Continued from Part 1: Sunday, August 13th brought another free day for us to explore and we made a plan to take the metro into the center of town, through some sights Chad found in the Lonely Planet Chilean Guidebook, and see what loose adventures we could find along the way. We took a new friend and fellow student with to see the sights. We started at Santa Lucia Hill, hiking and exploring the architecture and gardens. The route to the top was filled with beautiful flora and fauna, and breathtaking views of the city. The higher we climbed the more spectacular the view became. It peaked with a gorgeous 360-degree view of Santiago, the surrounding area, and the backdrop of the Andes in almost every direction.
Making our way down Santa Lucia Hill, we headed toward Mercado Central fish market, walking through a forest park and several small markets along the way. We were noticing how late everything was opening up and made comments as to how much more noticeably demanding the American consumer must be. Imagine if our consumers had to wait for stores to be open instead of demanding 24-hour services and shopping… Imagine if we actually had Thanksgiving and the Friday after as family time instead of bum-rushing the stores before we barely finish our turkey dinners. Imagine if we actually just sat back and enjoyed our time instead of filling that time with mindless purchases. It is a glorious sight to imagine, and one I was witnessing right in front of my eyes… It was after noon on a Sunday and businesses were just getting started for the day!
Mercado Central fish market was a sight to see! I wish I had taken more photographs walking through because it was something I had never seen before. I’m sure it rivals the famous markets in Seattle… We were ushered into a makeshift restaurant in the center of the market, Donde Augusto, which boasted an exquisite seafood menu complete with $150 kind crab options, traditional soups, casseroles, and my favorite dish from when I traveled to Europe when I was 15 years old: Paella. I had to get it! Chad found a dish with a savory local Chilean fish, and our new friend Holly spied a soup at the table next to us that came highly recommended and she gave that a try. All three were unbelievable! I am not one for oysters or mussels, but with a little coaxing, I gave it a shot. Holly ate the other and said it wasn’t the best so I shouldn’t judge my like or dislike based on this one… Either way, Donde Augusto delivered incredible seafood dishes and an extremely enjoyable experience! We even got a serenade by a little band of tres hombres!
With our Sunday missions accomplished and a bit of daylight left, we headed back to Bella Vista for a bit of shopping and exploring. We decided to stop off for happy hour and each enjoyed a few too many Pisco sours. Pisco is a local liquor here and pisco sours are a dangerous refreshment that goes down too easily! We were cozily tucked in bed and thankful for the metros to get us home safely.
Monday was our day to head back to the drop zone. The weather was perfect for jumping and the best cure for a “maybe too much pisco” is altitude and avgas. Our new friend and a fellow jumper from Skydive Wissota rented a car and Maria was excited to make her first skydive. I had never jumped out of the US before and Micah’s wife gifted Chada fewf his ashes to scatter on our trip. It was a huge honor and beyond humbling to be able to have the opportunity to skydive with a piece of Micah one last time. The local jumpers, most if not all of whom had heard of or had been blessed to meet him were more than gracious enough to lend gear and organize a jump with us in his honor. Now, it’s no secret that since moving to Maryland our jumping has taken a huge hit. We don’t get the opportunity to make skydives more than once or twice a year, barely enough to stay current… so when a group of friends of Micah’s want to take you tracking in his honor over the Andes Mountains – I am sure as hell not going to say no; however, I’m also so far out of practice that my expectations are leaning toward hilarious at best. The skydive simply went: Amy botched the exit, spent 20 seconds busting ass to catch up, busted ass to stay with it as long as possible while my body did funny things and got the “high-speed wobbles” (thank you Squirrely) and then lost them for the remainder of the jump! (Watch the skydive here!)
I pulled around 3,000 feet and screamed in elation for the entire canopy ride down! I’ll be honest, it was impossible to keep a dry eye. We toasted our skydive with a local brew made for the DZ and eventually gave our hugs and thanks and headed home.
Our Tuesday adventures (Aug 15th if you’re lost!) as a group had us heading over to the port city of Valparaiso and Vina del Mar. Valparaiso is the most important port city in South America and an important cultural aspect to Chile from an artisan perspective. It’s considered a city of Bohemia. There are ordinances and regulations protecting the historic value and landscape. The graffiti and street art is representative of the native people’s struggles with current cultures. Valparaiso is thriving on tourism and the shipping industry, sometimes blending the two with seaport tours by boat!
