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.
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.