boat trip is about 40 minutes and then you walk around Los Pingüinos Natural Monument taking pictures of Magellanic penguins, cormorants and other birds. Penguins can be loud! Just watch the video below.

It was fun and with the patch, I didn’t get sick at all on the boat. Plus, we were very lucky and had sunny skies and calm seas. yay!

After the penguins, we stopped at the only other attraction we were interested in, Museo Nao Victoria, which has replicas of one of Magellan’s ships and the Beagle. It was worth about 45 minutes.

Knowing what I know now, I would not have come down here just to see the penguins since there isn’t much else to do. An extra day in Torres del Paine would have been amazing, but I am not going to complain since I am the one who wanted to see penguins. We even got the timing right since the penguins were nursing their chicks. Overall, a great experience, but I’m just not sure the trade off of two days was worthwhile.

Tomorrow morning we fly to Puerto Montt and drive over to Puerto Varas for the last leg of our Patagonia adventure.

A Final Weekend in Buenos Aires

Yes, We’re Moving On Again

We’ve arrived at the part of the journey where we begin to say, “We still haven’t done …” At this point, we typically make a list of sites, restaurants and other attractions we have seen in our wanderings and said, “We need to go there,” but haven’t yet done so. Since we leave Saturday morning, we took advantage of the weekend to go on two death marches (one scheduled and one accidental).

But first, I want to mention that Tamar and I went to Teatro Colón to see Tosca. By the time we bought our tickets, there was only standing room only left. I was a little worried about standing up for that long, but I figured we could always leave early since there are three acts. I was worried about nothing. The first act, which was about 45 minutes, flew by so fast, I didn’t even think about being uncomfortable. We could see the whole stage from where we were and the theater is known for excellent acoustics so that wasn’t a problem either. I know nothing about opera, but it was magical. For me it was the combination of the singing, sets, acting and costumes. I don’t know if I will ever listen to opera, but I would definitely go again.

Saturday, we headed to Tigre, a small town just north of the city that sits at the mouth of the Paraná Delta. After a bit of confusion about getting tickets, including waiting on the wrong line with an equally confused Canadian couple, we found out that our Subte cards were already loaded and ready to go. There are two different trains to take: One is just a commuter line and the other travels along the river and into Buenos Aires’ fanciest neighborhoods. We thought we would take the coastal train out and the commuter train back, but we ended up at the wrong station, so we cheerfully took the commuter train.

About an hour later, we disembarked at the station, walked out and saw a McDonald’s. Sigh. We had decided to take a boat ride (thank you scopalamine) so after getting tourist information from the town employees who hang around for that very purpose, we went over to the docks and chose a tour. It’s very casual and there’s no need to book ahead, so we wandered over to a kiosk and bought tickets for a boat leaving shortly. For about 75-minutes we cruised around various canals and rivers looking at the houses and trees. We enjoyed it, although it was difficult to hear the taped narration.

Everyone’s a futbol fan during World Cup

For lunch, we sat by the river and enjoyed burgers. Tigre has a couple of museums, an amusement park and a crafts market that was once the fruit market. Many people use it as a jumping off point for more water sports adventure. We walked around a bit more, but didn’t have a lot of interest in the museums, so we decided to check out the crafts market and then head back on the coastal train. We’re not good shoppers, so we walked by some of the booths an shops and decided to head back. By this time, Argentina’s World Cup match had begun so it was eerily quiet, except around the restaurants that had the match on.

Here’s where the accidental death march comes into play: The coast train doesn’t go all the way back to BA. You have to switch to another line. No problem. We saw the river beaches and expensive houses along the way and were able to find the train platform easily and get a score update — 0-0. We saw a train pulling out as we arrived. Really? It couldn’t wait 2 minutes to allow for the connection? No, the trains in Argentina run on time. We waited about 40 minutes, got on the train and then realized it wasn’t going all the way back to the closest stop to us. Can you guess what happened? You are right. We decided to walk the rest of the way, which was about 6.4 km or just shy of 4 miles. All along the route, people were cheering. I think we were the only ones who weren’t wearing futbol gear.

There was no big Saturday night out after that. We didn’t even eat dinner. Just popcorn and some peanuts. Futbol snacks in honor of the face-saving win.