We also had the opportunity to eat ice cream at Emporio La Rosa, which is one of the top 25 ice cream shops in the world and makes one of the most famous flavors in the world: Helado de Rosa… Rose flavored ice cream! It tasted lovely, though slightly like perfume – haha!
We ventured to Vina del Mar, a stunning beach community outside Valparaiso. We shared laughs, enjoyed the cool sea breeze and split a bottle of wine from Ventisquero while the waves crashed around us. It was a unique moment of downtime to enjoy each other’s company in one of the most amazing places on Earth. A definite highlight of our trip for me.
Wednesday was all business as we trekked four hours one way by bus to the Center for Research and Innovation of wine, vineyards, and vinification for the 2nd largest winery in the world: Concha y Toro. Our gracious hosts greeted us with coffee, juice and light fare before we delved into our presentation and discussion on sustainability in the wine making industry.
Because I did my capstone project on the sustainability in craft breweries, a lot of the Concha y Toro presentation was parallel and familiar to my report. This research center focuses on strengthening plant material through genetics and biodiversity, studying water scarcity (Chile has been in a mega-drought since 2010) and the impact of climate change. They also are responsible for the study of chemical analysis and optimization of the quality of grapes used in winemaking, as well as new product design and market implementation.
Concha y Toro rebranded recently and recognized their need to embrace sustainability in order to remain competitive in their global market. It is no longer enough to have a good product and it is also more economical for them to manage and maintain sustainability initiatives and stands, as well as evolve with the green movement. They also demand ethical and sustainable standards of their suppliers so their influence is a spider web effect with extremely high standards because of their global reach.
We concluded with a formal tasting of four experimental wines from various valleys in Chile. A sauvignon blanc from grapes in Curico, a delicious chardonnay from Elqui, a syrah with grapes from Maipu, and a cabernet from San Felipe. The final two reds were noted to be opened early with an astringent note that would develop into flavors as the wine evolved with age.
With only three hours of sleep due to social extracurricular activities Wednesday night, Thursday brought us to the Chagres Copper Foundry for a presentation on sustainability and environmental impacts, as well as environmental and emissions mitigation. It was particularly interesting to discover John had a lot of hands-on experience with Wisconsin’s initiatives in copper smelting and was able to provide some additional education throughout the presentation. Most notably, he pointed out that Chagres and Potrerillos have similar copper processing capacities yet their sulfur dioxide emissions are drastically different. The SO2 emissions in Chagres sit at 13,944 tons/year and Potrerillos can take in 65,280 tons/year. Chagres clearly has a competitive advantage and is an environmental leader in sustainability.
With an afternoon free, and some amazing weather, I opted to jog from our hotel to Los Dominicos market to meet friends for shopping and an early dinner. To say my workouts have been few and far between is a complete understatement… My F&B consumption has been quite liberal on the other hand so I’m actually surprised that my pants still fit! My out of shape current condition was ever more apparent on a brief two-mile run!! I started planning a detox and regimen when I return, but I know the opportunities I have now are not permanent so I’ll make the most of it!
I found some beautiful gifts for family and friends, and Chad bought me a beautiful (and adorable) handmade hat. We dined on local beer and an authentic corn dish. I also splurged on Chilean candy for Landon to try!
Chad and I ended the evening packing while we split a bottle of Concha y Toro white blend since we would be checking out of our hotel in the morning. It was our final night in Santiago, the sunset was stunning, and it became a bit of a milestone with a reminder that our trip was coming to an end.
Friday, August 18th was our collaborative 2nd Green Innovations Conference hosted by UDD and UWGB. I had the opportunity to hear presenters from all over the world, who came together to present and discuss research on various topics within Water, Energy and Waste Management. Our own John Katers, Dean of the College of Science and Technology at UWBG and Mike Zarn, Associate Dean of the College of Science and Technology at UWGB presented on waste and energy management and water resource management issues local to the Wisconsin and Green Bay area. I was also fortunate enough to hear Doctors from Columbia University, Universidad Santiago in Chile, Universidad de Castilla la Mancha in Spain, and other experts from around the world. Additionally, a few of our peers were able to conclude the conference with their own presentations on the Masters of Science in Sustainable Management program with UW-Extension, developing sustainability frameworks and self-assessments for small and medium enterprises, and sustainability in primary education in the United States.
It’s hard to sum up such an incredible opportunity, and my only regret was not preparing a brief presentation to give in front of my peers… I would have loved the chance to present and get feedback on my research! … stay tuned for the third and final part of my Chilean adventure!