Watch out, B.A.—Santiago is South America’s new culinary capital. Our tip sheet.
Head to the buzzy Barrio Italia neighborhood for an espresso and Chocolatón (a wickedly rich chocolate cake) at Café Emporio Da Noi(1776 Avda. Italia). For pizzas and generous charcuterie platters, wait it out at the scene-y Ciudadano(400 Seminario;$$), where reservations are a tough score. The local music spot Café Bar Cinco Minutos(451 Avda. Santa Isabel)offers a small but standout menu, including a gloriously oozy steak-and-cheese sandwich—often called the city’s best.
Read correspondent Connie McCabe's first Chile dispatch here, and her second dispatch here.
Just over one week ago the earthquake—and we all know what earthquake I'm talking about—woke me up in the middle of the night. As reported, everything rattled, but nothing broke. A few picture frames toppled over and all seven perfume bottles fell, but they landed not on the marble floor but atop cushy piles of socks and stacks of t-shirts in the bureau drawers that were opening and closing with the lurching of the house. Some of us are lucky. Ridiculously lucky.
Five days later, on Thursday, it was my alarm clock chiming me awake at 3:30. Not because I had to get to work, but because my husband and stepson were setting off for Lebu, a small coastal town that straddles the Lebu River in the region of Bio Bio, about 90 miles south of Concepcion. Here, the earth jerked and cracked at its most violent 8.8, and most houses, made of wood panels and corrugated tin roofs, writhed and creaked along with it.
Twenty minutes later, the Pacific, which had been displaced 30 miles below its surface, rose, filled the bay and overpowered the river, forcing it—for the first time in history—to flow in reverse. Bunches of fishing boats that had been tied together on either side of the mouth of the river were dislodged, and more than half of them propelled upriver. Inexplicably they ended up beyond the bridge that most of the 20-meter long painted wood vessels are too big to clear. In the darkness, the Pacific retreated with a vengeance, sucking the river and one elder fisherman and his wife into the sea. The river had been reduced to a fraction of its original size. Now it was a creek, and stuck in its muddy remains, some 50 traumatized fishing boats, scattered and skewed helter-skelter.
Read correspondent Connie McCabe's first Chile dispatch here.
Monster earthquake notwithstanding, this is a big year for Chile, nothing less than her 200th birthday. But no one is talking much about that anymore.
Michele Bachelet’s Bicentennial Advisory Committee had been mapping out a host of celebrations, initiatives and projects to benchmark the big year. New cultural centers were rising up. A satellite was to be ejected into space. Plazas were to be renovated; parks improved; poetry contests held.
Yesterday, thanks to catastrophe-hungry media, the only things the world saw being held were rifles and iron bars as angry Chileans cleaned out a mini-market just outside Santiago. And the world saw this again and again. That and images of tanks rumbling through debris-strewn streets of Concepcion and smoke billowing ominously out of supermarkets. There’s also the scene of the weary fishermen and their families—what is left of them—combing through the shattered remains of what was, just days before, a coastline of idyllic beach destinations. And people fighting tear gas and each other for a few canisters of powdered milk and scooping up water from blown-up baby swimming pools.
Three minutes. Such a short time in the big scheme of things, but such a long time when the ground is shifting under one’s feet. Everything changed in Chile in those three minutes. Even for those of with mere superficial damages. Like me.
I live in Santiago, and I don’t remember if I was sleeping or not when it started. I just remember hearing a low rumble, almost like thunder. I knew what it was; as the whole world knows, Chile gets more than its fair share of earthquakes. I thought I would just wait it out. But then the rumble got louder, the headboard started slamming against wall; the windows rattling, and the closet doors inching open and thumping closed. Not so gracefully, I nudged my husband. He had been sleeping, but before I could ask what he thought we should do, he was sprinting down the hall.