French Guiana: A Place of Jungle & Birds

Several years ago, I remember having a heated discussion with some Latino friends over the existence of Suriname, Guyana and French Guiana, three South American countries that seem to have escaped the backpacking trail and – evidently – common mainstream memory.  So when I found out that my colleague, Guillaume Doerig, used to actually live in French Guiana, my travel senses began to tingle and I just had to wrangle him into sharing his stories.  This overseas department of France is roughly one-third the size of Ecuador with a human population of just 200,000 on land that stretches for 84,000km2. If there was ever a place to put on your 2018/2019 travel list, it should surely be French Guiana, the land of jungle!


French Guiana with Guillaume

Hi Guillaume! French Guiana is a place that I know almost nothing about, speaking as a New Zealander, so I am curious to know what made you leave Australia and why you chose French Guiana?

It stems from a personal reason. I was at uni in Melbourne, studying zoology, and I just found it so boring – I just wanted to get out.  I was a bit ´anti-institution´ a few years ago and I just thought, ¨I’ve got the whole world to choose from – where can I go?¨  I have a  British passport as my Mum’s English, a Swiss one because my Dad is Swiss, and a French one as I was born in France. So France used to be a big empire, with colonies all over the world, and I thought ¨what about French Guiana?¨  It’s in the Amazonian rainforest and the birds are drop-dead amazing, so I saved up and bought a 1-way ticket. This was in 2016, when I was 19.

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That is amazing! So you went to Cayenne, the capital. What was it like?

I was in Cayenne from March until the beginning of November. It was unlike anything I had known before, coming from Melbourne, and it was the first time I’d ever set foot in South America. Guiana is a department of France that has been neglected by the State a bit, and that is reflected in the infrastructure.  Physically the climate is tropical and just heavy with moisture, with a warm ocean. They don’t have four seasons either, just the wet and the dry.  Everywhere was so green – because its jungle, you know? It’s a place of crossroads.  It has a metropolitan French influence, a Brazillian/Latin influence, and a Carribean influence because there are lots of people living there from the Caribbean islands. Its a unique mix but also very westernized. It’s also really small, so I could go to the top of the hill and see all the edges of the city.

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The beaches around Cayenne! The leatherback turtle was massive (I went to see it with the lovely family I mentioned)
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On the beach of Rémire-Montjoly, a suburb of Cayenne

How did you support yourself?

I’d had hopes of working in conservation, as part of a project, but I couldn’t find any.  I did manage to do a few excursions with GEPOG [the Study and Protection for the Birds of French Guiana] but I found nothing paid and nothing was stable.  So I hopped on my bike and gave my cv to all the restaurants, and found a job as a waiter in Bar des Palmistes, which was a hotel/bar. I made some great friends there and I am still in contact with two of them.

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Place des Palmistes

Where did you live?

My first month I was in an Air BnB.  I also found out that my Dad’s ex-colleague’s daughter lived there, so I got in touch with them.  They were the most loving family – the best – and I lived with them for a little while. I would have broken without them.  After that, I moved into a flat and shared with my landlord, Jean-Philippe. who was actually from Guadeloupe, which is a French island in the Caribbean. He had a little cat called Bagheera and that little guy was like my salvation, my best friend. He was the cutest little cat in the whole world and I miss him dearly, and I hope I get to see him again. You know, I really miss him – I’ve never felt a connection to an animal as strongly as that, so I think it’s worth mentioning.

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Bagheera the cat!

You are bilingual, with your first languages being English and French.  How did you find the language there?

The official language is French of course but – and this is a big but – a lot of the people speak Creole.  To my ears, I didn’t know anything that they were saying.

What was the food like?

There was a lot of seafood and a lot of classic French cuisine. There is a huge market in Cayenne where they sell things like fruit from the jungle.

The jungle! Did you manage to get out of Cayenne and into the jungle?

I went on a few occasions! Out in the jungle is where you find most of the Amerindian people, living as they always have, and their main method of transportation is this long, motorized canoe called a pirogue.  They go by the water because some of the places where they live, like Camopi and Saint Georges, are only accessible by water.

