Meet La Pituka: Happy Clothes

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.

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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.

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Santiago during winter. Photo: Me

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.

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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).

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All photos: La Pituka

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…)
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Photo: La Pituka

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.

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Photo: La Pituka

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.

Mamushka
The bestselling print using design of Russian nesting dolls. Photo: La Pituka

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.

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Photo: La Pituka

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. 

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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.

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Cajon del Maipo. Photo: Me

And in all of Chile/Cual es tu lugar favorito en Chile?

Alcohuaz, in the Elqui Valley.

Alcohuaz, en el Valle del Elqui.

What is next for La Pituka/Cual es el futuro de la tienda?

To begin making a wider variety of women´s clothing that are perfect for the office while still using the best Chilean fabrics and colorful styles in full print!

Comenzar a confeccionar una gran variedad de ropa de mujer, siempre con nuestro estilo colorido, pero perfectamente de vestir como para la oficina, con las mejores telas Chilenas y full print!!!

The Fine Print

Facebook here

Instagram here

Website here

Santiago store: Galeria Italia Mia, Av. Italia 1548, Ñuñoa (Barrio Italia)

Pucon store: Urrutia 235, Pucon

 

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Did you like this? Here are some more blogs that highlight local businesses:

Karun sunglasses made from recycled fishing nets and jeans;

Ñirre Bebe kids clothes and accessories made by hand;

TTANTI fine watches using fallen Patagonian trees;

Pajarito de Mimbre books and accessories that focus on Chilean culture;

Apicola del Alba natural cosmetics;

La Farine Pan a la Antigua traditional breadmaking in Curacavi.

 

 

Foodlays Chinese Food

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Chinese Food Interesting Tidbits

Chinese food follows the basic principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), which uses food as a way to treat disease, recover from injury and improve overall general wellbeing. There are five flavors that form the basis of dishes, of which taste is considered the most important factor and the soul of the food.   These are: salty, sweet, spicy, sour and bitter. The most dominant flavor you taste in a dish depends on the region you are in, therefore each plate can reveal to you an area´s geography, history and geography.

Spice expels wind and cold from the body.  It is popular in Central and Southern China. notably Hunan and Sichuan cuisine.

Salty food should be eaten sparingly and is for dissolving ¨stagnation¨.  This food is popular in the North of China, because there is a lack of fresh vegetables in winter so food is preserved using salt.

Sweet flavors can improve your mood and health while also cutting through the greasiness of some dishes.  Dishes that are predominately sweet originate from the East of China.

The sour taste is popular in the South, and is a very important part of TCM. It helps with digestion, quenches thirst and can also reduce a dish´s greasiness or fish flavor. Sour foods are common in the South where people are generally poor, and who pickle most of their foods to avoid wastage.

Bitterness is a component in many dishes alongside other flavors.  It is used to make dishes seem fresher and to satiate your appetite.

The North of China produces a lot of wheat, and so the people eat things like dumplings, wheat noodles and steamed or stuffed buns.  In the South they rarely eat wheat and instead rely upon rice products, of which they use in every meal.

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The quantity of fruit and vegetables eaten in China is double that of the Western diet, and they use dozens of varieties that are unknown outside of China, including many types of weed-like plants that have not been translated into English.  Food is eaten seasonally, in order to balance one´s yin, yang, dryness or dampness (TCM components). Bones are an important element of dishes, so fish is usually not served filleted, while the appearance of a dish is often symbolic, using shapes, colors and textures to represent traditions, holidays and superstitions.

 

Traditionally, food is served to be shared, placed in the middle of the table, which in restaurants is usually a turntable to promote the communal nature of eating.

Enter Foodlays, a large restaurant located near to La Vega in Santiago.

 

In my opinion, the food at I Ching in Independencia had bigger portions and nicer food but a few dishes really stood out, particularly the Spicy Eggplant plate as well as most of the noodle dishes.

The Nitty Gritty:

Disabled/pushchair access in lifts

Customer carparking (ask the guard at the entrance)

Outdoor patio, which we used as a kids playground when we were there (we didn´t see any smokers)

Most vegetable dishes options contain meat so ask before you order if you are vegetarian. 

Address: Los Artesanos 681, 3rd floor, Recoleta. Metro Patronato or Cal y Canto.

 

Note: A glance at the Facebook page for this restaurant shows a few bad reviews due to the presence of shark fin soup. I did not see this option on the menu when I was there. This post has not been sponsored.

 

 


If you like this post, check out:

I Ching Chinese Restaurant

Rico Saigon Vietnamese Food

20 Things You Didn´t Know About Chile!

  1. Top Producer of Wine

Chile is the world´s fifth largest exporter of wine and the ninth largest producer. There are 14 different wine growing areas producing 10 million hectolitres each year – all thanks to Chile´s unique microclimate, secluded position between mountain and sea AND the ingenious of Spanish conquistadors who brought the first vines over in 1554. My favorite spots? Check out Casas del Bosque for something grandAttilio & Mochi for something special, Matetic for something fun, Emiliana for something organic, Bodegas RE for something small and Santa Rita for something close to Santiago.

