28 September 2008


I was just a tiny little turnip when I learned my first word in Spanish. My parents used it as code but it didn't take long for me and my brother to link helado with the ice cream that soon followed. It is as well ingrained as hello or goodbye at this point. Which comes in handy in Chile.

The weather was cool, winter was still clinging on when I arrived in Chile for my first time. I was surprised to see ice cream cones all over, gripped in cold fingers or the leather gloves of business professionals. I met a woman in the far southern part of Patagonia who had closed her produce shop to open an ice cream parlor; apparently helado sells year round, veggies not so much.

It took me months to warm up to the idea of ice cream in Chile, closely matching the amount of time it took for summer to arrive. And when I did there was no going back. With unusual flavors like lemon cream and chirimoya (a local fruit worthy of its own blog post), I was quickly hooked on the national fad. No matter how cold the fingertips might be, it's always a good time for ice cream in Chile.

25 September 2008


All in one day. From one hemisphere to the other, from south to north.

24 September 2008

mote con huesillo

One of my favorite Chilean treats. Best on a warm and sunny afternoon, served icy cold in a thick glass. It starts with an entire dehydrated peach, water, sugar, and big fat grains of cooked husked wheat. The peach stews in the sugar and water for hours, making a sweet and delicious drink. Served cold over the grains and with one peach in the glass: the best snack.

23 September 2008

22 September 2008

one track mind

I should start by saying I'm not a surfer. This perhaps removes my credibility as a critic on the latest surf films. But I have a lot to say about the one I saw last night.

From the makers of Thicker Than Water comes this new film which was premiered yesterday in a tiny pizza joint in the town of Pichilemu. To say twenty people attended would be generous. The director, Chris Malloy, gave a brief introduction from under a trucker hat. And then it began, and I was engrossed.

The format was outside the norm for surf films. Vintage footage was spliced in with the perfectly filmed clips from the most recent competition circuit. Shots of surfers inside tubes were technically precise, beautifully captured from water level. But the most appealing element of the film was not shot on the water. It was the interviews with world class surfers that made me not want to blink. Each was filmed with such simplicity and artistic composition in black and white against a black backdrop. The faces of these exceptional athletes of all ages, of clearly three different generations, were openly offered to the viewer. Chipped teeth, striking eyes, a scar on the bridge of a nose, wrinkles: all there for us to examine. Like windows into the world of these men, and with questions that equally opened doors for someone outside the pro surf circuit. The editing of the interviews was edgy and sharp, stacking responses of one onto the other with style.

Have a look for yourself. one track mind

21 September 2008

day of peace

International Day of Peace today. Celebrated annually, celebrated for the first time in 1982, celebrated without guns. Supported by a UN resolution, Peace Day is recognized world wide by those who know about it. Best way for you to celebrate? Don't get in any bar fights, lay off the road rage, and spread the word.

18 September 2008


The pisco is flowing and the town is decorated in red white and blue. Today commemorates Chile's first steps toward independence from Spain in 1810, celebrated with such whole-heartedness that no one is likely to remember it tomorrow.

The country celebrates with traditional dress, rodeos, parades, kite-flying, national food favorites, dancing of the cueca, and plenty of boozing. Much of the drinking and dancing occurs in ramadas, open air buildings decorated with leafy branches.

A dieciocho celebration wouldn't be complete without an empanada or an anticucho (Chile's version of the shishkebab). The grills are fired up all around town, the smell of sausage and beef fills the valley. Huge ovens are loaded with empanadas (with beef, onion, part of a hard-boiled egg, a black olive, and a raisin).

And to wash it all down: pisco (liquor made from grapes, not too far off the taste of tequila), chicha (a bit like a hard cider made from grapes), ponche (white sangria with peaches), and of course wine and beer.

¡Vive Chile!

17 September 2008

aguas calientes

I took my skis for a walk today. We crunched through the crust of frozen slush in the morning, slogged through the thawed snow in the afternoon. An hour of hiking brought me to the peak dividing the Pirigallo Valley from Valle Hermoso and Aguas Calientes. Skied down into the third, by far the largest of the the three, and began my hunt for hot springs in the snow. Soaked in the first creek that seemed worthy of taking off the ski boots. It was warm but not hot. It was exquisite.

14 September 2008

las trancas

An amazing little valley. Full of people with a passion for the mountains, of dogs who happily participate in the community, of waterfalls and dusty roads. It is a place where my daydreams of owning a cozy cabin run rampant.

13 September 2008

12 September 2008

la primavera

It is spring in the southern hemisphere. Birds are chirping wildly, couples are lingering in the sunlight, skin is touched by a warm breeze. A good reason to laze about.

11 September 2008

september 11

An important day in Chile, today marks the anniversary of the military coup of 1973 that put Pinochet in power and led to the death of President Salvador Allende. General Augusto Pinochet carried behind him the support of the US (according to documents declassified in 1998). The anti-communist military dictatorship that Pinochet established on September 11th of 1973 ruled Chile until 1990.

La Moneda, the presidential palace at the time, was where Allende held strong while the rest of the country was taken under military control. At mid-day the building was bombed by Chilean fighter jets. Intense violence continued for the first few months after the coup. Suspected leftists were detained in the National Stadium in Santiago. Thousands of people 'disappeared' during those initial months.

But not all memories of Pinochet are negative around here. Many people remember that it was during his rule that Chile crawled from economic despair toward it's status as the strongest economy in South America. Hard times led up to the coup; the country was ready for change.

It's hard to imagine anything but peace around La Moneda these days. The changing of the guard happens every other morning, with great fanfare and plenty of stray dogs wagging their tails through the ranks. All is tranquilo at the moment, but this evening there are warnings about demonstrations and general unrest around this emotional day.

08 September 2008


So passionate about her homeland that I now can't stop thinking about Turkey. Someday there will be posts on this very blog from Istanbul, from the Cappadocia region, from the mountains and the hot springs, from the sea.

06 September 2008

05 September 2008

one full year

The birth of this little blog was one year back. I had been meaning to get one going for a couple of years, often sad that my travels would go undocumented. I still wish I'd started more than a year ago, but now only because I'm aware of how much joy I get from this semi-public journal. But as the silent e ages I think I can now see what it is lacking: you.

In honor of this blog's first birthday, I ask of you, intrepid blog visitors, to bless us (me and the e) with a bit of feedback. I've heard through the grapevine of email that some of you out there check in on the silent e with some regularity, and we would love to hear from you. Want to see something specific, like a photo series on nose hair, or an exposé on the fad of bottled water? Let us know, we'll work on it. Love the way a certain entry or image makes you feel? We want to know that too. Not a fan of one? Keep that to yourself. Kidding of course, any constructive criticism is always welcome.

For now, why not just wish the e a happy birthday.

03 September 2008


Have made a few attempts at this active volcano over the years. Have yet to peer into the fiery belly of the thing. Considering myself lucky for having even seen it; there are those that travel to Pucón and never even catch a glimpse.

02 September 2008

the completo

White bread and meat, often processed meat, with a mountain of condiments. This is the chileno way. Never have I seen a nation so whole-hearted attached to the hotdog. The completo is the most popular way to consume the disappointing meat, with mayonaise, tomato, and avocado piled so high one has to seperate the jaw to get the first bite in.