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This is how we slept at night! It’s too dangerous to sleep on the forest floor because of the bugs, so hammocks are necessary, along with a ‘bâche’ to protect from the rain.
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Navigating the waterways by pirogue
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At Saul, rainforest village only accessible by air
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View from Sentier du Rorota, near Cayenne
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Pure jungle.

What was is lt like?

I went to Savane-Roche Virginie and Inselberg, which is literally a big rock that goes above the canopy. When I went there I went with a group of people who were studying there, and we put up these big nets to catch all the flying insects and birds for their study.  We caught them, ringed them (which is where you tag their legs so other people know they’ve been studied) and measure them before releasing them.  It is untamed jungle – like a David Attenborough documentary.  Ever since I was a kid I would watch those programs and I’d hear this bird call when Attenborough was in the Amazon like this [imitates bird call].  That’s a Screaming Piha, this grey and drab bird with an amazing call, and when I heard that sound for myself it made me really realize where I was, and was one of the highlights from my trip. Also the howler monkeys at dawn, I was woken up by them and I remember thinking ¨Oh my god, I’m in this amazing place that few people ever see, waking up when the stars are still in the sky – this is what I live for!¨ Amazing that two of my highlights were just sounds.

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Saül airport (it’s tiny, the runway isn’t even paved!)

Everyone who knows you, Guillaume, knows how much you love birds. How did you find birdwatching in the jungle?

In the jungle, birdwatching is actually so hard.  You have to rely on your hearing, and close your eyes to finetune your senses. Bird species that I was most delighted to see would be the Great-Billed Hermit, Guianian Warbling Antbird, Cream-Coloured Woodpecker and the White-Headed Marsh Tyrant.

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In Saul, only accessible by air
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Blackish Nightjar
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Great-Billed Hermit
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I was ecstatic to be able to hold a Blackish Nightjar that was caught in the nets we put up to monitor and record data on the fauna around Savane-Roche Virginie
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Band-Rumped Swift

What about birdwatching in Cayenne?

Cayenne is a small, tropical town with some good parks, so I saw a lot of birds. Highlights would be the Blue-Grey Tanager, Great Kiskadee, Tropical Kingbird and the Black Vulture.

What else did you see in jungle? 

Oh, lots. Snakes, Great big Whip Spiders (amblypygi), big toads, massive flies, really big insects – everything is so big there because the eco-system is so rich.

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The whip spider!

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Horned Toad.

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Did you ever feel afraid?

I had some pre-conceived ideas about South America, but in general, anywhere you go you should keep your wits.  I was a waiter, finishing late, and one time I was walking home alone when someone came up to me and asked for the time. So – and I can only laugh about it now – I got my phone out and said the time. The guy said, ¨It can’t be – are you sure?¨ so I got my phone out and was like ¨here look¨ and he grabbed it! He ran and jumped on the back of a motorbike and I ran after them in my flipflops [jandals/thongs].  i just remember shaking my head afterwards and saying to myself, ¨Oh nice one, Guillaume!¨

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Beaches around Cayenne

What advice do you have for people thinking about going to French Guiana?

Be prepared for a 100% tropical climate.  In the jungle, everything gets really wet. I had my passport in my pocket and it got completely soaked – it’s like being in a sauna permanently. Also try to learn some French before you go, because people don’t speak English and only a few know basic English.

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View from the plane on the way to Saul – an ocean of trees.

Did you like this? You might be interested in reading about Emily H’s adventures in Bariloche, Argentina and Emily C’s experiences here in Chile! Above all, if you enjoyed this please give it a like and remember to subscribe to my blog to stay up to date with new posts (I have a newsletter now, too!).  If you have any interesting story you would like told, please send me an email to helen@queridarecoleta.com

 

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The Expater: Meet Luxury Lifestyle Blogger, Nina

A luxury lifestyle blog for expat women in Chile? Yes, please! This week I interview travel extraordinaire and journalist, Nina Hobson, on her successful foray into the blogging world to find out about her experiences moving to Chile and her advice to anyone looking to do the same.

