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For weeks, an idea has been brewing in my mind. And that idea can be summed up in one word: wickertown. Chile (or maybe all of Latin America) has a funny way of clumping together all the stores of the same kind and of nominating various towns as the birthplace or capital of a specific item. My store clump was to be wicker, and the capital of wicker in Chile, as everyone knows, is Chimbarongo.

The idea of going to Chimbarongo was born of several people mentioning the town to me. There was Waldo, in whose house I saw a wall hanging from Chimbarongo, Claudio who had recently gone to see some friends, even Cynthia, who had the sheet next to mine the last time I was selling stuff on the street (should I tell this story?), who used to live there. Chimbarongo it was. Not out of a great love of wicker, but the desire to get out of Santiago and go someplace different. Oh, and to take the train.

estacion central desde adentro

Well, with Abby in tow (or maybe she had me in tow), we certainly did do something different. The plan was to meet at Estación Central, and from there take the commuter rail (metrotrén) south, past Rancagua, all the way to the end of the line, in San Fernando. It was picturesque, it was. Unfortunately, photos are nonexistent, as the windows (plexiglass, as a friend of Abby’s pointed out, so that people don’t break the windows when they throw rocks (which they no longer do, it would seem)) were stained and scratched. But still, endless swaths of orange California poppies lined the train tracks, and jaggedy snowcapped peaks punctuated the view. So great was the view, and so pleasant the trip, that Abby and I twittered (no, not that twittered) away for hour after hour, and for 1700 pesos (about $3.25), it seemed to have a great peso-to-to hour ratio, even if the announcements were sparse.

Which is how we ended up here:

(notice pretty swaths of orange California poppies, or golden thimbles (dedales de oro) as people call them here.

People with great vision will notice that this is, in fact, Pelequén, not San Fernando at all. Hmmm, tricky that. Lucky for me, Abby is an optimist, and the people on the train were incredibly enthusiastic that we go see the oddly onion-domed church that dominates the town. So there at the second-to-last (not last!) stop on the train, we got off to poke around. Abby tells her version of the story (which jumps to the chase and actually takes you to wickertown, which this blog entry does not).

So, off we trudged, through a completely unattended train station, and ghost town (it was a holiday), and approached this cray pas meets Russian-themed (?) church named for Santa Rosa de Lima.

church in pelequén

The church was vacant, lovely, and dark inside, like you’d expect a church to be. It had some luminous, geometric stained glass windows:

stained glass detail, pelequén

And some old black and white tiles that seemed terribly goth for such a stately construction:


And a gorgeous garden outside with trellised wisteria and roses, and a pretty fountain, which you can see at Abby’s post, and palm trees, one of which you can see here (wisteria in foreground):

church, pelequén

And then one palm tree which mysteriously proclaims 1. place of prayer and 2. don’t walk on the grass. Which makes them seem related, which I’m sure they’re not, and of course we didn’t.

signs in pelequén

And then, quick like gringas, we zipped up the pasarela (pedestrian overpass), past two women, mother and daughter, most likely, who were heading over the highway with us, to take a photo that reminded me of geometry class and fish eye lenses, and how I miss having one, but not the other.

geometry, pasarela pelequén

One more look over our shoulders at the off-plan church that made its way onto the itinerary anyway:

church in pelequén

And then, just several hours late, we stood by the highway with several of our closest friends until a bus came along that when I said “Chimbarongo?” They said, “Subense!” (hop on!). And we did.

More soon, but the moral of the story here is multiply-branched.

-When you are traveling with me, you should be alert, as I have a smite of the spacey sometimes, and may stay on the train until it reverses direction, though I’m not sure I will make that particular mistake again any time soon.
-Abby is a super travel companion, and also unerringly (but not annoyingly) optimistic.
-Patience is a virtue, as is not forcing the plan you thought you had.
-People in small towns in Chile eye two snaphappy gringas with curiousity, but not enough to bother actually making eye contact or talking to us.
-Chile, as previously suspected, has more beauty than could ever be captured on digital media.