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IE Chile: Valparaiso

The weekend was spent in Valparaiso. En-route to Valparaiso, we stopped by Emiliana Vineyard to taste some of their range of organic wines. Next we moved on to Vina del Mar, which is a municipality in the Valparaiso region and best known for its long sandy beaches. The city was a welcome breath of fresh air from Santiago. Everyday we were lulled to sleep by the murmurs of waves, waxing and waning to the moon's indolent tempo, then jolted awake by screeching seabirds (and of course, the delectable breakfast selection).

It was not all fun and games as we visited multiple organizations in Valparaiso including Puerto Valparaiso and Fundacion Origen. I was especially struck by Fundacion Origen's founder, Mary Anne Muller whose life story personified courage and grace.

Our trip ended off with an afternoon in Cajon de Maipo where we went horseback riding. Yes, horseback riding in a canyon in over 90 degrees weather, which I felt captured the essence of how I felt throughout the trip: Thrown into unfamiliar territory that can sometimes be a tad uncomfortable but it was exhilarating, memorable and educational.

All in, I must say this trip to Chile has definitely opened my eyes to the potential that the country holds. More than just a sprouting economic gem, Chile is home to a close-knit community of very kind and hospitable people. I almost can't wait to go back, especially when our tour guide convinced me that Patagonia is a perfect honeymoon destination (or in 5 years, whichever comes first).