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Ceferino Ceferino Ceferino

Friday, December 9th, 2005

8 December 2005 (Thursday) – Viña del Mar, Chile

Today is a public holiday and so Jessica did not have to go to work and was free to show me around. She drove me to Concon and we stopped by Playa Amarilla for a while. The sun was really strong, and the wind was not crazy like in La Serena, so we spent some time basking on the beach. Very nice…

Basking under the sun

Then, she spun me around Reñaca and Viña del Mar, showing me all the posh condominiums and lovely apartments. Gosh, everything looked really nice and modern here. I was curious how much an apartment facing the coasts cost. Perhaps about US$400,000. About the price of private apartments in Singapore, I think, but WITH the amazing view!

Apartments built on the side of the hills that stretch right to the coast

The coastline alternates between rocky outcrops and small sandy beaches. People were cycling and jogging along the coastal road. It was just absolutely lovely. I craned my neck and looked everywhere, searching for the perfect apartment. Ahem, who knows… one day, I may be able to live in one. Jessica and I decided we would post classifieds – “Busco Viejo Rico Para Casarse” (I Am Looking for A Rich Old Man to Marry).

A house built right at the rocky coast... what a location!

Stunning coastline of Vina del Mar

With Jessica

In the evening, as it is a public holiday and it is the day after Fabiola’s birthday, the family gathered for an asado. Ah, great meat has arrived even before I left for Argentina. As the family enjoyed the usual bantar and constantly laughed at my puzzled face whenever Enrique tried to talk to me (He was the worst! I did not understand ONE word from him at all. We were better off speaking French!). Still, when they remembered my presence, they tried their best to moderate their speech for me, I know.

Later, 2 jolly aunts of Jessica arrived to join the party – Aunt Maria-Lilias and Aunt Suli. According to them, Aunt Maria-Lilias is the family witch. My eyes lit up! Wow, if I learnt anything about myself on this trip, I learnt that I want to learn how to be a witch. I felt an instant affinity with her. She too seemed quite taken with me.

She showed us a way to get our questions answered. She needed a white, black or red roll of cloth. Jessica gave her a long sheet of white toilet paper. Well, that would do. She folded the toilet paper into half and put a match-stick inside the folded end. I was absolutely sure it was in between the fold. Then, she rolled the entire toilet paper. You have to hold it in your right hand and chant, “Ceferino, Ceferino, Ceferino” to call this young Indian boy from Argentina Patagonia… some legend, she said, and ask your question in your head. If the answer is ‘no’, the match-stick remains INSIDE the fold. If ‘yes’, the match-stick will appear OUTSIDE the fold when you unroll the paper/cloth.

Kathya tried. We unrolled the toilet-paper and the match-stick remained inside – a ‘no’. I tried. For mine, the match-stick magically appeared OUTSIDE the fold – a ‘YES’!!!. I was absolutely stunned. I could not figure out how the match-stick could appear outside. Must be magic! Jessica’s answer was a ‘yes’ as well and for Kathya’s second question… sigh, it was a ‘no’ again.

I need to learn some witchcraft, I tell you.

Some Like It Slimey

Friday, December 9th, 2005

7 December 2005 (Wednesday) – Valparaiso, Chile

I headed out to Valparaíso late in the morning and walked down the entire length of the town. Skinny Chile is really so interesting. On the one hand, you can see the crashing Pacific ocean, and on the other hand, the land turns into little hills everywhere.

A main plaza in Valparaiso

Street stalls in the parks selling Christmas decorations and presents

I figured since I would be eating meat once I cross into Argentina, I should really take seafood today. I reached the huge ancient hall of the mercado (market) of Valparaiso and checked out the numerous marisquerias (seafood restaurants) on the second floor. Wow, everything looked great. I settled for one restaurant and as the lady explained the various orders to me, the raw seafood appealed to me most. Argh, yesterday I had already burnt US$15 for a damn taxi ride. I am so going down with the ship! US$6 for a bowl of raw seafood? Sounds great, hit me!

I had no idea which planets they came from, much less what they were. Just all orange, pink, purple, translucent, yellowish… I scooped all the slimey and slippery bastards down my throat. Hmmm… delicious. Although I admit that after about 3/4 of the bowl, I felt a little woozie and the remaining seafood looked a tad disgusting to me. But I was determined to finish up everything. Ha!

Slimey slippery and raw!

There were nice colourful old buildings built along the edge of the little hills along the length of Valparaiso. Several ascendores bring you to the top. I happened to jump into the ascendor for Cerro Concepcion and found nice and very expensive cafes with amazing views (which I did not enter, I do not wish to go down that fast with the ship) near there and a lovely mirador called Mirador Atkinsons. People do live in the beautiful houses along this mirador. What a view!

Take a furnicular to get to the top of the hills

View at the top

Valparaiso, a busy port-town

Meanwhile, buildings are tightly constructed against the hills

That evening at home, we celebrated Fabiola’s birthday with a cake and some once. Gosh, the Chilean accent! I might as well be in Hungary! I could hardly understand a word! I was fine in Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia and suddenly, in Chile, I felt like I was a born-again Spanish-Lesson-1-student!

In La Serena, I know Claudio made a conscious effort to speak slowly for me. However, I could not understand a single word uttered by his brother. Claudio realised that as well, and translated everything (from his brother’s Spanish to his own Spanish) for me. But when I heard him talk with his housemate, I was stupefied. I could not follow a single word at all! Alejandra is a teacher in a German school, and she had been through diction classes. So, I understood everything she said. She was pitch-perfect. Jessica… well, I guess, I could make out 60-70% of what she says. But with the rest of the family together, bye-bye… I give up.

Yes, sure they have an accent, but not only do they drop all the ‘s’ and ‘z’ at the end of words, they have a tonne of invented words that are not used anywhere else, or at least, absolutely not known to me and they speak really really fast. Although I was with them, they still used these words. So, half the time, they were laughing at me, as I stared at them blankly. I so did not get it. By the time they explained, or chose a different word, well… joke’s over, haha.

To Viña del Mar

Wednesday, December 7th, 2005
6 December 2005 (Tuesday) - La Serena to Viña del Mar, Chile Claudio had again gone to town to try and wrestle his money back. Well, there is really nothing much to eat at home now. If the payment was delayed ... [Continue reading this entry]

Starry Starry Night

Tuesday, December 6th, 2005
5 December 2005 (Monday) - La Serena, Chile I spent the day enjoying the centre of La Serena. Walking from Claudio's house to the centre, based on the clean streets, the lovely houses, the flower gardens, the blue and sunny sky, ... [Continue reading this entry]

Lazy Sunday

Monday, December 5th, 2005
4 December 2005 (Sunday) - La Serena, Chile At 8am, I tried calling Claudio. No reply. I had breakfast and tried again at 9am. No reply. I headed to the toilet and cleaned myself up a little and tried again at ... [Continue reading this entry]

So High It Touches The Sky

Sunday, December 4th, 2005
3 December 2005 (Saturday) - San Pedro de Atacama to La Serena, Chile San Pedro is too touristy and too expensive for my taste. Well, I did enjoy my shower, finally washing off all the sand and salt on my body ... [Continue reading this entry]

Touch-Down in San Pedro de Atacama

Sunday, December 4th, 2005
2 December 2005 (Friday) - Laguna Colorado, Bolivia to San Pedro de Atacama, Chile We got up even earlier today - at the ungodly hour of 3:30am to head off at 4am. What is the hurry, really? Well, our guide explained ... [Continue reading this entry]