This year, I made a conscious effort to buy local, and I would say that about 80% of my Christmas shopping this year ended up being gifts made in Chile. This drive to support small has been all over the internet lately, particularly on Instagram, where a whole movement has started using the hashtag #prefierochileno. To read why to support local, read my Directory of Local Businesses where I whip out a few facts to convince you.
Check out websites Bendito and Creado en Chile to browse an assorted collection of locally made gifts, and don´t forget to use the hashtag when you share your photos! You can also visit markets such as Mercado Mastica and places such as Barrio Italia (my favorite place in the world) and Pueblito Los Dominicos. The following list of my favorite businesses are either ones I have personally bought from or that are on my radar, and all meet either made in Chile, designed in Chile or based in Chile criteria.
Let´s Go Christmas Shopping!!
Painstakingly intricate maps, cushions and other trinkets handpainted by dedicated local artists at Mappin.
2) Beautiful scarves, socks, bibs for adults and children by Vuelvo al Sur.
3) The LeoLibros book set, a varied collection of short stories in Spanish that seek to encourage a love of reading that will last a lifetime, by Editorial Dansema.
4) Stackable crayons made for little hands that are non-toxic and won´t stain (or permanently mark your walls)? Sounds like an amazing gift for the whee ones! Visit Hello Kiddo to get your hands on a set of Playon Crayons. Photos by Hello Kiddo.
5) Beautiful furniture made in Santiago by Blom and made with local materials including Lingue, Coigue and Encina. I am coveting everything especially their headboards. All photos by Blom.
6) 7 Colores is a recent discovery, and one of the finds that has most impressed me during my time in Chile. This small shop is in Barrio Italia and is the most beautiful treasure trove of handpainted gifts, all featuring Chilean flora and fauna. Staff are incredibly passionate about animals and they even publish their own wildlife magazine (in Spanish only); their goal is a simple one: to introduce Chile´s creatures and plants to the people and inspire their love and respect.
7) OBOLO chocolate have just opened their store in Barrio Italia, and here you also can see them making their delicious organic creations through the window that peeps into the factory. OBOLO, which is the creation of Mark Gerrits (USA) and his (Chilean) wife, is a wonderful example of how a business can create opportunities and deliver an excellent product; OBOLO is winning awards all over the world and produces only 70% cacao creations, sourced from small-scale growers in Peru that Mark has worked with for years. All photos by OBOLO Chocolate.
8) One of my favorite businesses of all time would be Karun, which designs sunglasses made recycled jeans and fishing nets cleared from Chilean coastlines. Read more about their business here.
9) TTANTI watches made from fallen trees in Patagonia. These are luxury, quality timepieces that suit both men and women.
10) Ñirre Bebe is the work of a mum from Southern Chile, and her clothes for children are stunning. E is now completely in love with the zorro/ñirre/fox. Read my interview here.
11) La Pituka is my favorite business in Chile. I love to exercise in their leggings, I also love to go to work with them on, and I love that now they are offering Chile-themed designs as well. They also make tshirts, underwear, sweatshirts and socks – kids included.
12) Apicola del Alba is my go-to for Made in Chile (in Curacavi!) skincare. I use the face moisturiser every day and also their chamomile-based shampoo. They make various things including aromatherapy oils and vitamins.
13) Ramonas are beautifully-designed shoes for women (how I´d love a pair of their boots, Santa!) that are sold in Paris (Parque Arauco), the local fashion store Paes (Centro Comercial Lo Castillo, local 206) and via social media. These are cult favorite shoes so get a pair now! Photos: Ramonas
14) La Coetzina you may remember from my blog the other day, but Adel gets another shout out because her things make me drool, seriously. I can´t wait to get my order in time for Christmas next week!! Photos by La Coetzina.
15) Attilio & Mochi is a small, independent vineyard located on the way to Tunquen and the creation of passionate winemakers, Angela and Marcos. Their range of wines perfectly encapsulate the spirit of the area and they also do tours and tastings if you want to make an afternoon of it.
