Hand in Mine

Your hand is sticky in mine. I want to let it go, so I can stretch my legs for a bit, but I can’t bear the thought of waking you, so calm you finally are.  Your eyelids are moving restlessly, your breath tiny puffs of air that disperse with a small sigh into nothing amongst all the other sounds.  I hear them because I hear only you, you who lay before me so fragile and innocent, all chubby cheeks and tiny teeth. You don’t belong here, in this world of harsh sounds and bright lights. These people do not love you.

*

The first time I met you was when I became your mother.  I stared into your eyes and thought ¨I want to sleep!¨ There was no great moment of awe-inspiring love, no instant connection that all the baby books assured me there’d be.  The only thing I felt was a pain between my legs and across my breasts that drummed its way into every thought and each nano-second of sleep. I craved you instinctively, but it wasn’t until later that that all-encompassing love began.  At some point I woke up and just saw you differently, noted each eyelash and fingernail as miracles, and realized that I was completely and hopelessly in love with you.

I remember the way you’d grasp my finger and gaze into my eyes while you nursed, full of cooing sounds and gentle burps. Then there were the times when you’d vomit down my back or release a brown-coloured explosion  (occasionally at the same time, always in public).  I remember how proud I was when you began to move on your own, and how my heart pounded as you took your first steps before toppling over. Your smile was – and still is – a beacon of pure joy with the power to infect me with happiness, while your kisses would work their way through my skin and all the way to my heart.

If it sounds like Mummy is a bit silly, the truth is – I really am! My son, being your mother is the endeavour of a lifetime; an all-consuming train ride (albeit one where the driver has no idea what they are doing). I spend my days second-guessing if you are warm enough, running through a tirade of incomplete thoughts, and tripping over dinosaurs.  Before I sleep, I think of you.

One day you will become a man and you won’t need mothering like this. You’ll push me away and tell me to ¨stop it¨ and ¨just act cool¨, and by then I’ll have forgotten saying those exact same words to my own mother. You won’t feel the binding us mothers feel, not until you welcome your own child – that’s if you become a father at all.  One day it will be me who needs help, and if I live to be old and frail I will consider this a life well lived.

*

Sorry, I have woken you.  I know it is hard; the noise here is unrelenting. They have marked your skin, and I can see a trickle of blood falling from your hand. It has swollen up; your fingers are now purple and look like a plump Christmas ham.

It feels like so long ago when you stopped breathing and convulsed in my arms. How many times did I picture this moment when I was a new mother, so terrified of every little thing, so fearful you’d be taken away from me? I always thought I’d fight like a mother lion protecting her cubs, baring my teeth at the onslaught of danger and refusing it passage. But when you turned blue all thoughts flew from my mind and I was helpless. My magic didn’t work for you, not this time.

Sleep easy, my son. The people in this hospital will be your heroes, they fight for you.

 

And I am here.

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This was written during the time of M’s hospitalization, again at the public hospital, Roberto del Rio, and also for seizures, just like the time E was hospitalized for the same at the same age. While this time round things were greatly improved, the service and medical advice were not what I would consider good, and again it was a difficult and slightly traumatizing experience. 

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Patagonia Magic

At the risk of sounding cliche, Patagonia is magic. Where else can you see skies this vast, glaciers this ancient, wildlife this stunning or a mountain vista so dripping in otherworldly power that it transfixes you and makes it impossible to look away?  Eyes just are not big enough to fully appreciate the spellbinding qualities of this isolated, wild spot hanging off the edge of the world at the bottom of Chile and Argentina.

 

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Photo: Cascada Expediciones

 

Just getting here to Torres del Paine National Park has been a mission. A three hour flight to Punta Arenas followed by a five hour transfer – while comfortable – takes dedication. Perhaps this is a good thing, as the park already sees traffic of some 250,000 people each year and trail erosion, habitat destruction, waste and water contamination have been some of the tourist residue affecting the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.  

 

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Guanaco. Photo: Cascada Expediciones

 

Tourism in the area is a contentious topic, with local economies thriving (including that of Chile – Torres del Paine is the country’s number one attraction), but the reality is that park visitors have dramatically affected the park´s landscape.  Three devastating fires over the last thirteen years have destroyed 1/5th of its total area, an area that the critically endangered huemul (South Andean Deer), puma (mountain lion), guanaco (a type of camelid), skunk, along with 23 other mammals, 118 bird species (like the comical rhea), and a wealth of fauna types all call home.

 

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Black Faced Ibis. Photo: Cascada Expediciones.

 

The park itself is a fragile ecosystem, battered by 80km/h winds and 1000-3000 mm annual rainfall and freezing winter temperatures. There are four distinct areas: Patagonian Steppe, Pre-Andean Shrubland, Magellanic Deciduous Forest, and Andean Desert, as well as unique wetlands of the type found nowhere else in the world.

 

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Andean condor. Photo: Cascada Expediciones

 

The park´s most famous sight, the Paine motif, are granite towers formed from 13 million-year-old magma and glacial forces. The Cordillera del Paine mountains are sliced by valleys such as the Valley of Frances, and forests of lenga beech, pumilio and scrub.

