Aventuras en la Herradura

Sunday, June 5, 2011

The boat accomplishment

Every year at the end of school, we go to La Herradura for the summer.  La Herradura is on the coast, North of Santiago.  My parents have a cabin by the ocean.  I look forward to summers at La Herradura.
Mom, Carmen and Dad pack both cars with everything we need for the summer.  Carmen, my nanny, patiently does what she is told.

To eat during the trip, they prepared boiled eggs, chicken, bread, thermoses with tea and cold beverages and other goodies.  The rough debate about what we are taking and what doesn’t fit in the car gives me the shivers over the back of my head and my jaw clenches.

At last, the cars are ready, we take off in a convoy in the dark of the early morning.  Dad and Carmen in one car, Mom and me in the other.  There is barely enough room for me in the car. After a while, my Mom remembers something that she forgot.  We turn around, this adds more tension to the trip. It’s getting late.
I always think that if we run into problems at the beginning of the trip the rest is going to be just fine. The sun came up, my belly felt empty.

“I’m hungry Mom” I said.   “Get something from the picnic basket, Teddy.” Said my Mom with her eyes on the road. I look inside the basket for something yummy.

The smell of the chicken, the boiled eggs and the hot bread transported me to picnics at the beach.  I eat an egg with bread and grabbed a bottle of water.
As we drove North, the trees started to disappear, the colors changed fast from green to brown, the landscape turned into dry slopes with dried bushes.  The particular smell coming from the picnic basket, the heated plastic dash and the monotonous sound of road got me sleepy. Mom didn’t talk much, the trip was boring.  We stopped for lunch and bathroom breaks.  Finally after most of the day traveling we arrived to La Herradura.
The Bay from the top of the hill looked calm, a freighter, the dock and the town were a familiar picture, my heart jumped of excitement. As soon as we stopped at home, I jumped down to open the garage door, I stretched my arms and legs and hold a big breath of fresh air. After so many hours in the small place, I ran around, smile and explore what was new. Look around for my friends from the back, enjoying the cold marine breeze and the sweet smells from plans, dust and eucalyptus trees from the backyard.  Mom, Dad and Carmen were busy unloading the cars.
The house smelled so good.  I have missed the smell of the thick curtains, the dry wood, the dust, the smell of the enclosure, the sweet metallic smell from the bathroom and Dad’s shaving cream. Everything was so familiar.
Last summer auntie Dolly taught me how to swim. She took me where I couldn’t reach the bottom and said.

“Teddy, just swim out honey, you can do it.” And she let me go.  I wiggled my hands and legs as fast as I could, swimming to chore until I reach the bottom.  She made me tried again and again until I was good at it.  From there on I became a fish, I imitate my sisters.  It worked out well.

I can’t remember how old I was then.  The tradition was to swim to the boat and bring it to shore on your own.  That year it was my turn, was super excited.  It was a challenge. I was looking forward to it.  My sisters would often talk about this during lunch time. Dad showed me how to let go the anchor and how to set up the oars and made me row.  The oars were really heavy.
After few days, my Dad told me.

“Teddy, tomorrow you will swim and get the boat.”  I got the shivers.    “Be careful not to drop the oars in the water.” He said

That night I couldn’t sleep with the anticipation. I dream about swimming far to get the boat and then rowing it on my own.  I felt big, responsible, the owner of the universe.

The next morning I needed to pi more often than ever. I don’t recall what happen until I was swimming.  The water was green that morning, there was a gentle breeze.  I swim stroke, it felt an eternity to get to the boat.  I took the last pi before climbing.  Once on the boat, I looked to shore.  I was surprised to see my Dad and my sisters not that far away.  I release the anchor and set the oars.  I heard my Dad’s voice.

