Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Arrival in Chile and dinner in Santiago with friends

PHIL: Day 72/26 April

This time the LAN Boeing from Tahiti is precisely on schedule, though as before they have run out of champagne. We substitute a good Argentinian pinot noir which seems to ease the disappointment. 

leaving Easter Island
After a fascinating short piece on the Martin Guitar factory in Nazareth, Pennsylvania, the controversial movie ‘The Queen’, screened in UK last year whilst I was in Myanmar, keeps me entertained. 

Allie, who saw it on some earlier flight, asks for my reaction and I tell her that I can quite see it being a reasonable interpretation of events ten years ago. 

Fabulous views over the Andes
By curious coincidence it was from Santiago in 1997 that my long-standing Chilean friend Victor Mardones called me in Bristol to commiserate at Diana’s death which he had picked up on CNN whilst the UK slept. 

The approach to Santiago four hours later is a classic skirting of the Andes in excellent visibility, Mt. Aconcagua’s 21,000+ft. peak standing above the snow-covered sierras.

dinner with the family
Out host in Santiago is Victor’s step-daughter , but we spend some time unravelling relationships with the man who meets us. Fernando Silva is the girl’s natural father whose place was usurped by Victor some 20 years previously. 

Sensitivities are evident which restrict our range of conversation to oblique references to Victor and emphasis on Ximena, the shared object of the two men’s affection. 

Fernando, a customs agent, has a magnificent silver Dodge 4WD which he drives with singular lack of finesse resulting in our getting lost several times on the way to his daughter’s house in Alto las Condes.

Santiago is just as beautiful as on my last visit a decade previously. Delicate acer and maple trees line the streets are rich with autumn colours.
on approach to Chile

Farewell to Easter island, a flight to Santiago and an evening with Carolina

It’s raining. How lucky we were! The 4 ½ hours flight to Santiago is spent with computer stuff and laughing my socks off reading Bill Brysons book on American habits.

The approach is spectacular: snow-white mountains of the Andes stretch right in front of us. And even the peak of Mt. Anconcagua with it’s 6929 meters the highest mountain in South America is perfectly visible in the evening light.
stunning mountain scenery

On arrival we are greeted by Fernando. Neither Phil nor I do know him, but he gives us a warm welcome and embraces me like an old friend. 

The story here is quite complicated and Phil and I have difficulties in getting the family constellations right: it seems that Fernando is the father of Carolina, the girl we are staying with and the ex-husband of      , who is married now for 20 years to Victor – the Chilean friend of Phil! All clear?
bird eyes view of Santiago de Chile
Carolina lives in the district of Los Condes on the eastern side of Santiago in a nice new house. The interior is very tastefully decorated, the house has a small garden and even a pool. Carolina is my age and has two children, Francesca (4) and Francisco (7). Dinner is ready and we spend a nice evening sipping away delicious Chilean red wine.

But even at the end of this long evening we are still not sure to understand all the family relations. Carolina has a sister called Paulina and they both work for their father Fernando. But where is Carolina’s husband? No sign of him. So is she divorced as is Paulina and their father?

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