 

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Torres del Paine valley. Photo: Cascada Expediciones

 

It was originally settled by the Kaweskar, a nomadic people who occupied all of Western Patagonia for 6000 years, who originally built dome-shaped movable houses that allowed the volatiles winds to slide off. Inside, they would gather around a central fire whose smoke would disperse through a hole in the roof. They had a rich language with different dialects and a strong preference for storytelling, and they lived in small family-based groups. They hunted deer, scrounged for eggs, and used canoes to hunt for sea lions and otters, among other things.  In 1959 NASA was interested in developing a way for their astronauts to survive if they crashed on a frozen planet, and made some studies on the Kaweskars ability to withstand Patagonia´s extreme cold. They discovered that the human body is able to withstand and adapt to various conditions, such as in the case of the Kaweskar. Unfortunately, there are only 5 Kaweskar left that still speak the language and follow the culture, living in the small fishing community of Puerto Eden.

 

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The Kaweskar.  Photo: Cascada Expediciones

 

While there are various trekking outlets and hotels (mostly owned by Kusanovic family), given the many issues that face the park it makes sense to opt for a business that has sustainability at its heart.  Enter EcoCamp Patagonia, an award-winning hotel/glamping hybrid situated in the Torres del Paine park itself Based on the original dwellings of the kaweskar, their domes were the first of their kind in the world, in 1991 setting off the wave of geodesic accommodation that can now be found worldwide.  The camp is also fully sustainable, attaining the fist ISO14001 certification in Chile (and the only in Patagonia) and follows this eco philosophy across every aspect of its function. It has composting toilets and a full recycling program (it sorts its waste all the way in Punta Arenas and sometimes in Puerto Montt), and sources 98% of its energy from solar and hydro sources (it is registered carbon neutral).  So-called ¨black water¨ from toilets are treated to become compost, while the ¨gray water is filtered and used again. Refrigerators are the Camp´s biggest energy sucker, and so to keep their environmental impact low they forbid the use of electrical appliances such as hairdryers and heaters. The domes were built on wooden platforms to make for easy dismantle and contain no concrete – even the walkways are raised.

 

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EcoCamp Patagonia. Photo: EcoCamp Patagonia

 

There are 33 domes, the cheapest being the Standard which makes for the deepest immersion into the park´s nature. These rooms have no electricity and rely entirely on the patterns of the sun for light (bring a torch if you plan on some night-time reading!), created with the intention to keep the guest as in-tune with nature as possible.  The Superior domes are larger and have heating, while the Suites are créme de la créme, perfect for relaxing after a long trek.

 

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EcoCamp also promotes inclusive travel.  Photo: Cascada Expediciones.

 

In terms of outdoor activities, Torres del Paine is one of the most beautiful spots in the world to interact with nature. From EcoCamp you can track wild horses or pumas, take a photography tour, trek the famous ´W´ or ´O´ circuit, or go for longer, more intense programmes that include sea kayaking, mountain climbing; they also promote all-inclusive travel, with special assistance for blind or wheelchair-bound guests.

 

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Puma. Photo: Cascada Expediciones

These are the kind of trips that happen once in a lifetime. That´s why you should do it right, go for sustainability and quality over price, and see it from the perspective not of a tourist, but as a human being, an Earth animal going back to its roots away from the trappings of wifi, social media and work stresses.

The Nitty Gritty

For more about composting toilets, read this.

For more about EcoCamp, visit here.

To watch a video about EcoCamp have a look here.

To see some of the amazing tours in Patagonia, take a look at this.

Did you like this post? Go on – give it a ´like´ and take a look at some of these other posts that might tickle your fancy:

Hotel and wine at Winebox Valparaiso;

Roadtrip to see the Flowering Desert and Bahia Inglesa;

Ghostown of Sewell;

World famous Alpaca Farm;

 

Interview with Editorial Dansema

As someone who loves to read, I have always felt discouraged by the high prices of books here in Chile.  The unfortunate effect of those prices has meant that books are not a common gift and seen as more of a luxury item, buffeted even further down the scale of desired items due to the popularity and ease of phones, computers and the internet.

Coming across Editorial Dansema, then, is something of a revelation. Well-priced kids books made in Chile? Umm yes please! Here I chat with Maike Pakroppa, the force behind the small business.

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Ten Questions with Editorial Dansema/ Diez Preguntitas con Editorial Dansema

Who is Editorial Dansema/ Quien es Editorial Dansema?

We are a family company, created by parents thinking of their children. We know that, as parents, finding well-priced and good quality books in Chile can be a difficult job.  The Leolibros format is very popular in Europe and has supported the reading of generations, and we though that by bringing it to Chile we could do the same here, showing parents that buying good books needn´t cost clp$5000 or more.

Somos una editorial familiar, creada por padres pensando en sus hijos. Sabemos, como padres, la difícil tarea de encontrar libros que sean económicos y de buena calidad. Vimos que los formatos de los Leolibros son famosos en Europa, y han aportado el gusto por la lectura a muchas generaciones. Nos gustaría que en Chile los padres vean que para comprar un libro entretenido no tienen que gastarse 5 mil pesos o más.

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How did Editorial Dansema begin/ Como empezo Editorial Dansema?

