Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Dia de la Virgen del Carmen (Our Lady of Mont Carmel)

We spent the holiday on the beach in Zapallar.

It is about a 2 1/2 hour drive from Santiago. There are other amazing beaches closer but we heard this one was much more private and our friends were there!

Roberto and Ignacia lived in the US for about 3 months this past December-February and we were able to get to know them a little better. They have 4 kids ranging in age from a college sophomore to a 14 year old that is only a couple of days younger than my Alex. They are great people and I truly enjoy Ignacia. She took an english language class at ASU while in Arizona and her english is very good, which is a relief for me. I really like her, so it was an enjoyable afternoon with friends.

We took the scenic way out and the drive was beautiful:

One of the tunnels is a full 8-10 minutes long. It was a little intimidating. It was also about $8USD to go through it. But it's better than 1/2 hour of switch backs.

We passed lots of agriculture along the way. Tons of flowers and avocado:

The rows of trees along on the side of the mountain are avocado trees:

When we finally caught a glimpse of the water - I was in heaven. It was absolutely beautiful. Just south of Zapallar, we drove around Cachagua for a quick little look-see. This is the town where you can take a boat out and around a little island that has penguins. We will plan to do that adventure very soon.

Zapallar has a main landmark called "One Tree Hill". It separates two main areas. A beautiful rocky area full of tide pools and an unbelievable sandy beach.

There is such beauty in both extreme landscapes. The rocks were stunning.

There was a stone pathway that allowed for an easy stroll along the beach.

The kids enjoyed exploring the tide pools.

The tide was coming in and we told the boys to be careful. They didn't believe us and almost got wet. The "WOAH! Mom, did you see that?" expression on Andrew's face cracks me up.

We headed to the northern side of "One Tree Hill" and met Roberto for a stroll along the sandy beach. The stone pathway continues on here. It stretches for about 5 kilometers along the water in Zapallar.

The water here is turquoise blue like in the Caribbean but it is surrounded by mountains like the beaches in Oregon. A perfect combination!

We walked along the pathway and eventually up to Roberto and Ignacia's vacation home for appetizers before our lunch reservation at 2:30. They served wine, (Sprite for us) and delicious cheeses and crackers. They served this smoked salmon/cream cheese roll that was to die for! I'll have to get that recipe from their nana.

Their home has a stunning view of the beach. They said that on New Year's Eve there is a fireworks show on the beach and they have an amazing view from their patio.

We went to a lovely little seafood place on the water for lunch. Nicolas (the CFO for the company down here) and his wife joined us. They have a place in Zapallar as well. In fact we saw this statue with Nicolas' family name on it. Apparently his great-grandfather was one of the first mayors or something.

We are exploring the option of spending Christmas here. There is only one hotel with few rooms, but we hope to find a home to rent. Years ago, one man owned all this land. He gave it away to his friends with the understanding that they were to build homes on their part. Many took him up on his offer and the homes have remained in the families for generations. This gives a very family feel to the area. Everyone here has been friends for years and years. It also keeps it very exclusive and private. Finding a rental will be a challenge, but Roberto has offered to help.

We sat on the beach until sunset and then headed back home.

On the way home we stopped at one of the roadside stands for some fresh produce. We bought some clementines that are out-of-this-world, lemons, avocados (of course) and a large bag of oranges for juicing. It was a perfect day!

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