16) Kruz Toca Madera is where I am (pretty sure) my Christmas present will be coming from this year. These products are made in Chile using wood from fallen trees, they don´t use any plastic and plant a tree for every tree they use as part of their endeavour to make Patagonia clean and green. Photos: Kruz Toca Madera.
17) Olive oil from Oro de Torca, a small family-run farm based near Laguna Torca, makes for one of the best gifts for foodies – they are even classed as the best fine olive oil in the Southern Hemisphere (Sol DÓro gold medal winner). As an aside, they are also hosting Camp MakeMake which looks to be an amazing experience for kids this summer!
18) Hubbard & Smith sausages are made with love and care by Kate Smith. She follows traditional recipes and offers Cumberland sausages, Hot Italian, English Breakfast and more, as well as bacon and ham. Photos: Hubbard and Smith.
19) RM Arte y Deco is a store that I stumbled upon in Barrio Italia and just loved. Staffed by the artist, Raul Montecino himself, there are beautiful paintings, laminated copies and tshirts he has stamped with his designs.
20) Pajarito de Mimbre creates stories, toys and gifts based upon the animals of Chile. In our house we love El Large Viaje del Pequeño Pudu, a book that is as much educational as it is fun. Photos: Pajarito de Mimbre
21) Last on the list but equally deserving of mention, is Woligu, a new venture of handmade leather straps for cameras and guitars. Send a WhatsApp to: +56991377445
Did you like this? Give me some love if you did!! Please share your photos to Instagram using the hashtag #prefierochileno and don´t forget to let me know of any other businesses to check out! Finally have a WONDERFUL Christmas – thank you all for reading!!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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”.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 …
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Cut-off date for Christmas orders is the 15 December
Each Spring a wonderful event happens: the annual open day at the Club de Planeadores (Aerodromo) de Vitacura. Normally a private spot for pilots, it transforms every November into an all-day extravaganza for the whole family. From helicopters you can hop into and explore, gliders, small planes and stands featuring all of Chile´s armed forces, the free event caters to all aviation fanatics from about 10am until around 6pm. This year there were hourly shows and even helicopter rides on offer too, from $20,000 for 20 minutes in the sky.
We really enjoyed learning about the SSOT Project (Sistema Satelital de Observacion de la Tierra) which is operated by the Chilean Air Force (Fuerza Aerea de Chile). The project has put a satellite developed by ASTRIUM (France) into the atmosphere above Chile to monitor and (eventually) predict trends across the areas most pertinent to Chile, namely, volcanic activity, seismic activity, forest fires and land mapping. Find out more here.
Tip: there isn´t much shade so come prepared with hats and sunblock, and this year none of the food trucks sold water (only soft drinks).
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.
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.
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´).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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;
After La Serena the road curls around an undulating landscape dotted with cacti. Behind us the road twists like a snake – to the side is the sea, a dark blue expanse with frothy white tips and as we drive we pass by windswept townships hugging the hills as if for dear life.
We were on our way to Punta de Choros, jump off point to visit the Reserva Nacional Pinguino de Humboldt, home to one of only a few colonies of the endangered Humboldt Penguin and a must-see attraction according to the guidebooks. It´s also home to a rich variety of seabirds such as comorants, boobies and gulls as well as sea-lions, sea otters and (frequently sighted) bottlenose dolphins and whales. The reserve – some 860 hectares managed by CONAF – is visited by boats staffed by local fishermen-turned-tour guides, and trips take you to the penguin stronghold of Isla Choros as well as Isla Damas, a smaller island with two beautiful white sand beaches.
