Walking Home

reveries of an amateur long-distance hiker

In Patagonia Day 1

February 19th, 2018

Patagonia Day 1

Left Wellington on the morning of the 18th, with a long layover in Aukland, then 10 hour flight that put me in Santiago early afternoon on the 18th. That dateline crossing thing is disconcerting, and my phone daily steps app parsed them oddly. Settled into a comfortable flat in the Lasterrria district— I decided to indulge myself before diving headlong into trekking culture. The area is very hip, many restaurants, small galleries etc. Took a walk out toward the river and then down to the Mercado Centrale, a large old-fashioned market with a soaring Victorian iron-framed roof housing fish stalls and their associated restaurants. Had fried fish, rice and a beer — simple but delicious. Wandered a while in the park of the Castillo Hidalgo and in the neighborhoods. As it was Sunday, people were filling the restaurants, and the street venders were out in full force, very festive with a lot of music. Was hot which may explain why the Chileanos love their helado. Lack of sleep got me, so I took a nap, waking to drift out into the evening to sample Patagonian beer at the Utopia cafe. Chile has not fallen into the IPA world just yet, so I’ll have to be content with lager. Austral which tastes great in the heat, but, like all lagers, is thin (apparently Patagonian beer is brewed by German immigrants which explains a lot). The server brought a great plate of bread with some spread to go with the beer— guess I looked famished or maybe pitiful. Just now beginning the transition from being a teacher in New Zealand to becoming, I hope once again, a careful observer— to learn again to slow impressions, focus on the minute and mundane, empty out triviality, and see place and people in their place, among them. A simple but difficult goal—that old Thoreauvian chestnut—simplify, engage, understand.

T. Hugh Crawford