When I was a child, there was a Chinese takeaway shop just up the road from us. It was a real hole-in-the-wall type of place, a high counter opening to the street, where you placed your order. Run by Cantonese people, it sold both European and Chinese takeaway food. The Chinese food was probably that version that seems to get sold to Westerners, but not within China, but that’s by the by.
On a Friday night, we would frequently cook some steak on the BBQ, and get some chips to go with it. All well and good, but I could never understand the quality of the chips that Chung Wah produced. By all appearances, this was a very successful business, and operated there for many years. But the chips were horrible nasty greasy things, soggy and disgusting. I am aware of certain guidelines on how to produce quality potato chips, involving things like temperatures, oil, time, etc., and I’m pretty sure that Chung Wah didn’t follow any of them. But people kept going back. After some time I managed to convince the family to frequent Adriatic Fisheries instead, which produced decent chips. I should also note that Chung Wah has now been replaced by “Great Wall Takeaways,” which produces a similar line, but in a nicer shop, and they do know how to make good quality chips. A special tip: When ordering chips there, use “Jackson” as the pick-up name for an extra large serving.
Now the reason I bring this up is because by and large, the potato chips (or French fries, or papas fritas) are appalling. Even Chung Wah would be embarrassed by some of them. Chilean food is pretty poor generally – even some Argentinians were complaining to me about it the other day – and chips are fairly prevalent. But they seem to have no idea what decent chips look like. Until here. I’m not sure what it is, probably something to do with the far more mixed heritage of Punta Arenas, but I have either eaten or seen, at at least 6 different establishments, potato chips worthy of the name. True, they aren’t “Mr Chips chips, mister,” but they are pretty good. If only I could get them to consistently bring me the Aussie Gravy when I do order chips, I would be sorted. My Spanish is sufficient for most restaurant/bar situations though, so it’s no big deal.
The ferry from here to Porvenir, Tierra del Fuego, doesn’t run on Mondays. So I have had four days off here, not doing a huge amount. Had a broken bolt on the bike, found a bike shop, the helpful owner took me up the road to a engineering shop. No problems, we can sort that. So I pick up the bike an hour later, and as I’m putting the rack back together, I snap another bolt. So I’m back at the machine shop in half an hour, with a wry grin the engineer takes the bike from me again. This time it was a bit trickier, the blowtorch was required, as there was Loc-Tite on the bolt, making it almost impossible to remove without heat. Going to have to get some touch-up paint on that. But it’s now sorted, and hopefully that will be the last broken bolt for this trip.
Tomorrow I’ll head to Porvenir, weather permitting. A 2.5 hour ferry ride, then a couple of days of gravel road riding, then a few days of tarmac to get to Ushuaia. Almost the end…will have a look at the wind, and decide if Ushuaia will be the end of riding in South America, or if there might just be a bit more. The engineer was telling me about 200km/h winds just a bit further up the coast…
A few photos from around Punta Arenas, taken with the new camera