Tag Archives: chile

Weekend road trip in Chile

Some of the most beautiful photos I have from my trip so far are from the coast of Chile, where the ocean appears never-ending (yet its not, it’s only about 9500 kms to Auckland).

The point from where the first photos in this set were taken is called Punta de Lobos, which is in Pichilemu and is we stopped there for the view en route to Lago Vichuquén, where we stayed for the night. On the way there the scenery was brilliant, with lots of mountains and a little salt farm too.

The following day in Santa Cruz we visited the Colchagua Museum, which to appreciate in full would require about 5 hours. It is one of the best museums I have ever been to, and covers everything you could imagine: natural history, Chilean culture, automobiles and carriages, locomotives, spurs, art and more! It’s a must see if you’re in Chile. As is a wine tour in the Colchagua region, where heavenly reds are produced. We tasted a delectable Montes Carménère and it was very smooth and probably most comparable to a Malbec. Wine heaven 🙂

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All images appearing on this blog (solange.posterous.com) may not be reproduced, copied or manipulated without the written permission of Solange Francois. © 2010

 

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Dear Mum & Dad: You may not totally like this, but…..

On Saturday, after being the subject of an attempted Chilean hypnosis the evening prior, I rode pillion on a motorbike through the Chilean countryside. And yes, with a few bare centimetres between my body and 80kms of dirt track and ashphalt at speeds of up to 135kms per hour, I loved every minute!

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All images appearing on this blog (solange.posterous.com) may not be reproduced, copied or manipulated without the written permission of Solange Francois. © 2010

 

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“I ate too much sushi and now my tummy hurts” (and other gems from Valpo)

Valparaiso (on the coast of Chile), otherwise known as “Little San Francisco” or “The Jewel of the Pacific” is branded as the cultural hub of the country, and with the splashes of colour at every corner, I understood quickly how this came to be. The cobblestoned paradise is built on steep hills and as a consequence, has a large network of funiculars which allow for spectacular views over the city and to the ocean.

After Chile’s independence from Spain, Valparaiso became a required stopover from ships crossing between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, and subsequently received immigrants from various European shores. These have all played a part in shaping Valparaiso into the diverse place that it is now.

However, after the opening of the Panama Canal in 1914, many ships did not need to pass through the Strait of Magellan and thus the traffic in Valparaiso’s port reduced substantially.

That being said, it is by NO means quiet, with an abundance of both cruise ships and overland tourists continuously flocking to witness the unique character of the city, which is currently undergoing infrastructure improvements in order to continue coping with visitors and residents alike. 

 

 

Copyright

All images appearing on this blog (solange.posterous.com) may not be reproduced, copied or manipulated without the written permission of Solange Francois. © 2010

 

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PDAs on the metro in Santiago

Absence from the work environment has resulted in my having serious doubts as to whether or not I'm supposed to have an apostrophe in the title of this post. But never mind that now. I want to discuss the prevalence of the PDA in Santiago. And no, I'm not talking about Personal Digital Assistants. I'm talking about none other than Public Displays of Affection. Oh yes, these Chileans are a passionate sort!

Apparently I haven't even witnessed the most excessive forms of this behaviour, but from what I see on the metro, it's easy to envision the further possibilities. Couples (of all ages, too) on the metro cuddle up in nothing short of what would be considered by many as foreplay in a PG movie. Hands-a-wandering and tongues-a-lashing, I often feel as if I've walked into a stranger's bedroom rather than hopped on the public transportation system. My eyes immediately avert to a more prudish section of the carriage, yet a relatively sound degree of gringa astonishment ("grastonishment"?) results in one last curious peek before I jump off at my stop.

A Kiwi friend who has been living here for a few months suggests that the combination of a Catholic background with a habit of living at home until the mid to late 20's has contributed toward this endearing custom of exhibitionism. And I'd tend to agree. Or could it just be the intrinsic lust that Latinos have for life and love?

As much as I'd like to have some photographic evidence to accompany this post, I would have felt like a right pervert, so you'll just have to use your imagination.

