San Fernando

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4 travelers at this place
  • Day44

    Adios Patagonia

    January 12, 2019 in Chile ⋅ ☁️ 19 °C

    Patagonien hat keine exakten Grenzen. Es ist einfach dieser südliche Teil Südamerikas, Teil Argentiniens und Chiles. Es hat so extrem unterschiedliche Landschaften wie Klimata zur selben Zeit. Und es ist größtenteils ein eingezäuntes Land, aufgeteilt von etwa 50 riesigen Estancias, die hier überwiegend ihre Schafe weiden lassen. Dabei stand der Begriff Estancia weniger für das Anwesen des Estancieros sondern für das ganze Weideland. Für die heute geschützten und häufigen Guanacos ist der Zaun kein Hindernis. Sie überspringen ihn aus dem Stand. Für die Strauße stellt er jedoch ein Hindernis dar.
    Als nördliche Grenze wird in Chile der Rio Bio Bio gesehen, der in den Anden entspringt und den ich gestern bei Concepcion überquert habe, wo er in den Golf von Arauco im Pazifik mündet.
    Wieviel hätte es noch zu sehen geben in diesem faszinierenden Teil unserer Erde. Und wie deutlich sind hier die Auswirkungen des Klimawandels spürbar. Den dort lebenden Chilenen ist das sehr bewusst. Immer wieder kommt dieses Thema zur Sprache.

    Concepcion ist die zweitgrößte Stadt Chiles und so fahre ich wieder mal 20 km durch die abendliche Rush hour, zwischendurch verirre ich mich auf die abgetrennte Linienbussspur, was mich deutlich schneller vorwärts bringt. Normalerweise versuche ich Großstädte zu vermeiden. Nach der dringend nötigen Dusche mache ich noch einen Rundgang durch die Innenstadt und stoße zufällig auf einen Umzug. Das reicht für heute.
    Immerhin war das Wetter heute so wie man sich das auf dem Motorrad wünscht. Trocken und schön kühl, wenn man vom letzten Teil absieht.
    Heute morgen war die Stadt anscheinend noch nicht wach. Praktisch ohne Verkehr komme ich aus der Stadt, fahre durch die Weinbaugebiete Chiles weiter in Richtung Norden.
    Patagonien, das mich manches Mal gefordert und es mir nicht immer leicht gemacht hat, habe ich wehmütig hinter mir gelassen.
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  • Day234

    Las Peñas, Chile (Week 2)

    June 8, 2017 in Chile ⋅ ☀️ 24 °C

    And we thought last week was tough.

    Taking the reigns of a high end lodge didn't seem like an unreasonable request when Will suggested it. It seemed like an apt challenge. A step up from our mundane tasks and a chance to see if we had what it takes. We accepted - with a little viticultural and financial incentive - and stepped up to run the place for the week with an eternally growing list of jobs, errands, maintenance, guests and ultimately working hours. Six hour days were to be a thing of the past. No surprises there!

    I spent most of my Monday dropping the family at Santiago airport. The two hour drive was nothing short of baffling beauty. Watching the sun rise over the Andes and punch through the lofty clouds with morning fog below is a scene I won't be forgetting anytime soon. (In fact, the end-of-the-week trip back was even more impressive; unlimited visibility with an afternoon sun turning the endless mountain range a light orange on a blue backdrop. Insane! Too bad I don't have photos as I was being a safe, responsible and efficient driver.) After a little detour (for lack of any maps - actually signage here is very good) I found the supermarket and spent a good few hours shopping for groceries for the week from Cat's neatly prepared list. A list for a menu that would be chopped and changed with every lacking ingredient. I only got laughed at twice by the same butcher for failing to identify meat cuts and then stumbling over the rest of the verbal exchange. You think I would have learnt Spanish by now.

    I returned to panic in the kitchen. Our daily cooking requirements were lunch and dinner (Yanet took care of breakfast). Sounds easy enough, right? Well it does. But it's not, ask Cat. Dinner was starter, main and dessert, and lunch had to be packaged up for reheating the next day. It had to be ready within 10 minutes of the guests returning, a time which varied almost daily. We were in a kitchen we didn't know with an oven that fluctuates temperature more than a fever and a stove that only goes piping hot or even hotter. All our ingredients were labelled in Spanish or unlabelled, as were the cooking instructions and occasional cookbooks. We weren't allowed any repetition or leftovers and the food had to be good quality and well presented. The nearest supermarket was a half hour drive and the nearest fruit and veg was 20 minutes. Ah and just to top it off, the internet was too slow to load recipes. I think we found that stress we needed reminding of!

