Chile We Have Arrived! And You Look Like California

Ahh, Chile! Like a breath of fresh air. Roads are paved, there are multi-laned highways, awesome grocery stores, friendly people, and they even put garbage bags in their trashcans! The landscape reminds us so much of California, only what I’d imagine California was like 50 years ago without all the people and traffic. And we were super excited to get to share this amazing place with two groups of friends who were coming to visit us for the holidays!

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Punta de lobos chile - one of the most famous waves in the world

But before we were due to pick up our first set of friends, Dennis and Namrita, we had to book the 1000 miles from Northern border town of San Pedro de Atacama, a touristy but cute desert village, all the way down to the capital Santiago. Chile is a very long country, and we had some things to see before guests arrived, so we hit the glorious paved highway with Titus. Bolivia you were spectacular, but we are ready for some modern comforts, the ocean, and fresh PRODUCE!

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This hand came out of the Desert to high five us and welcome us to chile

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Our favorite activity in chile - fresh produce shopping!! Our Vitamix and Chile are a perfect match

Two weeks on the Coast – Waiting for Dennis and Namrita to Arrive!

The northern part of Chile is remote and deserty with most of the people living up there seemly involved in mining operations of some sort, but we didn’t take too much time to explore. George was dying to get to the famous surfing and kiting towns of central chile. We were blown away by how beautiful the coastline is… and how familiar feeling was to California.

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Pichidangui, our first coastal stop in Chile

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Zapallar Chile, an amazing picturesque coastal town

We ended up stumbling upon two great places based on word of mouth. One is Matanzas, which we liked so much we decided to bring our friends to this same town the following weekend (more on that later), and the other was Puertocillo. We heard about these places from other kiters and surfers, which is always the best way to find local gems. Puertocillo in particular was interesting because its literally in the middle of nowhere along dirt roads, and has the most quaint town, but an amazing wave (for George) and endless miles of beach to explore/do yoga on (for me), almost all of which was pretty empty. This place isn’t going to last though…unfortunately a big development agency bought up most the land, and there is a huge uproar in town over the hundreds of condos they plan to build right along the beach…essentially blocking easy beach access for most.

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Our campsite in Matanzas, people were so friendly they let us camp in the parking lot of the surf school / fishing shops

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Next to Matanzas is the hip wonderful beach town of Puertecillo - home to some of the best surfing in Chile

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Party wave - Puertecillo Chile

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Solo 4x4 - we had to tow a fellow camper out who went too deep into the sand in Puertecillo Chile

The last stop in our quest to explore the coast before friends arrived is the famed surf towns of Pichilemu and Punta de Lobos. We decided to sign up for another week of spanish lessons in Pichilemu and settled in to a nice campsite near the water. George found a great nearby wave to surf, and even tried his hat at the most famous wave in chile, Punta de Lobos. This wave is known for getting massive and is pretty hard to reach – George had to hop skip and jump over rocks to get to the break!

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Sunset Punta de Lobos chile

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Surfing at Lobos

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The holiday weekend crowds lining the beach at Punta de Lobos chile

Dennis and Namrita Arrive in a New York Minute!

We were so excited to have visitors come for the month of December. Not only were we having Christmas company later in the month (Sanjay and Colleen), but our good friends Dennis and Namrita decided to visit us from New York! We were super excited to host them on our trip and honored that they chose to visit us with their time off, and put full faith in our planning efforts.

We spent the next week exploring Santiago, wine country, and the coast of Chile. Its always hard to plan ahead for friends when you get so used to being able to pull into a place, get the feel, and then decide you’d like to stay or not. But we got super lucky and the places we visited were fantastic. But first, a few hours in Santiago to kill while Titus gets new kicks (thanks Monster 4×4 for all the help!)

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Hernan at Monster 4x4 in Santiago is the man. New tires for Titus. Best 4x4 shop in South America.

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Dennis and Namrita have arrived from New York! Our first tourist activity was taking the cable cart up to the top of Santiago

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Standing above Santiago at the top of the cable car

After picking up Titus the four of us hit the road to our first destination, the fabulous Maipo Valley Wine region, which is an astonishing 20 minutes right outside Santiago. Immediately you feel like you are in wine country, but also surrounded by snow capped mountains! Rolling vineyards and green farms are everywhere, but if that wasn’t enough, we also booked a stay at an awesome little B&B Calma de Rita where you get to sleep in a huge wine barrel! Actually, everything was wine-barrel themed, and I do mean EVERTYING. Wine-barel hot tub, sauna, lounge chairs, basketball net, and even …the death-slide.