I spent a lot of time cuddling and reading with my eldest son after he was born. We´d always read a book before bed and talk about it together. I have always loved to read and grew up with lots of books at home, so when I had children I wanted the same for them, something that could be fun for them as well as educational. My husband didn´t have the same interest in books as I did as he grew up without them, but eventually his enthusiasm for them began to grow as he witnessed us, and soon we began fighting over who would read the bedtime story! He would then read in Spanish and me in German, though I was always at an advantage because it was easy for me to find good books cheaply overseas, whereas he would struggle finding the same in Chile.  From there the idea came to bring books in Spanish to Chile, so we acquired the licence to sell PIXI books here.  PIXI is an integral part of German culture, something which nearly all Germans know.  We want to offer the same extensive range of children´s books here, in the reach of everyone so that all children can grow up loving to read.

Cuando nació nuestro hijo mayor yo siempre disfruté leerle mucho. Pasamos mucho tiempo abrazados leyendo y conversando sobre los libros. Antes de acostarse siempre le leí una historia. Desde que fui niña siempre me han gustado los libros y siempre teníamos muchos en la casa. Quería pasar la misma pasión a mi hijo y además de ser un pasatiempo entretenido también es un pasatiempo educativo. Mi esposo no tenía la costumbre de leer por diversión, pero se dejó llevar por nuestro entusiasmo y  empezamos literalmente a pelearnos los instantes de lectura por ejemplo antes de acostarse, él leyendo siempre en español y yo siempre leyendo en alemán. Pero yo siempre tuve la ventaja de tener una abundancia de libros buenos a precios muy alcanzables y mi esposo siempre terminó frustrado de su búsqueda de libros a cierto presupuesto en Chile. Es ahí cuando surgió la idea de llevar a Chile libros entretenidos, variados, coleccionables y a un buen precio. Adquirimos la licencia de los libros PIXI alemanes, que son ya parte integral de la cultura alemana y donde casi no hay alemán que no los conozca. Queremos ofrecer una extensa variedad de libros infantiles en este mismo formato, en un español latino y al alcance de todos, para que los niños puedan descubrir esa pasión por la lectura desde chiquititos.

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Why do you think reading is important and why should it be promoted in Chile/ Por que es importante a leer y por que necesita ayuda en Chile?

Children, in general, love to read, and the more they do so, the more a love of reading will continue as they get older. This is something that is still little understood by adults here in Chile, and which should be promoted by the government, the educational sector and by businesses. Reading to children contributes, not only to a lifelong reading habit, but to the emotional development of the child. If you can spend quality time with your children, reading and discovering stories, you allow them to see from things from a different perspective. It has been proven that children who read often do better after they leave school, because their reading comprehenson has helped the to be more creative and with better memory skills, and able to acquire knowledge in a more natural way.  This has been proven the world over in various studies.

A los niños, en general, les encanta que les lean. Esta actividad contribuye en gran medida a la tarea de fomentar el gusto por la lectura en los niños. Pero falta crear conciencia en los adultos en Chile. Es algo que debería ser promovido por los gobiernos, el sector educacional, incluso desde las empresas. Leerles a los niños contribuye, no solo a crear un vínculo y hábito en los niños que les servirá para toda la vida, sino que aporta al crecimiento emocional y a la relación con ellos. Se puede pasar tiempo de calidad juntos con los niños y a través del contenido del libro, mostrarle la propia perspectiva y otras por supuesto.  Está comprobado que los niños a los cuales se les lee constantemente les van mucho mejor después en el colegio, porque su comprensión de lectura aumenta considerablemente, y esto ayuda a adquirir el conocimiento de forma más natural. Se fomenta la creatividad en ellos y la memoria. Todo esto, no solo lo decimos nosotros, sino que lo respaldan estudios en todo el mundo.

 

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Which is your favorite book from the collection/ Cual libro es tu favorito?

Our first collection is a mix of very different and entertaining stories, and it is difficult to choose one. My children love the classic ¨El Lobo y los Siete Cabritos¨ – all generations love the classics! My eldest son lost his first tooth recently and so loved to read ¨Maxi y el Diente Suelto¨.  My two-year old twins always laugh a lot with ¨Jan y Leo: Pelotos Locos¨.  Jan and Leo really want to play with their ball, but they have a very grumpy neighbour who does let them play until something very funny happens (read it to find out what!).  I was born in a small town but I still learnt something when I read ¨Descrubre la Granja¨.

Nuestra primera colección de mix de historias tiene historias muy distintas y entretenidas. Es difícil elegir uno. Actualmente a mis hijos les encanta el clásico “El lobo y los siete cabritos”, parece que generación por generación los clásicos nunca fallan. A mi hijo mayor se le cayó su primer diente hace poco y encantó leer como pasó esta misma etapa Maxi con su diente suelto. Y mis gemelos de dos años siempre se ríen con Jan y Leo: Pelotas locas. Jan y Leo tienen unas tremendas ganas de jugar a la pelota, pero tienen un vecino que no los deja jugar hasta que sucede algo muy divertido. Yo nací en un pueblo chico, pero todavía me asombra aprender por ejemplo cuántos huevos pone una gallina en el libro “Descubre la granja”.

4

What is the publishing process like/ Como es el process para publicar libros?