We had a reservation for a nice all-you-can eat restaurant, Gourmet Porteño, on Sunday. Of course, we decided to walk even though it was a bit more than 4 miles. The restaurant is at the south end of the restaurant row in Puerto Madero. We had been there once before, but it was rainy and chilly and the Puente de la Mujer was closed. This time we lucked out. Not only was it a beautiful late spring day, but the bridge was open, so I got to walk across it. It’s just a bridge, but the views were pretty.

We arrived at the restaurant hungry and a bit warm, but there was AC and plenty of food. I thought it was going to be brunch, but it was lunch, so no omelets or waffles, but plenty of … you guessed it: Meat! There was also pizza, pasta, sushi, salads, sandwiches and, of course, desserts! We had a leisurely meal and then headed over to San Telmo, which is a giant, crazy street market full of my new favorite Spanish word: tanteria, or crap. Among the flea markety items were also nice art, plenty of mate gear, leather goods, jewelry … anyway, you get the idea. Of course, we bought nothing (23 kilos is our rallying cry). If I were on a two-week vacation and heading home, I might have bought a couple of things, but the storage locker and our suitcases are full enough. We walked the full length of the market, which extended for what seemed like miles but was probably 6 blocks, and then resumed our death march back to the apartment. (total distance for this weekend’s death marches – 20.8miles)

Today, cousin Robin arrives in preparation for our very exciting actual vacation in Patagonia! We fly out Saturday morning.

Family Fun Time

Boy, they really know how to eat meat in Porto Alegre (Yes they do!! YUM)! Aside from that, Vitor and family went all out entertaining us and making sure there was never a dull moment.

Vitor wanted to show us how beautiful the sunset is over the river Jacuí, so we went to Cais Embarcadero, which is a park along the river with restaurants and bars (and an Insta sign, of course). We got there with perfect timing and the sunset was gorgeous. One thing we have learned is that a sense of time is not a Brazilian strong suit. We decided to eat dinner there and were given an estimate of one hour to get a table … more than two hours later, with me and Alexia in desperate need of food (they were talking about eating the barstools) , we were seated. Phew. Meat (and a veggie burger) did the trick. At least it was worth the wait and the company was excellent, as usual.

Friday night, we went to Sargent Peppers, where the house band — yes, you guessed it, the Lonely Heart’s Club Band — plays covers of ’80s and ’90s music include a few Brazilian pop tunes. There were 10 of us and we sang, danced and ate (mostly meat). The band was a lot of fun, but for me, the highlights were the man who sells roses on the street who showed up at the beginning of the second set and sang three classic Brazilian tunes and the fact that all the waiters get on stage and sing Hey Jude with the band.

The Rose Man Singeth

In case you were wondering about the playlist, here is pretty much the first set:

  • Betty Davis Eyes
  • Stand by Me
  • Every Breath You Take
  • I Will Survive (sung by a very large Brazilian man; it was a little discordant)
  • Sultans of Swing
  • Swept Away
  • Sugar
  • I Saw Her Standing There
  • Pride (In the Name of Love)
  • Don’t Look Back in Anger
  • Don’t Stop Me Now
  • Don’t You (Forget About Me)
  • I Shot the Sheriff
  • With or Without You
  • Watermelon Sugar
  • Memories
  • Believe
Na na na nananana nananana Hey Jude

The second set had more Brazilian tunes, but here are the songs you will know. (Admit it, you know all these songs.)

  • Hey Jude
  • Under Pressure
  • Let’s Dance
  • Dancing with Myself
  • Psycho Killer
  • Titanium
  • Suspicious Minds
  • Dancing Queen

They were still playing when we called it a night at around 1:30 .

Saturday, we headed back to the beach. Well, back to the beach for me, but for Steven it was the first trip since someone around here has to support our crazy lifestyle. It was supposed to be very hot and it may well have been in Porto Alegre, but the gale-force winds were blowing at the beach so it was a little chilly, but very relaxing, especially when there’s a hammock. Steven loves a good hammock. They are nap-inducing.

