There’s a lot to catch up on since the last time I posted. I vacationed in Chile with my mom, spent Christmas on a plane, covered a lot of ground in Colombia with my friend Bianca, and ended up back in my parents’ house in South Dakota where I’m writing this now.
Not only that, but my plans have changed once again for next semester. Just a little change, and a good one. A spot opened up in Armenia, so I get to stay in my city and keep teaching at the same school! I also talked with Luz, and she said I could feel free to keep living with her next semester, so I even get my own room back! (And I got to leave like 80 pounds of teaching materials, shoes, and clothes with her instead of dragging it to the states and back).
Since getting back to South Dakota, I have had a pretty hectic schedule which includes hanging out with friends and family, binge watching Breaking Bad and the Real Housewives, crocheting and baking lots of things, eating peanut butter on everything, playing fetch with my dog in snowdrifts that go up to my knees, doing Pinterest DIY spa treatments, and just generally being a lazy pile during my 3 weeks off. However, I will set these highly important activities aside for a minute to write about the crazy fun time I had in Chile and Colombia over Christmas break.
Santiago de Chile
Every time I tell my mom I’m thinking of moving somewhere, she goes, “That’d be great! Then I could come visit you!”
She’s never actually visited me anywhere. I pointed this out to her when I was moving to Colombia and, much to my surprise, we actually ended up making plans to meet the week before Christmas in Santiago. We were originally planning to go to the Mendoza wine region in Argentina (because wine), but then I found out that Argentina charges U.S. citizens $160 to enter the country. That’s $320 for the two of us, and $320 is a lot of money that could be better spent on wine. Luckily, just on the other side of the Andes mountain range, there is another beautiful wine region in the country of Chile which happens to let Americans in for free.
My mom and I met in the Santiago Airport without any problems, despite her fears that my plane would be significantly delayed and she would be left wandering the city alone, unable to speak to anybody or find me, ever. We got to try out Airbnb for the first time, and wound up in a cute little apartment in the city center of Santiago for a really great price.
After our long flights to get there, the first order of business was to go to one of the many Peruvian restaurants (it seemed like there were more in Santiago than there were in Lima) and get tipsy off Pisco Sours.
The next day, we took the Uncorked Cooking Class. First, our chef/tour guide took us and the other 3 people in the class on a tour of the city’s main markets. We went to the Mercado Central where we bought the fish that we would use to make our ceviche.
Then we headed over to the Mercado de la Vega, where we bought the produce we would be needing for our meal.
Afterwards, we headed to the kitchen to start the preparation. First things first. Pisco sours. We learned how to make a Chilean pisco sour – which I think only differs from a Peruvian pisco sour in the fact that it’s poured into a champagne glass instead of a tumbler.
The appetizer was sopaipillas with pebre. Because the sopaipillas, pieces of dough made with pumpkin and baked in the oven, take a while to make, they already had them baking for us. We prepared the pebre, which is similar to a pico de gallo with a very yummy Chilean spice called merken added. Then, it is placed in an adorable clay pig for dipping.
Next, we got started on the ceviche. We used a fish called reineta, and tossed it with onion, peppers, and lime juice. We topped it with some watercress and poured ourselves a shot of the leche de tigre, so-called because it sounds more appetizing than ceviche-juice. The course was paired with a Chilean white wine, and the result was delicious, as was mom’s special mushroom ceviche since she can’t eat seafood.
The next course was empanadas. I have to admit the Chilean style of baking empanadas was a welcome change to the fried empanadas they have in Colombia. We made traditional empanadas de pino, which are filled with beef, onion, a raisin, an olive, and a piece of hard-boiled egg. We were shown the correct way to seal up the dough and then we sipped on some more wine while we waited for them to bake. We spooned the rest of the pebre on our empanadas and chowed down.
Then it was time for a dessert of leche asada, which is very similar to flan.
There’s a difference, but I had had a lot of pisco and wine by that time, and I don’t quite remember what the difference was. I do remember that it tasted good, though.
The next day, we went with the same company on the Uncorked Wine Tour of the Casablanca Valley. They picked us up from our apartment and we drove for about an hour to the Casablanca Valley. Our first stop was the Bodegas RE vineyard.
We were taken on a tour and than sat down in the shop for a wine tasting. Spoiler alert for anyone going on this wine tour: They’re all delicious. Bodegas RE even makes their own amazing olive oil for us to dip the bread in in between tasting.
The shop at Bodegas RE was amazing. In addition to wines and foods, they had beautiful woven tapestries, scarves, sweaters, and gorgeous handspun wool and alpaca yarn. I got a beautiful bundle of red wool yarn, which immediately tangled upon trying to unravel it, and I only recently got it untangled after lots of wine and cursing.
The next stop was Kingston Family Vineyards. This was my favorite winery on the tour, because it was a small operation, and very picturesque. Unlike the other tours, in which our guides explained the physics behind every step of the process, our guide at Kingston provided alternative explanations, like “the shape of this particular tank makes a magical current happen inside, because of science and things, that makes the wine taste really delicious.” I found this explanation much more satisfactory.
Our third and final stop was Quintay, where we had a delicious three-course lunch paired with wine. At that point we had all had quite a bit of wine, and were settling into a food coma, but we found the energy to do a quick tour of the winery.
Within five minutes of setting off for Santiago, everyone in the van, including our tour guide (but hopefully not including the driver) was asleep.
Mom and I needed our rest for a big week ahead of us, which I will get to in another post….