So far we have only published the stories that we loved in German, which we have translated into Spanish and published in the special format of 10 x 10cms.  We know that there are many more marvellous stories still to edit and bring to children, so we hope to work on publishing Chilean authors and illustrators.in 2018.

Estamos recién empezando y hasta ahora hemos publicado solamente las historias que nos encantaron en alemán y las traducimos al español en este formato especial de 10 x 10 cms. Pero sabemos que hay muchas historias maravillosas para editar y poner al alcance de todos los niños. Esperamos poder trabajar con editores, escritores e ilustradores chilenos y publicar sus ideas, a partir del 2018. 

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How has reception been in Chile/ Como ha sido la recepcion en Chile?

Right up until now we have had a very good reception. We know that this year (2017) has been particularly difficult for the sector, but the good price and quality of our books has helped with that.  Each week we are improving our sales points and slowly we are becoming more recognized.  Already we have sent out books outside of Santiago, purely by word of mouth alone.

Hasta el momento hemos tenido una muy buena recepción. Sabemos que este año 2017 ha sido particularmente difícil para el sector, pero la relación precio/calidad de nuestros libros se presenta como una oportunidad en estos momentos.  Estamos semana a semana aumentando los puntos de venta y poco a poco haciéndonos más conocidos. Ya tenemos pedidos desde regiones y eso que ha sido sólo por el boca a boca.

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What is the story behind PIXI books/ Cual es la historia de los libros PIXI?

The books were created in 1954 in Germany by Editorial Carlsen and are known as PIXi in Europe.  More than 450 million copies have been sold in Germany alone, with some 13 milllion sold each year.  More than 2000 titles and 200 series´ have been published, holding the Guiness World Record as the company with the most illustrated books sold worldwide.  They have been translated into Arabic, Albanian, Cantonese, Croatian, English, French, Danish, Dutch,  Finnish, Mandarin, Macedonian, Polish, Swedesh and Serbian, and now (by us), Spanish.

Los libros fueron creados en 1954 en Alemania por la Editorial Carlsen y son conocidos por su marca PIXI en Europa. Más de 450 millones de ejemplares han sido vendidos desde que salieron a la venta los primeros Pixis sólo en Alemania, y se venden en promedio 13 millones de ejemplares por año. Más de 2.000 títulos y más de 200 series se han publicado hasta el momento y está actualmente postulando para los Record Guiness como la serie de libros ilustrados más exitosa de todos los tiempos.  Hasta ahora los “Pixi-libros” han sido traducidos al: inglés, francés, holandés, danés, finlandés, polaco, sueco, serbio, albanés, árabe, chino, croata, macedonio y chino mandarín. Ahora, a partir del 2017 al español en Chile.

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Now for something more general! Where is your favorite place in Chile / Donde esta tu lugar favorito en Chile?

I fell in love with Quintay at first sight. When I went for the first time you still had to go along a dirt road; it has changed a lot since then and not always for the better – it´s more popular and busy now but it remains a place that I love to escape to for the day from Santiago. We dream of having a house there one day, with a view of that marvellous sea!

Me enamoré de Quintay a primera visita. Cuando fui por primera vez todavía había camino de tierra para llegar a este maravilloso pueblo. Cambió mucho desde ahí y no todo para mejor, es mucho más popular y frecuentado ahora, pero sigue siendo nuestro escape por el día de Santiago y soñamos con tener una casa con vista al mar ahí algún día.

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Maike and two of her children.

Where is your favorite restaurant/ Donde esta tu restaurant favorito?

Unfortunately, my favorite restaurant, Alto Peru, closed while we were abroad and I still haven´t found a replacement! But, in general, I love the wharf at Quintay: fresh seafood, good service and the best view.

Lamentablemente, mi restaurante favorito Alto Peru cerró mientras estuvimos viviendo en el extranjero. Todavía no he encontrado un reemplazo. Pero, en general, me encanta la caleta de Quintay para comer: pescados y mariscos frescos, buen servicio y con la mejor vista al mar.

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Quintay

What is next for Editorial Dansema/ Que es el proximo para Editorial Dansema?

We want to develop the format of our books and include technology so that we offer something innovative, practical, functional, easy to use and collect and, above all, with attractive and well-priced content so that adults and children alike learn to love reading.

Queremos innovar aún más en el formato de los libros y vincularlos con la tecnología (específicamente la de realidad aumentada) para que sean innovadores, prácticos, funcionales, fáciles de llevar, coleccionables y sobre todo que tengan un contenido atractivo a un precio conveniente, para fomentar en los niños y sus papás la lectura por gusto.

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The Nitty Gritty

Website: http://www.editorialdansema.cl/

Email: contacto@editorialdansema.cl

Instagram here

Facebook here

* Photos by Editorial Dansema.  This post has not been sponsored!

 

LEOLIBROS-LOGO


Need more great ideas this Christmas?  Have a look at

Beautiful kids clothes from ÑIRRE BEBE;

books and handmade creations from PAJARITO DE MIMBRE;

delicious cakes, pastries and meals from LA COETZINA;

handmade watches from TTANTI;

fun clothes for adults and children from LA PITUKA;

sunglasses made from recycled jeans and fishing nets from KARUN;

 

 

Winebox Valparaiso

If you live in Chile, then I´m sure you´ve heard the buzz surrounding the arrival of WineBox Valparaiso.  The colossal aparthotel is situated on Cerro Mariposas, on the site of a former neighborhood dumping ground, and is the first touristic undertaking on the hill.