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La Pequeña Gigante (The Little Giant Girl)

On Sunday after indulging in a traditional Chilean lunch (Empanada de Pino* and Pollo al Cognac) I ventured to the city centre to see if I could catch a glimpse of La Pequña Gigante* who was here with the French mechanical marionette theatre company Royal de Luxe. I arrived (along with every man and his dog) at quarter to six to the sound of La Pequeña Gigante and her Uncle, Señor Escafandra sleeping heavily at the intersection of Alameda and Portugal. Normally being one to keep my distance from big crowds, I did something I would not normally do – I got amongst it. (Perhaps the Pisco Sour still running through my veins had something to do with the desire to get in there). 

I waited, unable to move, with the horde of eager locals who started chanting “Despiertate!” Wake up! Children perched on their parents’ shoulders displayed mixed emotions as they watched. From the high apartment balconies above, residents were drenching us with water which was a welcome respite from the heat. After a few minutes I almost stopped using my muscles to stand up, as I was being supported from all sides by the crowds and it was better to relax and go with the flow than to fight the sway of the people.

Just after 6pm both La Pequeña Gigante and her Uncle began to rouse, and for 10 minutes the puppeteers worked hard to move the puppets’ heads and faces to the live music. The excitement was palpable as the two marionettes started their evening parade down the street, although I don’t know if I was more enraptured with the show or with the fact that people started to disperse and I could move once again! Because of the heat, probably the latter, but I’m very glad I went along.

*You can see a video of La Pequeña Gigante and her Tio Escafandra here, and you can find a recipe for Empanadas de Pino here

 

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Anchor me, in the middle of…..Chile!

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I don’t know what this anchor is, but I like it. Plus, it serves as a suitable visual depiction as to how I feel in Santiago – pretty well grounded. 
Great weather? Check. Friendly people? Check. A variety of interesting drinks? Check. In the last two days I’ve tried these:
  • Beer mixed with Fanta – not my personal favourite but it is original
  • Basil and vodka mojitos – truly delightful….yet another way to use this versatile herb
  • Pisco sour – incredibly tasty but just one bowled me over for a few hours
  • A white wine with peach juice concoction – delicious!
Oh, and how could I forget? CHILEAN WINE!

Copyright

All images appearing on this blog (solange.posterous.com) may not be reproduced, copied or manipulated without the written permission of Solange Francois. © 2010

 

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This photo looks superimposed….but it’s not!

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In fact, its a photo of me at the top of Cerro San Cristobal at sunset and I am this pink because of a (somewhat failed) attempt at climbing the hill on a bike. Failed due to my own mountain-bike incompetence – turns out I had the gears all wrong and was attempting to climb at one of the hardest levels! 

Still, what I managed to do was a great workout and at the top there were some fantastic sunset views to enjoy!

Copyright

All images appearing on this blog (solange.posterous.com) may not be reproduced, copied or manipulated without the written permission of Solange Francois. © 2010

 

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First glimpses of Santiago de Chile

Landing in Santiago with the Andes in the distance is quite a spectacular treat after several hours of last-minute stress. Oh yes, in spite of my self-perceived preparation, I still managed to be in a mad frenzy in the final hours before the flight!

I am now being housed in my friend Andrea’s lovely apartment in a quiet area of Santiago, and I am being totally spoilt (own room, large bed, breakfast waiting for me after my 12 hour sleep….). 

To add to this, last night there was a live concert at the community centre a block away, and all my favourite hits of the 80’s were being reprised from 9 – 11pm. Tears for Fears, Blondie, Olivia Newton-John, Europe, Michael Jackson were floating in with the warm air over the balcony and I was simply in musical heaven. 

Without going into too much detail, because I do have a few foodie followers I have to include a photo of this treat: a layered cake with thin pastry, chantilly cream, berry jam and dulce de leche. 

Finally, some of you will be pleased to know that I’ve embraced my inner wild traveller and the GHD has remained in New Zealand. I have however brought anti-frizz serum, which I hope will keep any birds searching for a nest from finding a new home on my head. 

Copyright

All images appearing on this blog (solange.posterous.com) may not be reproduced, copied or manipulated without the written permission of Solange Francois. © 2010

 

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