Maipo Valley, September 18, 2007

September 18, 2007, el dia de Independencia for Chile – a beautiful, clear day! Alan, Mary, David and I struck out for el Cajon del Maipo (Canyon of the Maipo). It is about 40 miles, southeast of Santiago in the Andes foothills and is a beautiful canyon that was carved by the Maipo River.

The ride to the canyon took us past cabins, restaurants and campgrounds. Just before entering the park, we encountered a parade of huasos riding their horses in their traditional costumes. Once in the park, we rode to the end of the road, where there were hot water springs. For $10 per person, we could have passed through the gate. Since we didn’t have our swim suits, we turned around. Interestingly, at that point, we were only about 5 miles from the Argentina border….so close!!!!

The canyon has been mined for its copper. You could see the beautiful colors of greens and reds caused by the minerals in the hillsides. After a picnic lunch, in brisk, cool air, we went to a spot in the canyon that was designated for hiking. We had a lovely hour or so hike up the mountain and had great views of snow capped peaks and the mineral covered hillsides.

Before leaving the area, we visited a lovely waterfall. Can you believe that it is called “Bridal Veil Fall”? It would be interesting to know how many waterfalls in the world are named Bridal Veil Falls!!!

As we headed back, we stopped and had “once” (the word for the number eleven and also for what they consider the afternoon “tea time”). It was a cute restaurant with an Austrian flair….great looking pastries in the display case! David and I had great vegetarian sandwiches with cheese, lettuce, tomatoes and avocado on a wonderful bun.

So, after observing the Chileans and their Independence Day, I think they celebrate it much like we do. There were many families enjoying the river and the canyon today. People were flying kites…a popular way to pass time in September when the wind has picked up. Also, there were several who were enjoying picnics. Driving back into town, I observed a couple of fairs that were very well attended. Finally, rodeos are a popular way to celebrate their independence….I have no desire to watch a rodeo as I always feel so sorry for the animals…..I know, I know, I desperately need “couch time”!!! 🙂

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