Saturday, July 22, 2017

Cancer and Chemo

My very old friend Aletha.  Some say the chemo is making her look younger.  I say "bah, humbug".

Most of my travel this year on my free United pass has been for pleasure.  But not all.  My oldest friend (she's very, very old...3 months older than me) was diagnosed with breast cancer in the spring.  Aletha and her husband of 46 years (told you she was old!) live in Tucson, Arizona.  Thanks, Kyle Kincaid for the amazing gift of travel on United which allows me to visit so often.  By the way, David has asked if you could rescind the pass.

The skies during monsoon season are as dark
 as my humor.
I went to Tucson in May to be there for her mastectomy.  It was outpatient surgery that was a 2 1/2 hour event.  Aletha is a tough bird and made it through with little pain and less downtime.  I, on the other hand, whined a lot about the 3 hour jet lag.

In July I went back to provide company and moral support as Aletha continued her chemo.  This blog isn't a "here's how to do chemo" guide.  It's just my experience of cancer treatment as an outsider. Aletha may wish to write a rebuttal, which I'll happily publish.  By the way, some say I have a very dark, twisted sense of humor.  If you don't appreciate that kind of thing you might wish to switch over to reading Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm.  If you don't get that reference and don't know how to Google it, you're too young to be reading this.

Because I have the mental discipline of a hummingbird on speed, I'll just list my observations in random order:

No cranky-pants in the chemo "room".
  • The "chemo room" is not actually a room.  I was expecting silence, dim lighting, televisions, privacy, Barcaloungers and snacks.  And, like, a room.    Nope, I was totally incorrect.  There are a bunch of chairs (not recliners but comfortable, with ottomans) lining a couple of hallways surrounding a nurses' station.  Florescent lights.  Noise.  Activity.  And the only food was sequestered in the middle of the nurses station and was not available to patients.   Or visitors, as I found out the hard way.

    Actually, the donuts, cookies and trifle that were there that day seemed to have been brought by patients for the nurses.  I love the naive optimism of the nurses.  Think about it.  You poke a hole in someone's chest (they call it a port but it's a chest) once, twice or more a week.  Then you inject the patient with toxic stuff.  Stuff guaranteed to have nasty side effects (nausea or hair loss anyone?)  And then you happily chow down on food brought to you by the person you just tortured?   I'm thinking you have to really have a craving for trifle to risk it.
  • The "chemo room" is not sad.   There was a lot of laughing going on.  Patients were laughing, visitors and even the nurses were laughing.  I was dozing off in a comfy chair while all around me was jocularity.  Frankly, all those happy chemo patients made it hard for me to get my nap on.  Good for them.
  • Best line from a very sensitive receptionist.  As a patient walked up to register at the cancer center, the receptionist looked up and said (with a straight face)  "Oh, so you're not dead yet.".  The patient laughed and responded "Not yet, but I'm working on it."
  • Best t-shirt worn by a chemo patient:  "I'm Available".  Worn by a guy who appeared to be in his late 70's.  He flirted like crazy with every woman in sight.  I like his attitude.
  • The waiting room at the cancer center was quiet and not nearly as fun as the area where patients were getting chemo.  I suggested they could really use a few toddlers to liven the place up.  Really, who doesn't smile when they see laughing, tiny, chubby, uncoordinated kids stumbling around?   Aletha gave me a "look".  The next day during chemo there was a toddler.  Brightened up the whole room.  I think daycare and cancer centers should partner up.
  • Free wigs!  There's a resource room in the cancer center.  There were wigs, hats, scarves and books on display - all available to be checked out for free.  But apparently only to cancer patients.  Discrimination to non-cancer patients perhaps?  Like I couldn't use a new look?  They also had an accupuncturist, massage therapist and reiki master available.  Not free but on a sliding cost scale to be accessible. They also offer yoga and support groups.