 “Well done Teddy!” The wind had brought me to shore.  I didn’t have to row.
Thinking backwards, my father knew about it.  It was all safe.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

La Feria

  “No se olviden que hoy hay Feria!” said Gustavo with a smile on his face.
  “Good idea,” I said.  “Is it going to be sunny today?” I asked.
  “Oh yeah, the sun is coming soon!” he assured as he squinted his racoon face with round brown eyes and dark tanned skin.  “There are nice big peaches, the skin peels off easy and they are delicious, also get the big chirimoyas, the ones with spikes, those are the best.  You can find clothes there too,” he said showing his white teeth.
  “We should check it out Dad!” Klaus agreed with Gustavo.
  “Let’s take the truck only, we can bring the groceries home and pick up the boat to go for lunch and sailing after.”
 It was mid morning and the sun remained above the clouds.  The regular crash from the waves, the birds chirping, the bark of a dog in the distance, the smell of the moist and the dry dirt brought me back in time to La Herradura, a familiar environment.  I wasn’t cold, the fresh air hugged me gently.
  “It’s just a block from the police station!” he said waving at us.
  “Thank you again Gustavo,” Klaus said.
  “I’ve heard the chirimoyas are very good for you,” I said to Klaus as I jumped in the truck.
  “We need to get lots fruits and avocados Dad.”
  “I also want a bandana for my neck,” I said.
Tongoy is not a big place, it’s a 4 hour drive north of Santaigo, and at this time of the year, only a few visitors are around.  In the summer, the visitors outnumber the locals.  Klaus has an ongoing safety concern.  Most of the people are poor and some of them look spooky.  The unusual number of cars parked together was a good indication of the Farmers Market.
  “Is this the farmers market?” I asked to one fellow that helps you park and watches your car.
  “The next street to your right Sir!” He shouted back pointing with his hand.
   “Are you sure that we can park here?” asked Klaus, concerned that I was parking the car on top of the sidewalk painted yellow, which means no parking.
  “Is it OK to park here?” I asked an older man who was watching this part of the street.
  “Certainly gentlemen,” he said smiling, his face was gently sculpted by age.  “I will take good care of your car!”
I wanted to do this fast, get the boat, have lunch and then to the beach and sail just in time for when the sun comes up.  Klaus is different, he is never in a hurry, and he likes to take his time.
It surprised me as we entered into the Farmers Market the amount of clothing stands.  I expected to find more veggies and fruits.
  “Do you like these pants?” I asked Klaus pointing to hippie baggie pair with orange, light blue and yellow stripes made of a thick canvas.
  “Those are for women Dad!” he exclaimed.
  “I don’t mind, I would like to own a pair,” I said thinking about where could I use them.
  “Buy them if you want them…” he said.
In the next stand, they had bandanas. I looked for a color that appealed to me.  White, black, grey, light blue and pink.
  “Those are bandanas Dad!” Klaus pointed out.
  “Yes I know, this is what I want for my neck.”
  “You’re not picking a pink bandana, are you Dad? What is with you and pink?”
  “I like pink, I always have!”
  “How much is it?” I asked the girl.
  “800,” she said with a smile.
I put the bandana on right away.  We walked the two blocks of market through the crowd to look around.  I enjoyed the symphony that the crowd made, the salespeople as they shouted their offers in their slang, the smell of cumin, strawberries, corn, cilantro, celery and an acrid smell of fish.  The market is a place to meet for the people here.  I can tell by their faces, what they are wearing, their speaking, who they are.
  “Corn, caserito… five for a Luca!”
 We picked cherries, strawberries, nectarines, mangoes, bananas, avocados, tomatos, garlic, green peppers, eggs.  Chirimoyas were green and no big peaches…December…too early in the season.
 The yellow plastic bags with all our treasures were getting heavier and the thin plastic was hurting my hands.
Cheap clothing too.
“Is Antonio around?” I asked the attendant when we got to the restaurant “La Ballena Azul.”
  “Antonio?” asked the attendant opening her eyes very wide.
  “Yes, the person who serves here,” I said.
  “Haaa…you mean Cheri?…”  “Cheri…” she called.  “The people for the sea urchins are here!” she shouted to the back.
Antonio showed up looking very well groomed as usual, I noticed his broken nose that might have been smashed by one ugly punch many years ago.
  “Where are the other two?” he asked.
  “We are all here,” I said counting one, two, three and four pointing at Klaus and me each time. He looked at me intrigued.
  “We are having two servings each,” I explained.
We sat by the water.  We have come for lunch most of the days.  Sea urchins are very rare.  When we arrived in Tongoy, I asked around and I told Antonio to phone me if he got them.
   “Why do they call you Cheri?” I asked.
  “Well…when I was a kid, I had a shield…you know?  Cowboys?” he explained.
  “Sheriff!” I said.
  “Yes, Cheri!” he said with a big smile lifting up his shoulders.
  “Who is the girl that was serving here last night?” I asked
  “That is my daughter Alicia.” He said with a squint.
I moved my eyes pointing to Klaus and back.  Few moments later, he arrived with Alicia.
  “Hi Alicia.” I said as I extended my hand.
  “Hi, jaja jaja,” she replied with a permanent smile while staring at Klaus.
  “Hi Alicia,” said Klaus extending his hand with a smile.
  “Hi… jaja jaja,” she said still smiling.
Then they turned around and left.
  “Should I have stood up to say hi?” Klaus asked.
  “I think you should have.”
The sea urchins were delicious.  After that I was still not done lunch, I wanted to try the empanadas from La Pink. The place was packed and the service slow. The waiter wasn’t the smartest cookie in the cookie jar. We sat at a table that was not cleaned up.
  “What is the best to eat here?” I asked.
He stared at me lost.  “Everything is good,” he said slowly.
  “We will get one Crab-cheese and one shrimp-cheese please,” I said with a smile to see if that would make a difference.
A while later Klaus noticed that people were getting angry because of the slow service and some of them moved to the restaurant next door.
I went inside to find out about my order.  La Pink, a short older woman behind the food counter was shouting orders to Maruca, the woman on the deep fryer.  From what I gathered, the deep fryer woman was replacing the official one and she had troubles reading the orders from the new POS.  I waited to see more.
  “Where are my crab cheese and my shrimp cheese?” I asked.
  “I don’t have any of that!” Maruca said.
La Pink gave me a look and said, “What did you order?”
  “One crab-cheese and one shrimp-cheese please,” I said with a smile.
  “I’ll make them right away,” she said and the two empanadas came out from the fryer.
In less than a minute, I was walking to our table with my two empanadas.
People around escalated their anger.
The empanadas were light and delicious, quite different from the ones we had tried so far. We pack our own Aji Diaguitas hot sauce.  Klaus is always concerned when I arrive at restaurants with our water and hot sauce. After we ate, I went in and asked for another order, directly from La Pink.
The day was still cloudy so we headed to Puerto Aldea, at the South end of the beach for sailing.

