Following the wedding, the peak of our trip, the final chapter on our Chilean adventure took us to a farm near the coast, where we stayed in a timber framed chalet in what felt like the middle of nowhere! The property stood alone, surrounded by countryside and farmland, an idyllic setting, about an hour and a half drive from the hustle and bustle of Santiago, where we had begun our adventure.
We arrived late in the evening and within a few minutes of settling in, the power cut out. Suddenly it was pitch black and we still hadn’t really familiarized ourselves with our surroundings- thank goodness for mobile phones! By mobile torch light, we managed to find some candles and convince the children that we were now having a real, camping adventure! They thought this was really exciting and were slightly disappointed that the electricity worked again in the morning! After a leisurely start to the day, unpacking and checking our immediate surroundings, we decided to head out for an afternoon at the beach.
The coastal resort of Quintay was a 20 minute drive from the farm. The expansive beach was beautiful, warm and sandy with mountains rising up around the bay. The mix of gold and black volcanic sand became darker as the kids dug down into it and made great building material for castles and towers! The sea however, was freezing, with the water streaming up from the antarctic, it doesn’t have a chance to warm, before flowing along the Chilean coast line. We all still had a paddle but it was so cold that our feet actually hurt before going numb and the choppy water produced occasional larger waves that took those not paying attention, by surprise! I don’t do cold, so a toe in the water was enough for me! We spent a couple of hours on the beach and then retreated to one of the beach side, seafood restaurants for a late lunch. Here, I had my first taste of the local favourite triple, Pisco, in the form of a Pisco Sour (Pisco, lemon or lime juice and sugar syrup). Pisco is a brandy made from grapes and has been produced in Chile since the 16th century, so an absolute must-try if you ever visit. The cocktail was really refreshing, though rather alcoholic but hey, I wasn’t driving!
That evening we attempted our own Chilean BBQ with limited success! It wasn’t the elaborate beast that Pablo (Pia’s dad) had in his garden and we started a bit late, so ended up ensuring that everything was cooked through in the oven but no one minded after a few Piscolas (Pisco and cola)!! However, J still managed to cook some steak to perfection and our Chilean guests (Pia’s close family) joined us, providing some fabulous salads and a fish dish that Lou helped create and later recreated back home! Later that evening, with a glass Piscola, we sat and gazed at the stars. Being in the middle to nowhere, with no light pollution, the clear sky was ablaze with thousands of stars, a beautiful sight that we just don’t get in the UK. Occasional shooting stars caught our eye as we sat and stared, it was a really tranquil experience that even silenced the children!
We decided to spend the next day at the beach again and make the most of our last few days. The cold water didn’t stop the kids taking a dip (or the Chileans in fact), they just didn’t seem to feel the cold!
In the end, I had to get them out when Lou was physically shaking and actually turning blue. Luckily, we had plenty of warm, dry towels to wrap them in and they had no ill effects from their prolonged exposure to the icy water. It did however, have this effect on the way home later that afternoon!
Before heading back though, we stumbled upon an old whaling station that had been turned into a small museum, detailing how they were caught and dragged up onto the quay-side to be butchered. There was also a quite graphic film that the children found fascinating, of a whale being butchered, that I couldn’t watch, as well as other memorabilia and various stories of whales including Moby Dick. At certain times of year, whales can be spotted off of the coast here, thank goodness they are no longer threatened by this barbaric practice!
The next day we were due to travel back to the airport for an evening flight home, so we decided to spend the morning kayaking on a small lake at the farm. The kayak was only a single, so the kids had to go out alone, but as they are all strong swimmers it wasn’t too much of a problem. Once they got started it was more of an issue for them to change direction and avoid grounding themselves than tipping the kayak!
While waiting for their turns, they had fun trying to make castles of mud, spotting wildlife at the waters edge and paddling in the squidgy shallows. The echo created in the valley also kept us amused, it was like something out of a cartoon with a 3-4 second delay!
After a morning of kayaking fun, we headed back to the chalet to shower and finish packing, ready to be collected for our short journey back to the airport. We left Martin and Pia to spend a few more days with her family and began the long, but thankfully uneventful, flight home to the UK.
Chile is an amazing country with a rich culture and plenty of history. We did so much in our two week stay, that it felt like we were there for a lot longer, but there is still so much more to see! If you are learning to speak Spanish, (as we are)I would say that it’s a fabulous county to practice as there is so much opportunity and necessity to speak. With only a small percentage of the population speaking English fluently, they really appreciate your attempt at Spanish rather than making you feel silly for trying!! I also found the Chilean accent to be far easier to understand than that of the locals in Spain.
I hope that you’ve enjoyed reading about our amazing, Chilean adventure! It has certainly inspired us to be a bit more venturesome in choosing future holiday destinations! Of course, much of our stay revolved around Pia and her family, who were amazing hosts, welcoming us into their homes and proudly showing us the best that Chile has to offer. We are so grateful for their hospitality and hope to visit again soon!