Hi everyone I am back after a wonderful four weeks holiday traveling to and from Chile, including a few days off work to get over the jet lag. Firstly I would like to apologise for not keeping in touch. If I have one little tiny niggle about our trip it was that internet on the other side of the Andes is very intermittent, if you can get it. Hence my appearing briefly while using wifi, hovering in a hotel lobby waiting for our tour group to move on.
Well, now if I said our holiday went off without a hitch, I would be lying. Our 4pm flight was eventually grounded after firstly fuel problems and then technical problems, resulting in the crew being over their allotted time to fly, so the whole flight was cancelled till the following morning. Texting my dear friend who was to meet us at 11am that same morning (crossing dateline), she calmly deferred our day at a local market and barbecue till the end of the week. Having lost a day now I was delighted to find her and hubby waving down at us while we collected our bags at 5am the following morning, after a very smooth thirteen hour flight on Lan Air Chile.
After hugs and kisses and driving the two and half hours through the outskirts of Santiago to her beautiful home in the quiet countryside, we rested, chatted and packed an overnight bag and headed out in the car once again, for the drive to a cosy place in the mountains. This place was heaven, and the five of us bunked down after a swim in the pool and a hearty meal. Morning saw us up and out walking the tracks and swing bridges to a waterfall. We were suppose to have a guide but after my dear friend’s hubby had got himself locked on the wrong side of a swing bridge, we were given the key and took ourselves off for the walk, which ended with a swim at a waterfall. Our trip to the mountains and back was broken with lunch stops at places I found quaint and special. At one place, Centro Artesanal Los Dominicos, I did learn about a lovely local drink called, Mote con Huesillos (pronounced; Moota-con-wherese jo.) A refreshing drink of wheat and cooked peach. Yeah I know, surprising what you learn, and I intend to make some before our summer ends.
Back at my friend’s place for the night we took off early next morning for the long drive to the well known seaside town of Valparaiso. For the next two nights we stayed in the lovely Gala Hotel in the next bay known as Vina del Mar, a stone throw from Valparaiso. We spent the rest of the day walking around this quaint village, visiting a night market on the beach and capturing photos of sand sculptures. In the morning we hopped a bus to Valparaiso, walked, had a tram-car ride, and went on a harbour boat cruise. Photographed pelicans and sea-lions, and lunched on a café terrace jutting out over the top of other houses meters below. Fish of the day – Reineta and our friends adventurous hubby had congio (eel). And before you ask, yes I did try it. That night back at our hotel we learn that a fire we had seen in the nearby hills of Valparaiso had caused five hundred people to be evacuated, eighty something homes destroyed and a few people died. We were unaware of the seriousness, and the next morning a fog hung over Valparaiso, when we returned for one final visit. Another tram-car ride led us to a naval museum. We walked through streets of colourful character, slums next to bright coloured paint work along cobbled streets, and steep steps leading downward to the beach front and centre of town. If you intend of visiting this place ensure you have good walking shoes and lots of wind in your lungs, you’re gonna need it.
Passing a refinery on the way back and stopping briefly at ConCon for lunch we returned to my friend’s home for a refreshing swim in her pool in the late hot afternoon sun. The next day, true to her word we visited a local market in nearby Pomaire, where treasures could be found in locally made crafts of pottery, cane, metal, wood and art-ware. A shoppers paradise. Lunch there was corn pie, another local Chilean dish. Returning for an evening barbecue after another refreshing swim, we enjoyed our last evening, feeling sadden that our time with her was coming to an end. The meal her hubby cooked for us of huge steaks and sausages, eaten under the trees in her large back yard washed down with Chicha and Mojito, with the dogs at our feet, we will always remember.
Next morning after a late breakfast of cheese, ham and fruit, (oh did I tell you, we dined five-star here), we packed our bags and headed for Santiago central. With my friend as our guide, we walked past prominent buildings such as the stock exchange, and took photos, visited the market at the Plaza de Armas square where you find the Cathedral, Chilean Post Office, the National History Museum and standing outside the Santiago Municipal building is the Statue of Pedro de Valdivia,the founder of Santiago, and we also had time to use the efficient underground metro. After a late lunch (common in South America), we were dropped off at the Gen Suites Hotel where we said a tearful goodbye to my sweet friend and her family.
Often when we travel, I always come away marvelling at the small things that really make a holiday. Even now I have already been asked; what is the best part of your holiday, what did you enjoy the most. That’s very hard to answer. Each place has its memory, a moment, a vision, that special something that stays with you. When I reflect back, our stay with my dear friend was the most endearing. When you enter someones world (or their home), one learns something new, no matter how long you may have known them. My friend and I are similar in so many ways, in cooking, in mannerism, even her surroundings. I smiled to myself when she unconsciously did something my brothers have a habit of doing. She is the sister I never had. I will always be grateful for the time we had together, the chats and the laughs and the hugs, or simply sitting quietly on the couch watching a movie together. It is the simple things I love. In reflecting tears spring to my eyes, it wasn’t long enough. It never is.
Note: The population of New Zealand is just over 4 million. The population of Santiago city founded in 1541 is over 6 million My friend was astonished when realising the whole population of New Zealand could easily fit into her city. At this time it was 500 Chilean pesos to one American dollar, ugh, and then we had to add 20% to that for the New Zealand dollar. Still we found much that was cheaper here; wine and food, clothing and shoes seem to be on a par.
Pop back for A Private Journal of a South American Adventure: Part 2, when we head off on Tour through Argentina, the land of fine Wine, chocolates and Tango!
Known also as the Patientdreamer I am a writer who loves to dream, and is passionate about writing stories for the young so that they may join me in the wonders of adventure in countries and cultures afar, and in special moments to remember.
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