    Threatening to buckle under pressure Cat pulled through and delivered some great dishes. Curries, beef bourginonne, roasts, stuffed chicken, pan fried fish, Moroccan stew, delicious soups, omelettes, prawns, and a variety of salads were all part of her menu, catering for anywhere between two to five guests. She came through on dessert too with sticky banana slice, chocolate brownie, lemon cake, pancakes and a ready made apple stroodle. Cheat. Although I'll be happy to take a small share of credit for a few of the aforementioned dishes. And the expert spooning of icecream - you don't need a summer job to learn that one!

    But that was just the kitchen. With Yanet taking care of the bedrooms, washing and cleaning our daily responsibilities grew to include the following: cooking, setting the table, serving, washing up, keeping up to five log fires going (including stocking firewood, lighting fires and clearing ash), feeding the horses and dogs and walking the dogs, grocery shopping/stocks, day and evening lighting, heating and music, sweeping, raking and pruning, looking after the pool and spa (the spa pool took two days of blazing log fire to get from frozen solid to hot), teaching spanish (or drinking tea - the two are indistinguishable), as well as a myriad of other time consuming chores before we even got started on looking after ourselves and our cabin. And that was just the daily routine.

    To make sure our backs and souls were well and truely broken, we had various projects around the lodge. I had the outdoors: doing firewood runs, clearing the horse paddock of rocks and weeds, piling up horse dung (to fertilise the vineyard), tidying up the barn, gardening and the like. Hard yakka as Dr Jenks would call it. Cat had the more mentally challenging job of computing. Perhaps more accurately, fixing the computer. In a freezing study she spent many hours waiting on the internet; syncing accounts, making mailing lists, designing email flyers (first wine being bottled shortly - exciting news!), insta and facebooks posts (#tumananlodge) and I suppose all other things computer that have become increasingly distant over the last few months.

    You must know by now that I like a good whinge but to tell you the truth, I enjoyed co-managing the place for a week - only. We clocked in at 10am and out at 10pm almost everyday with a few short breaks. That's not fun or sustainable for any decent period of time, hence the 'only'. Learning, however is fun. And so are a pair of 50kg dogs who love attention. And an always-purring kitty. And free reign on Will's wine. And the company of a friendly Colombian. And making fire. Oh, and the fraction of pressure combined with the relief of relieving it (I'm talking about the kitchen of course). Those things are fun. And that's what we'll remember.

    I'm glad Will gave us the opportunity to step up. I don't know how willing I would be to leave my life's work with a pair of randoms. I think he was grateful we saw that running a lodge isn't all wine and fly fishing and we were grateful for his gratitude (and a big old block of duty free lindt dark chocolate). I feel for them coming back from holiday and straight back into it - cooking dinner tonight and they won't be back until 6pm! We're now breaking the back of Chile with a 24 hour bus from Santiago (where we gave back the car to Will and family) to San Pedro de Atacama on the border with Bolivia. It's good to be back on the road and we've got an awesome itinerary lined up: Atacama, Salar de Uyuni, La Paz, lake Titicaca, Copacabana, Machu Piccu (pending), Amazon river (also pending), Lima and two weeks around Vancouver - can't wait! Flights booked to NZ on the 1st of August.

    PS following the Louis Vuitton on live updates is excruciating. If anybody knows how I can get a live stream please, please, please let me know! Or my next post might just be from Bermuda!
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    Charlotte Dixon

    Sounds like a tough gig team. NZ!? See ya theeere :)

  • Day223

    Las Peñas, Chile (Week 1)

    May 28, 2017 in Chile ⋅ ⛅ 29 °C

    The slaves of luxury.

    Because our last Workaway was a little light on perks, we've signed up to another. This time however, we've learnt from our mistakes and upgraded a little (okay a lot) in our free accommodations - granted that wasn't hard to do. Tumuñan Lodge is a luxury lodge complete with vineyard, walking tracks, horse paddocks, pool, spa, numerous gardens, cabins, barns and other utilities. It's located in a valley in the middle of the Chilean countryside, a wee jaunt from Las Peñas - the nearest notable village (if you can call one shop a village). By car, it's about two hours south of Santiago. We've locked in two weeks here where we'll be helping out wherever no paid employee wishes to help (read: shovelling horse shit).