    I was especially excited about the therapy dog that was there one day.  How cool!  It was a small standard poodle and I enjoyed petting her and chatting with her owner.  It took me about 10 minutes to realize the therapy dog was there not for all the patients but she was her owner's therapy dog.  Luckily the owner was happy to share the love.
  • Cancer is not a hobby, people!  Aletha's treatment involves a variety of appointments on a regular basis.  I don't want to spill all the beans but let's just say that for your average patient getting chemo there are weekly blood draws, injections and the chemo itself.  Now, wouldn't it be handy to coordinate those appointments in case, you know, you actually have a life to get on with?  I guess they do the best they can.  And, on the bright side - in between appointments there's time for ice cream and other important tasks.
  • It is FREEZING in the "chemo room".  I took a blanket.  Aletha took a blanket.  They had blankets available on site.  But here's the deal.  It's FREEZING in just about every air conditioned building in Tucson in the summer.  I recommend just carrying a blanket with you to the grocery store, restaurants, etc.  Tucsonans seem to think keeping the indoors cooled to 50 degrees will balance out the outside temp of 110 degrees.
  • Chemo may cause hair loss.  Or not, it depends on the drug and the patient.  One thing I can tell you, chemo does NOT improve singing skills.  After chemo one day we were driving home and Aletha decided for some bizarre reason to serenade me with a Tennessee Ernie Ford song (told you she was old).  Her singing was exactly the same as it's always been. Chemo has not helped.

    She's supposed to be eating a bland diet.
    I kept dragging her to Mexican restaurants.
    That's a cheese crisp with green chiles.
    Why can you only get them in Tucson?
  • Now here is the saddest news of all.  Chemo is not a guaranteed weight loss program.  Aletha was at a healthy weight when she started.  Still is, although she may have lost a couple of pounds.  I, however, haven't lost any weight at all.  In fact, what with all the Mexican food, Jack in the Box and ice cream I "may" have gained a few pounds.  I was "chemo adjacent".  Shouldn't that mean the calories I ate while visiting Tucson didn't count?  Unfair!
  • "Chemo brain" is a myth.  Aletha tried to convince me that when she'd forget something or pulled some doofus stunt that it was because of "chemo brain".  Nope.  Just age.   And something else but I can't remember.  And maybe it was me who pulled the doofus stunt.
Jack in the Box tacos.  The breakfast of champions.
And one of the causes of my big butt.

The thing about cancer and the treatment that comes with it is that it isn't your life.  Your life goes on.  Cancer is just another speed bump.  All the other good (and bad) stuff in life still goes on.  Traffic doesn't give way because you're on your way to chemo (which sucks, right?)  Strangers are still kind...or not.   Your friends don't let you win at Phase 10.  When you tackle it like Aletha does, cancer is just another thing to beat.  And unlike Phase 10, she's going to win this one.
Schnapsie still only moves when he thinks there might be food involved.
And life goes on.  

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Oh, Canada!

June also took me to Edmonton, Alberta.  I visited my friends Ken and Roland.  As in Boston, there was no sightseeing but lots of fun and good conversation.  Yes, that's a euphemism for "Nancy talked a lot."

Roland and I considered a fly fishing trip but given the long drive, opted to stay in town.  We visited a few specialty stores for foodies and I was able to bring back cranberry horseradish and ketjap manis.  That's an Indonesian condiment that Roland introduced me to.  Imagine soy sauce but thicker, sweeter and flavored with spices.  Fabulous stuff which doesn't seem to be readily available in Orlando, sadly.

One of the highlights of the quick trip was catching up with old friends Heather and Jen who I first met when doing some work at AMA some 19 years ago.  We were so busy talking (ok, I was so busy gabbing) that we forgot to get a photo.  Also great to meet Heather's husband.

Another great part of the visit was spending time with Roland's mom Helga.  What an amazing woman! An octogenarian who looks younger than me and had great stories.  Austrian, born in Istanbul where her father was a foreign news correspondent.  Married John, Dutch, who was born in Indonesia where his family was living (back in the day when Indonesia was a Dutch colony).  Helga described her family's "itchy feet" and how she and John emigrated to Canada, separately, and met in northern Alberta.  A delightful lady who makes a mean rhubarb pie with rhubarb she grew herself.

