Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Familia Ramirez

Rich People
Getting out of Santiago by bicycle is not an easy task. We found a quiet road leading out of the city from the north-east neighbourhoods, where every villa has its own swimming pool. This road is forbidden for bicycles, but there is no car there, so we decided to go there and play the ¨dumb tourists¨ if necessary. After a long climb, we had marvellous view over the western valley. 


We stopped for lunch in a rich people´s mall, where you find all children eating expensive Hamburgers and Sushi after school. We only ate dry bread on a bench watching the artificial lagoon and the kids with envy. 


After crossing the two highways from Santiago, we rode on a nice and quiet road which is full of garbage. There we stopped for the night in the middle of a natural Savanna.


Saved by an Angel
Right when we left in the morning, huge groups of cyclists passed us. 


After the third group, we realized we were in the middle of an important competition. Even though they were really tired, the look of 2 cyclists with so much luggage made them smile and wave for us. For the first time we tried Epanada de Mariscos, a sea-food pastry. We were on the beginning of a long climb when it started raining heavily. When we got to the top, we stopped for lunch between some 500 year old trees. The way down was wet and freezing and just when we decided to search for a hostel, some weirdo stepped out of his car and approached us. He asked us if we needed any help and offered us a hot drink at his house, not far from there. We suggested instead to spend the night at his place. He agreed and said it was 5 km from there. So we started cycling and noticed he was leading us with his car. After 15 km, we finally reached Limache, his town, and his amazing villa. 


His house stands in his large family´s estate, surrounded by fruit and other trees. Just when we started unpacking our stuff we discovered he was half American and studied in the US for a few years. We had nothing to give them back except good will, so we did what we do best - cooking. 


For dinner we made pizzas, fucaccia and black beans paste. Eduardo, our host, offered us amazing grapes and walnuts from his garden. At dinner, we had time to get to know better Natalia, Eduardo´s wife, who works as the government treasurer in Valparaiso, and Vicente, their 3 years old son, who occasionally does unwanted construction works on the house. Eduardo is a police detective who specialized in finger prints and other forensic evidence. Through his job, he had the oppurtunity to travel around the world in the expense of the police department, and maybe this is why he was so proud of us travelers.


Volcanic Coast
To our surprise, instead of kicking us out, Eduardo insisted that we stay another night, and of course we couldn´t refuse. Moreover, he took us for the whole day to explore the Chilean Riviera, from Concón, through Viña del Mar to Valparaiso. On the way to the coast, he drove by the way he suggested we take to continue our traveling. He explained this was the avocado capital, but for some reason, most of it is exported, and what is left for the Chileans is extremely expensive. 


We stopped in a few volcanic beaches, where the waves get up to 10 m high, and our guide explained that every year unfortunate tourists die there when being washed away from the cliffs by the huge waves. 



After a walk on the sandy beach of Viña del Mar, we drove up to the most wonderful lookout over the harbor of Valparaiso, where we lunched our pìzza leftovers. 


We drove through the ¨Camino Cintura¨, the Belt Road, which crosses the whole town in its most typical and dangerous neighbourhoods. Eduardo told us that he cycles there at night only with the escort of a local. With this road we got back to Viña del Mar, to pick up Natalia and Vicente, who came by metro (900 CH$), and went to the beach. 


After building and destroying a big sand monument, we went to Eduardo and Natalia´s favorite sea-food restaurant. 


We all enjoyed the experience, the adults loved the food, and Vicente had fun playing with his orange juice. When we got back we were all very tired and went straight to bed.

Off Road
Although Eduardo would have loved to host us more, we decided to leave the following day. So as not to disappoint him too much, we took the time to make vegan Granola cookies, which were a great success (his grand mother asked for the recipe), and also had a rich breakfast together. We followed Eduardo´s choice of roads, but decided to skip the busy coastal road, and instead we climbed some mountains. For the first time, we tried Tortilla, which in Chile is just a big flat bread loaf. We decided to take a short cut through an unpaved road, and ended up extending our way due to lack of road signs. As dark came quickly, we rushed to camp in a nice Eucalyptus forest.


Recipe: Vegan Granola Cookies

Dry Ingredients:
walnuts, chopped, 200 gr
almonds, chopped, 200 gr
flax, grounded, 4 tbs
oatmeal, 400 gr
white flour, 200 gr
sugar, 150-250 gr
raisins, 100 gr
lemon zest, from 2 lemons

Liquid Ingredients:
sunflower oil, 100 ml
water, 100-300 ml

Mix all the dry ingredients in a big bowl.
Add liquids and knead well.
Adjust sugar by taste, and if needed add water or flour to get a stiff-creamy dough.
Oil and cover with flour a flat backing pan.
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius.
Pour the dough on the pan, and squeeze firmly to flatten it to a 1 cm thick even layer.
Cut with a knife to 4x8 cm rectangular pieces.
Bake for about 15 minutes, until acchieving a brown colour.
Separate the cookies from the pan, and let cool for about 2 hours.



                       Shoham & Amit
                     South America by Bicycle


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