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1) Who is Nina Hobson?
I grew up in Yorkshire in the UK and I’ve lived as an expat most of my life now, in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

I’m blessed with two fabulously active kids, aged two and four and I’m expecting number three to arrive sometime around August.

With a background in luxury travel, I simply adore travel and good hotels. For me, there’s something about good hotel breakfasts in particular. While having kids has made me adapt my travel plans somewhat, I’m always out exploring with or without my troop.

Things not everyone might know about me:
* I’ve been arrested, detained and narrowly avoided a deportation. What can I say, when in Africa…oops.
* I have a thing for tea and have certificates to back up my tea tasting obsession.
* I nearly joined a sect, or rather I was nearly signed up to one. My father signed me up for volunteer programme in India, but it turned out to be a rather shady sect. I guess this is why they say ‘always trust your mother’ and not your father!

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2) What brought you to Chile?
My husband was working in Nigeria and while the initial plan was for me to join him in Lagos with the kids, for various reasons we decided against the move. He secured a few other job offers, one of which was in Chile. Coincidentally I already had a few friends in Chile and I thought it seemed like a good place to live, especially with young children. Oh and I really, really like Chilean wine.

3) What lead you to create The Expater?
Ever since I was a child I’ve loved to write. I was considering writing a novel, but found it hard to dedicate myself to such a huge project. As a mum of two with a husband working in a very demanding role, I found that I couldn’t devote myself to a regular 9-5 office job and needed something more flexible to keep my brain ticking.

I also got annoyed reading travel blogs that so often missed the mark and found that lots of information for expats was rather boring, dry or just plain wrong. I saw a gap in the market for a luxury lifestyle blog for women like me, that is expat women who move around lots and enjoy life to the full despite often very challenging circumstances.

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4) What are your best tips for those looking to get into blogging?
Just get started. Like any project, it can be easy to get bogged down in the minutiae, in the finer details, and then it can be hard to get going and actually make a start. Your blog will no doubt develop and change as you go, but the main point is just to give it a go.

Having said that, I think it’s useful to think about whom your blog is for, to really identify your target reader and write for that person in mind. Whether you’re writing a personal password protected blog for close friends only, or looking to create a monetised blog to earn a living, it’s good to define the purpose of your blog from the outset.

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5) What are best tips for those looking to work in travel PR or magazine journalism?
Travel and write. It sounds straightforward enough, but basically, I mean that it’s important to demonstrate your passion for travel and/or writing. Starting a blog is one great way, or compiling a photographic bibliography, for example.

Good contacts are also essential and you might be surprised who your friends know. Don’t be afraid to go out and put the word out. I’d advise against getting too stressed about networking though. More often than not it’s an informal chat which can turn into a paid commission or job.

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6) How have you found living in Santiago?
Our flight here was a bit of a disaster – missing bags, missing flight details and very messy bureaucracy. The move into our apartment was no easier, with flooding, sick children and a pregnancy scare making it one week to remember.
However, these setbacks never made me love Chile any less. On the contrary, I think Chile is a fantastic place to bring up children. The standards of medical care are fantastic, the infrastructure is very good on the whole and the people are very friendly. Oh and the weather definitely beats the UK.

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7) What has been the hardest to adjust to? Any tips for future expats contemplating a move?
I’ve lived abroad in so many different countries, that my transition to Chile was actually pretty easy, to be honest. The biggest challenge was securing nursery and school places for my children while suffering from morning sickness. The school admission process here is crazy and I wouldn’t wish it upon my worst enemy!

My husband is also from Spain and while my Spanish is definitely not great, I can at least get by.

In terms of advice, I’d recommend learning Spanish. While some people do speak English here, it’s rare and having just a basic level of Spanish helps so much. Some clinics provide translators, but none of the doctors I’ve seen speak very good English and we always revert to Spanish in the end. For everything from shopping at the market, to sorting bureaucracy, it’s so useful to have some basic vocabulary at the ready.

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8 ) As a mother, what are your favourite things to do with kids here in Santiago?
For me, the concept of play cafes is totally new and such a good idea. These cafes which are specially adapted for children with toys and games and good coffee and food for parents are a godsend. They’re so much nicer for parents than the sweaty, dark soft play centres I was used to in the UK.

