December 29, 2011: Amor de librerías

Today, I went for lunch again with E., who has returned from Brazil. It sounds as though it was an amazing trip. We looked at her photos over lunch: a strange intermingling of ocean and giant city, with stripes of jungle running all throughout.

After lunch, I stopped at a small bookstore to look for a gift. While there, I fell into conversation with the proprietor. There are still many occasions during which I have great difficulty understanding people’s rapid Chilean Spanish, but more and more conversations (like this one) are feeling effortless and fluid. I asked about flower books, and he showed me a few. There was a day planner of 19th century Chilean botanical sketches, which I declined, since the print quality was so-so. He pulled down a set of fancy field guides from a high shelf; they were handsome, but a little too expensive for what they were (Chilean book-prices seem much higher than in the U.S.). The other proprietor of the store pulled out a small book called 50 flores nativas (Zona Central de Chile) from behind the counter. This book has a good-quality color photograph of every plant, facing a page full of information: scientific name, habitat, description, etc. The colors of each page are picked to match the color scheme of each flower. As you may have guessed, I grabbed this book eagerly; an excellent find. I still aspire to find a book of Atacama plants, but this will suffice if I do not.

The rainbow made by the edges of the book's pages.
A sample, purple page.
And a red plant for contrast.

After the bookstore, I galloped through the market. It’s worthy of numerous visits, as the vendors are constantly switching in and out, and new ones appear. There are also a slew of old faithful stalls, like the one with giant tiers of chocolates and the one where ladies sell bottled herbal remedies for everything from depression to impotence, each with its own colorful, melodramatic photo-montage label.

One more thing from yesterday: on the way home, I stumbled upon a musical performance by two ladies, one on accordion and the other playing violin. They are the Dúo de Tango Romántico La Jacinta, and I took a short video of one of their songs (but didn’t have time to upload it yesterday). Here ’tis! Please excuse the street noises and slot machines in the background, or perhaps pretend that they give it a more realistic feel.

When I mentioned this to V., she told me that it was part of a five-day festival of street artists celebrating their craft by giving performances all over the city. It’s called Invasión Callejera; the acrobats I saw a few days ago were also part of it. It lasts until tomorrow, so I may have to see if I can hunt down any other nifty performances.

3 thoughts on “December 29, 2011: Amor de librerías

  1. Oooooh. The book looks perfect, and I recognize your paw on it. I was hoping you’d come away with something botanical with pages. (Something botanical with leaves?)

    The music is way cool. It sounds like it should be on the soundtrack of Wristcutters or Big Fish or Moulin Rouge, or anything with Ewan McGregor or Tom Waits. I hope you get more cultural treats today!

    It sounds as though you might need to buy an herbal remedy just for the label. Pour the contents out, even. I wonder if you could snap some photos. That’s probably very rude. Don’t do it.

    I looked up “callejero,” guessing it meant “street person/street performer,” but according to Merriam Webster it means stray dog. I can just see hundreds of them on a nearby hilltop, plotting their invasion, as the dress in their two-pair of high-heels and flouncy skirts and top hats, to impress their audiences.

    I am going to try once again to take a shower. Yesterday Don Santos fixed it by doing nothing, so I’m a little worried. I wish I felt perkier, but I’m going to buzz around town today and see what I can see.

    Did you talk to our Eleni last night? LOVE YOU.

    1. The music was really cool. And it’s such fun to stumble upon something of that caliber, just by trying to walk home.

      I considered buying an herbal remedy. I may yet. But which to choose? There are so many options.

      I think ‘callejero’ is just an adjective that means ‘street’/’of the streets.’ Although a callejera can also mean a streetwalker. I suspect that’s not what the Invasión Callejera is really about.

      I did talk to myLeni last night. It was marvelous, and I got to hear Em babble very talkatively, but then my Internet died, and when I came back, they were gone, gone!

  2. Ooh! You were looking for a gift for me, yes?
    Yes, I nearly wrote something about your hand being familiar to me, and of that book being perfect for you! But now I don’t have to, because Mouseless Gal said it all already.
    Aw! I’m “[your] Leni”?! Delighted to be!
    It was awesome to talk to you last night. Or two nights ago-whenever it was. (Actually…when was it? Now I’m confused.)

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