With 100 empanadas and a box of dulces de La Ligua in hand, we wait for the bus to Ovalle, where Tata is originally from. Grandma tells us that last time the bus was 2 hours late and we have no way of knowing when it will show up. People waiting there just have to spot their bus and frantically wave the bus down to make sure it isn’t missed. Ours was only 1.5 hours late so I guess that’s a win! When we arrive in Ovalle, Tata’s brother picks us up in his car which is out of battery so it requires a push start. “Welcome to Chile!” We stop for some groceries and the push start game starts again but this time Tata’s brother just shouts out to some stranger to push it. We saw this happen a few times in Chile so it must be pretty common to push people’s cars.
We spend the remainder of the Easter weekend meeting the rest of la familia, spending time at Tata’s old family home, going on long drives to surrounding areas, sleeping through a few earthquakes¹ each night and eating a LOT of pan (bread). To sum it up, all we’ve been doing is eating. We have learned that the order of meals in Chile is: breakfast consisting of pan and tea, huge lunch/dinner consisting of meal and pan and tea in the evening consisting of, you guessed it, pan! If I wasn’t addicted to bread before, I certainly am now.
Speaking of addictions, our time in Ovalle marked 2 weeks since we last had any Vietnamese food and our bodies were slowly shutting down. I was starting to experience symptoms of withdrawal. Daniel and I even spent a night googling Vietnamese restaurants in Argentina (next stop) so that we could stay hopeful towards something. I even resorted to googling photos of Viet food. Anyway, we’d been on the hunt for some fish sauce for the entire time in Chile – even Nana was on the lookout – and, by the grace of God, we eventually found a bottle hidden in some small market when we returned to La Ligua.
Do I care that it is called ‘sauce de poisson’? Um, no. Do I care that it is expiring in 3 weeks? Um, definitely not, because the thought of not being able to find a bottle of fish sauce for the rest of the trip freaks me out and makes me extremely sad.
¹ Note: Although the Chileans don’t give a second thought to any earthquakes below a 7 on the Richter scale, the ground shook while we slept so they were definitely earthquakes, albeit really baby ones.
© Daniel & Amanda Tran (2016)