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No More Innocent Blood | Santiago street art

No more innocent blood - street collage, Santiago Chile

Above: Paste up in Lastarria, Santiago de Chile (artist unknown) “No More Innocent Blood”

Australia and New Zealand don’t have much of a street art culture. Some parts do (Melbourne is probably the street art capital of Australia), but it’s not something that you commonly see, possibly because our communities don’t have a clear understanding of street art as distinct from graffiti or tagging. In the cities we visited in South America it was clear that a vibrant street art scene helps to express the soul of a city and its people. Street art can be irreverent, subversive, political, mind-bending and disturbing – sometimes all at once. Street artists use their chosen medium to comment on or satirise society, to commemorate historical events, or simply to create beauty and colour in the urban landscape. It’s democratic, accessible and free to view at all times – an art form of and for the people.

Our interest in street art grew as we travelled. At our first stop in Santiago we weren’t looking for it and so we only photographed the art that we happened to chance upon. This is a shame, because I now know that Santiago is home to some incredible street art, particularly in the neighbourhood of San Miguel where local artists have worked to create an open air art museum. It is also possible to take tours of the local street art scene (by foot, by bicycle or by car) through this company. If only we had known! Still, I’m grateful for the little that we did see so that I can share our modest collection here. More street art will come, when we get to Buenos Aires and later to Valparaíso (for more general travel notes on our Santiago visit, click here).

Note: I have attempted to identify and credit the artists for each piece but I was unable to identify most pieces. If anyone recognises a piece or notices a mistake, please let me know in the comments. Most photos are mine; a few are Colin’s. He used an iPhone 6 and I hate to say it, but I dare you to detect any difference from mine – taken with a Canon 7D, which weighs a tonne.

Girl with two plaits - street mural, Santiago Chile

Above: large mural by Javier Barriga Meersohn in Bellas Artes, titled “Ganza”.

You are what you eat - street collage Santiago Chile

In Lastarria the paste-up (like a collage) seems to be the predominant stye of street art. These are usually small art works, and they decay much more quickly than painted murals, which partly adds to their charm. The art above and below are by Caiozzama (except for the one of Salvador embracing a football player, which is by Luis Bueno). The ghoul above is titled “The King” – a reference to Burger King and (presumably) the notion that ‘you are what you eat’. The salmon below is titled “Do Not Eat Shit”, and is a critique of the Chilean salmon industry. The sad birthday boy is titled “Without Facebook No Birthday”, althouh the Facebook reference wasn’t clear when we saw it due to the deterioration of the image.

Decaying paste-ups near Lastarria, Santiago Chile

Santiago street art June 2016

Pinata - collage Santiago Chile

Convict 13 below is a paste up that I spotted three times in different parts of the central city. Titled “The Usual Suspects”, it is by the artist Phantte.

The Usual Suspects collage, Santiago de Chile

On our last morning in Santiago we walked over the Mapocho River to visit the bohemian Barrio Bellavista. The river runs right through the centre of Santiago and there are murals all along the sides, as we discovered while on board a bus heading out of the city. The mural on this small segment of the river canal depicts the 1973 coup, led by the CIA-backed General Augusto Pinochet, which overthrew the democratically elected Marxist president, Salvadore Allende.

Political mural, Santiago Chile

We arrived in Bellavista at about 8am, when all of the shops and cafes were still shut. Although the streets were almost deserted, one advantage of being there so early was that the doors in front of each shop were still rolled down. If it had been later in the day we would have missed a multitude of colourful, retro artworks like the one below. Elsewhere in Bellavista we saw mural upon mural upon mural and spent a pleasant hour never knowing what the next bend in the street would reveal.

Skull and roses - street art, Bellavista, Santiago Chile

Aliens Attack - street art in Bellavista, Santiago Chile

Aliens Attack - street art, Bellavista, Santiago Chile

Bellavista street art, Santiago Chile

Black and White - street art in Bellavista, Santiago Chile

Russian Dolls - street art in Bellavista, Santiago de Chile

Something smells fishy - street art, Bellavista, Santiago Chile

Windswept - street mural in Bellavista, Santiago, Chile

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Travel Journal | Santiago, Chile

Entrance to Metropolitan Cathedral of Santiago, Chile

We flew into Santiago in the early afternoon after a dark night suspended over the Pacific Ocean. Our breakfast had just been cleared and then all of a sudden the plane dipped below the clouds revealing the towering Andes Mountains and the city sprawling at their feet. A short taxi drive later we arrived in the CBD and checked into our hotel. We had been given a room on the 22nd floor: “the penthouse”, we joked with staff; but the joke was on us, as the room turned out to be shabby and poorly cleaned with a pungent smell lurking in the hallway outside. Thankful that our long flight was over, we decided to overlook these discomforts and soak up the amazing view from the tiny balcony:

