Saturday, 31 October 2009

Argentina Imports Wine From Chile

I came across this interesting bit of news this morning.

For the first time since 1993, Argentina has had to import wine from Chile to keep up with demand. A major drought in Mendoza has led to a 30% drop in its red wine production. 2% of Argentine wine is now Chilean. 900,000 hectares of Argentine vineyard has seen a 60% fall in production. That's pretty serious.

This should give pause for thought for those who have been cheerleading Argentine vineyard real estate for the last few years...Chile's a far better and safer bet on so many levels. And there's plenty of water here.

If you're interested in buying a vineyard or real estate in Chile, please just get in touch: Chile Investments.

Thursday, 22 October 2009

This Is Chile (Sometimes)

Chilean Organisational Structure:

And a photo I took today in Easy in Curico:

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Renovations: They're Back.

I really enjoy renovating properties, despite the constant hassle of dealing with maestros and the buying of materials.

Work started a couple of weeks ago in my new house here in Santa Cruz. A new garden wall is almost finished which will provide a bit more privacy than the existing one, all of 1.3m high.

And now the interior is being ripped apart. So far, we've opened up two rooms into one big room, put in skylights in the new studio apartment, new bathroom and above where the kitchen will be. Over the weekend the electricians left the plastic tubing ready to be wired this coming weekend. Finally, the plumber started installing the new everything today.

Now you might be wondering where I find decent maestros. Chilean workers have, shall we say, a reputation. Around here people say, Para ser maestro, primero hay que ser mentiroso. And it's often true, unfortunately. But I've got some decent guys working with me. Some of them are the same people who renovated my house in Valparaiso. I've got the plumber, electricians and carpenter from there. I also managed to find an excellent, local builder who's doing the brick and cement work. He lies- quite frequently, actually- but I know when it's important and when it's not. He's well aware that I am experienced in this renovation game and if he wants to get paid, he has to do the work...

One of the many advantages of being foreign in Chile is that I can say exactly how I want something done and if the person looks shocked or doubtful, I just say, "That's how we do it in England and that's how it needs be to be done." You can get away with so much by repeating that line over and over...

I'm hopeful that we'll be finished by the first week of December. It's by no means certain...there's a fair bit of work to do. We'll see...

The living room looking out to the garden.

We took this wall out to create one large living/dining room and kitchen. Look- a new skylight.

The new garden wall (we kept the gruta but still haven't decided what to put in it).

We're turning two rooms into the main suite with a half-wall to divide the bedroom part from what will be a mini-living room. We'll also knock through to create an en-suite bathroom.

That's all for now. I'll take more photos as things progress.

Sasha: Bigger

Yeah, I know I promised this wouldn't become a blog about how cute my pets are but...

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Vina Santa Cruz

A while back, I took a tour of Vina Santa Cruz, owned by the same person who built the Hotel Plaza Santa Cruz and the amazing museum (more on that at a later date)- Carlos Cardoen (he owns half the town, actually).

The vineyard is pretty spectacular, set in a stunning valley about 15 minutes from Santa Cruz, camino a Lolol. Along with the typical tasting, the tour includes a short bubble-lift ride up to the top of a hill, providing fantastic views of the vineyard. At the top, there's an interesting outdoor mini-history of Chile from prehistory, through to the native Mapuches. The vineyard also boasts one of the largest private observatories in the world (night tours are offered).

You can book a tour in the hotel or via Ruta Cruz. Recommended.

Monday, 12 October 2009

La Casita de Barreales

La Casita de Barreales is far and away the best restaurant in Santa Cruz. It is consistently excellent. And best of all, it's Peruvian. The best food you'll eat is Chile is Peruvian. Thankfully, the general animosity felt by many Chileans towards the country of Peru is put to one side when it come to Peruvian cuisine, rather like the English and the French, Italians, Spanish, Germans etc :)

This restaurant is probably the best Peruvian restaurant I've been to in Chile. It does certain things really, really well...such as the incredible ceviche and the excellent lomo saltado and tacu tacu. The lamb is also very good at the moment as it's Marchigue Spring lamb season at the moment. I haven't had anything that I wouldn't readily choose again. That's really something in a Chilean restaurant..!

La Casita de Barreales is a couple of minutes drive from the Plaza de Armas, on the road out towards Barreales (just past Vina Laura Hartwig).

Saturday, 10 October 2009


Sundays are usually pretty boring. That's why we usually go to the seaside to take the dogs for a long walk on the beach. Our preferred spots are Bucalemu and Pichilemu, 45 and 60 minutes away from Santa Cruz respectively. We like Bucalemu more because once you get past the first 100m, you have a couple of km of open beach with nobody else around- perfect for dog walking. Also, there's a small restaurant that has the best fried cheese and prawn empanadas I've had in Chile.

Pichilemu is quite a lot busier as more people live there and it's one of Chile's premier surf spots as well so it's not the best place to let the dogs off their leads. The funny thing is, despite the thousands of terrifying looking street dogs in Chile, Chileans are only petrified of dogs with collars and owners.

This is one of the great things about living in Santa Cruz- you're surrounded by beautiful countryside and mountain views but just an hour away, you're on a deserted beach looking out over the Pacific.

However, we can't go today. When we adopted Bella, we wanted to wait until she was healthier and better fed before having her spayed. We also wanted her to feel more comfortable with us and trust us more. But we waited too long. And now she's in heat. So the poor thing is now cooped up in the back yard until she's back to normal again. And she should be back to normal pretty soon- we went to the vet and now Bella is on the (fabulously named) pill which will make her cycle shorter. She seems to really love it...

The drive to and the beach at Pichilemu:

Bucalemu's deserted beach:

Thursday, 8 October 2009

Santa Cruz: Totally Random

I thought this was the sort of thing that only happened in Valpo. A short while ago, some absurdly loud and embarrassingly god-awful latino love/dance song started up in what sounded like the back yard. I ignored it for a few minutes, hoping the neighbours would turn it down when they realised that there are only so many sentences one can make out of 'Te amo', 'corazon', 'labios' and 'amor' and thus become bored with the tedium of it all.

However, it didn't stop. So I investigated. The investigation discovered a parade of pure randomness: School kids dressed up as if in a fairy tale. There were ogres, weird looking things, knights and a princess riding a horse. There were floats pulled by tractors. And kids throwing water at each other. The police even provided an escort.

I was going to ask what it was all in aid of but then I realised I'd rather remain oblivious and draw my own, far more interesting, conclusions.

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Santa Cruz Cemetery

If you've been reading Corrugated City for a while then you'll know I'm quite the fan of cemeteries. I had an hour or so to kill today whilst waiting for new tyres to be put on my car and the local cemetery was around the corner. I decided to pop in and see how it compared to (the four) in Valpo, Punta Arenas and the two Buenos Aires cemeteries, Recoleta and Chacarita (the last being my personal favourite out of all, although Pere Lachaise in Paris is also pretty awesome).

To be honest, it doesn't compare and I knew this would be the case before going in. After all, Santa Cruz is just a small town whilst Valpo and Buenos Aires were and still are, to some extent, vibrant, wealthy, multicultural cities.

Still, the cemetery here is really quite pretty, covered in flowers and well-tended graves. You see a lot of Correas, Mujicas and Zuñigas, three traditional families from the area. Their names jumped out because I know a few members of all three.

If you fancy a quiet piece of Santa Cruz history, then the cemetery is the best place to start.