    The lodge is run by an Englishman named Will and his lovely Chilean wife Carolina, who have built and owned this place over the last ten years. They have a nine year old daughter and an eleven year old son who we don't see all that much of. They also have two enormous St Bernard dogs who love attention and two horses who have taken a particular disliking to me despite my attempts to win them over with food. Also living and working on site is Yanet (the maid and Colombian refugee) who shares our cabin and a Huaso (cowboy) named Juan who comes and goes on his horse with a chainsaw and is so intimidating I am yet to speak with him.

    Our little home is perfect. It's the gatekeeper's cabin at the entrance of the property and modestly hosts four bedrooms and a nice kitchen and bathroom as well as an outside laundry (finally we can do washing without paying by weight!) It's well built but not well enough to withstand the valley's chill which can get down to minus 6° at night! We do battle with the cold for about 20 hours of the day (inside or out) and have taken to burning disgraceful quantities of firewood and kerosene in attempts to temporarily gain the upper hand. For the remaining four, an enticingly warm sun heats the estate leaving even the eskimo in nothing but a tee. We're provided with most of our groceries to cook and eat three square meals in our cabin, occasionally with Yanet when our hours coincide.

    I think we both agree that this is largely an exercise in reminding ourselves how good travel is. We haven't done real work in at least six months and even though we're only working six hour days (a demanding six at that), knowing that we have to is a killer. Our first week of work has had us raking, pruning trees, feeding animals, shovelling shit, gathering and stacking firewood, barrowing stones, doing dishes and our least favourite but most time consuming - carrying rocks. Almost unbelievably, we're clearing the horse paddock of rocks. Many, many rocks and it's grueling and unrewarding work. Even the horses think it's a joke; excreting intentionally in our work area and refusing to accept our love. Cat has also offered up her teaching skills and gets two hours off her physical torture to teach Yanet English. I don't remember learning English but last time I checked it wasn't all tea and giggles! (Yes that is jealousy you sense.) Outside our work hours we spend most of our time cooking and cleaning our cabin and trying to heat it. There's no internet and the tv is in spanish so we're starting to get cabin fever. Speaking of fever, Cat is coming out of a pretty hardy cold which hasn't been helped by the freezing temperatures. I'm sure you can imagine where she stands on this one!

    But we wouldn't be here if there wasn't something in it for us. Free accommodation and food are the obvious draw cards, but we could get that at home without the six hour days, right dad? Actually - don't answer that. Spending time with the family is giving us insight into life in Chile, as well as what it takes to run a lodge and a vineyard in the middle of nowhere. Speaking of wine, we got a tour of the vinyard (post harvest so it's a bit of a mess) followed by a free wine tasting which escalated into dinner followed by liquers. Turns out Will likes a drink! We are also forced to practice our Spanish daily, largely with Yanet but also with just about everyone who enters the property. It's interesting to note we can have dinner conversations with Yanet who speaks Colombian Spanish ("the best Spanish"), yet for the life of me I cannot understand a word of Chilean Spanish - which according to Yanet is a disgusting butchery of her beloved tongue and she doesn't blame us for not understanding. She actually has a point.

    But I digress. On our days off we get to explore. We did a day trip to a lovely town called Santa Clara for a delicious lunch and a fantastic museum which covered the history of Chile from about 9000 years ago until the day 33 miners were rescued from the bottom of the San José mine. It was thorough, fascinating and emotional with free english audio guides. We also have all the wilderness to explore. We did a short day hike up into the hills for some amazing views of the valley and surrounding mountains. We had the whole place to ourselves (even got a break from the dogs!) which is a real advantage of getting off the gringo trail. Mi gusta.

    The cold weather may be painful at times but it's been stunning almost every day - cloudless skies and incredible stars and moon. If you look carefully on the last photo, I miraculously caught a shooting star for you all to wish upon!

    Whether we like it or not, it would appear that we passed the test. Will and Carolina have deemed us responsible enough to run the show while they go to Argentina for the week - guests, cooking, animals, contractors and all. That escalated quickly! Such is life with no written contract. I think things are going to get pretty hectic around here quite soon.
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San Fernando