The weather is much better here in Chile than in the UK so we’ve also enjoyed going to the parks lots too. I love the Parque Bicentario with its flamingos and fish, the Botanical gardens with their amazing views of the city and in the height of summer Parque Araucano with its musical fountains is also a big hit with our kids.

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9) Food – where are your favourite food spots?
OK, I’ll be honest I’m an extremely fussy eater and I’ve yet to find a restaurant here which I truly adore. I’ve heard very good things about 040, 99 and Borago so these are on the list for the next time my husband and I get to go on a date night.

As for cafes, I love the food and ambience at Quinoa. In fact, having lived in Chile just three months I’ve already been there four times.

10) What is next for Nina and the Expater?

Now in Chile, I’m focusing a lot on the life here, so readers can expect a lot more local reviews – spas, restaurants, cafes and so on. I’m also planning to squeeze in a little travel before baby number three arrives and I’m looking forward to sharing my tips on places like the Atacama desert and Valparaiso. Watch this space on my Instagram…

I’m also developing my Facebook page, where I’ll be looking to bring together more expat women from around the globe as well as in Chile so we can learn from each other’s experiences and share ideas.

Finally, I’ve got a few expert interviews lined up – a child psychologist, a mindful eating life coach and a wildlife expert to name but a few. Stay tuned…

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The Nitty Gritty

To read Nina’s blog, have a look here

To follow Nina on Instagram, look here

Don’t forget Facebook! Follow through here

If you would like to feature in the Spotlight On series, please send me an email to helen@queridarecoleta.com.  I would love to hear your stories and share them with other readers. And if you liked this, please give it a thumbs up (it keeps me motivated!).  Coming soon: dinosaurs!!

 

 

Rayuela, Christ & BBQ

I have surprised Manuel. His eyes don´t really believe me, his mouth forming a perfectly round O, followed by an exhalation of confused air.

The question had been a simple one, and my answer was nothing unusual, just a simple ¨no, I do not miss my home country because I feel at home here in Chile.¨ That is completely true – I love living here – but it always seems to catch the Chileans I meet off guard.

¨What about your family? ¨They always inevitably ask, followed by an exclamation of ¨But New Zealand is paradise! ¨.  But nothing I say ever convinces them, so I just change the subject quickly.

The day is a Saturday and I am in the small community of Calpún, four hours south of Santiago and an hour from the nearest city, Curicó.  Calpún is a blink-and-you´ll-miss-it sort of place, a scattering of houses that line a winding road in a tumble of colors.   Chickens squabble on the roadside and dash from passing cars, their clucking joining the whirring of tractors and scraping of shovels.  The wind blows fiercely east from the sea and causes wind dials to spin all morning and night in a cacophony of creaks and moans.  The afternoon – which it is right now – is made of summer sun and gentle breezes and, combined with the smell of the barbecue coals, makes for a moment of pure bliss.

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Calpun birds eye view

I have come to Calpún because it is the home of my partner´s family. Manuel´s son, David, was baptized today in the small church that dominates the village skyline.  Despite the countryside setting, we are all dolled up in our dresses and high heels, the men in suits and the children in bow ties and ribbons.  Chile is a predominately Catholic country, thanks to the arrival of the Spanish conquistadors in 1541, and baptisms are still a big deal.  Family from all across Chile have come today, arms piled high with presents wrapped up in blue paper. The ceremony itself is short and sweet; David barely makes a sound and his parents have been wearing smiles that light up the room (or at least rival the camera flashes).

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We are now in the house of Manuel´s brother, Tio Lucho.  ´Lucho´ is a common nickname for Luis, and part of a naming tendency that envelopes the whole country.  Fernando becomes ´Nano´, Francisco -´Pancho´, Felipe – ´Pipe´ … They join a whole host of diminutives that call attention to characteristics, such as ´Negra´ (black) and Flaco (skinny).

