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Day 4 in Chile - December 31, 2010 - ¡Feliz año nuevo!

I woke up pretty early and tried to go for a walk/run.  I got all ready and dressed and had my iPod all set and walked out the front door of the rental house in Vina.  Ugh....the front gate to get out onto the street was locked to my surprise.  I guess assumed I could get out, just maybe not back in.  But nope, I was stuck there - outside the house and sitting on the stoop for about an hour until Rachel let me back in.  There was no way back to the backyard either, that was also fenced off.   I didn't want to wake anyone up so I skipped the exercise that morning.  I sat and listened to my music and thought about how happy I was to be on vacation in Chile. 

We all had breakfast.  I helped prepare it with Coke and Veronica.  I was getting the hang of this quite well by now.  I was in charge of the toast.  There was this gadget that looked like a frying pan with a mesh bottom that was used to make toast on the stove.  After a while I learned how to operate it.  I guess it is good to learn something new every day.

After another cold shower, ha, I am NOT complaining at all, it was almost funny by this point, we all got ready to go to the beach.  Vina del Mar beach was beautiful.  The sand had the texture of the sand on the shore of Lake Superior, pretty course, not smooth like the beaches in Florida.  Paddle ball is a popular thing to do on the beaches in Chile, and it was funny to watch the stray dogs go after the balls that people missed.  I guess I can't blame them to want to play.  But the people were less than amused most of the time, trying to persuade the dogs to give the ball back.

The ocean was awesome; the waves were huge.  Not too many swimmers as the water is pretty cool, even in Summer.  Will had a good time swimming, however.  The sun was really intense, but I was pretty good with applying my sunscreen.  There is a hole in the ozone over Chile, which I didn't know about, which obviously makes the rays more dangerous.  I bought a beach wrap and a pair of pants along the boardwalk where there were some shops.  After a few hours, we went back to the house to prepare lunch and get ready for the New Years' Eve party at Juan Carlos' brother's house in a neighboring town, Renaca.  Juan Carlos prepped a barbecue and we had sliced zucchini with a sauce over them for an appetizer.  Very good!  Also pebre, bread, potatoes, Chilean salad etc.  We had a bottle of red wine, some pisco sours and some 'piscolas' which is just pisco with Coke and lemon.

So we were on our way to Renaca.   I had no idea what to expect with the party.  Juan Carlos has a very large family.  I believe 6 brothers and sisters.  The party was at his oldest brother Pedro's house.  We got there at about 11:45, just in time. He lived in an apartment building that he owned on the hillside in the city and his place had the most amazing view of the whole bay.  You could see Vina and Valparaiso.  There was a large patio where the party was held.  There were probably 40 plus people there.  There were lots of kisses all around at midnight.  After that, there was a great fireworks display with 22 boats circling the bay, each setting off fireworks in unison.  Pretty amazing.  A little more elaborate than the fireworks I usually see here at home.  After the fireworks, the party really got off the ground.  Lot's of snacks, lots of wine, lots of music and dancing.  Veronica brought over a drink that I helped her make back at their home in Talegante that is commonly served in Chile around the Holidays, Cola de Mono 'monkey tail', (see recipe)

We met Juan Carlos' brothers, sisters, brothers in law, sisters in law and his mother, Blanca.  She lives in Conception, the city in the south where the earthquake's center was.  One of Juanca's brothers told us that he has lived in all of the three cities at the time of the three largest earthquakes in Chile in recent history.  Conception, Valparaiso, and Santiago.  I don't know if that is good luck or bad luck.  Not him nor his family were ever hurt.

Juane took Rachel with him to a New Year's Eve party so they left shortly after midnight.  Ron and I stayed with Veronica and Juan  Carlos at the party until 3:00 AM.  We danced (salsa, mirenge) the entire time.  It was so muchfun.  We didn't have to speak much as the music was so loud.  Happy New Year!

Cola de Mono:

20 whole cloves
5 cinnamon sticks
1 cup water
1 gallon cold milk
1/4 cup instant coffee granules
1 cup white sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract (optional)
1 cup (or more) pisco, white rum, brandy, or other lightly-flavored liquor

Gently simmer the cloves and cinnamon sticks in water until reduced by half, about 30 minutes. Add 1 cup of milk, and heat to a simmer, then stir in and dissolve the coffee and sugar.
Strain the coffee mixture into the remaining cold milk, and discard the cloves and cinnamon sticks. Stir in the vanilla extract and pisco. Store in the refrigerator and serve cold. 

Ron, Vero, Juanca, Me