Monday, February 13, 2012

Embalse El Yeso & Pomaire, Chile (1)

We visited Chile, Susy's home country for the first time together at the end of January 2010. We flew from Dusseldorf to Madrid then onto Santiago, a long journey of almost 18 hours but one full of excitement for many reasons. This was a fantastic trip when I (Andy) met for the first time many of my new family and for Susy the opportunity to introduce them to her husband and to explore some of her beautiful homeland as part of a married couple.

After a lovely welcome at the airport from Susy's Mum, her sister Viviana and her two boys Pablo and Rafael we drove into downtown Santiago to check into our hotel in Provedencia. That evening we all met up in Susy's home town of Maipu to enjoy some delicious Empanadas cooked by Susy's Mum. For those of you not familiar with Empanadas they are a bit like Cornish Pasties, simply delicious especially when filled with Chilean seafood as we were to discover later in our trip.

The following morning we travelled again out to Maipu this time to Viviana's house for a family day, for lunch we had a Chilean speciality, Pastel de Choclo and then in the evening a wonderful barbecue, for me a lovely moment as I was made to feel so welcome, a great day and a wonderful meal.

Pastel de choclo in one form or another is popular throughout South America. It is especially popular in Chile, where it is often made with both beef and chicken. Sometimes sliced, hard-boiled eggs are added. Traditionally the pastel is baked in a large oval earthenware dish, or paila, or in several smaller bowls for individual servings.

Getting ready for the feast

The following day we drove out to Embalse del Yeso, Embalse El Yeso is a reservoir located in the Andes, in the  Santiago Metropolitan Region of Chile.  It is formed by the damming of Yeso River, part of Maipo River basin. En route we stopped for lunch in San Jose. We had checked out our guide book before leaving and it suggested that the road down to the reservoir was best driven only in a 4x4. Pedro, Susy's brother disagreed saying it would be no problem. Here I need to point out that we were driving a Toyota with about as much power as an original Fiat 500 and a gear box which didn't like the concept of changing gear. 

After leaving the main road the conditions got steadily worse (fortunately it was summer so the road was dry), the stones got bigger and the road got steeper, at one point our car would barely function in first gear and there wasn't a lot of room to do a u turn and roll back down hill. Picture a scene from Romancing the Stone with Kathleen Turner and Michael Douglas, well you're not too far from the picture. As we started to descend the road get narrower and more rutted and guess what, the traffic was coming two ways!! Still we made it and the spectacular scenery made the trauma more than worth while. Guess what, on the way back I handed the keys to Pedro and said over to you. Now some photos...
Embalse El Yeso

Check out the color of the sky

The following day we drove out to Pomaire along with Susy's Mum and her youngest brother Gabriel. Pomaire is described on as "a small dusty village about 60km west of Santiago. What makes it such a popular destination? Pomaire's shops are overflowing with ceramic pottery in the form of vases, plates, pots and almost anything you can (and can't) imagine at very reasonable prices.

If you have ever eaten at any restaurant in Chile, you can almost say for certain that at least one of the pots or dishes that appeared during the course of the meal, would have been made in Pomaire. We spent a lovely morning there and when it came to lunch, yes for me at least another Empanada, I love them.
Downtown Pomaire 

More from Chile 2010 to come, including the Vinyards of Concha y Toro , Santa Rita and a beautiful day in Valparaiso.