My brother called the other night. He and my mom were just in Chile, he had to be there for work, she tagged along to see friends and neighbors of ours from when we lived there. Of the various photos they have sent me in email to look at, it's clear much has changed since we were there (30 years ago!).
One thing in particular they both noted was the amount of air pollution, though I figure the dense metropolitan area is much like here, some months are worse than others. I'm sure that once you leave the big city and head toward the coast that the air is much improved.
Because my brother was there for work related business, they didn't get a whole lot of time to venture outside of the city and see the wineries or vineyards. We talked of planning a trip there together, perhaps in a couple of years when our schedules are more free and our vacation/PTO accounts have the reserves for an extended vacation.
I'm excited to think I'll be able to travel back to my childhood home and see the country and vineyards with new eyes. I remember fondly the trips to "Tio Tolo's" vineyard and winery where my best friend and I got to glue labels on the bottles and play in the winery. I also remember the smells of the wine and the oak barrels and of riding horses through the cork orchard. It wasn't until very recently that I made the connection between the cork trees and wine corks.
My dad once told me that his fantasy plan for retirement from the Army was to own his own vineyard and winery in Chile and not come back to the States. I toss that information around in my brain from time to time and wonder if maybe I inherited that passion to be a farmer and winemaker from him. It's a fun fantasy to bat around because I'm certain that the hootch my dad would have made would be just that, "vino tinto" whose sole purpose is for daily drinking and in large quantities.
I can still see pictures of him swilling wine from a basketwoven covered green jug of wine hoisted over his shoulder, his neck twisted around so his lips could drink right from the bottle. No doubt he was showing off and being silly. He loved to wear hats and act the part to correspond with the style. Sometimes he would don a FuManchu mustache that was made from real hair.
I could reminisce all afternoon and tell you all the crazy antics I pulled as a kid in Chile. I'm glad my brother called and put all those crazy memories in my head, and glad to have the time to just sit and enjoy memories of my dad and living his dream.
A toast to my dad, he would have said my wine was too fancy, but I can picture him drinking it right from the bottle just the same to antagonize me!