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3/14/2008

Papudo/Zapallar (CHILE)

Papudo's Beach "Playa Chica" and the Municipality and Cultural Centre "Chalet Recart"
Papudo's Bay is bathed by the Pacific Ocean where it brings a diverse and rich fauna to its shore, such as penguins, sea lions, seals and, if you are lucky enough you can also see dolphins. I arrived there early in the morning, the city was still asleep. Little by little they opened their eyes to view only a few tourists wandering around the streets. I wanted to have some caffeine on my veins, for my limbic system was functioning almost in a zero degree, as I didn't have breakfast yet, and the cold breeze seemed to have frozen, not only my brain, but my camera lens as well. And the very few places that could have some coffee were actually closed. Inside a hotel there was a cafeteria but they only served the clients already installed, and they didn't have a service for outsiders (like me!) And yet, there were some home-made delicatessens displayed in the main plaza that were also closed. And, yes, I was starving... I would guess that if you are in a place made for tourists, at least have some compassion for those who just arrived! But that didn't take the grace and beauty of this place.
Heading a little bit to the North and we arrive to Zapallar. I was stupefied to the fact that, after going there each and every summer, only this time I found out that the most precious place was hidden from the less adventurous ones, which is where we can reach to the other side to view the entire bay from a small trail made of stones. Also taking a walk in the woods to breath deeply into the pine trees and araucarias which dominate the area to arrive to a bifurcation makes it an even more exciting trip, I mean trick (because, believe me, you wouldn't know which place was the most attractive one to pick:)
Araucaria (or Pinus Araucana as it was first called in 1780s) is an evergreen forestation found mostly in the Central area and no wonder is considered the national tree of Chile.
And then to admire the details of the architecture on its various facets, which embraces the mountain without fighting or contrasting with the greening and without feeling that awkward sensation of invading a private place gives one a sense of belonging. One might think that diversity of themes and materials would lead to a disordered (dis)solution. Instead it rather harmonically involves the local environment, a familiar sense of heading home. Each construction invites the visitors to decipher the enigmas encrypted on each brick and stone, and hearing the stories that each house surrounding the bay area are eager to tell... it takes my breath away just to remember for THAT is already a plus, with no coffee included (or needed!;)And how not to mention the fishermen's wharf, a place worth visiting. Of course, if it's already eleven and you don't have breakfast yet you can always make a "poor me" face. You even forget about the seagull that just took a big piece of fish from the cat on the roof, and the many succulent oyster shells thrown out on the rocks, and right in front of avid seafood lover's eyes (which is not my case... I mean, taste!:) And you ask gently if they could open it a little bit earlier, for your stomach is inside out. And, just for a change, you tip the waiter on reverse, reserve a table in a nice restaurant right on the shores where a feline had an eye for a fish, and sing a couple of verses from Neruda's "Ode to the Cat" while throwing an eye and watching attentively (but with discretion) the ebullient almost kitsch décor from the reception which so much resembles the house of the poet in Isla Negra:

"The animals were born to fail,
with long tails and sad tales.
Bit by bit such fate they escaped,
conquering landscapes,
garnering moles, grace, flight.
The cat, and only the cat (all right)
appeared absolute in pride:
He was born totally finished,
walking solitary
and knowing what he wished.

Man wants to be fish and bird
the serpent wished to have wings,
the dog is a disoriented feline,
the engineer wants to be a poet
(with only lines and no lies)
the fly studies to be bird to sing,
the poet tries to imitate flies,
but the cat wants only to be a cat
and all cat are cats (not mice)
from whiskers to tail,
from presentiment to rat with no trail,
from the night to his golden eyes.

There are no unity like his,
neither the moon or the flower
has such a texture:
He is a whole thing
like the sun or the topaz,
and the elastic line of his contour
firm and subtle
is like the line of a ship's prow.
His yellow eyes left a single slot
through which to throw
the coins of the night.
(...) cannot decipher a cat.
My reason slid in his numbness,
his eyes have numbers of gold (or Highness;)"

(My own version of the "Odd")


Small note to "Chiringuito": Hope you get me a discount next time for the free ad(d)
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