Thursday, 15 December 2011

Chile & the Lakes

From Antofagasta we travelled by bus on the Chile Highway through harsh hot countryside which was desert type conditions the only breeze being generated was by having the windows down, as their was no airconditioning.The scenery was monotonous and the perpetual motion made you nod off to sleep, and then to be awoken to constant stops to pick up all sorts of people some with animals others lugging,what looked to be their sole possessions. We arrived in Santiago and immediately made for Vina Del Mar a beach side resort where we had friends who we stayed with and then were ferried to others who had an estancia (ranch) outside Concepcion

Vina Del Mar a beach side resort which is a suburb of Santiago

We stayed with a large family on their estancia which was one of the largest in Chile, called 'Las Sauces'.It was owned by nine brothers, eight of them all lawyers working in Concepcion, the youngest , Frido,who I became friends with managed the estancia which raised sheep ,cattle, wine, Alpacas and citrus fruit. They had large a stable of polo horses and used to visit the estancia most weekends with their families which brought the place alive.

Franco the youngest brother and his wife,  lived only in one section of one half of this huge fifteen bedroom hacienda, the dining room table was the shape of a horse shoe, made from some exotic timber and highly polished,  could seat thirty or more people and was used on the weekend when the brothers came for the weekend. The adults sat on the outside and the children sat in the inner section.

We stayed for a couple of weeks riding daily, sometimes to the local village which they owned, which was about five miles and you could ride as the crow flies as their were no fences.

The wine cellar was under half of one part of the house and had a collection of wines,brandies and cognacs equal to any international hotel and the largest collection of vintage 'Unduragga Wines'  which was Chile's premier vineyard.

A section of the Hacienda, it is double the size of this,  there were fifteen bedrooms and had been in the family since 1850, with a cellar full of international and Chilean wine that would do any international hotel proud.

Lyn horse riding, the estancia went as far as you could see to the mountains of the Andes, the village in the distance was owned by the owners who employed most of the people working on the estancia.There were few fences so you were able to ride for as long as you like with no fences or gates to impede the ride.

The Chilean lakes, Lyn at Puerto Montt  fishing and with her catch of the day.

Chile of all the Latin countries visited so far, felt the safest, especially after La Paz and experiencing martial law. We had heard the the president Eduardo Frei was very dictatorial but not much else as far as negatives so we decide to hitch hike to Puerto Montt which was in the lakes area and then to Osorno where we caught a series of boats across the lakes to San Carlos De Bariloche in Argentina

We met up with some peace corps guys from the USA who were working with some Araucanian Indians teaching then swine husbandry up in the Andes foothills near where were staying in Puerto Montt. These Indians were never defeated by the Spanish Conquistadors as were the Incas, and have remained remarkably independent.

We were given a lift by an old German man who insisted on us staying at his estancia for a couple of days, the area of Southern Chile has a large German population, this old guy was a widower and a bit lonely for company and was so hospitable.

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