Travelling is evolution of familiarity. First step is the initial ´new´ shock. Everything seems new and strange from the food to the sights. Then two things happen as the adventure goes on. You get used to everything around you, it´s no longer shocking and different. You also become comfortable, and allow yourself to find things that are familiar. Like Gonzalo, a world travelling veteran said, ¨You travel really far only to find a place that looks a lot like somewhere you´ve been before.¨
A week ago (two weeks ago?) I blogged about how Bariloche reminded me a lot of Coeur d´Alene, Idaho. Ben and I then took the bus over the Andes due West and ended up in Valdivia. Like the Northwest, If you drive West you´ll cross the Cascades and land in Seattle. Sure enough, Ben and I had found the Seattle of Chile in Valdivia.
The weather was incredibly similar as well. The Climate experienced by this area is a Pacific Marine climate, nearly identical with Seattle and unique to only these areas (I think). We were blessed with sunny days for our trip though, and were able to see the city in its full, colorful glory.
Our first day in Valdivia was a great introduction to Chilean food. Valdivia has a wonderful central market (like Pikes´ Place, right!), next to the water. On one side was fish, fresh fresh fresh fish. Behind the fish row lived hungry sea lions and seagulls, ecstatic to catch a discarded intestine or two. Opposite of the fish row was a beautiful display of fresh fruits and vegetables. I walked away from that market with about 5 pounds of fresh raspberries, blueberries, strawberries and a native berry called Murta. This little berry was the size of a blueberry, red and white in color with a unique flavor. Kind of like a red sweet fruit but leaves a surprisingly herb like after taste.
Our couch host, Felipe was a great guy who loved Seattle music. Grunge to be exact. He was ecstatic to find out that Ben was from Seattle, knew all of his favorite bands, and had seen most of them live. Jealous might be a better word to describe that.
Soon after we arrived at his home we felt the earthquake. It was my first earthquake, and felt kind of like being gently rocked back and forth on a small boat. The earthquake wasn´t my only first that week. Felipe and Ben made sure that I tried my first Pisco Sour, terremoto (Spanish for earthquake, also a drink made of white wine and pineapple ice cream), and completo. The completo is the ultimate drunk-munchies food. It´s a giant hot dog, covered in tomatoes, avocado spread and mayo. As a plus, it´s never over two US dollars.
Felipe also took Ben and I to the coast, where we toured more sea food and an old Spanish fort. The place was steeped in history. Not only was this for the last standing of the Spanish (survived 10 years more than the rest of Chile under Spanish control) Darwin also visited it. That´s right, Darwin on his voyage of the Beagle.
Ok, so Darwin didn´t visit Seattle, but Valdivia had a lot more in common with Seattle than we expected. In addition to the weather, market place, great seafood and hilly landscape, Valdivia was known for its local beer in Chile. Valdivia also had a progressive music scene and a cool young population mixed in with the old timers.
Well that´s it for now. Sorry for the lack of pictures, I´ll post more later when I find an internet cafe with the connections!