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The site as it originally was.

With Winebox, architect Camila Ulloa has created something memorable but also comfortable, an amazing feat of engineering that is constructed of 25 recycled shipping containers.  The containers were inspired by owner Grant Phelps´ hometown of Christchurch, a city which began rebuilding (after the 2011 earthquake) with containers.

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The containers are insulated with newspapers and the rooms are furnished with furniture made of some 3000 wooden pallets. There are nineteen rooms with a private terrace, and two suites.

Phelps has an extensive background in Chile, brought here as a winemaker some sixteen years ago.  He has worked for Casas del Bosque, among others, began the Beso Negro project and has been published all around the world as a sommelier, including in Lonely Planet.  It is only fitting then, that his hotel has an emphasis on wine. There is a wine cellar, dedicated to highlighting small-scale producers, and a store selling over 300 varietals.

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On the agenda is a restaurant and bar due to open in 2018, though currently Grant is offering wine pairing dinners and events, as well as tours of the project with barrel tastings of the WineBox wine – first wine ever to be produced in the city of Valparaiso.

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I find this project incredibly fun and a hugely positive venture for the city of Valparaiso.  Visually, it is a stunner and never quite the same anywhere you look. Grant is also a confident and warm personality, a wonderful host and a man who believes wholeheartedly in giving back to Chile, supporting small providers and wine. The next time you plan a weekend away, book a room at WineBox – you won´t be disappointed.

The Nitty Gritty

Address: 763 Avenida Baquedano, Valparaíso

Phone: 09 9424 5331

Email: grant.phelps@gmail.com

Facebook here

Instagram here

Tours: Standard tour runs Sunday 12-5pm (English/Spanish) and includes a tasting of 3 WineBox wines for $5000 (duration 1 hour). Private group tours cost $20,000 per person and include a tasting of 7 wines – all personally overseen by Grant – and run for about 2.5 hours.

Lunch: available on the rooftop terrace for groups.

 

*All images by WineBox Valparaiso*

This post has not been sponsored – I just think its very innovative and fun!

La Coetzina Pies & Pastries

As we come into the silly season, the question on everybody´s lips is ¨where do I buy those flaming mince pies?!¨ Christmas is when many of us expats give in to nostalgia and start reminiscing about the food joys of our youth: the Christmas pudding, the trifle and ambrosia, roast dinners and pies … This is the time when I give in to the urge and start traipsing around the city in search of advent calendars and imported biscuits and tightly boxed up (and expensive) puddings, with the hope that each bite will transport me into the past when Christmas was simply the most magical moment of the year.

A medida que entramos en la temporada navideña, la pregunta en boca de todos es “¿dónde comprar esos pastelitos que recuerdan mi niñez?!¨ La Navidad es cuando muchos de nosotros, los expatriados, nos entregamos a la nostalgia y comenzamos a recordar las alegrías de la comida de nuestra juventud: el pudín de Navidad, la trifle y la ambrosía, las cenas al horno y pasteles … Este es el momento en que cedo ante el impulso y empiezo a pasear por la ciudad en busca de calendarios navideños y galletas importadas, y postres caros, con la esperanza de que cada mordisco me transportara al pasado cuando la Navidad era simplemente el momento más mágico del año.

Allow me to introduce La Coetzina South African Pies & Pastries, a home-based business that will not only blow your Christmas-crazed mind, but that also ticks all those boxes that are important to me: small and local. I have even wrangled a special offer for my readers too  – 10% if you order before the end of February!! Now let´s turn the spotlight on Adel to find out more about her delicious creations …

Permítanme presentar La Coetzina South African Pies & Pastries, un negocio hogareño que no solo hará volar su mente enloquecida por la Navidad, sino que también cumple todos los requisitos que son importantes para mí: pequeño y local. Ofrezco una oferta especial para mis lectores: ¡10% si compras antes de finales de febrero! Ahora centrémonos en Adel para saber más sobre sus deliciosas creaciones …

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Ten Questions with Adel from La Coetzina/Diez Preguntas con Adel de La Coetzina

La Coetzina is an online bakery, primarily of South African goodies, but with a lot of international favorites, that strives to create nostalgia with their home baked and cooked food. Order before Thursday with delivery on Friday each week.  80% of items can be made vegan, gluten-free, whole grain or lactose free. 

La Coetzina es una panadería online, principalmente sudafricana, pero con muchas preparaciones internacionales, que se esfuerza por crear nostalgia con su comida casera y cocinada. Ordene antes del Jueves con entrega los Viernes de cada semana. El 80% de los artículos se pueden hacer veganos, sin gluten, integrales o sin lactosa.

 Who is La Coetzina/Quien es La Coetzina?

My name is Adel and I am from the outskirts of Cape Town in South Africa. I have no formal training but grew up with two grandmas who inspired me. My mum´s mom baked cakes for a living and taught me about fondant and the tricks of the trade since I was a teeny weeny little girl. My dad´s mum was a hardcore farm woman who taught me about farm food, life and the basics- the perfect balance.  My fiance Carlos helps me in the kitchen.

