December 11, 2011
What do Larry Bird, Patrick Roy, Dan Wheldon, and a mine in Copiapó all have in common? The number 33! Now I didn’t visit the infamous San José Mine, but I did decide that a trip to Chile just wouldn’t be complete without checking out a Chilean mine. The industrial parts were immense. I guess I never realized how much space is needed for the whole copper mining process. Spread out over hectares of land, a really old train transfers the ore from the mines to the storehouses to the smelter to town.
Afterwards I made my way to Sewell a ghost town high up in the mountains. Why is it a ghost town now you ask? All of the inhabitants were dying of black lung and from the air which was saturated with arsenic. Other than that… what a place to live! The town was originally built by a North American in 1904 who brought all of his building supplies from the States and set up the town as a self-standing community. The miners that lived there received their salary and paid no rent or board. For many country folk this was a huge change and they were happy to be living in luxury. As an outsider I really felt like I had walked into an old-Western set. It was eerie, but fascinating.
Today Sewell is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Despite all of the tremendous earthquakes and shakes, the town still stands. Since all of the buildings were constructed of wood, they withstood the stress. The nicest houses however couldn’t defend themselves from the hands that tore them down. When everyone left the town they took 3/4 of the town with them. That means all that’s left is only a smidgen of what it used to look like. At any rate it is still a gorgeous town situated high up in the mountains.
December 4, 2011
The past two weeks have been a whirlwind, but so wonderful at the same time. Throughout my time here in Chile I have been formulating a seemingly never-ending list of things that I want to do or places I want to visit. I am happy to report that the majority of the things on my list have been crossed off, but there still remained a few stragglers. Fortunately, my lovely sister came to visit for about two weeks and we got to all of the cool things that I hadn’t done.
Our first excursion was to Casablanca. And no, we didn’t fly to Morocco… Casablanca is a town just outside of Chile full of vineyards. When I say “full” of vineyards, I mean they are EVERWHERE. I’m pretty sure the grape-vine to citizen ratio is about ten million to one. Anyway, I’ve passed Casablanca countless times on my way to and from Santiago and I’ve always wanted to go wine-tasting there. That’s just what we did.
The next item on the agenda was to climb Cerro la Campana. I’m not sure I’d call it a cerro because it puts the cerros of Valpo to shame. La Campana is more like a mountain, the tallest in the region in fact. So with various layers of clothing and a backpack we set off for Quilpúe. A half-hour metro ride later, we hopped on a micro a rode it to the end of the route. On that dirt road up to the park we began the climb. Three hours later, the spectacular view was well worth the pain in the calves and the terror of the gigantic tarantulas.
On our way back we met some really nice people and rode with them to a biergarten. Yes, I realize that sounds ridiculous, but it really was an authentic German-owned, open air biergarten with a live band too. After a day full of hiking it was so nice to relax and chat with our new friends over a pint of homemade beer and french fries.
While we’re in the food category, there were two restaurants that I really wanted to go to that Marina and I paid a visit to. One was Sabariticas, home of the famous completos. Marina and I split an original. This consisted of a foot long hotdog with heaping mounds of sauerkraut, tomato, avocado, and mayonnaise spread on top. Sounds like an interesting combination and frankly one that I normally wouldn’t bee so keen on eating but it is AMAZING. Wipe off about a cup of the mayonnaise and I could probably live on those for a week. The other restaurant that I had been dying to go to was called Las Deliciosas, home of renown empanadas. We ordered a scallop and cheese empanada and a shrimp and cheese empanada so that we could try two different kinds. Marina and I now know why they are world renown.
The beach, the beach. We spent many-a-day relaxing on the beach. It was so nice to not think about class or life and just catch some rays and catch up with Marina. And of course it was gorgeous weather every day we were there.