Two of our boys live outside of the country – one in China and the other in Chile. It makes for long trips to get there, but certainly worth the effort. In early October (got to get current on these posts!) Jan and I went to Santiago to visit Josh and his new family. It was Simon’s first birthday and there was a great party planned for the afternoon that we arrived, partly for Simon and also for us to meet Josh’s Chilean family.

Chile is located in South America and is a narrow country nestled between the Andes and the Pacific Ocean and stretches for some 2700 miles from its border with Peru to the north and the Drake Passage all the way to the south. It’s post Inca heritage is Spanish although the Mapuche Indians to the south held out colonialism for quite a while. It is presently a socialist country and is basically now one of the most stable countries in South America. Agriculture makes up most of Chile’s economy and includes grapes, apples, pears, peaches and garlic as well as a very robust wine industry. Because of it’s location in the southern hemisphere, Chile exports a good deal of its agriculture to northern hemisphere countries during their off-seasons. There you go – a one paragraph synopsis of Chile. Hardly even touching the history and essence of the country, I can only tell you that Chile quickly became one of my favorite countries in the world.

Arriving into Santiago

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Simon’s first birthday was a huge success, and we met Josh’s Chilean family, at least a great deal of them . Josh’s SO (Viviana aka Vivi) is one of five children (two girls and three boys). She has a daughter Olivia from another relationship and is a great mom and a lot of fun.

Simon and his sister and cousins

The party ended, everyone left and then the drama started. Most people know I enjoy my cocktails, sometimes a few of them, very rarely these days too many, but that day I had only had a couple of glassed of wine and a lot of birthday cake and pizza so I was not in the least bit tipsy. I was just preparing to go to the bathroom and as I was turning to turn on the light I slipped and fell sideways onto the toilet. So, Chilean toilets are the strongest toilets in the world, and six of my ribs were no match for that particular piece of ceramic. This frigging toilet fractured six of my ribs, two of them had multiple fractures and I have to be honest I have never, never, had such pain.

Off we went to the hospital, Hospital Allemaña, located in the heart of Santiago, some 25 minutes from where Josh and Vivi live. I was in the ER for about 4 hours doing x-rays and being painfully probed, and then was admitted to the ICU, mainly because I also punctured a lung and they wanted to monitor the bleeding. After two days in the ICU, I then spent an additional three days in the regular hospital before they released me. I had a private room with a great view and given the circumstances managed to pass those five days pretty quickly.

Room with a view

Jan was a trooper! She spent every night with me on a cot (!), ate what I did not (which was most of my meals. Hospital food worldwide is terrible) and just encouraged me to do the physical therapy that they gave me. We were scheduled to leave the day they released me, but they would not let me fly because of the lung, so poor Jan had to leave by herself after six days in the hospital with me, not seeing hardly any of Chile. Some vacation.

The upside of all of this was I got to spend two more weeks there getting to know Simon, Vivi’s family and best of all spending quality time with Josh. We talked food, politics and about his life in Chile. What a great time.

Meat is a huge part of Chile’s diet, my kind of country, and BBQ is a way of life that is somewhat different from here in that a majority of the hoes have built in pits rather than grills. They use primarily charcoal and wood and the smell of all kinds wafts through the air in the late afternoons and evenings. We did our share over those two weeks, a most memorable meal being the one we prepared for the family at Vivi’s brother Johan’s house on Halloween eve.

roast lamb with potatoes

Vivi and I went up to the mountains one day for a picnic with the baby and we also did a tour of downtown and a trip to the indoor market. Farmer’s Market a la Chile!

Our final touristy move was a day trip to one of the fabulous wine areas in Chile. Located in the Colchagua Valley area near the town of Santa Cruz, Viu Manent is a well respected vineyard. It produces some 240,00 cases of wine a year, primarily exporting to Europe and counts among its varietals Malbec, Camenere, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and my favorite from the wine tasting we did, Syrah. Simon enjoyed the grounds. We ended up eating dinner at a small restaurant in Santa Cruz called Vino Bello which was fantastic.

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