Chilean pesos are pretty. A different color and different length for each denomination.
The exchange rate varies daily, and the ATM charges fees on both ends, but it’s still quite good. Even a 20,000 peso bill (in January of 2016) is about 30 bucks.
Use a Capital One Venture card at restaurants so you don’t have to carry around cash and coins. They automatically include a 10% tip. If staying in hotels, you can request the 19% VAT (IVA) tax be taken off, if your card doesn’t do that automatically.
The one on the left is about 70 cents. It takes more than 7 of the ones on the right to make $1 US.
Perumayen Ancestral Food gastronomists researched and reimagined foods from peoples up and down what is now mostly known as Chile.
What they came up with using fresh, local ingredients is nothing short of one of the finest dining experiences I’ve had, including the farm to table restaurants of Los Angeles and NYC.
Eight breads from ancient tribes sampler plate from the house. The square banana one is from Easter island. The little pot is spicy. The one on the right is potato made with and fried in pork grease.
The palette cleaners after every course were so mind boggling I forgot to get a picture of the tiny square chocolate basket with the tiniest sorbet of a fruit I can’t translate. This one was deep fried seaweed with avocado paste and herbs.
The vegetarian sampler had taro and seaweed, cheese/grain, mushroom paste, smoked “coliflower”, baked onion and Peruvian potato, quinoa rolled in blue maize.
Above was pulled rabbit mixed with herbs and also in a stew, with some great tasting strange vegetables and fried taro. Zoe had an incredible salad with the freshest mix of heirloom greens and Chilean hazelnuts like nothing we’d ever tasted.
The dessert sampler had a brownie crumble, a lacuma ice cream, and dehydrated pineapple chips.
Welcomed by the museum founder, we saw real pictures and original artifacts from the crash. The founder was inspired by his best friend, one of the survivors, who reminded during a recent major recession that to survive winter at 4000 meters in the mountains, they discovered 100s burn just like 1s.
Of 45, after an avalanche, 16 survived 72 days to rescue, after eating the dead.
The plane lost both wings at the top of a mountain. The mountaintop was the line between Argentina and Chile. The governments of Uruguay, Chile, and Argentina gave up the search after 10 days.
One psychic was wrong about their location, another said with great accuracy where they would be. The governments said they had already searched there and no one could have survived, they would retrieve the bodies in spring.
The plane crashed on Friday the 13th.
13 were killed instantly as the plane stopped abruptly.
13 waited for rescue (while 3 went for help).
This article is a partial list from conversations I’d had years ago with Argentina native Claudia Link about what she enjoyed about Buenos Aires which I’d long forgotten until the moment I encountered the thing or experience she mentioned. I added details I noticed from my experience of each phenomenon of what it’s like to be walking the streets in Buenos Aires among the hubbub.
Many gutters at the edges of the streets 6-12 inches from the curbs have 3 inch wide channels cut 4 inches deep to carry water. Seems convenient so wheels don’t roll through it or feet step in or over water, I hardly noticed water running down the streets even soon after rains.
Cobble streets. Old, worn smooth stones in older areas where cars still go and in pedestrian areas where there are mostly restaurants and during the day street vendors line both sides of some streets selling everything from mate gourds and straws to handmade leather belts and goods to prints of art.
Traffic lights turn yellow for a few seconds before turning green.
There are many motorcycles of all kinds, but not many harleys.
Abandoned vehicles are left parked in place for years. We saw burned out car frames with no tires, all tires flat dirty windows cars, cars, trucks, and vans full of stuff with broken windows and weeds growing around them parked on city streets. What’s surprising was that they weren’t stripped for parts.
The most common cars are small hatchbacks, gas is over $4 a gallon here in 2016.
The only American pickup trucks are old and have wood-walled beds.
Fancy buses, all different, customized by individual drivers. Outside: white wall tires, shiny chrome rims, chrome plated sections over the wheel wells, ornate paintings of names and flowers on sides and back. Inside: fur coverings for the rear view mirrors, controls, and pay station, fuzzy dice, ornately carved mirrors, miniature disco balls and fringe hanging above the front window, imprinted with horses, playboy symbols, Mercedes, or others, steering wheels made of white or blue shiny mother-of-pearl style bowling ball material or ornate mirror bolted to the center.
Feral cats in fenced lots squeeze and pour out from behind the safety of the fences during the cooler parts of the evening and night to hide under parked cars.
There are impressive consistently spaced encounters with dog poop on virtually every sidewalk on every street, Even though there is a law against not picking up after ones pet. Surprisingly there was rarely an odor of dog feces, but the pervasive smell of dog urine was common. Every dog I encountered was incredibly well behaved. Even though they were all on leashes, they obeyed their owners implicitly even when the owner didn’thave the leash in hand and let it drag on the ground.
Architecture and buildings
Architecture. Buildings and styles from the 1800s to the present. Entire buildings were brought over from Europe and Russia.
Ferns, plants, and trees growing on the sides of buildings.
Some buildings abandoned, vacant, roofs caved in, plants growing inside, fronts still standing.
Trees with plants growing in them/out of them.
Graffiti on any building, including anti-Monsanto spray paint on the Minister of Agriculture building that had been somewhat removed before being painted over again.
(Fun fact: Soy eclipsed wheat as Agentina opens their export policies and started planting more corn)
Used for 2000 years, Yerba Mate is only grown in a region shared by Argentina, Bolivia, Uruguay, and Brazil.
This small national museum had an impressive collection of gourds ranging from over 100 years old to modern, made of all manner of materials, gourds, hooves, metal, ceramic, glass, porcelain.
These gourds pictured above have historic figures on them. At street fairs they will make them with your name on them.
There are thousands of brands of mate, they used to be packed in tins and are mostly in paper now.
We saw a short video on cultivation, hand and machine harvest, drying, storage for 12 months, and packaging.
Each of our couchsurfing hosts said they’d introduce us to mate, and when the time was right one finally did. known by the age-old term “panza verde”, green belly Juan showed us the fine points of enjoying mate traditionally. We learned to put the bombilla in the gourd and fill mostly with mate. Bombilla is the straw, the Argentine accent pronounced “bom bee sha”. Add some room temp water near the bombilla to make and indentation, and so the 80-90C water below boiling will not burn the “shjyerba”. The Servador is the only one who touches the bombilla with his hands, and refills the water for each person in the round. A delicious and fulfilling experience for sure!
After the.best.ever. coffee plantation living history tour in Kona, Hawaii I was expecting a lot more from Argentina around the tea they are known for, but BA is a metropolitan city and I’m looking forward to enjoying more mate experiences closer to the source.