For our 90 minute drive to Santiago I had wanted to use the car to get to a hike. But following Darwin’s path up La Compana would be a full day. Instead, we had our last empanadas in Valparaiso and toured a winery in Casablanca Valley, halfway to Santiago.
Michele found Emiliana Organic Vineyards online and the tour was similar to New Belgium in Fort Collins. Lots of reuse, sustainability, profit sharing, integrated pest management, etc. Great tour in English with Maria, our vegetarian (except in the presence of ceviche) tour guide from Italy. It was our first vineyard tour. The cheese plate, WiFi and big tables for the girls to do homework during our tour worked out well. And they liked the manure producing alpacas.
Once we got to Santiago, I was not ready for the density and traffic. I should have expected it for a city of 6 million. Not far off from the 8.5 million in NYC. The only problem for me is the car. Sixt has been texting me, requesting that I return the car early. My Spanish is not great but I figured out that I now need to keep the car for one more night. Our Airbnb host Francisco kindly agreed to let us use his parking spot. But it took 5 laps around a congested block before we figured out where exactly his spot is. Thanks to Melina for talking to a security guard to explain our predicament and convince him to let us into the resident-only parking garage. All this was an hour of stress for everyone, and Starbucks didn’t fix it. Hopefully, a day at one of the biggest shopping malls in South America tomorrow will help. I had to find something. It should be easy, unstructured time, and best of all, walking instead of driving. The one problem with tomorrow is Melina and I have tickets to the orchestra, and the theatre is right where CNN is showing video of the protests and tear gas.
Our Airbnb works great for the 4 of us. A queen and 2 bunks on the 26th floor in a centrally located apartment building. It is hot though, 85 degrees and no AC.
With the car safely parked, we walked around, passing what appeared to be the protests. We found a vegetarian restaurant El Naturista where I could finally have quinoa and porotos, two more things to check off my list. I’m still looking for maté in a bombilla. Everyone was ready to get home to a quiet space with reliable internet, something we haven’t had on the trip yet.