Getting close to nature

After six weeks in the UK catching up with family, friends, doctors, dentists, shops, chandlers and computer fixers (and a few days in LA on the way back), we are about to plop Lady Jane in the water to restart our sailing adventures. 
 
For the last two weeks, we have been getting closer to nature, living in the boatyard where the current sanitation facilities are limited to a shed in the corner of the yard containing a temperamental shi**er and a shower hose. But that’s soon to change. The new toilet facilities here are nearly finished – currently in use for close friends and family, and people with no boundaries. 
 

And, in the interest of better onboard sanitation, we replaced the toilet hoses on Lady Jane (no mean feat given that they are hidden behind cabinetry last moved in 1988). 

We have performed some minor gelcoat repairs, cleaned and re-oiled the teak, polished the hull, replaced a skin fitting, and have installed a large inverter so that we can make better use of the excess solar energy we are producing. The primary purpose of this inverter is to power Maria’s new bread-making machine; one of the many items brought back from the UK, each contributing to our six bags of hold luggage (although the bread maker came back as hand luggage; there was no way Maria was letting it out of her sight). And we are pleased to find that the breadmaker works. Taking into account the cost of the inverter, cabling, and its contribution to excess baggage, the price of each loaf is currently running at c.£500. 

Mind the gap

I am mindful of the delay between this update and the last one from Easter Island. This delay is due to ‘technical difficulties’ and surprisingly, given that we have been away for so long, time constraints:

  1. my computer refused to start again (this time it went down for longer than French air traffic controllers on strike)
  2. we have been whizzing around as though we are possessed.

But now that the smart people at Apple have taken my Mac apart, reset it, cleaned it and added a new battery, we are back in business. The Mac still occasionally sulks but with fewer breakdowns and for not as long.

From Easter Island, we flew to Santiago, Chile. Unfortunately, although we remember it being a lot of fun, our collective memories cannot detail our adventures there, so this is more of a photographic record:

Santiago – Chile

We arrived in Chile with some trepidation. I had already changed our hotel from the Crowne Plaza, located near to where the disturbances were in full swing, to a Chilean hotel in a more remote part of the city; this proved to be a good move. We learned more about Pisco Sour than we ever would at a US hotel chain. But it was wine, rather than Pisco, that attracted us to two of the tours we enjoyed. Chilean wine producers make some of the finest wines in the world. And it is one of the few countries that, after phylloxera destroyed vast swathes of European grapevines, still produce Carmenere.

Before hitting the vineyards and the wine, however, we thought it appropriate to try to find out a little more about what’s happening in Chile to make people rise the way they have. So, we went on a walk with Wally (actually Jose from Tours for Tips) he’s the one on the right in the photograph below:

Where’s Wally?

I am not going to get into any political stuff on this blog. There is enough reliable information on the demonstrations on the internet on what going on. But I can more than understand why the protestors are doing what they are doing and why they have such widespread support.

Hardly anywhere in the city is untouched by graffiti, as can be seen in this gallery – but it’s still a stunner.

Valparaiso 

After a relatively short coach trip from Santiago, we arrived at the coastal town of Valparaiso; the often-photographed home to colourful houses and incredible street art. And, incredulously, they even have a couple of dog tourist guides to help people find their way around. 

Santa Rita Vineyard

The first winery we visited was the Santa Rita, located around 45 minutes from the centre of Santiago, close to the foothills of the Andes and even closer to the Carmen vineyard that prides itself on Carmenere production. Good wines here and very traditional-looking.

Underraga vineyard

The best of the wine tours: Underraga. We learned more about viniculture here than from any wine tour elsewhere. The guide had an excellent command of English and his subject. The grounds are beautiful and the wines superb. 

Andes

After seeing the armies in Santiago, it only seemed right to see the Andes up in the mountains, so our final tour was a long one up towards the Argentian border where we witnessed these spectacular views. And an off-duty St Bernard.

Tomorrow is launch day, so we have some last-minute shopping and boat preparation to do. We plan to sail over to the next island for a bit of R&R to let the boatyard-related scratches and bruises heal. 

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