We have been extremely excited about visiting because it is one of the last places to see the Humboldt Penguin, a cute little guy with a spotted chest and thick beak, that breeds along the coasts of Chile and Peru. There are only about 32,000 penguins left, a shocking statistic that places them in danger of extinction. Their population has taken a hit due to:
Commercial Fishing – entanglement in fishing nets; decline of their main prey (sardines + anchovies)
Prey fluctuations due to the effects of El Niño
Introduction of pests (such as rats) and predators (Andean Fox);
illegal trade (zoos and as pets)
Human consumption (Northern Chile only)
Industrial development such as mining; Punta de Choros is currently protesting of the Dominga mining project in motion for the area.
Habitat destruction due to coastal development
Habitat destruction due to the mining of guano by increasing mortality due to nest trampling and direct harvest
Chile has sought to better the odds by making reserves such as this one as well as eradicating rabbits from the island of Isla Choros; Santiago´s National Zoo also has a program to hatch abandoned eggs. However there is one more issue facing the penguins today more than any other, and that is the effect of tourist visitation. Penguins are extremely sensitive and not only do visitors trample their breeding sites, but they also deter them from breeding, meaning that any decision to visit the reserve comes with an ethical price to pay, particularly as Conaf has reported that other wildlife populations have suffered as well. This has become such a pressing issue that my 2009 8th edition of Lonely Planet dissuades tourists from disembarking at Isla Damas.
We turn off the highway and head down an axle-breaking dirt road towards Los Choros, a blink and you´ll miss it cluster of dusty houses in an area that dates back to the 1600´s and the early arrival of the Spanish settlers. This dry peninsula is one of the premier producers of Chilean olive oil and just outside the township there are family-run olive tree farms, where you can stop to pick up a bottle of olive oil, handmade extra virgin soap, locally sourced salt and even learn about the production process.
After Los Choros the dirt road continues past cabañas, sparsely placed along the way, until you arrive into Punta de Choros. Punta de Choros is nothing to look at – in fact most of the cabañas are basic affairs, with the restaurants serving up average (and below) food. There are two wharfs where tour boats embark from, and these were swarming with oblivious daytrippers and touts of the more aggressive variety. It was also extremely cold and windy, despite the fact that just a few hours before we´d been basking beneath the warm rays of La Serena´s sun. These winds haunted our stay, blowing and banging around our windows at night and forcing us back into our winter jackets and merino layers – and ultimately deterred us from our ocean trip: all boat were prohibited by the Navy from leaving the jetty.
We did make several trips to the neighboring beaches as the coastal scenery is both stunning and dramatic all white silky sand dunes and rocky outcrops. Spring – and this year´s unusual volume of rainfall – had prompted a staggering array of plants, flowers and insects which blossomed in every direction, creating a rich tapestry of reds, greens and yellows.
We were also lucky enough to see two herds of wild guanacos grazing near the roadside which was simply extraordinary.
We had a chat with local fisherman Freddy, who identified himself as part of the Chango indigenous group, which many sources label as extinct. ´Chango´ was a term given to the nomadic people that lived between Copiapo and Coquimbo that survived mainly on seafood. Freddy told us about his grandparents, who´d grown up living in makeshift portable houses that they moved along the coast, hunting guanacos and living off of goats and mariscos. When Freddy was a boy he dived beside mountains of locos(Chilean Abalone), a molusc that Chile highly prizes and which is strictly regulated by the state body of fisheries, Sernapesca. Today, this loco bounty no longer exists, although Punta de Choros irks much of its living from their extraction, making it one of the principal producers; each year 150 people are permitted a haul of 3000.
We hightailed it out of Punta de Choros with a few litres of Olive Oil and feeling slightly disappointed but also relieved at not having to make the ethical decision to visit the reserve. We were also excited to continue another 4 hours to the north, to the city of Copiapo and the start of the Atacama Desert.
Pictures below are of the Desierto Florido visible from the highway an hour or so after leaving Punta de Choros.
