Sunday, September 18, 2011


A few years ago my Aunt challenged me to write down my stories so that I will never forget them.  I haven't been true to that challenge in the last year but the other day I had the pleasure of listening to her story about going fishing for crabs in the marshes near Savannah, Georgia.  Inspired by her story I wanted to post one of mine.

I know that it's important to be safe, and trust me I want to be safe, but aren't the most terrifying experiences the ones that are your absolute favorite to tell?

      It was the last weekend of my time studying abroad in Chile. My friends and I had done just about everything that we could pack into one month, went snowboarding in the Andes, danced all night, loved on alpacas, and tried pisco sours... but one thing still lingered. We had promised each other that before the end we would ride up the coast to eat some of the famous seafood empanadas. So the weekend came and my friend and I bought "un directo" ticket that would take us directly to Con Con. Simple and easy. We got on the micro (a little bus), settled in, and began our journey up the coast.

       As we rode further up the coast we began to realize that we had no idea where to get off.  I assured my friend that it was fine, all we had to do was get off when we reached Con Con. This town was supposed to be on the coast, but suddenly the micro started to make its way into the hills.  My friend gave me 'the look' and I began to doubt my plan.
      "I know that we're on the right bus, we just haven't reached it yet." 
      Sure, I sounded confident but in reality I was a little nervous.  We eventually did see the Con Con sign, but we were still in the hills and about to go away from Con Con.
      "Ok, we need to get off at the next stop or else we'll really get lost."
       My faithful friend followed me off the safe micro.  It drove off, literally leaving us in a cloud of dust.  We looked around with nervous eyes. We were at the corner of a small deserted looking market and a run down neighborhood.  We were two gringas who could barely speak Spanish, lost somewhere in a random neighborhood, located in the hilly coastline of Chile, South America. I wish that I could show you a photograph, maybe then you would understand the gravity of our situation.
      "Lydia, if I die because of this..." Needless to say, my friend wasn't very happy about this.
      We were not hurt, there was nobody following us, and it was 11:00 in the morning. "We are ok, we just need to get to the ocean because that is where all of the restaurants are." With that, we made our best guess as to the direction of the ocean and began to walk.

      We passed a few stray animals and got a few looks from the residents, but other than that it was just a good walk on a beautiful day.  Eventually we did find the ocean.  There was only one problem (isn't there always?), the steep hillside that was covered in vegetation stood between us and the sparkling blue ocean.

      Ok so now the priority was to find the stairs that are usually carved into the side of the hill.  We walked one way and didn't find anything, so we turned around and walked the other way.  We finally found the stairs and climbed down relieved to get to the ocean.  But once we got down we realized that there were not any restaurants in sight.  Actually there was nothing in sight, no cars, no people, no houses, only a small sidewalk and the road.  We decided to walk far enough to see around the bend.  We reached the bend and peaked around. 
      Nothing at all. We were so lost.  Until this point we had been pretty calm, but honestly now we began to panic a little bit.

As we walked we came across this beautiful shrine to Mother Mary. It has a specific name in Spanish but I can't remember it at the moment.

      After a few moments of confusion we saw our savior drive around the corner. It was a lone, blue, micro.  As it drove towards us, I couldn't help but notice how it seemed to be lopsided and driving a little too fast and wobbly for comfort.  But we were not in a position to be picky and so we waved it down and hopped on.  We barley had enough change between us to buy two tickets, but God was smiling on us.  As soon as we paid the driver he launched the micro and nearly sent me flying backwards out of the still open door.  I grabbed the nearest thing I could and pulled myself into the seat beside my friend.

      After a few minutes of holding on for dear life the town appeared on the horizon.  Oh sweet Con Con!  How you have eluded us!  We got off at the strip of restaurants and began to walk around trying to figure out which one to eat at.  The first one we passed was closed as well as the second.  There was one in particular that I wanted to eat at, but when we reached the front door of it we looked in and saw that they were doing construction.  The restaurant was closed for remodeling.  Lovely!

      When we eventually made it to an open restaurant, we were the only customers.  If you have ever been to South America then you will know that no body eats out for lunch because they are all at home.
      Anyways, we settled in just grateful to have made it!  As we scanned the menu we came to the disappointing conclusion that seafood empanadas were not served at this particular restaurant.  With how the day was working out, that was the only thing that would have made sense anyways.

      So I ended up getting some kind of seafood plate in the shape of a fish.  The menu looked extremely foreign to me and so I just picked what I thought was shrimp.
Ironically my friend teased me for not being adventurous and eating something totally different. But whatever, I like shrimp.
I think that this plate was served in the quis quis style (basque cooking). Apparently Basque people have a very special way of cooking things.

So we ate our food, got some change, and made our way back to our homes. We were tired, we were full, and we were happy (and safe).
El fin

Danza Kuduro by Don Omar:

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