This morning, I got up a little bit later than usual, as we didn’t have to be at school and on the bus until 9:30. Despite this, I was still a little tired, and slept for a good while during our trip to Santa Rica Vineyard, one of the two most famous vineyards in Chile. We arrived at 11:00, and as we had a bit of time before the tour, we were allowed to explore the grounds for a bit before the tour started. One of the coolest things (in my opinion) about the winery was the museum of 14,000 Pre-Colombian artifacts on display in the grounds. The great-great grandson of the vineyard’s founder was a great fan and collector of historical artifacts, and when he inherited the vineyard from his father, he built the museum on the grounds to house his collection. We could have easily spent the whole day in there, studying the various pots, statues, and articles of clothing on display, but we had to leave for the tour. We toured the vineyards themselves, which had been harvested a few months previous, the fermentation tanks, the bottling station, and two of the old wine cellars where they still store the wine in wooden barrels to further ferment and age. Our final stop was a wine cellar beneath the the main house, which was used as a makeshift army barracks and hospital during the War for Chilean Independence. We of course concluded with a wine tasting, and while some may appreciate the smell and flavor of a good wine, I am not one of those people, and had to pass. I did have a sip, but to me, all wines have a nasty, medicinal taste comparable to rubbing alcohol. Maybe my palate isn’t as refined as some, but I still don’t care for the taste.
Our second stop was Concha y Toro (Shell and Bull) Winery, which was a little further away, and was arguably the more famous of the two. The tour was much shorter, but we saw much more of the grounds, including a sprawling garden, the mansion where the owners of the vineyard live, and the vineyard itself. On our way to the main building for part 2 of the tour, we stopped by a station to sample some of their sauvignon blanc, which, I’m sorry, still tasted awful to me. Making our way from there, we entered into one of their above-ground wine cellars and made our way downstairs to an old brick-and-mortar cellar that they had reconstructed after the recent earthquake. Past this cellar, we came to the infamous “Casillero del Diablo,” or “The Wine Cellar of the Devil.” According to local legend, the very best wine in the world was stored in this cellar, and countless people would risk their lives to get their hands on one bottle. Two thieves succeeded in stealing a bottle, but when they heard that the devil himself inhabited the wine cellar and would punish whoever stole a bottle of his wine, they quickly changed their minds and took it back. However, they were in for a surprise when a fiery apparition caught them in the cellar trying to replace the bottle, and they were never heard from again. This was all told to us with a fancy light- and slide-show in the cellar itself which was really cool, if a bit surprising, especially when the doors closed and the lights went out on us. On the way back up, we stopped at another station to try their famous merlot (still bitter), and stopped at the wine store to browse their wares. I didn’t buy anything, but the best part had to be when Nathan (a WELS pastor studying at the school with us) discovered a five-gallon bottle of wine they were selling for 1,000,000 pesos. I’m not sure what the conversion is for that, but I’m sure it’s well over 10,000 USD.
My classmates were getting a tad tipsy by this point, so we piled back on to the bus and stopped at a local steakhouse for dinner that night. Besides a good dinner (steak, a bit too well-done for my liking, salad, rice, and ice cream), I had a good conversation with a nice girl named Alyssa who is attending the same school as me. We discussed our favorite foods (she told me about Christmas dinner at her home. They have prime rib instead of turkey or ham! I’m jealous…) and a little bit about the past week, including our favorite classes and some of the things we learned in class. After a while, she was getting a bit tired, so I let her put her head down on my shoulder and rest until the food got to the table. Besides the chewy steak the night was very enjoyable, and we had a nice talk with a traveling musician who was teaching us about famous Chilean singers.
Just like before, I slept the rest of the way home, and the ride was very peaceful, except when we passed a massive futbol (soccer to you gringos) that was going on in the park across from Providencia Avenue. I didn’t have dinner that night, but my housemates and I had good conversation with Julio, Ernesto and Morelia’s son. It was definitely one of the stranger ones, as it began with discussing Spanish cuss words (I think the air was starting to turn blue, but it may have just been my imagination), and ended with a discussion of the weirder aspects of pop culture, including flaites (Chilean kids obsessed with rap and hip-hop), hipsters (shudder), and…bronies (ugh). If you don’t know what those are, I am telling you now, DON’T EVER FIND OUT!!! Anyways, after that weird night, we retired to our rooms and were out at 10:30. And so ends my second weekend excursion in South America. Coming soon, Week #3, Excursion #3, and a very big and surprising change in my life. What is it? Well, you’ll just have to wait and find out! Until next time, God bless and stay well!