As I type, Joel is onstage delivering the first session of our single-track STP Santiago event, which is taking place at Duoc University. We’re enjoying absolutely breathtaking mountain views from our fifteenth floor event space.
I’ll be covering Paul Swider’s session later this afternoon, but I’m taking advantage of the available time now to blog some of our Chilean experiences since arriving around 1 a.m. this morning. We had gotten to the airport in Montevideo yesterday only to be told that our flight had been canceled due to “a crash.” Um, what? As it turned out, “a breakdown” had been the intended translation. Big difference!
While most of us cooled our jets in the VIP lounge (that’s right, Sharing the Point gets mad respect in South America) enjoying complimentary light snacks, Uruguayan wine, and 12-year Scotch for a couple of hours while waiting to board a later flight, Paul and Joel hopped in a cab and lit out for some beach time. Needless to say, except for depriving us of valuable Santiago time, there are certainly worse ways to spend a layover when your flight’s been canceled.
We eventually arrived in Santiago, hometown of STP South America’s secret weapon, SharePoint MVP Ricardo Munoz, about whom enough simply can’t be said in praise of his tour organization, his tour guide and translation services, and above all, his unflappable good humor while attempting to herd a bunch of “gringo locos.” Also, joining STP tour sponsor superheroes Fpweb.net and AvePoint, Ricardo’s company, Latin Share, is the exclusive regional sponsor of STP Santiago. I’m probably going to publicly embarrass Ricardo here, but it simply has to be said that we’re more grateful than words can say for your participation in the tour, and for your friendship. Oh, and we’ll be in touch regarding the STP logo that you’ll be ritually tattooed with at the end of the tour.
Upon arrival at our hotel this morning, and despite the fact that it was 1 a.m., most of us immediately headed out in search of some local food. It took some doing (and some walking), but with Ricardo as our guide once again, we ultimately found the perfect place … a little restaurant/bar, otherwise a locals-only joint, and “greasy spoon” (in the best sense of the phrase) as Michael later referred to it. Well, that greasy spoon served El Completo Chileno (the famed Chilean hot dog), which was much enjoyed by Michael, Joel, and Paul. By unanimous agreement among the seafood-eaters, however, and with due respect to Montevideo’s delicious fish, the tastiest fish we’d had all week arrived on my plate in the form of a local catch called merlusa. Light, flaky, mildly yet zestily spiced, and unbelievably flavorful.
That meal sent us off to dreamland and four hours of sleep before waking for the city tour that Ricardo had arranged for us. SharePoint architect Néstor Fabián Narváez, his wife Marina, and Ricardo’s colleague Geraldo were our gracious hosts for the morning city tour. On a perfect cloudless day, with temperatures (and, thanks to the city’s elevation, lack of humidity) more akin to springtime on the U.S. East Coast rather than the South American summertime, our tour began at San Cristobal Hill, atop which a statue of a beatific Virgin Mary overlooks the city below.
After a trip back down the hill via the city’s historic funicular, we were off to Mercado Central (Central Market) next, where Ricardo had promised us the freshest seafood in the city.
Imagine, if you will, Seattle’s Pike Place Market, but on steroids … and without shops, devoted entirely to seafood. Of the many restaurant options, all serving screamingly fresh seafood, we opted for Marisqueria Donde Augusto.
What did we eat? Well, (of course) we ate delectable Chilean sea bass, but we also delighted our taste buds with razor clams with parmesan cheese, garlic octopus, barnacles (yes, barnacles, and like everything else, they were amazing, with a surprising crablike taste), and, speaking of crab, the star of the show: a monstrous Chilean King Crab. Hands down, this was the finest meal of the tour, by unanimous decision. (Of course, we still have dinner tonight to look forward to, so that could change.)
After that fabulous lunch, we made a quick stop at the hotel to change, and then we were off to STP Santiago. As I type, Michael is presenting his session, and up next are Dan, followed by Ricardo’s joint presentation with (stealth bonus STP South America team member, having spoken at all three events so far) our friend Fabian Imaz of Siderys.
Thanks to all of the attendees for joining us at STP Santiago! (Some of whom are seen with us below on the balcony of the venue.)