Mi nombre es Adel y soy de Sudáfrica. No tengo entrenamiento formal pero crecí con dos abuelas que me inspiraron. La mamá de mi mamá horneaba pasteles para ganarse la vida y me enseñó sobre el fondant y los trucos del oficio, ya que yo era una niñita chiquita. La madre de mi padre era una granjera que me enseñó sobre lo básico de la comida y la vida en la granja. El equilibrio perfecto. Mi novio Carlos me ayuda en la cocina.

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Where the magic begins – baking headquaters!

What made you move to Chile/Que te motivo para venir a Chile?

After living in Spain for 4 years, (and eleven years of traveling) I decided it was time for a new adventure.  Ipacked my bags and came to Chile to teach English at an institute for one year. I met Carlos halfway through that year and it was love at first sight! One thing led to the other and here I am.

Después de vivir en España durante 4 años, decidí que era hora de una nueva aventura, hice las maletas y vine a Chile a enseñar inglés en un instituto por un año. Conocí a Carlos a la mitad de ese año y fue amor a primera vista. Una cosa llevó a la otra y aquí estoy.

photos of Adel
Photo of Adel

What made you start your own business/Que te hizo comenzar tu propio negocio?

I ALWAYS wanted to have a bakery. When I was a kid my Barbie dolls even had a bakery.  Because the one cent coin in South Africa is really brown and small, I used to pretend it was my Barbies´ chocolate cookies. I didn´t play house house when I was little, I just pretended to have a bakery. When I was in South Africa in March 2016, I was watching TV while visiting my family when Carlos called me and asked to  check a specific website. It was La Coetzina. He bought a web domain, came up with the name and surprised me.

SIEMPRE quise tener una panadería. Incluso mis Barbies, cuando era niña,tenían una panadería. Jugaba con las pequeñas monedas sudáfricanas, pretendiendo que eran galletas de mis muñecas.  Por lo tanto siempre ha sido mi sueño.  Estuve en Sudáfrica en Marzo de 2016 viendo televisión mientras visitaba a mi familia, cuando Carlos me llamó y me pidió que revisara un sitio web específico. Fue La Coetzina. Se le ocurrió el nombre, compro el sitio web y eso me sorprendió mucho.

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Cranberry, raisin, apple, cherry, cinnamon and rum filled mince pies, all wrapped up in sweet pastry.  $10,000 for 12

What is your favorite thing to make/ Cual es tu preparacion favorita?

Orange cake. I love raw batter and I always leave the mixing bowl in the fridge to enjoy scraping out after the long days work – honestly! The most time consuming would be koeksisters – they are a lot of work.  First I make the dough, then knead it for twenty minutes. Then I let it sit for an hour, roll it out and cut out three fingers for each, which I then plait and fry. I then make the syrup, dunk them in and finally – voila!

Pastel de naranja. Me encanta la masa cruda y siempre dejo el tazón en la nevera para disfrutar de los raspados después de los largos días de trabajo. ¡Honestamente! Los que consumen más tiempo son los koeksisters, son mucho trabajo. Primero hago la masa, luego la amaso durante veinte minutos. Luego lo dejo reposar durante una hora, lo extiendo, lo corto en tres dedos cada uno, y luego los trenzo y los frio. Luego hago el jarabe, los meto en el agua y, finalmente, esta listo!

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Orange Cake $14,000

What is your bestseller/ Cual es el producto mas vendido?

Beetroot chocolate cake!!! Pureed beetroot gives the cake a wonderful moist and velvety texture without tasting the beets at all – NO lies. It´s just 60% beets, cacao amargo and some other ingredients, all vegan, and drenched in fudge frosting or ganache. I put a super amount of icing on cakes because – how else? Everyone that has tried this cake has fallen in love instantly with it and swears its their favorite.

Pastel de chocolate de beterraga !!! La beterraga pura le da al pastel una maravillosa textura húmeda y aterciopelada sin probar la beterraga. Sin mentiras. 60% de beterraga, cacao amargo y algunos otros ingredientes, todos veganos. Empapado en fudge frosting o ganache. Puse una gran cantidad de glaseado en tortas. ¿De que otra forma? Cualquiera que haya probado este pastel se ha enamorado de él al instante y jura que es su favorito.

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Beetroot Choc Cake. Price between $18,000-$30,000 depending on size

Your business is based around South African pies and pastries. What are some typical yummy things we could try from there/ Tu panaderia se basa en productos sudafricanos. Que producto tradicional puedes recomendarnos?

Koeksisters, which are a South African pastry dipped in lemon and ginger syrup.  Bobotie is a meat dish consisting of ground beef mixed with lots of raisins, spices and curry topped with egg custard and served with rice, chutney and coconut (both below).

Koeksisters es un pastel tradicional que es sumergido en un jarabe de limon y jengibre. Bobotie es un plato que consiste de carne molida mezclada con pasas, especies y curry con crema pastelera y servido con arroz, chutney y coco.

What does ´La Coetzina´ mean/ Que significa La Coetzina?

It is a mix of my surname, Coetzee, and cocina (kitchen in Spanish).