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Breakfast each morning at our hotel La Calma de Rita in Wine Region

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Our hotel room at La Calma de Rita Chile

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Everything had a wine theme at our hotel in Wine country, including this basketball hoop and sketchy wine barrel slide

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Dennis and Namrita getting some much need R&R

This place was so helpful and even arrange a wine tour for us at a small winery down the road – William Fevre. I have to say that this was one of the most informative wine tours the four of us had ever been on. The winemaker gave the tour himself and we learned so much about the Chilean and international wine markets. For example, we learned that 80% of Chilean wine is exported because there just isn’t a big market in Chile for wine (or wine tourism). Compare that to Argentina which has the exact opposite ratio – they drink about 80% of their wine and only export 20%. But these facts were just fine with us – the more wine for us to drink! And the price was right too. A descent bottle of wine costs about $5 here in Chile. Salud!

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On our wine tour! William Fevre Chile

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The vineyards at William Fevre chile

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Wine-tasting with the winemaker Christian

After recharging all our batteries in wine country for a few days, it was time to head to the beach! Matanzas is a really special place and we were excited to share it with Nams and Dennis. We rounded the corner to the beach and were all just stunned at the beautiful coastline.

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Arriving at the coast of Chile - look there guys!

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Matanas, our favorite beach town in Chile - good surfing and kiting

We checked Dennis and Namrita into this swanky boutique hotel on the water, Surazo, while we settled into our free camping spot in the beach parking lot. The next few days would be filled with great meals, lounging in the hotel hot tub with wine in-hand, long beach walks and hikes up to the dunes, and lots of laughter by beach bonfires. George even managed to get some kiting and surfing in. I’m not sure what exactly makes Matanzas such a standout for us against other beach towns. Maybe its the quaint street with its few boutique hotels boasting great food, or the amazing locals that welcomed us with open arms to camp in their beach parking lot, the family-friendly vibes and new friends we met there (Martin, Joy and their baby girl), or the wind-swept dunes, but this place captured our hearts and we were so happy that it captured Dennis and Namrita’s as well. Oh, Matanzas…

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Welcome to Matanzas!

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Sunset Matanzas

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Jenine, Nams and Dennis take a hike around the dunes Matanzas

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Me heading out to kite in Matanzas

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Dennis and I getting some beach front exercise. These sort of exercise areas exists all over Chile and all the equipment basically does nothing except swing your body around

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Th famous rock (the originally named "bird rock") in Matanzas

It was tough to pull ourselves away, but we managed to leave the southern coast for the port-town of Valparaiso. Valparaiso is known for many things. A few come to mind….seedy port-town with graffiti art everywhere, UNESCO heritage site with its cobblestoned alleys and colorful buildings, hilled streets with funicular lifts, the famous poet Pablo Nerudo, and great seafood. Oh, and did I mention grafiti art?? Everywhere! So much in fact, that even the New Yorkers were impressed…

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Some of the graffiti will get you

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This was jennies' favorite and it is pretty awesome

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Nams did a cool collage of the art we saw in valpo

We rented an AirB&B in one of the neighborhoods close to historic section, and thoroughly enjoyed the views and our awesome breakfasts on the porch, complete with a now-famous George smoothie. Can’t beat this view…

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Our Airbnb in Valparaiso Chile had the most wonderful porch and every morning we had two hour long breakfasts outside

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The contradictions of Valpo - A brand new hotel sitting above ramshackle housing

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Our funky AirBnB in Valparaiso Chile

After 2 days in Valparaiso we were ready to head back to Santiago and meet up with our next guests, Sanjay and Colleen! And to welcome them, and also say goodbye to Dennis and Namrita, the six of us when to one of the top restaurants in south america, Restaurant 99, where true to its number, we completed a 9 course tasting menu. Our most delicious meal in Chile to-date!

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Sanjay and Colleen arrived today! Welcome guys! We all had one of the best dinners of our year on the road at Restaurant 99 in Santiago

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The tasting menu at Restaurant 99 in Santiago

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After dinner we took everyone back to the our favorite jazz club in Santiago

I just want to sincerely thank Dennis and Namrita for coming and spending some of their holiday time-off exploring Chile with us. You guys, we loved our chats, all the amazing meals (don’t think I need to eat for the next month!) and all the laughter. And I’m certain we will do it again someday! Wishing you both an awesome and exciting year.

More pics of our first 3 weeks in Chile and our time with Dennis and Namrita:

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The hand came out of the Desert to high five us and welcome us to chile

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Our first kitesurfing stop - pichidangui chile

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pichidangui

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Zapallar an amazing picturesque coastal town

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Zapallar Chile

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Walking along the shore of Zapallar in Central Chile

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Our first winery - Matetic in the Casablanca wine region in central chile!