It was also terrific to see Ken, whom I hadn't seen for 16 years.  He's a quiet sort and I was grateful that he didn't shut me up with a pillow over my face - and for the awesome wings he made.  I now know the secret to super crispy baked wings.  And no, I'm not telling.

Here are some photos:

Helga and Roland in front of some of the beautiful peonies she grows.

Helga said the trick to getting your roses to bloom like this is to cut them back a lot each spring.  She said if it looks like you've killed it, you've trimmed it just enough.  

Helga's yard is a living testament to her love of plants, flowers and gardening.  Not shown is her greenhouse and vegetable/fruit garden.

The Saskatchewan River runs through Edmonton.  Only a few miles out of the city but complete peace and beauty.

 Helga and Roland dropped flowers in the river.  This was a spot where Helga and her husband John spent a lot of time.  He died two years ago.
Montana may call itself Big Sky Country, but clearly they have some serious competition from Alberta.  Great people, great beef and OMG, that sky.
Ken, who's a professional photographer did what he could with the models at hand.  I need to demand hair and make-up before all photo shoots.

Roland was more successful at holding it together than I was.  Ken, the giggles were totally your fault.

Ken also maintains the beautiful garden in the backyard.  Those Albertans make up for the tough winters during their beautiful summers.
The difference between someone from Florida and someone from Alberta - they thought it was a bit too warm.  I was happy to have a down throw.  I apparently have no blood.

Ken prefers being behind the camera...or under a throw.

Boston in June

June brought a trip to the Boston area to visit another old friend (our relationship is old, not us).  Donna lives in Winthrop, just outside Boston and has an awesome wrap-around porch.  The porch offers a great view of Boston Harbor and the planes landing and taking off from BOS.

We didn't sight see.  We hung out and caught up.  We did a bit of flea-marketing at Todd Farm in Rowely, which was fun.  I found a fabulous old blue sign that spelled out BEACH in giant, cursive letters.  It would have looked great on the wall behind my pool but shipping a six foot long, three foot high, one foot thick sign would have been a challenge.

Mostly, we, along with assorted family members, hung out on the porch, enjoying the company and the view.  It was a great trip and United came through on flights.  Got me there and back with only a couple of minor delays on the way home.

Here are some photos:

I loved watching the planes landing and taking off.  This one is landing.

After perusing the flea market we stopped for breakfast at the Agawam Diner.  Donna and Diane opted for breakfast but when I heard the special was roasted lamb, made by the Greek owners I was hooked.  Stuffed with cloves of garlic before roasting, the lamb was perfect.  For a great food and service experience you have to try the Agawam Diner.  Get there early, though, or be prepared for a wait. 

Sunrise, looking toward Winthrop.

Sunrise on the porch, looking toward the Boston airport.

For years, I've loved the chai tea (or, "tea tea" if you will) that Donna always has on hand.  She normally had the David Rio "Elephant Vanilla".  Recently, though, they came out with "Flamingo Vanilla" which is decaf and sugar free.  And just as delicious.  World Market was having a BOGO sale so I now have a cabinet full of Tea, Tea.

Nurse Nancy Visits Tucson

I had a great trip to Arizona in March, 2017 and went back in May.  The second trip was a bit bittersweet because while it's always great to see old friends, it's not quite so much fun when one of them is having a mastectomy.

But my friend from high school, Aletha, didn't let a bit of surgery get her down.  We prepared for surgery by throwing diets out the window (ok, she did - I eat like a 12 year old left alone all the time).  We had Mexican food for breakfast.  After her nuclear injection prior to surgery we celebrated with ice cream.  And at the same time bought our favorite candy bars, because they were there.

We also laughed, a lot.  When we went to Target to buy some things she needed for normal life, I bought bubble juice, silly string and Phase 10.  She and I played Phase 10 (made by the makers of UNO, easy and fun for all ages).  Then we taught her husband David and made him play.