Lucho´s house is large with thin walls and naked of any furnishings alluding to grandeur, save for a few religious statues and dangling rosary beads.  In fact, as my mother-in-law Paola tells me, ¨the people don´t really care about that.  Our lives are spent outside¨.  This is, after all, primarily a farming community and a place that irks its living directly from the land.  The sauerkraut dripping all over our choripán (hot dog)? Homemade with cabbage from the garden.  The mayonnaise? Made just before using eggs from the chickens.  Even the salt comes from nearby Cáhuil, a group of ancient saltpans that are a blindingly vivid array of yellow, orange, brown and white.

 

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Gathering the salt in Cahuil.

However, despite the fertile abundance of the land, Calpún is struggling. My partner´s family would love to live here but there is no work and competition is high.  Instead, they live in Chile´s capital, Santiago, where they earn meagre pesos as a taxi driver and housekeeper (referred to as a nana). Many of the relatives attending the baptism, including Manuel himself, have also left the area to follow work opportunities elsewhere, including to the mines that dominate the northern desert.

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These fields supply Santiago`s markets.

¨When I was a child, there were two Calpúns.¨ My father-in-law is telling me now amidst a row of bobbing heads ¨Upper and Lower.  There were lots of people then before everyone left for Santiago, and the wealthier people lived in the Upper part while we lived here, in Lower Calpún.¨

¨Yes,¨ Tio Lucho agrees, ¨and Calpún was known as the place of the Blue-Eyed People – it was unusual to have blue eyes because of our ancestral ties with the Mapuches, who are traditionally dark.¨

 

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The river beside Calpun

Mapuche is the collective name of the indigenous people that historically occupied the areas south of Santiago until Patagonia. They are famous for withstanding the advance of the Spanish in the Arauco War, and today are a marginalized group.

 

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Mapuche mural from Curepto.

 

¨I had sixteen brothers and sisters¨ A woman I don´t know by name joins the conversation, ¨I don´t know how my mother did it because I have two kids of my own and I can´t imagine having any more!¨

There is a moment of laughter than my father in law says, ¨I played with my ball each and every day – it went everywhere with me! And I remember Paola, even though she was just a girl then, and she was always running, running everywhere with that light hair flying behind her.¨

My mother-in-law smiles shyly. ¨I loved to run and walk.  One year I was chosen to enter a big race, all the way in Curepto.  I was so nervous because I thought I wouldn´t be very good, but I WON!  I got a huge ribbon and I got to be in the summer festival that year.  It was one of the happiest moments of my life.¨

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Family antics in Calpun.

 

The conversation continues for a while and then turns to rayuela. Rayuela has been declared the national sport by two Chilean presidents and is traditionally played during las fiestas patrias, the celebration of Chilean independence that occurs the week of September 18.  This is the date when Chile united to seek independence (but not the date it formally received it, which was February 12, 1818).  According to the Chilean National Library, some 80,000 people choose to play the game in their free time, and there is even a national Rayuela Day, which occurs each year on July 19. To play the game, teams take turns throwing a metal tejo, which weighs around 1 kilo, onto a line drawn in an inclined clay box. If you hit the line you get double points, and the game can go on indefinitely. Lucho sets this up now and, using a piece of string and a stone, the game begins.

 

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At Tio Lucho`s house.

 

A few hours later and it is still going.  The wine has also made its appearance, a full-bodied red hailing from the nearby Maule Valley.  This valley is the largest wine producing area in Chile and grows excellent grapes thanks to the Mediterranean climate and varying soil compositions. Many of the wineries are organic and have a sustainable focus, the most characteristic varietal being carmenere, a grape once thought to have been extinct worldwide after a devastating plague swept through Europe in 1867.

¨Out here in the country, we prefer to drink red wine because it is the wine we have always drunk,¨  Lucho is telling me, ¨for Catholics it is associated with the blood of Christ¨.

There is music now too, courtesy of a live band playing an eclectic mix of Chilean cumbia, Mexican rancheras and traditional cueca. My father-in-law takes the hand of Paola as a song they love begins, and as their knees knock together they sway to the sound of their own laughter. The air has also thickened with smoke, the barbecue mingling with cigarettes (the World Health Organization reports that 34% of the population smoke).