2. Oldest Mummy in the World

The oldest known mummy to have been excavated was found right here in Chile´s Camarones Valley, and dates back to 5050B.C.  The mummy was a child who was part of the Chinchorro culture.

3. UNESCO Sites

Chile is blessed to have five cultural UNESCO sites that will transport you in time and blow your mind. Don´t miss the historic section of Valparaiso, the island of Chiloe (specifically the churches), Rapa Nui National Park (Easter Island), Humberstone & Santa Laura Saltpeter Works (former mine) and Sewell (former mining town).

4. 6500km of Spectacular Coastline

That makes Chile one of the world´s longest countries, which is made all the more obvious when you take into consideration that it´s also one of the narrowest at just over 200km wide. The water is frigid though, thanks to the Humboldt Current which makes its way up from Antarctica, bringing with it an incredible bounty of seafood that makes Chile famous. Close to Santiago, a good option to visit is the small fishing village of Horcon, which clings precariously to the shore.

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5. Driest Place on Earth

Is the Atacama Desert, which has an average annual rainfall of 0.05mm with soil that has been compared to Mars.  In 2003, scientists published in the journal Science that there were no signs of life in the Yungay region, and as such this area has been used by NASA to test instruments for possible missions to Mars. This beautiful desert also provides one of the clearest places to view the night sky and is filled with observatories, including two major sites opereated by the European Southern Observatory.  There are also geoglyphs such as the Atacama Giant, which is the largest prehistoric anthropomorphic figure in the world at 119m high.

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Beautiful gift and souvenir ideas by Siski Green

6. Obligatory Flag Display

Each year during Fiestas Patrias, Chile´s national holiday celebrating the country´s independence, it is compulsory to hang a Chilean flag from every public building. If not, you face a fine!

7. Fireworks Like You´ve Never Seen

South Ameria´s largest fireworks display occurs each New Years Eve in Valparaiso. In 2007, the Guinness Book of Records recorded a display of a whopping 16,000 fireworks!

8. Government UFO Research

Chile is one of the world´s few countries to boast a government supported organization researching UFO´s. In fact, the paranormal has become normal in Chile; the town of San Clemente has an 19 mile ´UFO trail´ although a sighting guarantee is slim: “In no way can we guarantee that a tourist coming to San Clemente will see a UFO” states Chile´s official tourism board, Sernatur.

9. Divorce + Abortion = Hot Topics

Divorce was legalized in 2005 and has one of the world´s lowest rates of divorce, while abortion is still illegal and a topic of debate politically. Chile is classed as a Catholic country.

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10. Glass House Protest

In 2000, an actress took up residence in a temporary glass house in the center of Santiago. This provocative display was to prompt discussion about the double standards surrounding morality in Chile and to protest against cafe con piernas (below).

11. Coffee Shops + Sex

Cafe con Piernas are traditional coffee shops sparked during Chile´s dictatorship, where you order your coffee from scantily dressed women. There are various levels of nudity on display depending on where you go.

12. Robinson Crusoe Inspiration

This classic novel was inspired after Daniel Defoe read the story of Alexander Selkirk, a Scottish sailor, who was marooned on the Juan Fernandez islands for four years.

13. Really Amazing Trees

The Alerce tree, found in the south of Chile, is recorded to grow as much as 4000 years old making it one of the world´s most ancient trees.  Meanwhile, the Chilean Palm is the biggest palm species in the world but it´s also one of the rarest – check out La Campana to see amazing natural palm forests.

14. Largest Copper Reserves

Chile has the world´s largest copper reserves and is the largest exporter. It is also has the second largest reserve of lithium along with sizeable reserves of iron, silver, zinc, coal, gold and iodine.

15. Powerful Earthquakes

In 1960, the world´s largest recorded earthquake struck southern Chile, measuring 9.5. and killing some 1,500 people.  Make sure you are prepared by reading this.

What to do

16. Moving Houses … the Traditional Way

On the island of Chiloe, people get together to perform minga, where communities gather to pop a house on tree trunks and move it to a new site by oxen.

17. Attached to Horses?

The term huaso, which today refers to the Chilean cowboy, comes from the Mapuche (indigenous culture) word for shoulders. Why? They had never seen horses before when the conquistadors arrived, and so thought man and horse were joined.

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18. Nobel Prize Winners

Chile is known as a country of poets, and for good reason. Pablo Neruda was a famous politician and poet who won the prize for literature back in 1971, and is known for such works as Twenty Love Poems and Heights of Machu Picchu. Interestingly, his former school principal was none other than Gabriela Mistral, who was the first Latin American writer to win the Nobel Prize for Literature, in 1945.