Es una mezcla de mi apellido, Coetzee, y la palabra cocina.

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Traditional Mince Lasagna $24,000

What do you miss from South Africa and what do you like about living in Chile/ Que extrañas de Sudafrica y que te gusta sobre Chile?

I miss the people – loud, funny and witty with a dash of sarcasm. In Chile I love all the fresh produce, especially the ferias (markets) and La Vega, any chef´s dream.

Extraño la gente reuidosa y chistosa con un toque de sarcasmo. En Chile me gusta la variedad de frutos y vegetales frescos, especialmente las ferias y La Vega, el sueño de un chef.

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Frikadelle (South African meatballs) $8000

Where is your favorite place in Chile/ Cual es tu lugar favorito en Chile?

Tirana (town) when La Tirana festival is on.

El pueblo de la Tirana durante la festividad.

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Salted Caramel Cupcakes (6) $12,000

Do you have a favorite food spot/ Tienes un lugar preferido para comida?

Nothing in particular, although I love the rooftop restaurants in Valparaiso where Carlos is from. My favorite food is Mote con Heusillo at any street feria, eating and drinking while browsing. The best combination.

Nada en particular, pero me gustan los restaurantes con terrazas en Valparaiso, de donde Carlos proviene. Me gusta tomar Mote con Huesillo en la feria.

What is next for La Coetzina/ Cual es el futuro para La Coetzina?

To have a shop or not have a shop, that is the big question. La Coetzina is doing so well online that I´m tied. A little cafeteria would be ideal because at the moment you can only order half or full portions of my food, and delivery is only on Fridays. I can issue boletas and facturas, and I have a kitchen assistant. I think the next step would be to have more delivery days, expand here at home and then see if I still want to open a shop.

Tener o no una tienda, esa es la gran pregunta. Hemos tenido tanto exito online que no estamos seguros de abrir una tienda. Una pequeña cafeteria seria ideal porque en este momento solo si pueden comprar porciones grandes, y despacho es solo los Viernes. Puedo dar boletas y facturas, y tambien tengo un asistente de cocina.  El proximo paso sera establecer mas dias de despacho, expandir mi trabajo en casa y despues ver si la posibilidad de una tienda.

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English Muffins $800 c/u

Christmas/Navidad!!

Cut-off date for Christmas orders is the 15 December

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Pan de Pascua with buttercream glaze $12,000
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Hot Cross Buns $12,000
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Gingerbread men (8) $4000
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Gingerbread Houses $850 c/u
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More posts for foodies:

the salt of Cahuil;

wild food at Silvestre Bistro;

vegetarian and vegan food at La Fraternal;

Restaurant Casa Luz review;

Australian tukka at Jimbo´s Pie Shop;
Vietnamese fare at Rico Saigon Cafe;
Chinese restaurant Foodlays;

Little North Roadtrip: Copiapo, Desierto Florido, Bahia Inglesa

Copiapo

From here the Atacama Desert begins, a barren expanse that stretches to the North and whose stark hills of sandy brown and beige peer downwards  menacingly. As cities go, Copiapo itself is an oasis of green with surprising touches of quality not found in the capital: there are sunshades over children´s playgrounds (of which there are many), colourful apartment blocks with swimming pools, and numerous small plazas dotted with flowers, sculptures and statues.  There is an air of prosperity here, not unusual considering that it has grown from the Earth´s staggering bounty, first from the discovery of silver in nearby Chañarcillo (1832) and today from copper, of which Chile is the largest producer.

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Looking down at the highway to Bahia Inglesa, from 500m up

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Copiapo is the largest settlement between La Serena and Antofogasta, so it sees quite a bit of traffic.  Nothing can really prepare you for just how big Chile is, its gigantic length marring even the most dedicated roadtrippers´ intentions. Copiapo makes a good base to daytrip to the Pan de Azucar national park, the tiny beachside resort of Bahia Inglesa, the larger port of Caldera, or Llanos de Challe national park.

However, Copiapo has a few sights of its own, particularly if you are into history.

This was the site of South America´s first railroad (1852) which ran to the sea at Caldera, Chile´s first telephone lines, its first telegraph lines, and first gas works (Lonely Planet 2009).  When the silver was discovered at Chañarcillo, entreupeneurs flocked north to take advantage of this, running mines staffed by workers paid only in store credit while building for themselves huge estates called haciendas.  The mine went on to become the third largest silver mine in the world.

There are two places where you can soak up history and learn more about mining. The first is Nantoco, a mapundungun word that means ¨water of the well¨. In case you are wondering how the Mapuche influenced so far north, the reason is because many were brought to work in the mines by the Spanish and many local names have lingered until today, such as nantoco and Huasco (gold river). This town was a pocket of wealth in the area and home to many of the wealthy families that made their money mining, including the Cousiño´s and the Subercaseaux.  Today the town is a National Monument which you can visit to see its 19th century church, silver/copper smelter and the former estate of Apolinario Soto (dating back to 1870).

The second place is Viña del Cerro which is an extremely interesting spot 64km from Copiapo that dates back to the 15th and 16th centuries.  Here the Incas had a copper foundry that the Diaguita people used to pay their tribute to the empire. The ceremonial platform and ovens are still visible today.

