It was another night of noisy guitar players at obscene hours, after which I woke up coughing (remnants of the Patagonia malady). After a cup of black tea, I felt quite all right again. It was C.’s last day in Chile, and she was hoping to get a chance to see Viña del Mar. Since I had woken up early from coughing and had had ample time to become human, I decided to join her. We galloped down the hill, and caught a micro to Viña, jumping off near Reñaca Beach (the one with the golden sand).
We stopped next to a giant block of a church, where there was an altar set up to San Expedito, the patron saint of urgent causes. The walls of this altar were covered with tiny metal plaques, most of which bore the message “Gracias San Expedito por favor concedido” (“Thank you, Saint Expedito, for the granted favor”), signed by different individuals or families. There were also a few plaques with more specific messages, like “Gracias San Expedito por haber hecho realidad mi sueño” (“… for making my dream into reality”). There was a crowd of people clustered near the altar, which was strewn with flowers and candles.
When we arrived at the beach, it was cloudy and a little breezy, but the ocean was still quite beautiful. We walked to the end of the beach to look at some interesting rock structures. They were covered with perched people, and numerous children played in the shallow pools nearby. A live crab washed up onto the beach, and a group of young boys lifted it with a plastic shovel and carried it off to show their friends.
We settled down on an open patch of sand, and spent a few relaxed hours sea-gazing, chatting, and occasionally rifling through some magazines C. had in her bag. Within an hour and a half, the clouds had disappeared, and it was blazingly sunny for the first time since I’d returned from Patagonia. I hadn’t thought to bring the sunscreen, so one of my legs singed pink, but I was still glad to feel the sun again before I return to California winter.
We watched another group of young boys play a hybrid game of keep-away and fetch with a street-dog (beach-dog?). I was impressed by how relaxed the boys were around this unknown animal, and was even more impressed by how gentle the stray dog was with the boys, even when they were rougher with it. It was not an isolated interaction, either: further down the beach, a team of children were merrily burying a beach-dog in the sand, until his patience ran out and he shook free of the sand and trotted away.
In the mid-afternoon, we left the beach to hunt down some lunch. We were hoping to find seafood, as it’s a requirement that all visitors to this coast eat seafood. We ended up at a sushi restaurant, of all things. Sushi is a popular thing here, with numerous restaurants offering it both in Valpo and Viña. Why is this? Perhaps it’s just because they are rolling in good seafood, figuratively speaking, and so they figured they may as well embrace yet another way of consuming said seafood.
When I’m eating at U.S. sushi restaurants, I normally have some difficulty remembering what everything on the menu means. At this restaurant, the menu’s mix of Spanish and Japanese was completely baffling, at times. I ordered a roll with shrimp, salmon, and cream cheese, which were engulfed in palta (avocado). I also had a serving of vegetable tempura, which can’t be healthy for me, but was quite satisfying.
Once we’d finished eating, we found a bus to take C. to the bus terminal and said goodbye. It was an unexpected visit, but it turned out to be marvelously fun. I grabbed a micro back to Valpo, and then headed home to V.’s (my ankles were acting up, so I couldn’t do a lot more adventuring). I spent the rest of the evening quietly, alternating between jobwork and processing photos from Patagonia.