The surgery was outpatient.  I believe that the way our health care is going they'll be doing heart transplants at drive-thrus soon.  Aletha came through 2 1/2 hours of surgery with no problems.  After 45 minutes in recovery, we took her home.  She napped a bit, took her one and only pain pill and we just chilled.  The next morning, we went out for breakfast and then it was pretty much business as usual.

Lousy reason for the visit, but still a good time.  I did learn that flying standby a couple of days before a holiday weekend can be dicey.  Went to the airport on Wednesday, May 24.  Flights were full so after a few hours, rented another car and hotel room.  Thursday, May 25 I got on the plane.  We sat at the gate for awhile before they said the flight would be delayed due to mechanical problems.  And delayed it was, for 20 hours.  So another rental car and hotel room.  If you rent a car at Alamo at the Tucson airport, please tell my friend Buddy hello for me.  He gave me a very nice free upgrade since he felt bad for me.  On Friday, May 26 I got on the delayed flight to Houston.  It didn't look good from there.  I was 36th on the standby list and there were five seats available.  Somehow, a miracle happened and I got on.  Thank you, United.

Here are a few photos.

I love saguaro cactus.  Oh, wait - those are cell towers, cleverly disguised as cactus.

One of my favorites dishes - Jack in the Box tacos.  If Jack knew how much I loved them, he'd open a J in the B in Lake Mary.

Antidote to stress at 6:00 a.m. before surgery?  Silly String fight!

You gotta love a town that has 24 hour drive-thrus with good Mexican food.  Aletha and I stopped in for breakfast.

New Places or Old?

I like to explore new places.  My goal is to visit 100 countries and all 50 states.  But I'm torn.  I want to visit people in places I've already visited.  I want to go back to places I love to see more of them.  What's a traveler with a limited budget to do?

The dilemma is much like going to my favorite restaurant.  So many delicious options on the menu but I'm torn between trying something new or going back to my tried-and-true favorites. What if I try something new and it's not quite as good as my favorite?  This could be my last meal on earth. after all. I tend to stick with the things I know I love but there's always a tinge of regret.  How about you?  Try everything on the menu or order the same thing every time?

Here are maps of where I've traveled so far.  The dilemma continues - go to the states I haven't been to or head back to places and people I love?  All advice appreciated!

Create Your Own Visited States Map

Create Your Own Visited Countries Map

Sunday, April 2, 2017

More from Santiago, Chile

A few photos from a chilly day in Chile.  BTW, while I was wandering around for several hours yesterday, I encountered five blind people out walking.  Is it just me or does that seem like a lot?  When I commented on the large number of albinos in Malawi I was told it was because they were considered cursed in other countries and murdered, so albinos came to Malawi for safety.  I doubt if something similar is happening with blind people in Santiago.

I experienced my first rude behavior today.  Most of the time people have been very friendly, although a bit pushy when walking around, which I think is more indicative of big city dwellers than Chileans.  Today I was checking out of the grocery store and the clerk said something about the apples.  I didn't hear her.  The older clerk next to her said "Panaderia" and made a motion as if weighing.  She had to repeat panaderia a couple of times before I got the drift.  I ran back, got the apples weighed at the bread counter and returned.  Luckily the store wasn't busy.  After completing the transaction I looked at the older clerk who'd "explained" what I needed to do and said "Muchas gracias por su ayuda."  I believe that means "Thanks for your help."  She ignored me.  No customer, she just sat there staring past me.  The young clerk said "Ella dice "muchas gracias por su ayuda"...basically calling her out for being rude.  Finallly the older woman said "de nada" and the younger clerk rolled her eyes at her.  One rude (sort of) person in three days in a big city?  Pretty good, I'd say.

And now, the photos:

And here I was, worried that I wouldn't be able to find Tiger Balm (or its no-name cousin) in Santiago.  There are quite a few Asian stores in the area but I have yet to see anyone who looks Asian.

Same fountain, different day.  Yesterday a man was bathing.  Today, a dog.  After a few minutes he hopped out and strolled off.

