Scratchings in the Dirt

It’s Happy Dance time again!

Yessiree, the boys are heading out the door as we speak I type.  This time of late nights and sleeping in and absolutely no schedule whatsoever has ended for the time being.  It’s back to boot camp, boys.  They are just pumped (insert sarcastic tone here).

We had a great Christmas.  Lots of family and food and fun.  Not as much family as usual, mind you, but just enough!  The food, well, let’s just say I can almost see the back of the fridge again now.  I am really starting to like Skype – got to talk to and see my sister in Chile and my niece in Prince George and my brother and his wife who were holidaying in Victoria.  And with Facebook and texting, we keep up with the Schraefel side, as well.  The wonder of technology!

We also used technology to bore our guests into leaving.  Clem has some do-hickey hooked up whereby we can see the photos from the computer on the TV.  So we just show slideshows until our company starts yawning and looking for their car keys to command-start their vehicles.  This Christmas it was the pictures from Chile.  And now it’s your turn!    Warning – you may want to keep your finger on the “back” button.

Mom and I left on November 16, just as it was starting to snow and blow.  Lovely.  We had a long layover in Toronto, so we took the opportunity to visit Clem’s nephew, Brendan, of “Men of Brooms” and Splash speedo fame.  He and Kristy have just moved into their own home, and Brendan cooked us supper with the fresh organic produce they have delivered to their house once a week.  Almost makes me want to move to a big city.  Almost.

We arrived in Santiago about 1 pm their time, after a long, exhausting 11 hour overnight flight on an airline that couldn’t manage to seat us together.   And then it took an hour to get through customs and immigration.  The Chilean people are wonderful and kind, but the ones working that day were not overly ambitious!  Poor Lisa had been waiting with her friendly cab driver, Juan, in the hot, stuffy airport, and was quite relieved to see us.  I’m sure she thought we had missed out flight!  
The first thing we did when we arrived at Lisa’s lovely apartment was dump our stuff and get our shoes and socks off!  It was hot, hot, hot.  Not bad for november! 
Then I started taking pictures! This is Lisa’s tiny little apartment.  Compact! 
And this is Lisa making us supper, which we ate out on the terraza with the incredible view! 

The next day we started exploring.  Mom and I loved all the different plants, trees, and flowers.  Mom especially liked the palm trees.   


This tree was just starting to bloom – see the pretty little purple flowers?  By the time we left, some of them were in full bloom and looked totally purple – you couldn’t see the green leaves at all.  Gorgeous.


 A little shopping!

 Such an incredible wine store.  Yes, we went back!

The side of this building was being covered with panels growing grass! 

On the first weekend, we drove about 3 hours south of Santiago to the Colquagua wine valley, and stayed at this gorgeous posada, or B&B.  

Our wonderful hostess, Leonore, brought us a bottle of wine to enjoy by the pool.  

 We toured around Santa Cruz and saw some of the damage from the earthquake last February.  This was a bank that collapsed on the car of one of Lisa’s friends!  Santa Cruz was quite near the epicenter, and 36 people died here.

The church lost its steeple and they cannot use it now.  Many of these places have huge tents erected in which to hold Mass.   

We drove around a bit more, and discovered this lookout, which was quite near the restaurant Leonore recommended.  Many of the restaurants don’t open until 8 pm, but El Candil was well worth the wait!

Our waiter, Ismany, was from Cuba, and took this picture.  He wants to come to Canada and learn English.  He hit the jackpot at our table, as Lisa teaches English and Mom has boarded English students in Lethbridge.  We are expecting him to show up soon! 
This is the Montgras winery we toured.  They grow Carmenere grapes, among others.  The Carmenere grape was imported from France and then wiped out there by disease.  Now Chile is the only country growing the Carmenere.  The owner of the winery spent twenty years working in Canadian wineries.  Still not sure where, as the guide wasn’t really up on his Canadian geography!  Very interesting, very beautiful, very tasty!   

We took a back road returning to the posada, and saw the less beautiful properties, probably belonging to the employees of the winery! 
The old church at Lolol, near our posada.  They too are using a tent now.  Note the pampas grass – amazing! 
A pretty wall in Santa Cruz.  
The scenery on the way back to Santiago, which is nestled between two mountain ranges:  the Andes to the east and the other one! 

Lisa drove us up the winding road to San Cristobal, a large hill in Santiago, where there is a huge statue of the Virgin Mary and an incredible view of the huge city.  

One day we did a walking tour of the old part of the city.  This is the entrance to a wonderful art gallery near the government buildings.  Impressive waterfall! 
There was a gold and silver display at the gallery when we were there, and this piece was hanging in the grand entrance.

Another purple tree outside some typical colonial-style architecture.

This is the nave of the cathedral.  Very beautiful.  There were many side altars, as well, one of which was all silver.  

