Friday February 18, 2005
The day before the wedding!
Awoke refreshed and ready for breakfast of eggs toast and coffee in the hotel with Skip, Lana, Ignacio, Aida and Joaquin.
The plan for the day? Get ready for La Boda (the wedding)! Lana and Aida to La Tienda de Novias (Bridal Shop) and all the guys taking a driving tour of upper Valparaiso. So off we went, in and out of the little valleys and nooks and crannies created by the 47 hills of Valpo. We drove into and around neighborhood after neighborhood, seeing Pablo Neruda's colorful Valpo house (Nobel laureate poet) and dozens of other houses brightly painted, with beautiful wood trimmed doors, windows and eaves. Very interesting architecture here - and very interesting mix of beautiful well kept places amidst lesser structures built on hillsides that left us wondering how they stay put!
And then, lunch! We met up with ladies and all headed off to the beachfront just at the southern end of Valpo - an area undergoing reconstruction of a wide walking boulevard along a great seawall. Also an area at which Lana and Ignacio shared some tender times during their courtship! Beautiful views to the north of the whole expanse of the wide bay and harbor that sweeps from Vina at the northern extreme to all of Valpo, with the hills of Valparaiso as a backdrop. When the walking boulevard is complete it will be a wonderful place for a stroll!
We parked and headed up to the second floor restaurant that specializes in Mariscos (shellfish). The restaurant offered the same great view of the city and bay as we had from the boulevard and we enjoyed our Pisco Sours, salads, seafood, bread, and wine. Delicious!
After a short rest at the hotel, we headed off to Paquito's in Cerro Baron for Las Onces - a light pre-dinner snack of treats, quiches, and coffee. Paqui is a friend of Lana's from a previous trip - a tenderhearted, sweet caring soulmate for Lana and one who seems to make that instant emotional connection with others, us included. Paqui lives with her daughter Pamela and her granddaughter Loredo - Pamela's husband is in the US and they are still trying to figure out where that is all headed - but for now they make a delightful trio. Loredo, age 10, introduced me to her two turtles - Lolito and Lolita! Pamela, taking classes at a cooking school, prepared the onces - little pastries, quiches, and breads - each one perfectly formed and ready for presentation at a formal table - beautiful and delicious! What a fun time we all had with some folks who obviously care for Lana and Ignacio!
It was during this time that I offered my toast - un brindis - for the new couple. By the tears all around I could tell that it was appreciated not just by Lana and Ignacio but the others as well.
Las Onces, by the way, gets its name from, as the story goes, the homemade liquor in the days of prohibition that was served at this hour, whose name is comprised of eleven letters.
While waiting to load into our car for the ride back to downtown Valparaiso Paqui asked about my children - presenting the first opportunity to answer that question in Spanish. My answer about Missy - ella ha fallecito - she has passed away - was difficult, to say the least. Hard enough in English, all the more in Spanish. Bless her heart, Paqui was so sympathetic and kind, that even without the emotional clues from me - me paying so much attention to the language itself - she provided the emotional cover for the news I was conveying. I did not realize then that the next day I would have another opportunity, with the pastor and Ignacio at the church, to convey the same message. In that case, I used a different phrase - he perdido mi hija - I have lost my daughter - and in that case, again there was great empathy on their part and tears on all of our parts as the message was told. It seems, not unexpectedly, that the loss of a child is a cross-cultural deeply heartfelt wound.