I’ve heard of La Piojera, a bar where you simply have to drink a terremoto (a dangerous concoction of cheap wine, grenadine and pineapple flavoured ice cream). If I would tell people that I haven’t been there yet, they would open their eyes wide and say: “Oh, but you HAVE to go!” So on Friday night, when our Scottish flatmate Peat said he’s going to La Piojera with his friends ‘and we simply HAVE to go’, we went with him. In the USA we learned the term ‘dive bar’. You would say “this place is a dive!” if it is a bit dodgy and dark. To call La Piojera a dive, would be generous.
As we were waiting for the metro train on our way out, Peat prepared us for what was to come. I was advised to drink only one terremoto, because it’s so strong and we were told not to go to the bathrooms, because apparently they are filthy. He told us that the bar gets rowdy sometimes. Rumour has it that a few weeks ago a guy was seen to get into a fight in La Piojera. His body was found in the Mapoche river the next day. Another incident of a man in a fight at the bar ended with him being brain dead. So, with that briefing, we were ready to experience La Piojera, which, loosely translated, means ‘the louse’.
La Piojera is almost opposite Mercado Central in Aillavilú Street. When you enter, there are people standing everywhere, holding their pink or yellow coloured terremotos in their hands.
After you’ve squeezed past the people in the entrance, you find yourself in big space where people are either sitting or standing around… with terremotos in their hands. We made our way to the bar, where about thirty terremotos were being prepared in plastic cups. I experienced a flashback of my student years where we would go to Hatfield Square in Pretoria and stand in queues to buy cheap cocktails in plastic cups while alcohol is spilled on the dirty floors and sometimes onto your clothes too. I was glad Peat told me beforehand to wear dark clothes, because pretty soon everything from my hands to my dress was sticky and pink. We made our way to a quiet corner and a table, where a slightly drunk man insisted that Dirk feel his bicep and pulled up his pants to show his calve muscle to us. A dirty looking man tried to talk to us and ask for money. We almost witnessed a fight, but the men decided to take it outside. Every now and then someone would start chanting and then people would join in to shout: “Chi-Chi-Chi-le-le-le! Viva Chile!”
I don’t really understand why the bar is so popular. The drinks are not cheaper than other bars. And frankly, a terremoto in a cleaner place tastes exactly the same. But, now, when people ask me if I’ve been to La Piojera, I am able to say “Yes, and I survived it!” which gives me some streetcred, I think. After finishing half a terremoto and Dirk finishing two and a half terremotos, we decided to find a place to eat a chorrillana – the best drunkfood on the planet.
We ended our terremoto night in the traditional Chilean way!