Andes Mountains, daylight and dusk, Santiago de Chile

After a short rest we headed out into the streets to explore.  We ordered large coffees and then wandered about, taking in the feel of new city streets and unfamiliar faces. We soon found ourselves in the main square, Plaza de Armas, which bustled with locals on their way home from work. A crowd had gathered around a pair of dancers; a young huaso (cowboy) wearing a poncho and hat, whose formal movements were answered gracefully by his parter, a woman wearing jeans and waving a white handkerchief (cueca – Chilean folk dance). It wasn’t until the dance ended and the woman kissed another man that we realised she wasn’t officially part of the act, but a stranger pulled from the crowd.

The sun was low and the temperature falling so we decided to head home. We thought we knew the way back (the streets are organised in a grid after all) but we spent a good hour trying to reconcile our tourist map with the landmarks etched into our memories. We were cold and hungry by the time we found our hotel but restaurants typically don’t open until 8pm or later. At a supermarket nearby we stocked up on fruit, crackers and a bottle of Chilean red wine, which I soon spilled all over the bed. One bar of soap later, wet sheets were draped all around the room, but then…finally, the Japanese restaurant across the street was open and we were face down in bowls of steaming udon soup. 

Street dog near Santa Lucia, Santiago de Chile

Palacio de Tribunales de Justicia, Santiago de Chile 3

Street scene, Merced, Santiago de Chile

After a sleepless night we headed out for breakfast then met up with Chloe from Foto Ruta whom we had booked for a photographic tour of the city. For the next few hours we enjoyed the warm winter sunshine as Chloe dispensed creative tips and local knowledge in equal part. From Chloe we learned how to buy still water (sin gas, not con gas) and why many of the street dogs wore little jackets (a local charity funds this every winter). At the end of the tour we sat in a cafe with glasses of wine while Chloe critiqued my photos, drawing attention to many little habits that I hadn’t noticed before (like forgetting to ensure that my shots are straight!). It was a beautiful day and the tour was a perfect, relaxing way to get our bearings and learn about the city. Some of my favourite shots from the day include:

Street dog guarding his patch, Barrio Lastarria, Santiago de Chile

Calle José Victorino Lastarria, Santiago, Chile 2

Santiago shop windows and Centro Gabirela Mistral

Pet dog relaxing on a street-level balcony, Barrio Lastarria, Santiago de Chile

Colourful church in Lastarria, Santiago Chile

Stained glass ceiling dome, Santiago de Chile

Flowering yucca at Santa Lucia, Santiago de Chile

Later that night we headed to the Costanera Centre in Providencia to meet up with Marta and Werner (we had met Marta five years earlier when travelling in Halong Bay, Vietnam). We enjoyed a fantastic dinner at the Peruvian restaurant, Tanta, sampling ceviché (raw fish), octopus with fried potatoes and pesto, an outrageous dessert platter, our first pisco sour (the first of many), and delicious Chilean Carménère. That night Chile beat Mexico 7-0, winning the semi-final of the South American football championship. The taxi ride home was punctuated with cheers and tooting horns, as the locals took to the streets to celebrate.

After that first day, Santiago was enveloped in dense smog which prevented our planned visit to Cerro San Cristóbal, the steep hill in the centre of the city. Instead, we roamed about the city, usually with no real plan in mind. We moved to a better hotel (sans stench and dirt), took a half day tour to a winery (more on that later) and a full day tour to the Andes Mountains (more on that later too). It was very cold and we were glad that we had invested in thick winter jackets and scarves, even though the sight of homeless people sleeping on park benches and shivering street dogs invoked the inevitable pangs of guilt. We gradually grew more confident to navigate the streets without a map (well, at least Colin did) and we worked on our meagre Spanish every time we stopped for hot coffee or steaming empanadas.

Metropolitan Cathedral, Plaza de Armas, Santiago de Chile

Nuevo York, Santiago de Chile June 2016

Palacio de Tribunales de Justicia, Santiago de Chile

I finally got over my jet lag five (!) days after we landed. Despite my exhaustion, I loved Santiago and wished we could have stayed longer to see more of the sites and museums. The morning after that blissful sleep (the sleep of the dead) we were due to fly out to Buenos Aires. We had a couple of hours to spare and squeezed in a walk around Barrio Bellavista, a bohemian area just across the Mapocho River. It was early for Santiago (nothing really opens until 10am) and we had the colourful streets almost to ourselves, except for a few elderly ladies walking dogs and a friendly chap who offered to sell us weed. All too soon, we were in the taxi heading for the airport, already nostalgic for Santiago de Chile.