Where We Stayed
We rented a cabaña for two night on either side of our drive north. We used the services of Turismo Punta Choros, the more successful tour operator in the area. The cabañas were nothing amazing and certainly not five star, with dated decor and furniture BUT everything worked well, we had a kitchen, plenty of blankets, cable TV, parking, and hot water. I did stop at Cabañas Amarilis to chat with their owners and I highly recommend them. The cabins were lovely, centrally located with breakfast and wifi included in the rate.
The Nitty Gritty
Bring cash as there are no cash machines and very few places accept credit cards.
The road is NOT paved and very bumpy – we lost a tyre!
September and October are the worst months to visit the reserve as there are high winds and turbulent seas
Very busy on weekends, public holidays and in summer so book well in advance
In 2014 I remember a disgusting pizza, a delicious juice made of papayas and sleeping on a rockhard hostel mattress with an unimpressed baby. Oh and I narrowly avoided being pickpocketed too, apparently.
That was three years ago. Fast forward to 2017 and I didn´t much relish the prospect of returning to the mining town, despite this time being paid to do so. However I am now a guidebook writer and so one must weed through the bad in order to find something good.
And in 2017´s Ovalle, there is plenty of the good stuff.
There is the Valle del Encanto, for starters, a barren valley punctuated with rock art known as petroglyphs, made most likely by the El Molle people between 200-700AD. There are also clusters of piedras tacitas, holes in the rockbed floor (you may remember Chile has the biggest site of these at Cerro Blanco), and a cavernous opening believed to have been used for bathing. The canyon is also home to the loica (Long-Tailed Meadowlark), liebre (the European Hare, introduced as a game animal) and the degu, an inquisitive rodent endemic to Chile, among others.
Nearby the Valle del Encanto is the Viña Tabali and the Termas de Socos thermal spring resort, and all of these are part of the Limari Valley. This region is where the majority of Chile´s muscat grapes are grown and harvested to make pisco by the country´s largest pisqueras,Capel and Control (look out for the ¨armed guards¨ signs at the orchard entrances!). The valley is achingly beautiful, much wider than its sister valley, the Elqui, but nowhere near as touristic . As we drove around the sharp bends beside the Embalse Recoleta and over the wide rivers, we were really struck by how few cabañas and restaurants we saw.
It is in the heart of this valley (and quite a drive so be sure to check opening times before you leave) that you will find the Monumento Nacional Pichasca, a dry reserve containing the remains of a petrified forest and more petroglyphs.
The Plaza de Armas of Ovalle is interesting enough, but the real must-see of the town is the Museo del Limari which houses a small but impressive collection of artefacts found in the local area. The pieces date back to the Diaguitas (1000-1536AD), Las Animas (800-1000AD), el Molle (200-700AD) and the Huentelauquen (1000-5000BC). The museum is also housed in the former railway station, one of the first in South America.
Outside the Feria Modelo there is an original carriage which is open to visit when the Feria is open.
Where We Stayed
We stayed at Ovalle Suite Hostal Boutique a new addition in Ovalle and right in the center of town just a block from the Plaza de Armas. For clp$40,000 we had a super king bed, breakfast, wifi and the most glorious shower – there were TWO showerheads and it was divine!!
Stop by the Fray Jorge national park, a luscious green oddity amongst the semi-arid landscape, for a picnic or do as we did (because Fray Jorge close at 13.30) and take a break at the Laguna Conchali on the outskirts of Los Vilos. This wetland is a great place to look for birds including (for you Dad!) the Chiloe Wigeon.
Stay tuned for the next installment chronicling our trip to El Norte Chico! Follow me on Instagram to see my favorite photos from the road – vlog coming soon!
The gate of this farm is colossal – and no wonder, considering that inside is one of the world´s leading alpaca farms. In front, there are alfalfa fields as far as the eye can see, right up to the looming hills that characterize so much of Chile. On the day we visited, these fields were being harvested for the alpacas to eat, the tractors rolling over the proud grasses with a gentle hum.
