Fish in Santiago

In the heart of Santiago, Chile, a huge fish market spans an entire city block. Since 1872, fish vendors at Mercado Central have been selling their bounty from waters touching Chile’s long coastline. When I stepped inside, I was shoulder-to-shoulder with families crowding the narrow aisles between rows of stalls and rows of huge bags of ice. They were buying silvery sea bass, eels, swordfish, glistening octopus tentacles, sea urchins, and mussels the size of avocados. In the center and around the periphery of the enormous building are restaurants, with families and fishmongers at nearly every table. I picked a café simply because it had my last name in it – Rincon Marino – and the waiter seated us upstairs. Across from our table sat a boy and his father. I could see that the dad was prompting his son to talk to us. The boy grinned and said, “Hello! My name is Jorge!” I smiled back at him, “Hi, I’m Martha. How old are you?” While we talked, the proud dad took a zillion photos and selfies with his son talking to an American using the English he was learning in school. Jorge taught me some Spanish phrases, too. When they left, he air-kissed my cheek and said, “I love you” then sped down the stairs. When the waiter asked what I wanted for lunch, I pointed to what Jorge had eaten, and got a steaming fish stew of squid, clams, and mussels.

Perhaps it’s the high fish consumption here in Santiago, but I saw hardly any obesity. Maybe, too, it’s the popularity of sidewalk street vendors selling kabobs of watermelon and grapes, cups of cut-up fruit, slices of melon. The sidewalks are packed any time of the day with people using their legs for transportation, even on shopping trips when they fill their 2-wheeled carts with purchases most Americans would feel they need a car to lug home. Or maybe it’s attitude. The Chileans I met laughed and smiled a lot, lingered over lunch and dinner for hours, and sang and whistled driving a taxi, sweeping the street, walking to the bus stop. Could be they don’t need to feed a hunger that is for something other than food. Whatever the magic combination, people here in Santiago seem to be happy and healthy.

 

12 thoughts on “Fish in Santiago

  1. What a wonderful and heartwarming story Martha … Once again, thanks for adding a little vicariousness to my day!

    Hope you both continue having a wonderful adventure.

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  2. I loved this post! Your ability to paint pictures with words made me almost feel like I was there. What a wonderful adventure! Mackenzie and Cassandra are hiking in Spain right now and experiencing Easter there. You can follow them on her Facebook page: Explore on Foot. It’s so fun to be folliwingvtwo travel bloggers at the same time.
    I look forward to seeing you soon.

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  3. “Could be they don’t need to feed a hunger that is other than food”!
    I’ll keep that sentence in my mind for when I’m reaching for something
    to eat and I’m not hungry (at least not stomach hungry).
    It was a pleasure to see YOU in a picture (and a picture filled with love
    it was too) – could we have a little more of you?
    Tonight Fred and I are going to dinner at The Wayside Inn where there will
    be nothing more exotic than COD under ritz crackers and butter.(we go for
    the ambiance of the place) Wish we
    were eating what you are eating.
    We love you and your blog.
    Blog on!
    love and kisses,
    mm and Fred

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    1. Melinda, the Wayside Inn is rich with Concord’s Colonial history, and Longfellow! I wish I were there drinking a coow woow with you and Fred.
      xxoo Martha/MM2

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  4. Martha! You are having a wonderful time, aren’t you? Thank you for sharing your thoughts, your experiences and your photos. Happy Eater! May the Bunny find you. Carol

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    1. I love it, Carol, “Happy Eater” you say!! We’ll be in Buenos Aires Easter Sunday. I’ll let you know about a Spanish-speaking bunny.
      Martha

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    1. Hi JP, as you well know from your travels with Art, some of the most memorable experiences are the spontaneous ones.
      Martha

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