 

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Dancing the cueca in Vichuquen.

 

¨Si es Chileno, es bueno¨ Manuel appears beside me, If it´s Chilean, it´s good. ¨Do you really not miss your country? ¨

I pause for a moment, then shake my head. Right now, beneath the crystal clear stars and beside these wonderful people, the moment is pretty close to perfect.

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If You Go:

Stay: at the Casa Roja in Lilco, 5 minutes from Lake Vichuquén and ten minutes from the Pacific Ocean.  This is also the site of the Oro de Torca olive grove and olive oil press.  From here you can make daytrips to the surfing town of Pichelemu, the salt flats of Cáhuil, the city of Santa Cruz, and the wineries of the Colchagua and Maule valleys. Birdwatchers can head to Laguna Torca.

Book your stay through Airbnb here.

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Birdwatching at Laguna Torca

 

 

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Meet Hello Kiddo: A Small Business Supporting Small Minds

It is nearly Christmas! I hope you are all ordering your homemade pan de pascua (traditional christmas cake) and getting ready for the big day. Who else is trying to support local and small businesses this year? Please check out my shopping guide if you need some ideas.

If you have small children, you might want to pay attention to this article. Introducing Hello Kiddo, a small venture run by Natalie (Australia) and her Chilean husband, dedicated to selling only the best items for little ones (and from where M´s Christmas present is from this year!). Read on to learn a little it more about Natalie and Hello Kiddo.

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Who is Hello Kiddo?

Hello Kiddo is our little family business, between my husband and I. He has a day job but is helping me out in his free time. I´m Australian and my husband is Chilean. I came to Chile for love and have lived here for almost 8 years now. I am a stay at home mum to my 22 month old son and have been itching to start a little business on the side from home.

Why did you decide to start Hello Kiddo?

Hello Kiddo started just 10 days ago launching our first product called PLAYON CRAYON. My mum brought a box of Playon Crayons from Australia when she was visiting us when my son was born. I hadn´t opened it until a few months ago when my son was only 18 months old. He was going through a very stong ´mamitis´[attachment to mother] phase, I was kind of tired and felt like bringing out a new toy for him to concentrate on for a little bit and not just me. When I gave him the box, he didn´t look at me for 40 mins. There are mums out there who know the feeling! He was concentrating on the colourful crayons, stacking them into towers. They would fall, and then he would try stacking them again. He had no idea then that you could draw with them too. From then on, I became a big fan of this product, I was convinced that this was a product that all kids could benefit from here. We are now the oficial distributors of Playon Crayon for Chile.

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Photo: Hello Kiddo

What is the Playon Crayon?

PLAYON CRAYON is a box of 12 crayons that come in 2 different sets, (primary and pastel colours).

These sculptural crayons transform coloring into a playtime adventure. They’re still the go-to tool for your children to create fantastic, colorful pictures, but instead of the usual stick shape, they take the form of hollow cones with a bulbous end. Not only is the shape great for easy gripping by little hands, but the crayons are fun to stack into towers, or arrange into patterns. They dance on fingertips like puppets, and can be threaded onto twine for a rainbow necklace. They are a great tool to play with and teach your child about colours and even adding/subtracting when they are older.

The cone shape also means that instead of rolling off the table and underneath the sofa, they spin around in playful circles. They are certified non-toxic by the Art & Creative Materials Institute, USA.  The packaging is 100% recyclable.

On the box it is recommended for ages 2 years + however I gave it to my son earlier and he still loved them.

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Photo: Hello Kiddo

 

What is your favorite thing about living in Chile?

The mountains that I see everyday from my balcony! You would never get this beautiful view in Australia!

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The mountains (in winter)

Do you have a favorite restaurant here?

I love Quinoa (the restaurant) in Vitacura. Its a cool, healthy, vegeterian cafe/restaurant that serves high quality food. I love having brunch there when possible. I used to go more before I had a child.

 

Is there a particular place you love in Chile?

Anywhere that is outside our norm of Santiago life. The south of Chile especially!

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Photo: Yorka Abarca

Many of my readers are mums, or mums-to-be, and would be interested to know how it went for you giving birth here. Can you tell us about that?

