We sauntered off to the Sunday Flea Market across town on Avenida Argentina. Unfortunately it was more flea than market with nothing really of interest, largely household stuff, clothes pegs, remote controls, contraband medications, rusted car parts, plastic toys, much of it displayed on blankets and tarpaulins. Every few steps there’s someone selling empanadas baked in a portable oven. Or cold drinks from buckets of melting ice. Packed though, so perhaps it’s about the ambling more than the buying. More than once we were warned by an astute older local to watch our bag and definitely not to have a camera out on display. We’ve been hearing that a lot here.
There was one guy selling something that looked very odd – a large amorphous mound of something grey and speckled. We couldn’t at first work out whether it was animal, mineral or some other matter that had perhaps crystalised. He was shoving small chunks of it at passers by to taste, so therefore edible, and it turned out to be a huge free-form boulder of dark chocolate. A little further on a similar mound of orangey coiled fishy stuff… dried eels maybe? This time we weren’t game to try.
Interestingly along Avenida Argentina is the National Congress of Chile, built during the last years of the Pinochet regime and a concrete bunker of a building.
At the end of the avenida, tempted by a street of elegant pastel houses we veered off up hill to Cerro Polanco, a dizzyingly elevated barrio accessed by a long narrow tunnel and lift, which delivered us high up onto a caged walkway to narrow painted streets piled on top of each other – accessed by steps, steps and yet more steps. So steep and narrow and yet… there are cars, obviously parked with the handbrake very much on. Many of the streets have wooden dog houses perched on the steps – no one was at home when we sauntered by, they must have been out for lunch or perhaps down at the market.
A good Sunday ramble in the sunshine. The Fiestas Patrias possibly getting too much for a few Polanco dwellers as an enormous, very verbal family stoush erupted as we passed. I saw one guy produce something sharp and ‘sawn-off’ but it turned out to be a large stick he was waving. We moved on.