He seems to belong to the lady on the bike.

This man was demonstrating knitting outside a yarn store.  There were about a dozen people watching.

Nearby, this guy was selling "yarn" that looked more like thick thread.  He had samples of things made from it.  It looked warm and beautiful.

A dollar store!  Except it's $1 and more - does that mean they just don't sell anything under a dollar?

In case you've always wanted a butter dish with a cow.

Lunch was seafood stew from the fish market.  It was bubbling hot and filled with whole shell fish.

These people are eating seafood next to guys selling seafood.  Be sure to wear shoes that you don't mind getting covered in water, melted ice and seafood remnants.

I was so surprised to see some empty sidewalk space I took a photo.  The area around Plaza Las Armas and Mercado Central was PACKED with people on a lovely fall Saturday afternoon.

This store reminded me of Buenos Aires.  They sell freshly made raw pasta.

These shoppers were waiting to get in the pasta store.

There were several "mote de huesillo" stands around so I figured I should try it.  One of the things I enjoy most about travelling is trying new food and drinks.  The kid in line in front of me was literally jumping up and down he was so excited about getting one.

This "drink of Chile" is made from wheat and peaches.  Seems to be a popular non-alcoholic summer time drink.  Copihue is the brand name, I think. The drink was both a snack and a drink since it comes with rehydrated peach halves in it, along with the chewy wheat.  It was tasty but a bit challenging to enjoy as I strolled along with 2,000,000 other folks.  And that number is not an exaggeration.  That is the average number of people using this pedestrian walkway every day.  Bottom line, glad I tried it but won't be having another.

Another thing I love when I travel is checking out the street vendors.  I've been greatly disappointed here.  They are selling junk.  Literally, junk.  Used items, hair bands, belts, watches,  hand lotion.  Not quite a flea market and definitely not the original art I've seen for sale in other countries.  And, not cheap.

This guy was demoing a product used to grate vegetables.  A crowd had gathered.  It seems people gather whenever anyone demonstrates anything here.

See how hot my lunch was?  Muy delicioso.  They brought a plate of lemons to squeeze over it.  I passed.  I thought the only thing it needed was a dollop of brandy.

Even this short video does not adequately express how crowded the streets were.  BTW, I seemed to fit in since several people randomly started chatting with me in Spanish.  One lady seemed a bit surprised when I couldn't give her directions.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Santiago, Chile - March 29 - April 8, 2017

Thanks to the nice folks at United, I had no problems getting to Santiago.  I flew in coach from Orlando to Houston, with an empty seat next to me.  From Houston there was space in business class.  They don't have the new Polaris seats yet, but the service and food were great.

I rented an apartment through Air BnB.  After a 20 minute ride from the airport, my taxi driver found it with no problem.  I think I took the most expensive option for a taxi since it cost 20,000 pesos (about $35) but I was tired and it was convenient.  The driver didn't seem to mind my limited Spanish and we chatted the whole ride.  He told me (correctly) that in the historic area where I'm staying, very few people would speak English.  Here's my first day and a half in photos.

Added to my bucket list is to be able to fly in this "cocoon".  It's where the pilots rest during a long flight.  Regular business class seat but with padded walls.

I really, really wanted to knock.

My first two meals in Santiago were different kids of empanadas.  There are a lot of different kinds.  This one is chunks of beef with a slightly spicy gravy.  1,000 pesos is $1.50.  Cheap dinner from the grocery store.

A ground beef version, I think.  That's what's fun about my poor Spanish.  I never am quite sure what I'll get.

My dinner of an empanada, a few olives and some cheap (and good) Chilean wine in my apartment.

I love Inca Kola.  Tastes like creme soda.  Now they have a diet version!

Because the Polaris business class service is new, each business passenger got this Ursa bear.  With some Chilean cash.

In the Centro - where I'm staying, there's a mix of old and new architecture.

I commented to my taxi driver that there are a lot of pharmacies (like this one).  He replied "We're sick a lot."

I always like to get a sense of prices of every day stuff.  This toaster was 17,890 pesos which is about $26.80.  Seems a tad high.

