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Tuesday 1 Apr 2014
Santiago, Chile


We spent the morning visiting the 'Concha y Toro' vineyard just outside of Santiago. It is the largest in Chile and is where the 'Castillo del diablo' wine we know from home is made. The place definitely smelt of opulence and wealth- very swish. The old family mansion on the grounds was very beautiful- and had Victorian English style grounds which felt very familiar from home. When they took us to the vineyards what was lovely was that they had created a tasting section where all the main types of wine grape were planted and we could go amongst the vines and pick grapes to taste. It was a very sensory activity and we really enjoyed it. We then went down to the 'Castillo del diablo' wine cellar- which was over 100 years old and built originally using egg whites and sand as grout. Considering all of the earth quakes in Chile its amazing it is still intact. They showed us a light show explaining the reason why the cellars are called 'devil's cellars'- the owner created the legend to stop people stealing his wine. We tried some of the wine that they keep down there. The whole thing was a really lovely experience- we sat in the sunshine drinking wine and eating cheese.

Our afternoon was a very different tone as we visited 'Parque por la Paz'- a memorial park on the grounds of Villa Grimaldi- a place where torture, murder and disappearances happened during the Pinochet dictatorship in the 70's. There was an audio guide which explained the horrors that happened. It was a real learning curve for us as we were not aware of some of the history of Chile- and so recent. It was an eye opener- and so hard hitting to be on the site where those things happened.

In the evening we met up with another couchsurfing host who had offered us a place to stay in Santiago; Ana. We thought it would still be nice to meet up with her anyway so we met her outside her workplace. She is also a Civil Engineer. She took us to a bar which resembled a squat- writing on the walls, people drinking from plastic cups looking like they had been there all week. The bar is famous for 'terremoto's' (big earthquakes) which, ironically, we were drinking when the actual terromoto happened in north Chile. A terromoto is a pint of home-brew white wine, a dash of red syrup and a lump of pineapple ice cream on top- drunk with a straw. After 2 of them each we realised why they are called that! Ana was a nutcase- brilliant fun and blunt. 2 separate people in the bar thought I was from Holland. After those drinks she took us to another bar called 'The Clinic' which was a very interesting space- that is when we heard about the earthquake- Ana was worried about her friends up north. We then went to a little beer bar and sat outside on the street. We got chatting to two lovely people sitting on the next table- we all got on great- later they told us they were undercover police in the murder division. I adopted a dog who slept on my feet all evening- really wanted to take him home! Really fun evening

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