Mapocho River, Santiago de Chile

Street art in Barrio Bellavista, Santiago de Chile

A few travel tips for those headed to Santiago:

  • Few people speak English in Chile, but we managed to get by with the Google Translate app. Hotel staff and tour operators are generally bilingual; waiters generally aren’t.
  • Bathrooms (baños) are hard to find when out and about. Stop for a coffee and use the patrons bathroom. Public bathrooms are sometimes available in the CBD. You’ll have to pay to use them, but they are scrupulously clean. Don’t flush the paper – use the waste baskets provided.
  • Taxis are notorious for ripping off tourists. Uber is widely available and a safer option.
  • Free wifi is readily available at all cafes and hotels (just ask for the password), but when we were out walking we had to go low tech and use maps. We did buy local sim cards (cheap) but never found a way to purchase pre-paid credit (the sim card vendor couldn’t sell credit).
  • Santiago was more expensive than we had expected, especially eating out. It’s possible to save a little money by buying snacks at the supermarket and empanadas from local bakeries. Complementary bread and spread (usually a mild pickle or fresh cheese) are provided at every meal, so after a while we started to order less food with this in mind.
  • We loved the second hotel we stayed in, Hotel Altiplanico Bellas Artes, which was a beautifully restored colonial building. The best food we ate was at Tanta (Peruvian cuisine).

Barrio market, Santiago de Chile

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“Through falling leaves I pick my way slowly”

Rural far north New Zealand, 2014

Growing up in a small rural area was a privilege for which I will always be grateful. I spent nearly 18 years living in a beautiful valley with a river below the house, surrounded by farms (see above), with the bush close by and my school by the beach a mere 10 minutes away. At night all you could hear was the chirp of insects, the distinctive call of the morepork (a small native owl), and occasionally the faint revving of an engine as someone carved doughnuts in the gravel down by the cattle saleyards. We drank rainwater out of a tank, ate homegrown vegetables and home-killed meat, and felt lucky that we got to eat McDonald’s once a year when we passed through Whangarei, a full two hours drive from home.

I’ve now lived more of my life in cities than I ever did in the country, but green places with clean air and bright starry skies will always be my spiritual home. Because of this, I was delighted when a Facebook friend recently nominated me to upload one photo of nature every day for seven days. It was a great excuse to trawl through old photos, re-live some beautiful moments, and I quickly found a large collection of favourites to share. In fact, after my seven days were up I voluntarily extended the challenge to 30 days so that I could upload 23 more photos. Most of the photos I selected have never featured on this blog, so I have put together the top 16 here and I hope that you enjoy them.

In case you’re wondering, the title of this post is the opening lyrics of Wayne Mason’s song “Nature”. This gentle, lyrical pop song went to number one in the New Zealand charts in 1969 and was later voted the best New Zealand song of the 20th century. Little Wayne was only 19 when he wrote “Nature”, and he says that he wrote it “in an hour on the front porch of my mum’s house, looking out on a beautiful day with trees and stuff. Bees were buzzing and my heart was fluttering” (source: here). This is probably the most wholesome thing that a member of a band has ever said about their hit song, but really, this is exactly why most of us are drawn to nature – for its buzz and its flutter and our deeply-felt response to such purity. We could all use a little peace in these chaotic times.

Butcher Bird in Maleny, Sunshine Coast, Australia, 2012

Above: Butcher Bird in Maleny, Sunshine Coast, 2012

Stormy sky, rainbow and cranes in Brisbane Australia, 2013

Above: Stormy skies in Brisbane, Australia 2013

The cave at Te Henga, Bethells Beach, Auckland 2014

Above: The cave at Te Henga (Bethells Beach), 2014

Lupins at the Wintergarden, Auckland 2010

Above: Lupins at the Auckland Wintergarden, 2010

Rice fields in Pai, northern Thailand, 2011

Above: Rice fields in Pai, northern Thailand, 2011

Genghis the ginger cat 2008

Above: Genghis (the Irreplaceable), our wonderful ginger cat, Auckland, 2008

Beautiful Taipa Beach in Far North New Zealand, 2009

Above: Taipa Beach, Far North New Zealand, 2009

Shadows at the Wintergarden, Auckland 2010

Above: Spiky shadows at the Auckland Wintergarden, 2010

Waterlillies in Saigon aka Ho Chi Minh City, 2011

Above: Waterlilies in Ho Chi Minh City, 2011

Ta Som Temple, Siem Reap, Cambodia 2011

Above: Ta Som Temple, Siem Reap, Cambodia, 2011

Beautiful far north New Zealand, 2009

Above: Beautiful Far North New Zealand, 2009

Tropical holiday in Phi Phi Islands, Thailand 2010

Above: At Phi Phi Islands, Thailand 2010

Rural far north New Zealand 2014

Above: Just another rural sunrise, Far North New Zealand, 2014

Sleepy Koala at Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, 2014

Above: Sleepy koala at the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, Brisbane 2014