As in Buenos Aires, kioskos are everywhere, selling snacks, newspapers and cigarettes.

At a cheap restaurant near my apartment these specials are only about $4.50.  But I do wonder about "Diente Dragon con carne."

Another menu.  I take photos then come back and Google to see what I might have eaten or will be ordering next.  Sometimes, it works.  Not always since some things are called by local slang nicknames.

Terre Munk, there are yarn shops all over and they are big and busy!

Just in case you want to start a dental practice.

Lots of fresh fruit juice made with milk or water.

And of course, sex shops.

As I was walking down the sidewalk I noticed what appeared to be a doorway - it was actually the entrance to a minimall.  These are very common and fun to explore.

This small convenience store had ready made sandwiches and empanadas along with fresh bread, cold cuts and cheeses in case you preferred to make your own.   
Here's the cheese/cold cut compartment.

Hot dogs, topped with a variety of stuff, seem to be VERY popular and seem to be almost readily available as empanadas.

I read on the internet this is considered a national dish.  French fries topped with hot dogs and eggs.  Or other meat or cheese and eggs.   
This Italian style hot dog is large and about $2.

I went into this beautiful church - the Metropolitan Cathedral on Plaza Las Armas.  They were having mass, so I stayed.  There were at least 100 people celebrating mass on a Friday afternoon.

There is a metro stop in the Plaza.  It is large, a nice place to relax with street performers who seem to be very well received.  I took this early in the morning before the crowds rolled in.  By late afternoon it was packed.

Fresh juice drinks available at the subway exit.

Rental bikes - take the subway, rent a bike, return it at your next stop.  Good way to limit cars.

Lots of ladies undies on sale on this street.  Store after store.

Panaderias - bakeries selling a variety of breads are everywhere.  Last night I had a roll that was like a bread/corn bread mix with cheese.  It was $.15 and delicious.

Stuffed churros!

It is fall in Santiago.  Temps in the high 80's and clear blue sky.

Only one guy seemed surprised that his man was bathing in the fountain.  I'm guessing that water was very chilly.

Yarn on sale!

There was a row of fortune tellers.

Awesome - leggings for my next United flight! 
A mall which had Hush Puppy, KFC and other American brands.

I bought shower soap in this store where they sell the kinds of stuff we'd buy at a Walgreens or grocery store.

So here's the deal when you buy something.  A clerk helps you choose your items.  But they keep them.  You walk over to the "caja" to pay and receive a stamped receipt (in some cases handwritten, others are from a register).  Then you take that receipt to another counter (where the man in black is standing) and a clerk there gives you a package with the items you selected from the first clerk.  This happens even in tiny places with no customers where all three employees are watching and commenting on the entire transaction.  In a "supermercado" or grocery store, it's like in the US where you take what you want to a cashier who checks you out.   Kinda fun, even if a little slow.  And if Trump really wants to create more jobs...

"I won't drink any more"  a headband at a party store.  Most were stuff related to New Year's Eve.

This dog with no leash either waiting for his master or just wanting to go in this grocery store.

He's going for it.

Main entrance to the central market - a large, old fish market.  It's a huge space (about a block square) filled with fishmongers and small restaurants.

Patrons seemed to be both restaurant owners/chefs and housewives.  The fish appeared to be fresh and very reasonably priced.  

Lots of shell fish.  I'd be shopping there a lot if I lived in Santiago.

Those are mussels on the bottom  and fresh sea urchin on the top.

Crab claws - $3.75 a kilo.  That's 2.2 lbs for $3.75.  of crab claws.

Fresh scallops  - $.60 apiece if I have my math right.

Fresh octopus for just over $3 a pound.

According to the taxi driver, salmon is very popular. About $6 a lb.

There are big fish and small fish. 

This restaurant has four tables.  Set in an alcove next to where the fish are being sold.

This is where people who don't like to shop for fish can wait.

I need to find out what kind of crab this is.  Looks the fishy cousin of the spiky durian fruit,

Samples of the food on offer in one of the many restaurants.