Upon entering the farm, it is clear that the alpaca is the star. You see them straight away, dainty heads upon tall necks peering over the low fences that corral them in to their paddocks and stables, their eyes alert and docile beneath lustrous lashes. Maria Herlinda de la Garza is the operator of the farm, first pulled into the alpaca world by her then-employer, grocery store mogul, Charlie Fitzmorris, who owned an alpaca farm in Chile and wanted to export to the United States. After his death, Maria decided to continue working with alpacas because, as she writes on the website, ¨I had fallen in love with Alpacas and their amazing fiber … Their fleece has become my passion¨.
Quintessence was the result, a success by all definitions of the word, that today exports to some 15 countries around the globe. They have bred some of the finest animals in the world, and have processed their fibres down to a shocking 12.5 microns, a measurement that is incredibly fine.
According to their website, Quintessence aims to ¨to create a social responsible and sustainable company that will safe guard the environment while creating community jobs among local women and men of great skill and experience in this sector of the industry.¨
A tour of the farm can be in English or Spanish, and takes you around the entire grounds including the mill, culminating in the store which contains clothes, accessories and wool processed and created on the farm.
What IS an alpaca?
There are two breeds of this South American camelid that closely resemble their more familiar – and larger – cousin, the llama. Unlike the llama, they were never domesticated to do heavy duty as a beast of burden but instead have always prized for their fibre, which comes in an astonishing 52 natural colors (as classified in Peru) and their meat. Their fibre (it is not called wool) contains no lanolin and is famed for its soft and luxurious quality that is somewhat akin to hair. The process for obtaining the fibre is similar to getting sheep wool, and the animals are sheared each spring; adults produce between 1420-2550 grams of fine quality fibre and then around 1420–2840 grams of second and third quality fibre. After being shorn, the fibre is selected due to its color, size and quality, then all its impurities are removed. It is then washed, spun and dyed with cochinilla, or natural dye. Interestingly, alpacas never overgraze, and consume around 75% less food and water each day than cows and horses. They also traditionally live side by side with the Quechua and Aymara people, and this co-dependence is said to be one of perfect balance.
Warm, thanks to microscopic air particles that provide insulation suitable for all weather because it breathes.
Light, thanks again to those microscopic air particles.
Strong, because the alpaca is accustomed to living in an extreme environment (the Andes mountains) and this passes over into its fleece, making it last longer than most other fabrics like wool, cashmere and silk.
Luxurious in texture, a product of its environment, that is soft and comforting. Amazingly, the alpaca fibre can be processed without any chemicals.
La Campana National Park, the place where you can find yourself walking beneath endangered Chilean Palms, rustling some 40m above like tantalizing dinosaur food, each one hundreds of years old (and my personal favorite).
Winter in Santiago just makes me feel so blah. The sky is grey, the houses are freezing (most don´t have insulation) and in general there is a feel of waiting in the air … waiting for warmer days, longer evenings and las fiestas patrias. My absolute favorite month in Chile is September; if you are new to the city, just you wait – soon the sky will be a deep cloudless blue, dotted with volantines and the sound of flags flapping. This is the month when the sun begins creeping out for longer and longer, when the nights fill with the sound of music and laughter, when you can finally show the world some skin and banish those heavy jackets to that forgotten corner of your bedroom.
I cannot wait to say goodbye to winter, not least because I am one of those people that really suffer without a daily dose of sunshine. The weather mixed with post-partum hormones and a pretty isolated life has meant that I have been incredibly gloomy lately. In an attempt to lift my dark mood, I have been taking advantage of the Estadio Recoleta, not really a stadium these days but a smidge of greenery in an otherwise urban landscape that people use for their sporting needs. The Recoleta council (municipalidad) also offer a smorgasboard of free exercise classes every day, from Samba to Step, pilates and yoga. There are also paid classes too, including tae kwon do and swimming. I have been going to Zumba, held in the morning every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and in the afternoon and evening on Tuesday and Thursday.
