Chile Travelogue Entry 1

Chile.  It’s nice here.  Hot – 85F, 29C.  Dry heat though.  Not as much smog as I had anticipated in Santiago. Summer in December.  Strange concept, but I could get used this.  I’m tired of snow and being wet and cold all the time.  If you’re not a skier, and I am not, (though I’ve water skied a few times) winter in the Northeast gets old fast.

Chile.  I have high expectations for this country.  All the Chileans I know from the States told me that I would be impressed by the beauty and modernity of the country.  And indeed I am impressed. European styled architecture, friendly people, with a clean and efficient Metro, my friends said I’d feel right at home and I do. They told me for shopping, there’s the Mall and a Pizza Hut and McDonald’s, in case I get tired of the local fare.  I can do without all this, and was a little taken aback to see all the fast food joints spoiling the landscape.  You have to drive a little ways out to see what the country is most known for (political history aside) – wine.  Ocean on one side, Andes on the other and vineyards in between.  There are literally hundreds of vineyards South of Santiago- from the huge Concha y Toro operation, to the valleys of Maipo, Curico and Maule all within a days drive of the capital.  Driving in Chile though is an adventure, so be warned.  More on driving later.

The Metro is clean and efficient as advertised.  Hecho in France.  Inside, the trains are crowded and can be suffocatingly hot – no AC, no fans, but the windows stay open, and generally provide adequate ventilation.

My wife has a big extended family in Chile.  I think they all greeted us at the airport.  Chileans kiss a lot. Trying to go with the flow, I gave and received about 50 kisses from family and friends I had never met, but they all seemed to know me.  A cousin of my wife said in Spanish “you looked a lot bigger in the picture.”  It didn’t seem like a compliment, but she kissed me just the same.  The kids all refer to me as Tio.

My wife’s brother drove us home in a roomy Chevy Luv, (pronounced – lewve).

la-virgen1

On our first day out, we visited Cerro San Cristobal, Saint Christopher’s Hill in the Parque Metropolitano. We climbed the hill and about 500 steps to see the main attraction, the monument to the Virgen de la Inmaculada Concepcion.  The immense statue is about 45 feet high and rests atop the hill which reveals a stunning panoramic view of Santiago.  Inside the base of the statue, protected by an iron gate, is Jesus on the cross.  My five year old daughter, clearly moved by Christ’s suffering said, “Jesus is bleeding, Jesus is bleeding, oh!”  We gave a donation through a slot at the side of the gate.  A sign near the monument in Spanish says “the Virgin Mary will show you the path to God.”

As my daughter looked out over the city, she said:  “I think I see Boston, Papi, look, Boston!”

san-cristobal1

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3 Responses

  1. ahhh, your daughter is awesome!

    you’re in the perfect place to participate in Wine Blogging Weds since the prompt is find and taste a Chilean wine (and I think for under $20 or is it $10 US?) post by Dec. 10–I have a draft post on it but haven’t got it up yet at http://winepredator.wordpress.com

    I used to drink a lot of Chilean wine but I’ve been doing more Australian lately. I haven’t bought the wine yet–got a suggestion for me?

  2. I haven’t had too much Chilean vino lately either, though I did recently try a 2007 Camenere from Casillero del Diablo, a Concha y Toro offering for 9.99. Got it at Trader Joe’s I think. I liked it – not your typical grape.

  3. Quick Question: Where did you see the Chilean prompt announced? I went to the WBW website, but didn’t see anything about it. Am I right that we are to blog about an affordable Chilean wine, take a picture of the label and post a comment on the host site (who’s hosting this one?) with a link to our post? Thanks, this would be my first WBW event!

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