The original wrought iron at one of the entrances.

$2.25 per crab.

These are "locos" or what they described as abalone.  It's what I had for lunch.

$9 a lob for abalone.  I paid $15 for my abalone lunch/bottle of water at the restaurant.  Dare you to find a restaurant in the US that sells abalone for less than $50 a portion.

This guy was carrying jugs of wine to one of the larger restaurants.

One of the old doors to the market.

Fast food, Santiago style.  Remember that 1,000 pesos is about $1.50.

Cold cuts are very popular.

I had some pichanga, fruit and a roll for dinner last night.  A marinated salad of cheese, olives and something like baloney.

Oh, I also had some of this fresh cheese.

Before shopping I got a massage at this outdoor place.  People walking by, subway entrance, busy street adjacent and a guitarist playing near by.  He played my travel theme song (long story) - Hotel California.  Sounds odd but it was a very relaxing way to spend 15 minutes - for $7.50

When you see the three red diamonds you know you've found a subway station.

At the outdoor massage place you can also get a manicure.

Some streets are pedestrian only.  But sometimes crossed by streets with cars.  I wasn't paying close enough attention and almost got hit by a truck doing 35 MPH.  Scared the bejeebers out of me and the truck driver wasn't too happy, either.

Ok, here's where I get confused.  Regalo means present/gift.  Fresa is strawberry.  But these are strawberries and they aren't free.  Good price, though - a bit over a dollar a pound.

And beautiful raspberries for $1.70 a pound!

Don't feel like chopping?  They'll do it for you.

Here's another example of my Spanish confusion.  I know the word for avocado is aguacate.  I learned that in Guatemala, the land of aguacate.  I'd never seen smooth skinned ones like these, though.  They have Hass avocadoes and these, but neither is called aguacate.  I bought one and it looked and tasted on the inside like a regular Haas avocado...but a cheaper variety here.

Just over $.50 a pound for avocados?  I'm in!
Lots of people walking across the street and shopping.  The streets were busy on Friday.  On Saturday it was wall-to-wall people.

I want a meat market in my neighborhood that looks like this.

A very popular meat market.

This store sold pasta.  I saw a lot of that in Buenos Aires but not as much here.

Fresh green pasta.

At the cheese store, next door to the past store, they had inexpensive Roqufeort.

Olives and all things pickled are very popular and very cheap.

The cheese store.  So many kinds.  So much deliciousness.

Less than a block from the meat store, the pasta store and the cheese store is the bakery.  Yes, this is how it should be.

And on the street are a couple of old ladies selling spices and herbs.

Some of the very old wrought iron at the fish market.

Map of the central fish market

The map's legend.

I happened to choose a restaurant at the fish market that provides an English translation.

Just outside the restaurant they are selling fresh fish.  It is so fresh that it does not smell like fish.

At noon, it was a bit early for lunch in Santiago.  But my stomach was on American time.

That's potato salad on the right and three abalone, chilled.

It came with a wonderful roll, two kinds of mayo - one plain and one with garlic and a salsa that was a bit spicy with a vinegar kick

Outside the fish market in the pedestrian area.

I'd read about this tradition drink.  More on this tomorrow!

Outside the church in la Plaza de Armas, people wandered and watched buskers.

The Metropolitan Cathedral.  The interior is huge and beautiful.  It is clearly a working church.  They began mass as I wandered around so I stayed.

Have I mentioned the bakeries? Very expensive when compared to Buenos Aires but the cakes looked delicious.

There are carnecerias everywhere - meat markets where beef, pork and chicken are stacked high.

This is the other side of the counter where shoppers are lined up.

Whenever I see a new type of fruit or vegetable I like to try it.  The one on the right looks like a large lemon on the outside but when I cut it open I realized I'd had one before.  Can't remember the name but the texture is similar to an apple - and tart/sweet like an apple.  The avocado is an avocado just with a shinier skin and I haven't tried the one on the left yet but someone said it's a kind of guava.