Yes I gave birth in Chile. Even though It was a long 18 hour labor at the clinic, I had a very nice experience. The doctors and midwife listened to my needs and complied to the birth plan I discussed with them months earlier. It was exactly what I imagined my birth would be like.

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Max with his crayons! Photo: Hello Kiddo

What is next for Hello Kiddo?

Our wish is to bring more useful kids products and even make things ourselves from home in Chile. My background is in design, so I want to design and make my own baby/kids products. We started with the Playon crayons to test the market and practise what it is like having a small business in Chile. So far so good.

 

How can people order your products?

You can order your box of crayons through our website www.hellokiddo.cl.

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Photo: Hello Kiddo

More Information

Instagram here

Facebook here


Did you like this? Check out these other small businesses I love:

Kids clothes from Ñirre Bebe;

Fun leggings and printed clothes from La Pituka;

Economical books for kids from Editorial Dansema;

Books in Spanish and toys from Pajarito de Mimbre.

 

Prefiero Chileno: Local Shopping Guide

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!!

  1. Painstakingly intricate maps, cushions and other trinkets handpainted by dedicated local artists at Mappin.
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Chile Urdido by Cote Bobillier. Photo: Mappin
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Nuestra Casa by Michelle Lasalvia. Photo: Mappin

2) Beautiful scarves, socks, bibs for adults and children by Vuelvo al Sur.

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Gloves featuring the Chucao. Photo: Vuelvo al Sur
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Mug featuring a huemul. Photo: 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.

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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.

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Photo: Karunworld

9) TTANTI watches made from fallen trees in Patagonia. These are luxury, quality timepieces that suit both men and women.

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Photo: TTANTI

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.

 

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Photo: Attilio & Mochi

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!

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Photo: Oro de Torca

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.

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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

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Photo: Woligu

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!!

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”.

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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!

 

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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.

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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;

La Serena & the Elqui Valley Photo Diary

Laguna Conchali

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Stopping outside of La Ligua for some of their Chile-famous pastries
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Manjar-filled delight
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Laguna Conchali, outside of Los Vilos. A great spot for bird watching.
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Birds to spot: Chiloe Wigeon, Cinnamon Teal, Great Egret, Chilean Mockingbird, White-Tailed Kite, White-Tuted Grebe, and more.

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Turbines everywhere on the way between Los Vilos and La Serena

La Serena

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The Japanese Garden
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Cueca Brava in the Mercado La Recova

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Eating papayas makes a delicious way to spend your time in La Serena!

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Inside the Museo Arqueologico

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The La Serena Lighthouse

Vicuña

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Death mask of Gabriela Mistral, South America´s first Nobel Prize winner, and who was born in Vicuña.  The town also has a museum dedicated to her life and achievements.

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Checking out the Pisquera Aba distillery
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Pisco with Maqui, a berry found in the south of Argentina and Chile. Que RICO!
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Visiting the stars with Alfa Aldea. Highly recommended.
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Only Spring and we are already swimming! We found our cabaña on Yapo – no middle man to pay and great prices!

Villa Seca + Paihuano

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Sun-baked goods in Villa Seca! Love to see all that solar energy being put to good use.
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Copao is a fruit endemic to Chile that comes from the Eulychnia acida cactus. The Elqui Valley is a great place to try it, along with deliciously cold and fresh fruit juices.

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Pisco Elqui

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Fundo Los Nichos, one of the few family owned distilleries in the area. Support small!

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More blogs like this:

Ovalle & the Limari Valley;

Punta de Choros ;

Sewell;

Chile in Photos;

Copiapo & Desierto Florido;

Beautiful Photos by Photographer Yorka;

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Open Day at the Aerodromo de Vitacura

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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).

 

The Nitty Gritty

Address: Santa Maria 6299, Vitacura, Santiago

Website here


More Family Fun ideas:

Museo Interactivo Mirador (MIM);

Museo Aeronautico y del Espacio;

Museo Artequin;

Museo Ferroviario;

Parque de la Infancia;

Santiago with Kids (review)