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Matanas, our favorite beach town in Chile - good surfing and kiting

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Our campsite in Matanzas, people were so friendly they let us camp in the parking lot of the surf school / fishing shops

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Sunset Matazans

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We met an amazing (Swiss/Chilean) couple named Martin and Joy. They just built this cool house in the hills of Matanzas

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Next to Matanzas is the hip wonderful beach town of Puertecillo - home to some of the best surfing in Chile

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Weekend surfers getting the last bit of daylight in Puertecillo Chile

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Party wave - Puertecillo Chile

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Solo 4x4 - we had to tow a fellow camper out who went too deep into the sand in Puertecillo Chile

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The holiday weekend crowds lining the beach at Punta de Lobos chile

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Punta de lobos chile - one of the most famous waves in the world

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Laid-back camping in Pichilemu

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Sunset Punta de Lobos chile

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Me waiting for a set wave Punta de lobos

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Surfing at Lobos

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Turning or maybe falling on a wave at Punta de Lobos

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Post surf at the magical Punta de Lobos

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Our camp spot in Lobos - very laid back and right at the surf

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Beers with new friends - Kevin and Kristen. Kristen was taking spanish lessons at the same school as us and we had a little night out in Pichilemu

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Cajon del Maipo

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Heading into Cajon del Maipo - a wonderful wine region surrounded by mountains in Chile

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Chileans like Colombians are incredibly friendly. They love to come up and take pictures with us and our truck

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In Santiago I convince Jenine to do the hop on / hop off bus. We basically just sat in traffic for our $30

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The only sort of Christmas tree we saw in Santiago

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Outside our hostel a music awards show was happening we were literally sleep upstairs of here

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Santiago is full of live music venues. Here is our favorite jazz club

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Dennis and Namrita have arrived from New York! Our first tourist activity was taking the cable cart up to the top of Santiago

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Standing above Santiago at the top of the cable car

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This was the friendliest kitten so far of our trip at the hotel La Calma de Rita - Maipo Valley Wine Region

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Breakfast each morning at our hotel La Calma de Rita in Wine Region

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On our wine tour! William Fevre Chile

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The vineyards at William Fevre chile

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The tasting room of William Fevre chile

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We took a day trip to picnic by the rivers in Maipo Valley. Here is me encouraging Dennis to jump in

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Just some dudes swimming in about 2 feet of river water in Chile

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Dennis giving Nams a cold water hug

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This is as close to getting in the river that the ladies wanted to go

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Picnic time in the park with fresh produce we bought along the road

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Our hotel room at La Calma de Rita Chile

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Everything had a wine theme at our hotel in Wine country, including this basketball hoop and sketchy wine barrel slide

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Full view of the Calma De Rita hotel

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Dennis and Namrita getting some much need R&R

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Arriving at the coast of Chile - me pointing out where the Kitesurfer go

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Kitesurfers in the distance at Matanzas

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Me heading out to kite in Matanzas

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Matanzas is a kitesurfing playground

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Windsurfers ripping in Matanzas

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Dennis and I getting some beach front exercise. These sort of exercise areas exists all over Chile and all the equipment basically does nothing except swing your body around

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Th famous rock (the originally named "bird rock") in Matanzas

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Matanzas Chile

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Jenine and Nams taking a hike around Matanzas

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Getting our squats in at the outdoor gym in Matanzas

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Surfing in Matanzas with our new friend Joy

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Our funky AirBnB in Valparaiso Chile

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Jenine posing in Valpo

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There is everywhere in Valparaiso, and most of it is not that great

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Our Airbnb in Valparaiso Chile had the most wonderful porch and every morning we had two hour long breakfasts outside

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The contradictions of Valpo - A brand new hotel sitting above ramshackle housing

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Sitting along the "art" walk in Valpo.

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Dennis and Nams taking break

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Our favorite activity in chile - fresh produce shopping!! Our Vitamix and Chile are a perfect match

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Valpo is built on hills much like San Francisco. You can traverse the different levels through this sketchy cable cars

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A black cat made his home atop Titus in Valpo

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Some of the graffiti will get you

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Valpo has interesting art at every corner

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This was jennies' favorite and it is pretty awesome

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Sanjay and Colleen arrived today! We all had one of the best dinners of our year on the road at Restaurant 99 in Santiago

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The tasting menu at Restaurante 99 in Santiago

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So much fun and so thankful to be sharing this meal with friends who have come so far to see us

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After dinner we took everyone back to the our favorite jazz club in Santiago

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Name did a cool collage of the art we saw in valpo

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The tasting menu at Restaurant 99 in Santiago

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Hernan at Monster 4x4 in Santiago is the man. New tires for Titus. Best 4x4 shop in South America.

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Dennis wants to play too!

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4 comments on “Chile We Have Arrived! And You Look Like California
  1. Patty says:

    So beautiful! The wall art is amazing! Super talented artists. I appreciate their gifts and messages. XOXOXO Patty

  2. Joe and Pam Lara says:

    So beautiful, really like the “wine” style hotel room. So cool. Glad to see you had better fruits and veggies choices…
    love Mom and Dad

  3. Linda Vickers says:

    So fun to check in on you guys and see all the fun things you are doing!

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  1. […] and how important great friendships are. We were so fortunate that not only did we have our friends Dennis and Namrita visit us for a week, we then had Sanjay and Colleen come and spend 8 days over Christmas with us. […]