Bonsai inside the Citadel, Hue, Vietnam, 2011

Above: Bonsai inside the Citadel, Hue, Vietnam, 2011

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Winter Salad | Pickled Fennel, Grapefruit, Avocado

Pickled fennel, grapefruit and avocado - winter detox salad 3

So it’s been a little quiet on the blog for the last couple of months. My usual excuses for a blogging-hiatus run on the predictable theme of work/life overload, but in this case, I am pleased to say that I have been otherwise occupied with a holiday in South America.

Pickled fennel, avocado and grapefruit - winter detox salad

I can’t tell you how happy it makes me to write that! I started this blog five years ago when we left New Zealand and embarked on a three-month trip around South East Asia before arriving in Australia. Since then we haven’t really travelled at all. Sure, there have been multiple trips back to New Zealand (which I generally hesitate to refer to as holidays), a quick jaunt to Rarotonga for my sister’s wedding in 2011 and a few short breaks around Australia, but we hadn’t actually travelled for longer than 10 days or visited a new country for five long years. I’m trying (and probably failing) to avoid sounding brattish here – the travel that we’ve done is still a whole lot more than many people get to do – but there’s just nothing like being lifted out of the everyday into a completely new culture to really shake things around in your head. Asia shook me well and good but that was a long time ago. With the added excuse of needing to celebrate a significant birthday in a significant way, finally and joyfully, we booked our flights and went.

Winter detox salad with pickled fennel, avocado and grapefruit

Travel posts will come in due course but I don’t feel like writing yet. There’s a bit more digestion to be done and some photo-rescuing to do as well (I had a memory-card problem over there). Meanwhile, there is this salad, which is exactly what I want to eat right now. It feels cleansing, detoxifying and energising, and let’s face it, holiday diets rarely boast such virtuous properties. Now that we’re back and battling some winter lurgies its time to balance things out again. This beautiful salad tastes as vibrant and life-enhancing as it looks and will be equally as good for reviving a jaded winter palate as for boosting a travel-weary immune system. Le deseo salud y felicidad!

Pickled fennel, grapefruit and avocado - winter detox salad 2

Winter Detox Salad with Pickled Fennel & Grapefruit

Very slightly adapted from Sarah Britton My New Roots

For the pickled fennel:
1 large fennel bulb
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp maple syrup or runny honey
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 cup water
1 small orange, preferably organic
5 whole star anise
1 Tbsp fresh ginger, very finely chopped

For the salad:
1/4 head small red cabbage
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1-2 pinches sea salt, to taste
1 grapefruit (pink or regular) and/or 1 orange
1 avocado

To serve:
Italian parsley (leaves picked whole), crushed pink peppercorns (optional), more olive oil

The pickled fennel needs to sit, undisturbed in the fridge for 24 hours before it is eaten, so prepare this the day before you wish to eat your salad. Slice the fennel very thinly, ideally using a mandolin or otherwise a very sharp knife. Slice the orange (leave the peel on) into thin slices about 3mm thick. Place two slices of orange in the base of a clean 1 litre jar and top with one-fifth of the prepared fennel. You may want to press the fennel down firmly using a wooden spoon or spatula. Scatter over a little of the chopped ginger and one star anise, then continue to stack orange, fennel, ginger and anise until you reach the top of the jar.

Combine the vinegar, maple syrup or honey, salt and water in a jug and stir well to dissolve the salt. Pour the brine into the jar, ensuring that the contents are completely covered, discarding any excess brine. Press the top layer gently with a spoon to help release any large air bubbles, then screw the lid on the jar and place in the fridge for 24 hours. The fennel should be fine to eat for up to three weeks. It is fantastic with cheese and crackers as well as salad.

To prepare the salad, use a mandolin or sharp knife to slice the cabbage thinly. Place the cabbage in a bowl and add the olive oil, a pinch of salt and a tablespoon of pickled fennel brine from the jar. Toss to combine. Slice the rind off the grapefruit or orange and segment the flesh. Peel and slice the avocado.

Arrange the cabbage, grapefruit, avocado and pickled fennel on a plate. Add some parsley leaves and crushed peppercorns for colour and another drizzle of olive oil if desired.

Filed under: Eat