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19. 4000 Disappeared Under the Dictatorship

During the dictatorship, led by CIA-backed Augusto Pinochet, 4000 people are said to have been executed or ¨disappeared¨. A million more fled the country while hundreds of thousands were detained or tortured. Pinochet was influenced by a group of Chilean economists who studied at the University of Chicago under Milton Friedman, free market guru; they became known as the Chicago Boys. You can find out more at the Memory + Human Rights Museum located at metro Quinta Normal.  The General Cemetery in Recoleta (metro Cementerios) also contains a field dedicated to those killed, with a series of unmarked graves.

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20. Romantic History That Should Be A Movie

The early colonization of Chile is nothing short of movie-worthy. Spanish-born Pedro de Valdivia lead a team of men from Peru into (what is today) Chile, dodging murder attempts by his fellow team leader. Valdivia brought with him Ines de Suarez, a widow who he is rumoured to have known in Spain … despite being a married Catholic to a woman in Spain. Once in Chile, they founded the city of Santiago, despite facing numerous uprisings from the local Incan/Picuenche communities. When Valdivia was away, an uprising nearly defeated the Spanish but Ines de Suarez rallied the troops and decided to boost moral by cutting off the heads of the 7 tribal leaders they were holding prisoner (and hoping to barter their freedom with). Her move paid off and the natives were defeated. Valdivia brought to Santiago a young Mapuche boy, Lautaro, as his personal groom but during one battle Lautaro switched sides and passed on valuable information to the rebelling indigenous Mapuche who had united under the leadership of Caupolican. Lautaro became a leader and it is thanks to his intimate knowledge of the Spanish that led to the capture of Valdivia, who was killed in unknown circumstances. His death came after he´d been ordered to give up longtime love, Ines, who had been married off to one of his Captains in 1549. His wife had been en route to Chile when he died.  Interestingly, the popular local soccer team Colo Colo is named after the Mapuche leader Colo Colo, who was instrumental in the appointing of Caupolican to tribal leader. Have a read of the much beloved poem, La Araucanawritten by Alonso de Ercilla, which details the Spanish conquest of Chile and was published in 1569.

Don´t forget that I am writing a weekly fictional story about this very history. Read the first chapter here.

What are your favorite facts about Chile? Here are some other posts you might enjoy:

Chile in Photos

An Introduction to Musica Latina

Paranormal Chile Top 7

10 Common Misconceptions About Chile

The People of Tierra del Fuego

Supporting Small: Local Business Directory

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The magazine Forbes writes that small businesses are impressive when you think ¨about the time, commitment and labour these hard working individuals contribute to make their business both come to life and stay alive¨ (Sep 2 2014). Many of us do not think consciously about where we shop, but it deserves some thought. Here are some things to consider:

  1. Your improving the local economy: when you buy local, the money is more likely to stay in the community.
  2. You develop a connection with the people behind the business. You are more likely to find help when you need it and receive better customer service (they depend more on their public profile, for starters).  To them you are not a random customer but a valued customer.
  3. You are stimulating the production of more local jobs
  4. You help working parents have the opportunity to set their own hours, have more time with their family and have the potential to expand their earnings.
  5. Small businesses, rather than chains, have been shown to increase innovation and lower prices over the long term.
  6. You help to keep traditions alive, for example when you choose to buy artesenal products, and are more likely to buy something that was the product of love and interest rather than about furthering a company´s bottom line.  You are also more likely to increase product diversity – if you ask for something you are more likely to receive it from a small business.
  7. You will also feel good knowing that you are helping people to support themselves, particularly in a place like Santiago where costs are high and wages are love, and chain stores are on the increase.

For those of you who are in Chile, here are some local providers you could consider purchasing from the next time.

ACCOMODATION

Algarrobo: Apartment Overlooking Canelillo Beach

Beautiful apartment that sleeps six and beside a pine forest filled with walking trails. Contact Taryn on +569 9 799 5258.

Horcon: Chile´s Best Kept Secret Beachfront Apartment

The 2 bedroom apartment, which comfortably sleeps up to 6 people, is located in the region of Valparaiso just a 2 hour drive from Santiago.  Visit the Airbnb site here.

Quintay: Apartment with Sea View

Located in a private, gated community, this is a fantastic and impeccably styled ground floor apartment available to rent.

Tunquen: La Mirage Parador

Bed & Breakfast available throughout the summer months in the Algarrobo region, perfect for romantic getaways.  Visit the site here.

Valparaiso: Winebox Valparaiso

This project is all about urban rejuvenation and represents the first tourism project in the historic Mariposas neighborhood. The hotel is constructed from 25 recycled 40ft High Cube shipping containers, insulated entirely with recycled materials with all furniture and decorations made from recycled materials recovered from Chile’s wine industry. 

ART + DESIGN

Abstract Art: Hoda Madi

An artist, photographer and amateur astronomer, Hoda creates jaw dropping abstract art paintings using materials such as sand. Visit the website here.

