Friday evening we gathered in front of the hotel to get cabs to the restaurant. With 9 of us, we figured we’d only need two. But when five of us tried to cram into the first cab, the driver shook his head disapprovingly and pointed to a sign on the front windshield stating that no more than 4 passengers ride in a cab. OK, 3 cabs then.
Erika had bought us two pay-as-you-go telephones so that we could communicate. So into the first cab went one phone and 3 people. Same for the second cab. John and I went alone in the last cab, but I figured that since I had the address written out, it would be OK.
The cab driver squinted at my paper to read the address to the restaurant, (Como Agua Para Chocolate) nodded his understanding and zoomed off. We headed in the general direction that I’d expected from my map-studying, so I settled back for the ride. He stopped on a poorly-lit block and pointed to an alley blockaded by a tall metal-rail gate. Um?
He repeated the house number and gestured as if to say, ‘this is it’. We were dubious and not inclined to get out and let him leave us there. He gestured for me to hand him the paper and turned on the dome light to read it again. ‘Oh!’ he said, and repeated the number with a different street name. Apparently he’d driven us to a street with a similar name, not the right name. He punched a button to start the cab-fare from zero again, zipped off, and soon had us to our destination, where the rest of the party was waiting for us to arrive.
We were exceedingly glad to see everyone, and were soon ushered to a long table in a huge rustic-looking room: blue plaster walls and rustic wood beams and rough shutters set alongside old windows. We’d arrived a little after 8 pm, and the restaurant was fairly quiet then. (People in Chile typically eat dinner quite late, and it is not at all uncommon for them to just be leaving restaurants around midnight.)
By the time we’d been there an hour or so, business had picked up and by 10PM when we left, the huge place was full of noisy diners. Food was gorgeously presented, and pictures were necessary as each new dish came out.
To the right is filet mignon with bacon and sweet peppers. It was garnished with a chard leaf attached with an uncooked spaghetti noodle. To the left is a huge platter of shrimp fajitas shared by a couple of the ladies. All the dishes were beautifully presented, and most were extremely generous portion-wise. Several of us came home with leftovers in boxes– the kitchens in our hotel rooms made taking home extras an easy choice.
Back at our hotel we were pleased to discover that the living room couch folded down into a bed and there was extra bedding in the closet– convenient since Erika was staying in our apartment that night. It was her last night with us….I felt a little nostalgic thinking of all the years Erika has spent with us. But her joy and anticipation over the next day made it hard for me to feel too unhappy. She was ready for this step in her life.
Now all we needed was for the groom to arrive. Tomorrow.
Go to Part Three