According to the internet, Zumba is a dance craze beloved of some 15 million people across 180 countries. It was created in the 1990´s by Alberto Perez in Colombia, and contains elements of cumbia, salsa, samba, reggaeton, hiphop, merengue, mambo, chachacha, soca and axe. Although a typical class, which is around an hour long, involves things like squats and aerobics, it doesn´t feel like exercise at all – it is dance. It is also crazy fun. Since I have been going to Zumba it feels like a huge pressure has been lifted from my mind, and I highly recommend giving it a go. The problem when you exercise is that you need something to wear, something that does the job and holds everything in place. What about if you could find gear that did that, but that also had some flair and personality? The athleisure market is flooded with designs to make you look good but these often come with a high price point, and are often made in sweatshops or overseas. This just doesn´t fly with me, particularly because I am all about supporting small businesses and things made in Chile. But the search isn´t futile!!! There are options and here I present to you one of them, La Pituka, who create beautiful leggings and other items right here in Chile.
Ten Questions with Tienda La Pituka
Who is La Pituka/Quien es La Pituka?
We are two partners, a mother and daughter team comprised of Soledad Herrera, publicist, and Alejandra Bianchi, photographer.
Somos dos socias, madre (Soledad Herrera Amigo, Publicista) e hija (yo, Alejandra Bianchi Herrera, Fotógrafa).
Why did you start the store/Por que hiciste la tienda?
We started with the underwear as it was something that we saw overseas but didn´t exist here in Chile! There was only things cut by laser without a design, and so we began investigating how to make clothes and stamp it. In 2011 we started our store in Barrio Italia where we sold things like necklaces, rings and hair accessories, all made by hand.
Comenzamos con la ropa interior ya que fue un producto que vimos en otro país y en Chile no existía!!!, solo la ropa de corte láser sin diseño… entonces comenzamos a investigar como hacer la ropa y estamparla… mientras tanto comenzaba la tienda La Pituka ( año 2011) en Barrio Italia vendiendo accesorios hechos a mano (collares, aros, tocados…)
Which are you favorite products/Cuales son tus productos favoritos?
The leggings – they are so comfortable, great to go out in, to wear while walking, or sports or for yoga or pilates.
Las calzas … es que son muy cómodas, geniales para salir a caminar o para deportes y yoga o pilates.
What is your bestseller/Cual diseño que lo que mas se vende?
Generally that would be the designs which are very feminine, with lots of flowers and color, although the Rupturistas have been popular, such as the collage with matryoshka nesting dolls (below) or the asymmetric designs with one leg different to the other. The idea is that we make a certain amount using one design and then later we discontinue it.
Generalmente son diseños más bien femeninos, con harta flor y colorido, aunque los rupturistas también tienen buena acogida como un colage con matrioshkas que realizamos hace un tiempo ( o los diseños asimétricos, como una pierna diferente a la otra), el tema es que hacemos cierta cantidad con un diseño y luego lo descontinuamos… esa es la idea.
How can people buy and where/Como podemos comprar y donde?
Through our Facebook page, where we can post to anywhere in Chile, and we are currently working on having a ´buy now´ option on our website. Physically we are based in Pucon and in Santiago we will have a store in Barrio Italia, opening at the end of August.
What makes your products special/Por que son especiales tus productos?
Each item is made by hand, with affection, and we put a lot of thought into choosing the best fabrics and making sure that we give work to Chilean women.
Por que están hechos uno a uno con total cariño, nos preocupamos de elegir las mejores telas Chilenas y de dar trabajo a mujeres Chilenas en su confección.
Now for the general question that I ask everyone! Where is your favorite spot in the capital, Santiago/Cual es tu lugar favorito en Santiago?
Outside of the city, in the Cajon del Maipo.
Afuera de la ciudad, en el Cajon del Maipo.
And in all of Chile/Cual es tu lugar favorito en Chile?