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Monday, March 8, 2010

Summertime in South America with VM Elite Viajes

Hello friends of VM Elite Viajes and Voyages Millefleurs Travel Adventures!

It has been a fair while sinceI have been able to add an entry from Chile, the South American VM HQ. It has been a wonderful year of learning about Chilean tax laws, visas, work contracts and just general business setup. After feeling a bit ¨sola¨ in the office in preparing this tour operating agency, I am pleased to announce that the VM Elite Viajes office here in Santiago has had a bumper summer season, thanks to some adventurous travellers from Canada.

I must include a note in this blog that the season here started with the visits of my parents, first my mother came to visit us in Santiago to do the not-so-normal tourist visits - we sent her up in a glider plane to have an arial view of Santiago!! One can do this here in Stgo, as we have one of the only aerodromos right in the middle of the city! With Corinne we ate in exquisite restaurants, drank nice chilean wines and even got a bit of work done!!

Two days after Corinne´s visit the other ¨padres¨ arrived all the way from Yellowknife, NWT where they are living for a time. This was a 37º celsius shift for them as we had a hot hot December here in Chile. Of course, any weather that was above -20ºc for them was balmy!! Dad (Myles) and Phyllis we set off on a great adventure at the beaches and the volcanoes. The first day of their arrival we set off straight to the beach, visited the penguins in Cachagua and participated in a real Chilean asado or BBQ. We were soon off for more adventures in the other beach towns of Zapallar, where we saw the NYE fireworks and Maitencillo, the surf beach where Myles discovered a beached giant squid, the perfect find for a biology enthusiast!

We travelled 8 hours to Pucón, the tourist town that is nestled under the looming volcano Villarica. Every day during the Christmas season we participated in a new adventure sport or extreme pastime. The Trancura Alto river had just opened so the four of us set out to conquer the 4º to 5º rapids. The next day we were canopy swinging through the native forest, some of the cables up to 1km long!! The unique canyoning experience was amazing. Due to rain that day in the village we decided to spend 7 hours in the wet anyway, walking downriver through canyons and waterfalls of the Rio Trancura annexing stream. This day we learned how to repell backwards down a waterfall or a mudslide zone, which was sometimes the case!! Hardhats and wetsuits were required for most of our christmas vacation in the south, and that´s just how we liked it.

In the middle of the ¨Padres / Dad´s¨ visit we had some old friends join our family unit. We had rented a cabin on the beach for six of us, as we were being joined by a girlfriend of mine from Nova Scotia, and her boyfriend - none of us had ever met as a group but we were such a compatible group that we had such a blast!

Asheley and Jeremie were up for having a good time and we started the year off right, with their vacation full of sunny days and pisco sours. Jeremie tried every beer that Chile makes and fell in love with ceviche. It was great to spend time with a dear friend, especially in such a relaxed atmosphere. Asheley´s family was to join the pair one week after their arrival. We ventured out to the airport to meet them, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police famliy Sullivan!

What an amazing family to travel with! The extended family was such a cohesive unit - and they were game for anything!! Conner tried wine for the first time at Bisquertt Winery during our wine touring days to the Colchagua Valley. Matty tried some exotic food and all enjoyed the flavours of cilantro and onion that you can find everywhere here in Chile. The seafood was a favourite among us all, and we created a real chilean asado BBQ on the terrace of the beautiful, spacious house that they rented for their two week stay in Tunquén, near Algarrobo.

The house came with a pool and a private beach which were highlights of their vacation, a version of ´paletas´a version of beach tennis was played by all members of the family, using the pool as the court! We explored the bat cave, the private beach, the sauna and the billiard room... and that was only at the beach house. Other persuits included the famous visit to the coffee with legs- the chilean´s clandestine hangout- and being harassed by the clown mimes in the Plaza de Armas in Santiago!
I must say we really had a great time and I would like to thank the Sullivans /Takers for including Tomás and I of VM Elite in your holiday.

What a great summer it has been until now.... more to come as I describe the next wine tour of some more fellow Canadians in the wine regions of Chile and Argentina.

Saludos for now!

Natascha