We drove along the beach as the sun started breaking through the clouds.  The wind was blowing hard.

  “Are we ready for sailing?” I asked.
  “Let’s wait for a bit Dad,” Klaus said.
I lay on the sand to get warm before the sail. My mind started wondering about the day.  Suddenly, I remembered we didn’t bring the main sail.
  “We forgot the main sail at home!” I shouted at Klaus who was still in the truck.
Should we go back to get it or we just have a beach day no sailing? The wind was blowing hard so beach was not that great.  “What can we do?”
  “Let’s take pictures with the pink bandana,” I said.

We had so much fun that he even agreed to try on my Speedo and later on to facebook the pictures except the nude ones!

After that, I started walking around looking at the sand.  I found clam shells, and grabbed as many as I could hold in my hands and started throwing them into the water.  They fly smooth like a frisbee.  Soon Klaus joined me in throwing shells.  A flock of ducks were swimming not too far off the shore and I started aiming at the ducks.  One of the shells did it.  The ducks, contrary to logic started swimming towards us.  Fun!  My arm got sore after a while.
I found a sand bank.  I wanted to dig a tunnel.  I looked for a stick something to dig, nothing.  I chose a scallop shell.  I started digging and soon Klaus joined me.
  “Let’s make a tunnel, you dig there and we connect at the end,” I suggested.
We must have spent an hour digging and finally we connected.  We made a wall and called it Fort Klaus.
So much for nothing to do!  It reminds me of my days at the beach, always busy doing something simple, trying out something else, it’s still there!