This is the BACK of the main altar.  Such vision and dedication from the craftsmen who built it! 
 These carbeneros were kind enough to have their picture taken with the “gringa”!
The night view from Lisa’s balcony. 
Andres and Francisca are two of Lisa’s students.  They joined us for supper one night as part of their lessons.  They speak English very well, and they both have an amazing sense of humour.  We really enjoyed their company.   They invited us to Francisca’s place for a traditional Chilean barbeque, with lots of meat done over charcoal.  Fantastico!  

This is called “choripan”, a chorizo sausage in a little bun (pan). 

This is the outside of Pablo Neruda’s Santiago house.  He was a very famous Chilean poet.  Our guide was Israeli, spoke about five languages, and was extremely interesting.
 An unusual sculpture.  Santiago has lots of large pieces of art throughout the city.
The orange Christmas trees at this Juan Valdez coffee franchise. 
I didn’t get a good overall shot of this park in Santiago called Santa Lucia.   This is the main fountain.   

I found a cousin to the carrigana!
The Museum of Fine Art is a gorgeous old building, but sustained quite a bit of damage in the earthquake. 
During our second weekend we traveled the hour and a half to the coast, and stayed in Valparaiso and Vina del Mar.  This is the view from our B&B.  
An avocado, or palta, growing in the garden behind the B&B.  
 Pablo Neruda’s Valparaiso home, which was almost next door to where we stayed!  
This old guy came to life when he saw Lisa! 
Our B&B, the Puerto Natura, in a somewhat dodgy part of town!  Mom was a bit nervous, but we were fine, and we found an amazing restaurant, which, again, didn’t open until 8 pm. 
We tried ceviche, a raw fish appetizer marinated in citrus juices.  Yummy!
Our waiter, Orlando, recommended it! 
Two views from our window, night and day! 

The streets of Valparaiso were a bit much for these prairie girls!  They were so steep, I thought it looked like these cars were going to start toppling over!  The city is literally hanging on the cliffs and divided by hills.  Lisa did very well navigating and driving!

Then it was on to Vina del Mar, where many city people own or rent summer homes or condos.  This is the Sheraton hotel, perched over the Pacific ocean, where another prairie girl, Denise (Rob’s school friend) was staying while speaking at a conference.   
This was more our wallet’s style, a good old Best Western on the main drag of Vina del Mar.    
This is where we DIDN’T stay!   
I enjoyed our walk around the old city, until we came across the sign. 

There was a tremor that night, and I laid awake for quite a while trying to remember where the heck we saw that sign!!  I was rather glad we were leaving for home, and terra firma, shortly!
Denise joined us for the afternoon, driving up the coast and seeing the sights.  We took a walk on the boardwalk and dipped our toes in the ocean.  It was a great day, if you don’t count the ordering/translation error that had us all eating huge bowls of some sort of fish soup.  Again, a bit much for these prairie gals! 

On our way back to Santiago, we stopped at another winery, the Casas del Bosque.  Gorgeous.  Absolutely gorgeous.  Those are white rose bushes lining the drive. 

Yep – it was Grey Cup day, and Mom was all decked out! 
Lisa’s friend, Ginny, and her Chilean boyfriend, Fransisco, joined us for lunch on the patio.  Then we drove up to the lookout point on the vineyard.   

This is the outdoor, three-storey courtyard at a huge mall in Santiago.   
Our Grey Cup party!  We paid to get the game online, but couldn’t get it to go full screen, so it was about a four-inch square screen!  Oh well, didn’t miss much!  And we had fun! 
The morning of our departure we finally got to spend a little time at the pool at Lisa’s apartment.  It really is a nice building, and very secure.  There is a concierge on duty all the time, and it has survived a couple of earthquakes, so all is good! 

We also had to do a little more souvenir shopping, and this is an example of what we found!   
As beautiful and warm as Chile is, it was really good to get home where the earth stays still, and everything was brilliantly white and sparkling.  Besides, we had missed all the cold and snow!  And what a sight the first night home – sundogs!   
And now it’s back to life as usual.  I don’t know that I will take another trip at that time of year again – wasn’t exactly sure we’d actually have Christmas this year!  But we did, and now we’re going to hockey games and meetings and work and all of that.   No more snowboarding and sledding for the boys, especially right before a hockey game, because we might, you know, LOSE or something terrible like that!  And now I’d better wrap this up and try to figure out how I’m going to be a three different hockey games in three different places on Sunday.  Oh, and an ordination, too.  Never a dull moment, folks!
Thanks for stopping by!  Let’s do it again!

3 thoughts on “It’s Happy Dance time again!

  1. Thanks for posting all your great photos and lively commentary.
    Travel to exotic locales…it really is all about the destination and NOT the journey getting there.
    Enjoy the hockey games.

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