Vitor’s friend Marcelo invited us for coffee after he joined us for lunch (guess what Vitor made (the steaks he BBQ’d at the beach were amazing!) so we could see his beach house. In case he forgets, he said, “Mi casa es su casa,” so if we ever want to go back, we can stay in one of the six bedroom suites and maybe even invite all our friends. Thanks, Marcelo 😉 Marcelo also told us that the beach, Praia do Cassino, is the world’s longest at 254 km (about 150 miles).

The one downside of the brisk wind was that we were a bit too chilly to hang out to stargaze. We still haven’t seen the southern cross, but we have time.

We decided on sushi for dinner (we being Alexia and I), but the boys wanted burgers because they hadn’t had enough meat at lunch (while the steaks were delicious, according to Vitor, if it doesn’t have bacon, then it is a light meal – and there was no bacon). The hamburgers they got were only slightly smaller than an LP in diameter. They typically come with cheese, an egg, peas, corn, onion, lettuce, and tomato. If that’s not enough, feel free to add bacon. It’s hardly a surprise that there was a bit of meat left over.

Meat, left; meat, center; Steven eats meat, right.

Vitor cooks meat (well, lamb meat) for our last night in Porto Alegre.

Sunday, we went to an art fair in Parque Farroupilha. It’s a huge park that houses an small amusement park, trails, the weekly art fair, and a Saturday farm market among other attractions. There, Steven bought a meat knife. He is very proud of it, so don’t be surprised if he cooks you meat the next time he sees you just so he can show off his knife (OMG! it is a fabulous knife! Vitor explained the knife rules: 1. Never use the knife to cut vegetables especially onions- that is a sacrilege. 2. Never use the knife to cut raw meat -use a stainless steel knife for that. 3. (This one was for Sue) – you can’t use the knife on the owner to cut their throat when they are sleeping, even if they are snoring, just use the pillow.

Our fabulous host, Vitor, bought me a mate cup that is really beautiful. I really enjoy mate, but not just for the drink, but because of the ritual that goes with it. I hope I find some other mate drinkers when we settle down. The mate in Brazil is different from the Argentine mate. It’s got a lighter flavor and greener color. I’m not going to play favorites, though. I like them both.

You’re never going to guess what happened after the art fair. Try not to faint. … We went to a vegetarian restaurant! It was an all-you-can-eat buffet and it was delicious! It’s a good thing everyone ate a light lunch because our last dinner was another meatfest. While the giant leg of lamb and rack of lamb ribs were cooking, everyone “snacked” on sausage that contained cheese.

We got to say goodbye to everyone, including Vitor’s brother, sister-in-law and one of their kids while we shared good food and wine. It was a fitting ending to a very family-oriented week. We had a blast and are thinking maybe we should learn Portuguese next. (That is the imperial we meaning Sue. I am unlikely to manage to learn enough Spanish to order in a restaurant, let alone actually hold a conversation).

Thanks to Vitor, Alexia, Alice, and Lucas for opening their homes, showing us around their city and state, and putting up with our TERRIBLE attempts to pronounce Portuguese words.

Ciao for now, Porto Alegre.

Un blog especial para los profesores de ingles

This blog is mostly in Spanish, but you can use Google translate 🙂 It’s for English teachers because it’s that nameless exercise where someone writes a sentence, covers it up and passes it down the line. Here’s the version TJ, another student and I created yesterday:

Una noche oscura

“Los adolescentes caminaban por la ciudad y estaba muy oscuro. 

Ellos buscaban una fiesta donde su amigo Baba estaba tocando música pero no lo encontraba. 

De repente hubo un sonido muy raro. Parecía venir desde una casa abandonada en la calle. Un minuto después, el sonido vino de nuevo, más fuerte e intenso. 

Pronto, una chicago corrió por la calle y gritó, “Ayudenme, ayudenme!” 

Y después de esto todos tenían mucha hambre y caminaron a un restaurante que conocían pero este restaurante está cerrado … por muchos meses … pero había abierto ayer! 

Por quererte, acababa de llorar y con la vuelta del sol, hacía calor y había mucha luz, los problemas del pasado desaparecieron y todos siguieron con el día con calma. Así es un día típico en Buenos Aires.”

Espero que lo disfruten. That’s subjunctive because I don’t know if you will or you won’t. If I knew that you would, I would use the indicative.