There are also two excellent museums: the Mineralogical Museum, with more than 2300 materials on display, and the Museo Regional de Atacama, which includes a mine replica.

For nightlife, head to Barrio Alameda and to eat stop at Govinda´s, a casual vegetarian/vegan spot with a kids play area and regular yoga sessions for adults and kids.

Bahia Inglesa

Blink-and-you´ll-miss-it Bahia Inglesa is a tiny settlement overlooking a bay broken by picturesque rocks. This place really does look the way it does in pictures – its water really is that turquoise and the sand really is that white. The waves are tiny and the water is shallow, meaning that this beach is more like a swimming pool, hence the name ¨La Piscina¨.  It is perfect for children, hopeful Instagrammers and those who want to combine their beach visit with delicious food, because it also happens that it has some of the best seaside restaurants in all of Chile (visit ´El Plataeo´).

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The beachfront is lined by scuba diving outfits and souvenir stalls selling shell-laden wares. On either side of the rocks the beach stretches on, and __ in particular is particularly stunning and generally much quieter than Bahia Inglesa, and without all the shops.  This entire area is a sliver of paradise that bears more resemblance to a coastal New Zealand town than anything I have encountered so far in Chile, the only downside being that the beach itself could be cleaner – on our visit the beautiful sand was interrupted with as many cigarette butts as shells and I even found broken glass in places.

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Still completely in love with my Karun sunnies (made from recycled fishing nets) and my La Pituka leggings!

Caldera

Caldera is a large town with all the facilities you´d expect, including banks in case you run out of cash (like us!).  While it is nothing pretty to look at, it does have an absolutely gorgeous church, a plaza de armas that is full of playgrounds, a paleontology museum and a pelican-lined pier that will amuse children, as well as a sandy beach.

Vallenar

Cobbled roads, colourful houses that peer down from the hills and a roaring river awaits you in this large town known primarily for (you guessed it) mining.  While there is nothing much to do beside loll about the pretty central plaza, there are plenty of hotels and restaurants serving colaciones. As in most mining towns where the people have money to throw around, there are plenty of bars and casinos.

The link below is not technically about Vallenar, but the town features in the song and I´ve been looking for the opportunity to include this version.  The song is originally by acclaimed songwriter and nueva cancion Chilena pioneer, Violeta Parra. This version is by musician Karla Grunewaldt, and I think it perfectly captures the heartbreak of the song. The raw lyrics break my heart, as it details the journey north of Parra´s lover, which consequently ended their relationship.

Domeyko

A tiny mining settlement just off the highway, this charming settlement does not warrant a stop unless you need to take a break from all the monotonous driving (although to be fair, the semi-arid scenery around here is unusually stunning). Domeyko does not have a petrol station but there are vendors if you ask around (like we did!).  A lot of the gardens and squares have been beautified with old mining relics which up the charm factor here.

Desierto Florido

Although you can turn off to the Llanos de Challe national park to be swamped in the scientifically bizarre ¨flowering dessert¨, you can also see stretches of it from the highway as you travel north.  This year we had quite a bit of rain, so there were lots of flowers.  Inside Llanos de Challe you have the chance to uncover some of the world´s rarest flowers, including the Garra de Leon.  There are some 220 species of plants here – of which 206 are native to Chile and 14 are found only in Chile.  The garra de leon and the napina are classed as endangered and are almost extinct so count yourself blessed if you spot one! You might also see one of the many guanacos that call the park home, as well as peregrine falcons and foxes.

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Fields as far as the eye can see of pata de guanaco.

Did you like this? Have a look at:

my favorite Chilean clothing businesss, La Pituka;

sunglasses that look at the world ¨from a different perspective¨, Karun;

the unique story of Sewell and mining in Chile;

the town of Ovalle in El Norte Chico;

Humboldt penguin hotspot, Punta de Choros;

the story of Violeta Parra, and four other Chilean icons.

 

A Snowy Santiago

We woke from our slumber to the sound of shrieks and squeals of delight piercing the usual quiet of the early morning. Outside our windows, children were jumping up with arms outstretched to catch the lightly falling snowflakes, touching down on hair that had never before felt its icy touch.  The dark sky looked as though it had been painted, shafts of pink and white blurring together to create something that was at times beautiful but at other times surreal and eerie.

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Photo: Yorka Abarca

The snow that fell in the wee hours of the 15th July was something of a rare occurrence. It certainly had not snowed in recent memory here in Recoleta. According to the website Weather, snow is ¨slightly more common than snow in Los Angeles.  The two cities are at similar latitudes, surrounded by mountains and bordered by water to the west¨.  As a result (in typical Santiago fashion given it also can´t cope with rain) the city nearly fell apart. A worker died trying to clear ice, others were injured by a fallen power line while – mindbogglingly – 337,000 were hit by power cuts, lasting for days in some areas.  My friend Yorka (with the mad photography skills) was at the Bahai Temple in Peñalolen, and reports that some 9,000 people showed up to enjoy the snow there … and destroyed the temple gardens and facilities in the process resulting in temple closure.

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Photo: Yorka Abarca

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Photo: Yorka Abarca
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Photo: Yorka Abarca
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Photo: Yorka Abarca

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Photo: Yorka Abarca

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