Fine Art: Olivos Art Studio

Claudia and Sergio are from Chile and Mexico respectively, and create paintings using various styles. The Essence of the Mapuche exhibit is of particular note. Visit the webpage here.

Hair + Makeup VIÑA DEL MAR: Haley Mahannah 

A stylist, professional hairdresser and makeup artist based in Viña, Hayley does private jobs as well as working out of a salon.

Hair Removal: Sugar Me Up

Hair removal using a technique known as sugaring.  Speaks English!

Handmade Gifts: Woolful Rebellion

Beautiful gift ideas made by a fellow expat. Read my blog here or email barahonasarai@gmail.com.

Jewellery: Indre Bar

Minimalist gemstone necklaces, earrings and bracelets. Visit the Etsy store here or send a message to indre.b@gmail.com

Jewellery Watches: TTANTI Watches

Ttanti is a watch brand that ensures the sustainable use of resources involving craftsmanship. We use Swiss movements to ensure excellent performance. We invite you to know our history. Visit the website here.

Photography: Sibylla Michelle Photography

Portrait photographer from the UK, responsible for the most stunning bridal, pregnancy and newborn photos I´ve ever seen. See her website here and read my blog here.

Souvenirs + Paintings: Siski Kalla

Siski creates unique gifts with her watercolour paintings, from bespoke tea towels featuring Chile´s wonders, through to kids growth charts and customizable world maps.  Read my blog here.

EDUCATION + CLASSES

Art: Andrea Adresic Art

Former art teacher and professional painter, Andrea holds exhibitions as well as fun art classes for adults and children.

Dance + Yoga: Dhatri, Yoga + Ayurveda

Learn Bharatnatyam and Odissi, classical dances from India with Usha Vikas. Isha also offers Indian tribal paintings. These classes are conducted at Dhatri (yoga y Ayurveda). Dhatri also offers classes in yoga and Ayurveda therapies.

Language: Russian Language Classes

Russian language classes for work, tourism and every day use. Private and group classes available, as well as Skype.

Sewing + Fabric Art: Stitch Lounge Santiago

Join a growing community of students learning the craft of sewing with various workshops designed for various ability levels. Visit the website here.

FOOD + WINE

Agricola Tinajacura

This family-run business describes themselves as a farm following holistic methods and as such you will find they produce happy chickens, free range eggs, wool products and lamb without any antibiotics or hormones. See the website here.

Anouk Boutique Bakery

Anouk follows traditional recipes from Holland to make by hand authentic breads using natural ingredients.

Attilio & Mochi Tunquen + Sucre Wines

The couple label themselves as passionate winemakers, who ¨generate very small and limited batches […]so we can personally take care and execute ourselves in all stages of winemaking, and allow for the characteristics we like, that make them so unique.¨ See their website here.

Happy Hummus Happy Food

How can you pass up the chance to eat some happy hummus?  100% natural and homemade hummus with free delivery to many comunas.

Hubbard & Smith

Bacon and sausages exquisitely prepared using traditional recipes and locally sourced ingredients. Visit the website here.

Jimbo´s Pie Shop

Enjoy the quintessential Antipodean foodstuff – the humble pie – made with love by Aussie expat James.

Los Locos Tacos IQUIQUE

Mexican food served with traditional tortillas in the northern city of Iquique. A great option for those needing something fast and delicious; catering available.

Pasteleria Lalaleelu

Amy and Young have burst onto the food scene with a cafe and cake shop to rival all others. Don´t leave without a bag of their caramel popcorn. Read my blog and see their website here.

Polka Tortas y Pasteles

Stunning decorated cakes exquisitely made for every occasion.

Sabor con Sentido

Healthy condiments for your food prepared the natural way.  Visit their website here.

Santiago City Bees

Pure honey sourced from 16 bee hives in Santiago.

South Indian Flavors

Homemade south Indian food using traditional fermentation methods and prepared with ingredients brought from India.

Tu Picada Santiago

A small catering startup specializing in everything from traditional BBQ, pizza parties right through to romantic candle lit dinners.

HEALTH

Acupuncture: Guillermo Toro Madrid

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Dentistry: HP Implantologia Dental Office

English and Spanish speaking dentist located in Providencia, specializing in implants.

Homeopath: Caitlin Wheat

Certified in Australia, Caitlin speaks both English and Spanish and offers treatments for various conditions, particularly digestive health.

Massage: Injeet Singh

Ayuvedic and sports massage by Injeet, who also does massage at the Santiago Marriott Hotel. He does house calls.

