Friday, September 18, 2009

Completos, Copihues y Condores

The weather isn’t right (it should be approaching Spring) but this time of year always puts me in the mood for a hot dog. Not just any hot dog, mind you, but a Completo. Truth be told, a complete is not my favorite Chilean cuisine, and it is not traditional 18th fare, but it is still great and uniquely “Chileno.” What you do it take a longish roll, slice it open and fill it with: a wiener, diced tomatoes, generous amounts of mayo, avocado, and if you like… chucrut. (I don’t.)

Another thing I think about this time of year is the Cierro Ñielol. The first few months we lived in Temuco, it was at the end of our street. We used to climb up the “cliffs” on that side of the hill and run down the steep slopes ate full, neck-breaking speeds, leaping yards with each step we took. One day we found Copihues at the top of the hill intertwined in the branches of some trees we were climbing. We also used to take our bikes around to the official entrance and ride/walk them all the way to the top so we could ride them back down the winding road. We were pretty crazy back then. No one even owned a helmet!

They used to sell these albums at newsstands that you could fill up with stickers. You bought the stickers in packs of 5 and tried to get the whole set. Anyone who filled the whole album would win a prize. The coolest thing to buy at the newsstands, though, was Condorito. It was a monthly humor comic staring an anthropomorphic Condor and his friends.

It wasn’t until we moved all the way south to the Straight of Magellan that we saw a real Condor up close. We used to take these week-long hiking trips to a national park and there, one day one flew over us as we stood on the top of a hill. It couldn’t have been soaring more than ten feet overhead. The Andean Condor is the largest bird capable of flight, with a wingspan greater than those ten feet, so you can imagine how impressive that moment was.


  1. Ahh the memories - I remember those completos - makes our hot dogs pale in comarison. I also remember Cierro Ñielol and neck breaking events. I remember getting "lost" up there once.

  2. Ahh, yes. Back when we thought that going "off path" was the best way to go. I think it took us something like three hours to get down the hill through that bamboo field... basically climbing through about ten feet above the ground and getting the worst grass-cuts of our lives. I tend to stick to paths these days!

    Didn't somebody loose control of their bike going down once and do a front flip over their handlebars too?


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