29 August 2008

zapallo

Like a cross between an acorn squash and a pumpkin. Huge chunks turn up in classic Chilean soups and stews. Would make a hell of a pie.

26 August 2008

smog central



Fondly known as Smogiago, or Santiasco. A place where cars with the number 6 on their license plates aren't allowed to be driven on Tuesdays, for example. Where the old polluting buses were phased out and replaced by fewer [but more efficient] buses, prompting people to buy more cars rather than wait in line-ups that wrap around an entire city block. Where the traffic jams (locally known as tacos) seem endless at 7pm.

25 August 2008

casa san regis

One of the oldest haciendas in Chile. Old and elegant.




20 August 2008

werner


Werner has become one of my favorite chilenos. His stories are famous for being completely understandable despite any language barriers. It doesn't matter if you only speak Chinese, you're going to be entertained by the crazy gestures and sound effects that this man produces. He is, in a word, hilarious.

18 August 2008

elefante

If I were a hucker of cliffs, this would be my favorite one to huck.

17 August 2008

serious artist


Check this guy out. Ready for any drawing emergency that might come his way. He is the sort that makes bumping along through a crowded street worthwhile.

09 August 2008

miguel torres

The vineyards of Miguel Torres Wines in Curicó, Chile.

08 August 2008

endless winter

Just finished up the first trip of the season. Super fun despite never seeing the waist deep powder we'd all hoped for. Here's the blog post from the CASA website where we summed up the adventure:

The sun is blazing in through the windshield. We're headed north on the Pan-American Highway on a Friday afternoon, accompanied by the constant white of snow-capped volcanoes to our right. Today is day fifteen of the longest tour CASA offers, the Endless Winter. Ski bags are packed neatly in the trailer, everyone is looking presentable for the long plane ride home.

We started the trip with three good days in the Tres Valles; there was no new snow, but good soft coverage from the last storm, and spectacular sunsets. Had a glorious handful of turns off the top of the Santa Teresa while perched above the city of Santiago, but the breakable crust on the lower bit of the run kept us from charging multiple laps there.

No one was too surprised to see rain in Pucón. But we woke on the second morning in town to bright blue skies and the promise of fresh snow up high. We all set off hiking for the summit in the midst of a building cloud layer, pleased with the changing views. Eventually we were swimming in cloud and the group split, some heading down on wind-blasted slopes. Three charged on to the summit in the gloom of an impending storm.

The rain followed us from Pucón to Corralco where we spent a day on Volcan Lonquimay. Hans at the AndenRose kept us warm and well-fed while in the area. Despite the dreary weather, no one was particularly keen to leave Corralco because of his hospitality. But we continued on our journey north with hopes of snow at the higher elevations of Nevados de Chillán (formerly Termas de Chillán).

At Chillán we found pockets of great snow with the occasional break in poor visibility. But after a couple of days the skies opened up to reveal the undulating terrain of one of the best resorts in South America, all under a blanket of fresh snow. The wind kept things interesting for a day or two, filling our tracks for us while we rode the lifts back up, and sometimes stripping slopes of everything but ice and rock.

And then yesterday it all came together. Clear skies, a mellow breeze, fresh snow smoothed over in the night. After several runs off the Don Otto we partook in Chillán's first ever day of cat-skiing. A quick assisted trip to the summit of the volcano, and an incredible final run from the top through the early evening light. Young Willy Tipper [the Ripper] didn't want his Chilean ski vacation to end after that experience. Who could blame him?

Willy Tipper, the coolest 13-year-old I've met in a long time.

07 August 2008

nevados de chillán



New owner, new name. The resort we once knew [and loved] as Termas de Chillán has changed hands. The word on the slopes is that the change is bringing new energy, as well as a needed infusion of funding. The mountain staff is content, boosted by an increase in pay and new uniforms. There are many improvements to come, particularly in the infrastructure both indoors and out.

A new mid-mountain cafeteria is already making the ski day more pleasant, with massive sandwiches and anticuchos (the insanely large kebabs that are popular down here). While lunching there the other day we met the new owner, out enjoying a glorious day of skiing on his new stomping grounds. Good to see the higher ups gaining some elevation.

We too were able to gain some elevation thanks to the newly operational snow-cat ski program at the hill. Loaded up at the mid-mountain and boogied on up to the top of the volcano. Gazed out over the cordillera to Argentina and then enjoyed skiing the more than 5000 feet back to the parking lot in the evening light. Muy impresionante.

05 August 2008

longaniza


And now I will rave about sausage. Not just any sausage. The carefully crafted longaniza sausages from Chillán in the heart of Chile. Made from pork, and somewhat comparable to a chorizo, these sausages are best eaten off the grill at a Chilean asado, cooked over true carbon . . . not little briquettes made in a factory somewhere. Chillán is a bustling college town of nearly 200,000 and serves as the capital of the Bío-Bío Region 400 km south of Santiago. But Chillán's true claim to fame is it's version of the longaniza.

03 August 2008

andenrose

Practically had to be dragged away from the hospitality of Hans at the AndenRose Hostel this morning. Never have I encountered a person so pleased to be a host. With a smile nearly as big as his personality, and a way with food that is most definitely a gift, Hans quickly became a friend.

The smell of a home cooked meal wafted through the hostel on the first evening when we arrived. The classic Bavarian wood stove enclosed with ceramic tiles took the chill of the winter rain from our skin like a doorman removing a heavy coat. We ate handmade gnocchi with the most tender pork one could imagine, drank hearty glasses of red wine, applauded the chef when he came to share a copa de vino with us.




Herbs from the garden of Hans

02 August 2008

malalcahuello


Another rainy southern hemisphere winter day. La lluvia has been persistent, so close to falling in solid form, a form we would happily ski upon. But it continues to pour down in sheets of cold water, leaving us no reasonable choice but to spend the afternoon in the warmth of an indoor hot spring instead.

01 August 2008