Massage: Taralee Walling
✋Over 18 years of experience
✋Professional and confidential
✋Trained and certified in the U.S.(900+ hours)
✋I specialize in Relaxation, Deep Tissue, Neuromuscular/Trigger Point Therapy, Pre and postnatal massage
✋30.000 one hour. 45.000 1.5 hours.
✋NOTE: LIMITED AVAILABILITY Monday through Friday ONLY

Contact +56 9 76024562 and email: momentaralee@gmail.com

KIDS

Activities: Little Readers Book Club and Kids Playing in English

Neither businesses per se but professionally run and full of fun for young children. Experience the joys of reading, arts and crafts in English with Danielle.

Clothes: Hecho Con Amor

Clothes and accessories designed and made by hand (and love). See the website here.

Dresses: Mi Odette

Beautiful and unique girls dresses brought from Russia. Visit the website here.

Food: Smiley Kids

Organic food for babies and children made with their healthy development in mind.Visit the website here.

LEGAL + BUSINESS

Organizational Development + Data Analysis: MyDO

Classes, workshops, as well as a variety of consulting services focusing on personnel selection, organizational studies and training. English and Spanish speaking.  Visit the website here.

Handyman: Dial A Tradie

24/7 emergency Gasfitting, Thermofusion, Electrical and Maintenance Company servicing Santiago.

Law: Maximo Aguirre

Contact Maximo with your legal questions on +56988944396 or send him an email to maximoarayaaguirre@gmail.com.  He is taking private cases.

Life + Business Coach: Michelle Clarke

Michelle Clarke is an Executive Coach who works with individuals and leaders of influence. Her clients are already-successful, high-achieving individuals who want to sustain their contribution in this world – professionally, personally, holistically. Visit her webpage here.

Community: Discover Chile

Join Chile´s largest expat forum as a corporate partner (and market your business exclusively) or use it for yourself and make the most of your time in Chile (free). Visit the website here.

Private Detective: Salgado Investigations

Salgado Investigations is a private investigators agency based in Chile, acting for lawyers, insurers, retail, and private clients. Founded by Jorge Salgado-Reyes, we offer bespoke private investigators Chile services across the private and commercial sectors with more than 17 years experience.

Website Design: Mukul Matey

I am personally recommending Mukul for all your website needs. He fixed and improved our own site (milesandsmileschile) and has always been helpful, courteous, professional, on time (which is hard to find in a website developer) and with lots of ideas to help us be better. Mukul really knows what he is talking about and has also designed websites for many people I know.

TRAVEL + TOURISM

Campervans: Soul Vans

Campervan rental based in Santiago and Puerto Montt founded in 2015 and today boasting a range of comfortable and fully equipped campers.

Tourism CONCEPCION: Lle Chile

Tourism and consulting business specializing in study tours in the 8th region along with relocation consulting services. Visit the website here.

Tours + Transfers: Miles & Smiles Chile

Boutique tour and transfer company offering private, customizable tours in English and Spanish. Visit the website here.

Transfers: RS Transit

Private transportation service to airport, hotels, business conferences and events.

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Valparaiso: City of Artists, Dreamers + Explorers

If there is one place that stirs my soul, calls to me and befuddles me, it is Valparaiso. This city is equal parts beautiful, ugly, maddening, exciting, awe inspiring and bewildering. This is the place that for hundreds of years saw the arrival and departure of Chile´s visitors, and was even pillaged by pirates.

The Spanish birthed the city as a port, naming it Valparaiso de Arriba – a completely unoriginal name considering that it was bestowed a further six times across the globe and in multiple locations in Spain itself. The English nicknamed the city Valpo, which has affectionately stuck, but perhaps its most interesting name would have to be Nuestra Señora de las Mercedes del Puerto Claro.

As a port, Valparaiso wasn´t very good – it was far too open during storms – so work began in 1912 to improve it. Land was reclaimed over a period of 18 years resulting in a quay and breakwater that number 700m long and 20 storeys in height.  Although the opening of the Panama Canal greatly affected Valparaiso in the past, today the port is thriving with copper and fruit exports, as well as cruise ships.

 

Fun Facts

  • Valparaiso is also the headquarters of the Chilean National Congress
  • It has the oldest stock exchange Latin America
  • The first public library opened here
  • The Picunche and the Chango people were the original indigenous inhabitants
  • In 1814 the Battle of Valparaiso was fought between British and the United States ships, as part of the War of 1812
  • Plaza Victoria was the location of slave trading. Slaves would be brought by boat to Buenos Aires, from there they would cross the Argentine pampas and the Andes by foot before arriving into Valparaiso and taken to Lima. Many would die of hunger, exhaustion, disease and even suicide.

