Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Random thing I love about Santiago: dramatic corner store names

I used to live down the block from a corner shop/liquor store called El Esfuerzo. I always thought the name, which means "effort," was fitting because El Esfuerzo was a lone soldier, a tiny old adobe structure resiliently standing its ground on a street increasingly overrun by concrete giants.

I've noticed that a lot of neighborhood shops in Santiago, including liquor stores (botillerias), have heroic names like this. El Esfuerzo and El Progreso are among the most common. These names probably refer to the hard work of the families who run them or to that of their clients, residents of the middle- and working-class neighborhoods where most businesses with names like this tend to be located (at least I have yet to see an El Esfuerzo in a wealthy area). However, I'm sure shop owners must have considered the fact that some of the beverages they dispense may decrease their clients' esfuerzo and thereby limit their progreso. Maybe that's why some simply avoid the irony and christen their stores with names allusive to sublime states, like El Cielo (Heaven). An (imaginary?) botilleria called El Cielo, dicho sea de paso, inspired the title of a collection of short stories by contemporary Chilean writer Nona Fernandez.

Not all botillerias have epic names, though. While on the bus this evening, I grinned appreciatively at a lighted sign that proclaimed "BOTILLERIA TOO EL RATO." "Todo el rato" (d's between vowels tend to disappear in spoken Chilean Spanish) literally means "all the time" but sometimes is used more like "all the way" or "totally" in informal speech, as in:

Juan: Te gusta La Noche?
Pancha: Claro, po. La Noche to'o el rato!

Too El Rato strikes me as the perfect name for a botilleria because it's a phrase I can see spilling nonstop from the lips of the intoxicated. As for "effort" and "progress"...maybe when the hangover wears off.

5 comments:

Eileen said...

Sweet! There's one near me called Las 3 Bs, as in bueno, bonito and barato. It may be good, I have no idea if it's cheap, but it sure ain't pretty, they never are!

Eileen said...

and hey, I actually wrote about it. Feel free if you don't want me clogging up your comments with links, otherwise, I present Los 3 B!

http://bearshapedsphere.blogspot.com/2008/09/los-tres-b.html

Anonymous said...

It does require stretching things a bit to bring pubs into the mixture, but who can forget the world renowned "Bar El Tufo", of Condorito fame, emblematic of so many establishments across the country. As to whether the name is appropriate or not, you're left to draw your own conclusions.

Maeskizzle said...

hahahahha great post!!! When I started reading your post, el cielo came to mind right away.

That's where we shopped for most of the booze at our wedding. They also sell olive oil and avocado pit oil for a good price. Good quality stuff.

And, agreed with anonymous, el tufo is a great bar name, if only in a ficticious world.

barjesus777 said...

Botllería Too' el Rato está ubicada en el corazón de la comuna de Ñuñoa en Campo de Deportes # 36, a pasos de la principal avenida de la comuna Manuel José IRARRÁZAVAL Larraín.