For now, I’m just waiting around. Still waiting for that ATM card that should arrive any day now. There are far worse places I could be stuck but there are also far better. Early fall is settling into the Aysén Region of Chile making for cold, wet days and colder, wetter nights. The streets are filled with less and less tourists from just two weeks ago and the normal hustle of the downtown has begun to slow down.
To pass time Alan and I have been practicing Spanish and the hospedaje were staying in is ideal. The owner is an older, small woman who knows zero English and has zero desire to learn. In eight nights staying here the only English words I’ve heard her say have been ‘Thank You’ to Alan after asking “Como se dice ‘Gracias’ en Inglés.”
Her personality is a conundrum. I find her both warming and cold. Charming and inhospitable. In those cold and inhospitable moments she is giving you ‘The Eye’ as if your an eight years old child followed by a distinctive ‘hmph’. This is only exaggerated by the fact that she is probably one of the most picky people I have ever met. Alan always manages to crack her through he rough outer shell by speaking a broken Spanish mixed with English and putting on a smile. Once broken she is laughing and becomes your best friend.
Over dinner last night I found out she used to work in a bakery and makes a killer Brazo de Reina (a Rolly Polly in English). She was in a friendly mood so I asked her if she would teach me how to make it the following day.
A run-down of the ingredients had me wondering how big this thing was going to be.
In Spanish My Translation
10 Huevos 10 Eggs
1 Kg Harina de Pulvo 1 Kg Flour
1/2 Kg Dulce de Leche 1/2 Kg Dulce de Leche
1/2 Kg Azucar 1/2 Kg Sugar
125 g Mantequilla 125 g Butter
I ran off to the store the next day and came back ready to start and was immediately greeted by ‘The Eye’ for no reason that I was aware of. Maybe she didn’t feel like baking? Once she saw the butter and said I bought the wrong kind ‘The Eye’ began ‘The Eyes’. And here I thought butter was butter.
Once she saw I had bought ‘Harina‘ and not ‘Harina de Pulvo‘ there were lightning bolts shooting out of her ready to strike me dead. I quickly learned ‘Harina de Pulvo’ doesn’t translate into ‘powdered flour’ but ‘self-rising flour’. Whoops.
She wasn’t quite ready to give up and the batter went into the oven for 10 minutes to cook at whatever temperature is equivalent to three logs in a wood burning stove. In went batter and out came something resembling a large, eggy pancake instead of a light and airy cake. I chalked this experiment as a complete disaster but spread the dulce de leche on anyway and rolled the cake into it’s Rolly Polly form only to see runny, brown log of crap lying in front of me. Comida Perro.
The bright spot of the afternoon was that my ATM card arrived so I am now free from the fast approaching Patagonian winter and Alan and I will be hitting the road tomorrow to warmer temperatures further north.
Drinks of Choice
All for around $7 or less each country I’ve been to has it’s own local liquor of choice.
In Mexico it was Tequila and Mezcal.
Guatemala supplied Quetzalteca rum which could be confused for lighter fuel.
Nicaragua was home to the delightful Flor de Caño.
Panama gave me the smooth taste of Ron Anejo.
Argentina was Malbec (and will be again shortly).
And Chile? Yes, it also has fine wine but also offers up something a little more interesting – Pisco. A nice grape brandy that ranges between $4 and up. Today I bought a bottle and we made acquaintances. I think I found a decent liquor to drink during my future travels in Chile.