Thursday, 24 March 2011

Vendimia & Other News

So Vendimia was a couple of weeks ago. I did manage to get to it on the Saturday night, just in time to see the coronation of the Reina de la Vendimia.

The festival was really quite entertaining. On the Saturday, the Plaza de Armas was completely packed with revellers from all levels of society. It was great to see so many people having fun. There were stands from all of the local vineyards, local arts and crafts, local hats (the ubiquitous chupalla) and, of course, parrillas selling lamb (as I've mentioned before, Colchagua lamb is the best in South America), beef and whatever else can be thrown on a barbequeue.

Here are some photos...

What else..? Well, I bought another small apartment in Bellas Artes in Santiago and we're half way through renovating it. Work on the other apartment I have is still stalled for a while, but we should be back up and running within a month.

Anyway, this smaller one is located on Merced, almost opposite the Lider supermarket. It's only about 55m2 and has one bedroom. For some ridiculous reason, when they built the apartments in the 50s, they decided to make the kitchen tiny (and I mean tiny- it's a triangle, with less than 3m2).

The bathroom, on the other hand, is huge, almost 12m2. So we're changing them around. That's basically the biggest job, along with rewiring. We'll be finished in a week, although the kitchen cabinets will take another month, probably. If you're interested in renting, it'll be an awesome place- price around $260,000 per month. Not much point in photos at the moment, it's full of building materials and you can't see anything. Next week I should be able to post some.

And I've been working on a large deal for work as well. I can't go into details as nothing is finalised and it may not even happen, but it's been keeping me crazy busy for the last couple of weeks.

Here's a reineta I barbequeued last week, in various stages of being eaten:

And here's a really amazing investment opportunity in Casablanca- 200 hectares of potential vineyard, plenty of water and 700 hectares of beautiful hillside covered in native forest. It's just 45 minutes from Santiago and 30 minutes to Vina and Valpo.

Finally, here's another video of my dogs- there's a little island in the river as water levels are low. Whenever Sasha tries to get off it, Bella runs after him and tries to throw him into the water. Hopefully, we'll have a really wet Winter- we need the water- and the island will soon disappear.

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

A Year Later...

I can't quite believe it's been over a year since the monster earthquake of the 27th February 2010. It's just gone so quickly and I feel like I've done both very little and quite a lot...

Work-wise, the earthquake was a bit of a killer. Obviously, when an event like that happens, foreigners don't really want to invest in a country. So last year was awfully quiet on that front. Thankfully, people generally have short memories and this year has got off to a flyer. Business has picked up enormously compared to this time 12 months ago so I'm pretty hopeful this will be my best year so far. If you're interested in real estate in Chile, just click on the link.

If you remember, after the earthquake, a group of us set up an emergency fund to build mediaguas (basic wooden huts) for the people in the village of Poblacion. We raised around US$40,000 and built over 90 shelters, covering about 95% of the needs of the village. We're pretty proud of what we managed in such a short period of time. After this, we set about forming an official charitable organisation (in our case, the easiest option was a corporacion). After a vast bureaucratic nightmare, we finally formed the Corporacion Campo Antiguo, for which I'm the Director of Communications (I was voted in on Saturday!).

We've been a bit quiet recently as we've been doing mainly administrative work getting ourselves set up, but the big news is that we've been donated the Casa de las Hermanas Morales, the biggest house in Poblacion. Belonging to the traditionally wealthiest family in the village, the house was donated on the understanding that we would renovate it (it was damaged in the earthquake) and then convert it into a community centre and trade school. So that's the big plan for this year...we now need to find the funding. So if you have a spare US$250,000 lying around, please let me know.

This is the house from before the earthquake:

And after- it was damaged in the 'quake, but not beyond repair:

The street is named after the sisters:

Colchagua, in general, has bounced back incredibly well since the earthquake. There's still a lot of rebuilding work to be done, but everything here is running as it should. The vineyards are all ok, the hotels are all open, as are the restaurants. Tourism is a big part of the local economy so it was important everything returned to normal as quickly as possible. It's been very impressive to see how people reacted in this part of the country.

What else..? I went to Colombia for 10 days and loved it. I bought a couple of apartments in Santiago (still haven't got around to renovating them, though...long story...). I went home to England for Christmas and got very cold. And I went to Ecuador for a week and had a lovely time.

I've got into a nice little routine here in Colchagua of dog walking, hanging out with friends and, occasionally (!) working- I'm actually busy most of the time. Life is good. It was difficult to see how that would be possible this time last year. It's amazing how quickly things change.

Happy dogs: