A short train from Santiago (one of the very few trains in south america, it was nice) is San Fernando, and a short bus from there is Las Penas, home of Tumuñan Lodge, our home for September.
We arrived on a cold, misty day but were immediately impressed by the Lodge, it is intimate and beautiful, the main room dominated by a roaring fire. Upon meeting our hosts and the lodge’s owners Will and Carolina we were encouraged to do the trail around the property- it’s big! I had no idea when we signed up that there was so much land, or a vineyard, or a river. Even on a misty day it is pretty incredible when you get up to the peak of the trail, mirador, and can look out across the valley.
There weren’t any guests for our first week, so we and Andrew, a Wwoofer, set to work pruning the vineyard and dredging the irrigation channel. Unfortunately that week was wet and cold, and the wellies had holes in so we were counting down the hours a bit. I had numb fingers and the shower was on the blink so it was a bit miserable. Towards the end of the week guests appeared, which meant we were treated to the amazing food the guests are served here. It seemed worthwhile to be wet through for the three course dinner at the end of the day.
The next week brought a holiday in Chile, and with it the sun and lots of guests. This meant we were introduced to the hospitality side of the job, serving meals and all things related to that. This I enjoy alot, and I haven’t smashed a single thing in three weeks. The guests at the Lodge are largely gringos, so language is no problem, although there have been some Chilean families and my Spanish is holding its own. Egg is a bit more back of house, his hands are showing wear from being at the sink too much. His natural clumsiness is shining through, as he bangs pots and pans down, making a ruckus and disturbing the guests relaxing meals. This had prompted me to remind him frequently to try to be a bit quieter, to which he finally replied that asking him to be more quiet was like asking jack the ripper to be less murdery. How we laughed.
So generally time is split between guest duties and out doors stuff. The weather has been good for a while so pruning the 9000 vines is actually quite a nice task. It’s nice having the chance to get good at something, we have done breakfast so much we are very organised (egg does fruit salad and fresh juice, I lay the table, prepare the cereal, bread, coffee etc.) and can both cook perfect eggs and bacon en masse (would that be scrambled or fried?).
spectacular, and visited a nearby town Santa Cruz, which has the Museo de Colchagua (the name of this region). It is a really impressive museum, one of the best in Chile and had a fascinating exhibition on the rescue of the Chilean miners from 2010.
The lodge offers adventure treks on horse back up into the mountains and, as a treat, we did a 2 day one to finish our time here. So a day of pretty challenging horse riding, taking in some incredible surroundings, then a very authentic camping experience, then up early for a second full day of trekking. Our horses Rana and Charlie were very interesting; egg’s would not stop eating and had a top speed of 2 mph and mine had a fondness for steep downhill sprints that I didn’t share. It was an amazing experience though and the lamb and lentils cooked over the camp fire tasted even better because we had the most beautiful array of stars to gaze at. We agreed that we have never been anywhere so remote, where so few people have stood before, the whole time we didn’t see another person. Just some cows. We had brought lots of layers for the inevitable drop in temperature in the evening and had super, warm sleeping bags, unfortunately it was really warm all night, and we both got a terrible night’s sleep. The wine may have been an issue too. But walking up to look over the snow covered mountains and wash in a crystal clear stream made up for that and I can definitely recommend doing it to anyone who doesn’t mind a bit of bum pain.
Time has passed pretty quickly here and we found ourselves spending a week longer than planned at the lodge. But tomorrow we leave, to properly explore Santiago.
Also this trip: ‘i was enjoying looking for mountain parsley, imagine how much I’m enjoying the rest of the trek!’, Bernard the st bernard, applying for English Opens Doors, I discovered I actually can bake (sorry to everyone from the farm, I’ve left the dark days of crispy polenta cakes) and have made gf bread, chocolate cake, beetroot and orange cake and cornbread, and regular apple doughnuts.