Places To See

  • Paseo 21 de Mayo for the best views over the harbour and its where you can find the Naval museum and the furnicular Artilleria (Cerro Artilleria)
  • La Sebastiana, former home of the Nobel Prize winning poet Pablo Neruda
  • Plaza Sotomayor, which is also the headquarters of the Chilean Navy, and where you can join a shared or private boat trip of the harbour
  • Cerro Concepcion and Alegre (visit Color Cafe for cheap, GOOD food in quirky shabby chic!)
  • Palacio Barburizza, an art museum, located in the Paseo Yugoslavo
  • Ascencor Polanco, which is a vertical lift taking you up to the viewing deck of a watchtower
  • Museo del Cielo Abierto, a series of eclectic murals created between 1969 and 1973. Take Ascensor Espiritu Santo
  • Explore the Mercado Cardonal and the Mercado Puerto (latter under reconstruction)
  • Museo Lukas, to discover more about local cartoonist Lukas
  • Mirador Diego Portales for amazing city views

Note: This city is built for walking – on foot. Pushchairs and even wheelchairs will have a harder time, particularly as some of the most interesting places involve a stairway.

Suggestion: Why not combine a trip to Valpo with one of the Casablanca Valley wineries? Casas del Bosque is reputedly the best, or try House of Morande (family friendly), the Casa Botha restaurant (great food), Attilio & Mochi (independent), Bodegas RE (organic + traditional) or Matetic (heaps of activities!)?

 

For more fun day trip ideas have a look at:

La Campana National Park, one of the last places to see the Chilean Palm;

General Cemetery, Chile´s oldest with up to 11 generations buried;

Museo del Aeronautico,Museo del Aeronautico, to learn more about aviation;

Quintay, picturesque fishing village with a whaling history;

Museo Interactivo Mirador, for a fantastic day out for all the family;

The South of Chile, highlights from Pucon, Caburgua, Frutillar.

Meet Siski and Her Amazing Watercolour Paintings

A few years ago I came across some pictures in one of the various Facebook groups for expats in Chile, and then discovered that I had gone missing.  As I peered at the image of the grey shaggy haired dog and then at the thin-legged bird, I found myself transported back in time to when I was a child.  For a split second I was seven years old, running through the grass beneath the English sunshine, with a book in my hand and smile on my face. It was one of those uncanny and profound moments that I still think of, and it can all be credited to Siski Green, a freelance illustrator and journalist.

Based in Concepcion but hailing from the UK, Siski moved with her family to Chile in search of a better quality of life, as well as for Chile´s volcanoes (her husband is a volcanologist). After becoming frustrated by the lack of ¨useful but pretty¨ options for gifts here, she decided to branch out and fill the gap herself.  The response has been overwhelming.  You can check out Siski´s Facebook page here or send her an email if you´d like to order for yourself one of these beautiful and unique gift options – they make great souvenirs or presents for family living overseas.  I also reached out to Siski to design our Miles & Smiles logo and to paint the background image for our website, and I was very pleased with the result and the service.

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How did you get into painting, Siski?

I’d enjoyed painting as a child although I’ve got no professional training in art or design. After the birth of my first child I took a watercolour class* here in Chile and it was eye-opening. There were so many techniques to master but I’d also been doing some very basic things wrong – like using the wrong brushes! People started asking me to paint for them, paintings of their children or the family. And that’s how I started painting as a way to earn money, rather than just for fun.
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Watercolour painting for a family
Why do you enjoy painting?
Painting for families is so much work but so enjoyable. Many people don’t have that ‘perfect’ photo of an experience or they simply want something to sum up a period of life – in Chile, it’s usually foreign families who want something to represent their time here, like a keepsake. It can be difficult to get people to look as they see themselves based on photos, but the joy they get when it’s all done and they see the final work is what makes it for me. I’ve had clients in tears (in a good way!) over the paintings. What can be better than producing that kind of happy emotion in people via your art?

Why Chile?

Personally, there is nothing better than spending time in nature to make me feel good about life. It doesn’t matter so much where – I love a little brook with moss-covered stones as much as I love admiring the view from the top of a craggy mountaintop – but what makes Chile so special is that it has a little of everything. Pink and yellow desert scenes, indigo and foamy-green ocean scenes, lush dark green moist woodland scenes, bright white and volcanic-black mountain scenes, so in terms of inspiration I couldn’t really ask for more.  We figured we could give our family a better quality of life here, based on our idea that being near or in nature is a key factor in a ‘good’ life.  The first couple of years were horrible, frankly, but when we moved out of the city [Concepcion] everything changed. Not a day goes past without me marveling at how lucky we are to live here, surrounded by hills, waking up in the morning to chickens clucking and the birds singing – it’s wonderful. But it’s not just about the natural surroundings – the people here are different. We were welcomed with open arms by our campo vecinos (neighbours).

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View from Siski´s deck – all that nature!

How were you affected by the recent wildfires?

When the fires raged through our area earlier this year, everyone came together to help keep the flames away. We formed a WhatsApp group to communicate and everyone was on alert, helping to make fire breaks where necessary, or calling the bomberos (fire fighters) when the fires were getting close to buildings. Not one home was lost in our neighborhood. When I look around at the hills around our home – some of which bear the scars of the fires – I feel like hugging them, they’ve always made me feel safe and I wish we could have protected them more from the fires.

Where is your favorite place in Chile?

For living, there is nowhere I’d rather be than right where we are. Close to a smallish city but far enough away to see the Milky Way at night and with space to grow plants and trees. But there are times when I feel an overwhelming need to head to the beach – and I just love Cocholgue. It’s not one of the most popular beaches with locals, they head to Tome or Dichato, and that’s partly why I love it. It’s more rugged and wild, and the waves are too big to allow for swimming but because of that we can explore the rock pools in peace, build sand castles and play, “What’s the time, Mr. Wave?” with the ocean waves.

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Product List + Prices
Tea towels: A selection of any 3 designs is CLP$25,000
Single tea towels can be found at Tu Espacio Emprendedor (Barrio Italia, Santiago) or Hecho en Conce (Galeria Amanacer, Colo Colo, Concepcion).
Guanaco growth chart: CLP$20,000
Personalised world map: CLP$45,000
Personalised watercolour paintings: From CLP$80,000

* If you are interested in taking a watercolour class yourself, why not send a message to Siski´s former teacher, Carola? You can find her website here.

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The Expat Spotlight series introduces you to expats (like me!) who have made Chile their home.  I specifically choose to highlight people who I think exemplify what it means to be an expat: those who embrace Chile and give something back. You can read other stories here:

Meet Hoda Madi and her incredible abstract artwork;

Meet Sarai and discover about her life in Puente Alto, as well as her small business selling handmade goods;

Meet Sujitra, who prepares the most delicious homemade Indian food;

Meet Sally Rose, author and longtime volunteer in low-income schools.

The Santiago List 2017

Santiago – a city that is appearing in magazines and soaring up city polls everywhere. A stable place broken only by strikes, car horns, taxi/Uber strife and the odd delinquent. The restaurant scene is thriving, bursting forth as one of the top food destinations in South America with a growing ethnic scene that can rival overseas capital cities. Here is the list of places to see this year:

FOOD

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Cafe: Wonderland Cafe  (Barrio Lastarria)

Quirky and shabby chic would probably be the best words to describe Wonderland. Located in the best barrio for cafes, this addition deserves a mention just for its Drink Me: dessert and drink in one (chocolate is best). It also serves up a pretty decent brunch, that includes baked beans, sourdough bread and bacon.

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Cakes:  Pasteleria Lalaleelu (Ñuñoa)

Yet again, Lalaleelu takes the number one spot for cakes in the city. This tiny, family run establishment thrives, firstly because of its amazing customer service and secondly (its a tie) because of its quality tortas and pasteles that blend fine dining, french pastry techniques and casual. Order the Diablo or the Jeezy Limon.

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Casual: Tiramisu (Las Condes)

A few years ago, Tiramisu was the place to go. It´s star has faded a bit since then, but it still remains a good option for those needing something fast, casual, tasty and filling in a nice setting. The pizzas, pastas and breads are all good, as are the desserts, and the service is extremely professional. It is a great option for families and is not expensive.

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Ethnic Restaurant: Rico Saigon (Recoleta)

The restaurant doesn´t have the wow factor that its neighbour, Vietnam Discovery, does, but the food wins by leaps and bounds in the taste stakes. This is genuine, home cooked Vietnamese food – in fact you could easily think you are sitting in Mai´s dining room (you are).

Fine Dining Restaurant: 99 Restaurant (Providencia)

This restaurant is winning in every way. It´s been named one of the 25 best restaurants in Latin America and is frequently lauded by the dining out community, though it has yet to become common knowledge. Excellent value, service and food – make your booking before it really reaches its stride.

Food Delivery: La Paloma Saludables (Santiago)

Organic fruit, vegetables, Weleda products, vegan options, and things such as almond flour and coconut oil – all delivered to your door. Friendly service and they have a refrigerated van.

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Photo: Agricola Tinajacura

Free Range: Agricola Tinajacura (La Reina)

The physical store is in La Reina, but Tinajacura deliver to all of Santiago. This family run business sells free range eggs and meat from happy chickens, and antibiotic-free lamb.

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Home Cooked: South Indian Flavours (Las Condes)

Ingredients brought from India combined with lengthy fermentation techniques and prepared from scratch using the best fresh vegetables and meat from Tinajacura, this is the best option for Indian food, south Indian style, for you to enjoy in your own home.

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Romantic: Zully (Barrio Concha y Toro)

Visually, Zully is a restaurant that cannot be beaten, nestled in a sector with the power to transport you back in time. Its steps are laden with rose petals, there are expansive flower arrangements on each table and the themed rooms are dimly lit, quiet and private – perfect for eye gazing. The food is impressive – visibly stunning – and the restaurant frequently has deals.

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Touristic: Peumayen (Bellavista)

Peumayen is a beautiful restaurant. The service is amazing, waiters are bilingual and professional and the food … the food is so good. It might not be for everyone given that it combines various indigenous foods and amalgamates them into a fine dining experience (that means ingredients like horse, testicles etc).

