SI ME VEN: Santiago to Valpariaso

Si Me Ven is a children’s Christmas song in Spanish. It roughly translates to “if you see me walking by.” And that’s what we’ve done a lot of since arriving in Chile: walking.

More words later, but here in photos are the things we’ve been seeing and doing.

We started our morning with a visit to Castille Hidalgo, in downtown Santiago. Here’s my friend Cami (we are traveling with Cami and her husband Bill). But take a look over Cami’s shoulder for the ultimate photobomb. You couldn’t pay me enough money to do that.

cami chile

This is a statue commemorating the Mapuche people.chile 005

chile 012The circle garden at the palace, and below, Jack in the market. That’s mosaic made of broken tiles and glass.

chile 019Stray dogs are everywhere in Chile, for the most part looked after in a kind of benevolent neglect by the people. This one was working the palace grounds. chile 002

It took me about five minutes to find a cat at the marketplace. Cats tend not to be strays. This one’s name was Sol, and he worked at a jewelry booth.chile 023

It took me about three minutes to find wool at the market. On the bus ride out of Santiago to Valparaiso, I took advantage of the purchase.chile 025

We booked a place to stay via Air B&B, and it turned out to be absolutely lovely, in a quirky, Bohemian area of this seaside town. We ate pizzas out of that oven, made by the guy who did those murals.

chile pizza

And here are the pizzas, as beautiful as his artwork.chile pizzas

This is what the area looks like. Note the creepy baby that is the view from one of our windows. The nice seaside pic is out the other window. The blond kid Jack is talking to is from Switzerland. He’s been woofing in Chile for a few months.

valparaiso chile concrete fish chile chile 028 chile 026chile artist

This was actually on the drive up from Santiago, a bit out of order, but there you go. Chile isn’t about order and schedules much. :] More photos later, and we need to tell you the stories that go with some of them, but for now, these pictures will have to offer 1,000 words each. :]chile countryside

Plus ca change, plus ca meme chose – –

janelle basketIn which Jack looks back with a nostalgic smile, and forward with a sardonic grin

It’s amazing how the bookstore has changed and evolved over the last few years–particularly since Little Bookstore was published and SECOND STORY CAFE opened.

While many of our long-term customers continue to support us, others have moved away for job opportunities. New arrivals have discovered the bookstore. Passers-through have made sometimes lengthy journeys just to see the place and swathes of non-readers from the community have become regulars in the cafe.
In other words, the bookstore is flourishing, and trying to give back as well.

Meanwhile Big Stone Gap continues to be exasperating and charming in equal quantities – the eternal push-pull between reactionaries and progressives of small towns everywhere. But one very good thing that has happened is the work the Town Council has done to seriously tidy up the downtown streets and the greenbelt walking trail. Wendy and I walked the trail recently for the first time in a few months–don’t judge; we’ve been busy–and were amazed and impressed by it. The river that runs alongside has been stocked with trout and families of ducks paddle up and down serenely. Some of the surfaces are redone, the lighting improved, and rails put up alongside roads.

It’s nice to have something so lovely to point out to visitors. Wendy delights in taking them for walks up the Greenbelt to the campground, where colorful local character Johnny Cubine has carved faces into six of the trees. In the last week shop visitors have included a forty strong group from Berea College, as well as some couples and a few of what Wendy calls ‘girlfriend posses.’
Now, if we could just find a way to pull together as a town and support some more specialist shops through their difficult first year….