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Vegan: Vegan Bunker (Ñuñoa)

This place is my go-to for a quick bite to eat that is healthy and cheap – bonus points for being vegan. They always have a filling set menu but the real highlight is the cake display – so good!

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Vegetarian: El Huerto (Providencia)/ Quinoa (Vitacura)

This was a difficult toss up. On the one hand, El Huerto has huge portions that are delicious and spread across various cuisines, but it also has average service and a below average seating arrangement. Quinoa, on the other hand, has a relaxed and calm setting with good service and excellent food but the menu is smaller and portions are definitely so.  Varanasi (Vitacura) is another excellent option for vegetarians but it is not strictly veg-only – the menu contains meat, chicken and fish, as well as gluten free and vegan meals.

 

SIGHTS

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Bahai Temple (Peñalolen)

Joining temples in India, Australia, Uganda, Germany, Panama, Samoa and North America (among others), this center of religious worship welcomes all creeds and provides a relaxing, tranquil setting to commune with oneself or a higher power. The temple is awe-inspiring, perfect for photographers, but it is also incredibly romantic.

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Costanera Center Observation Deck (Las Condes)

A jarring addition to the Santiago skyline, this behemoth skyscraper reaches upward with phallic splendor, providing the most impressive views of the city and leaving the mighty Cerro San Cristobal hill far below. It isn´t cheap to ride up but it takes just two minutes and the vista is worth it, particularly during sunset.

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General Cemetery (Recoleta)

This is the oldest cemetery in Chile and one of the biggest in South America, this is a colossal place to lose yourself amongst the tombs of history.  The skeletons contained would fit into 117 football fields and date back 11 generations. Come here to walk or bike, and lost yourself in silence.

DAY TRIPS

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Salinas Salt Flats and Reserve

Just outside of Cahuil, near to Bucalemu and Pichelemu, are the salt flats of Salinas. This beautiful setting makes for a pleasant walk, particularly for the bird watchers among you, and can be enjoyed by families. Best combined with the beaches.

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La Campana National Park

You can hike, bike, horseride or casually walk to your hearts content in this biosphere reserve, once traversed by Charles Darwin.  This remarkable park is home to a dazzling array of flora and fauna, including the Giant Hummingbird and the majestic Chilean Palm, which is sadly endangered.

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Photo: Trish Shaw

Embalse el Yeso (Cajon del Maipo)

The Maipo Canyon is like a detox for the soul – particularly after the city.  One of the best ways to escape it all is to detour to the Embalse el Yeso, a huge reservoir that supplies water to Santiago.  The drive is scenic and you would be hard pressed to find a better spot to experience the mountains.

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Casas del Bosque (Casablanca Valley)

This winery has been named the best Chilean Wine Producer at the International Wine & Spirits Competition in London for the last two years, and it´s restaurant, Tanino, has been named as one of the best twenty winery restaurants. Aside from the wine (click the link for more information), the winery makes for a lovely day out, perhaps for hiking or bike riding.

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Valparaiso

The hills are perfect for walkers, art lovers, amateur photographers or those seeking a bit of culture, while the flat city and the port are for those looking to immerse themselves in history. For centuries, Valpo was the most happening place in Chile, port of entry and departure, and throughout the course of time has been plagued by pirates, been a center for the South American slave trade and attracted innumerable artists – all of which have left their mark upon this incredible UNESCO heritage spot.

 

Where are your favorite spots? Share them in the comments so I can check them out!

Cover Photo: Trish Shaw

Ghosts of the Past: Exploring the General Cemetery

Those of you who have used our business, Miles & Smiles, may have noticed that we offer a tour named after my blog, Querida Recoleta. It was important to me to have an option that was a little different to all the usual options offered by agencies, particularly if it showcases how so many people in Santiago live.

It also includes a visit to the General Cemetery, which is probably my favorite place in Santiago.  Where else can you go to immerse yourself in history, take some great photos and walk or bike to your hearts content, sometimes to the sound of nothing but your breath and the distant hum of engines.  I like to go here to look at the architecture, read the names and think about all the people that came before me and called this place home.  I don´t find it to be morbid or unsettling – in fact I find it to be a calm, peaceful place to go when I need to step away and reflect.

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It is also almost alive with history.  This is the oldest cemetery in Chile where you can find 11 generations buried with enough skeletons to cover 117 football pitches. It was born in the 19th century beside hospitals and medical institutions so that bodies could be quickly taken away and looked after; before 1821, bodies were buried under ground which is today underneath the city pavement.

Patio 29 is where you can find all the unmarked graves of the disappeared, many of whom were abandoned in the Mapocho river, and close examination of tombstones will reveal the deaths that occurred during various epidemics (one particular area is dedicated to the lives lost during the 1887 cholera epidemic, which claimed 100,000).

 

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