Tag Archives: hiking

Patagonian Aventure

I was extremely lucky and fortunate to have two of my favorite friends from high school visit me in Chile these last two weeks. The first week we spent in Santiago and had an amazing time. We went to the market, ate Peruvian food, went to Subterraneo, basically just had a ball.

Then, last Sunday we headed off to Punta Arenas for an end of the world adventure. To be honest, none of us had really done a lot of research so we had to sort of go with the flow.

We arrived in Punta Arenas around 3pm, but had to kill about 3 hours till the next bus to Puerto Natales (we took Bus Fernandez). So….of course….we got pizza and drank beer. What could be better.

We arrived tired and cold into Puerto Natales and went right to our hostel, the Erratic Rock. This place was so great! Very warm and cozy, with a helpful staff and awesome breakfast. They even have a place next door where they give daily information meetings about the park at 3pm, and provide equipment for rent like tents, sleeping bags, etc and all at a good price. We spent Monday figuring out what we wanted to actually do in the park, getting groceries, eating dinner, and exploring.

We had a delicious dinner  at a place called El Maritimo which specialized in seafood. My paila marina was a little weird, but Elizabeth´s sea bass stew was awesome.

We finally decided we wanted to do two nights and three days in the park. Doing three days is a little complicated. The most common route is to do the 5 day 4 night W trail, but we just didn’t have the time and honestly were not really prepared for that. So, we decided to do the first day up to the Torres, then spend the night in a refugio. The next day, we would take the 9am bus to Lago Grey and stay a night at that regufio, then come home the third day. BUT. That´s not really how it went down. To be honest, the whole thing is really difficult because buses only run once a day at specific times, and you can´t just camp anywhere…so this is what happened.

Day One: We woke up early for the only bus into the park at 7:30. We arrive at the park, pay the fee, then head over to Torres Refugio and begin our journey at around 11am. This was a rough climb, but the weather was gorgeous. It took us 3 and a half hours of straight up hill climbing to finally get to the Torres, and our bags were heavy. But, the views were breath taking and we were in good spirits. But by the time we reached the Torres, Claire´s previously broken foot (a month ago) was killing her and my back was really in pain from climbing. Plus, it was already 5pm! It would be a challenge to do the 3 or more hour trek back to base camp before dark. We made the executive decision, after much ado, to finally just camp at the campamiento las torres (refugio Chileno was CLOSED…not helpful) and from then on the plan sorta fell apart…but in a good way.

Day Two:

We woke up around 8am, and it had rained and was still sprinkling. Cold and sore from sleeping on roots and rocks, we packed up our things and headed for the bottom of the mountain. This was not a fun hike. It was mostly downhill, in pouring rain. Claire´s foot was hurting, my back was spasming….just wasn’t working. We barely made it to the refugio, limping and cold and wet. That…was the end of it. We decided to stay in the refugio that night, which was actually delightful. We had a delicious chicken and mashed sweet potato dinner and hung out by the fire. Plus, the views were stunning! Overall, we were happy.

Day  Three: We headed back to Erratic Rock and went out for a spectacular burger and wings dinner at Baguales. Delicious. As you can see, hardcore camping went out the window….but we had a great time and to be honest, it might have been a bit ambitious in the winter season to try what we did without much experience….ah well.

We also really wanted to see penguins, but first, it costs like 100 dollars each, and also, apparently penguin season just ended! Sigh.

But, besides a few obstacles, the trip was amazing, the views gorgeous, and all of us had a great time together. Worth every minute!



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The Empanada Blog

Finally. I did it. I made empanadas. I had been putting the task off for a while because it’s a bit high maintenance for my taste, but the results were great!

Empanadas are THE Chilean meal on the go. I eat at least one or two a week when I’m out all day teaching. My favorite kinds are the camaron y queso (shrimp and cheese), caprese (tomato, basil, cheese) and pino (ground beef with a hard-boiled egg, olives, and raisins). They are also popular in many other countries in South American and vary slightly from region to region.

I decided to make two types; empanadas de pino and a cheese, tomato and spinach filling.

Empanadas de Pino Filling

1/2-1lb ground beef

1 white onion, finely diced

2 cloves of garlic, minced

i cup of beef broth (optional)

1 tablespoon of cumin

1 teaspoon paprika/cayenne

1 tablespoon of sugar

1 tablespoon of butter

1 tablespoon of olive oil


black pepper

2-4 hard-boiled eggs, sliced

pitted black olives

1/2 cup of raisins

To make the filling you have to first remember to hard boil the eggs and put them in cold water while you cook the beef.

To begin the filling, add the onions and garlic with the butter and olive oil and saute until translucent. Next, add the beef and spices and stir until browned. Finally, add the beef broth and raisins and sugar and let it simmer for about 20 minutes until fragrant and set aside. When you make the actual empanadas, you will put beef, a hard-boiled egg slice, and one olive in the center.

Now, the tricky part. The dough. I found this recipe on Laylita’s fabulous South American food blog and adapted it. The dough turned out great. Buttery, flaky, delicious.

Empanada Dough (For Baking)

3 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon of salt

6 oz unsalted butter

1 egg

4-5 tablespoons of water


Mix the flour and salt together in a big mixing bowl  (or food processor) until blended. Next add the water, egg, and butter, a little at a time, and mix thoroughly until it starts to form clumps.

Form the dough into a ball and stick it in the fridge for 30 minutes.

When your ready to make the empanadas, roll the dough out onto a flat, hard surface sprinkled with flour. You can then decide whether you want to cut out big circles, little circles, whatever you like!

Now for the folding. You’ve got your fillings ready to go, and the dough is ready and in circles. At this point, it’s up to you to decide what type of fold you want to do. Traditionally, there are certain folds for certain types of empanadas. For example, empanadas de pino are typical in a square shape, empanadas de queso are in a rectangle type shape, and usually empanadas de camaron (shrimp) ate the typical half-moon, but it all depends on the restaurant. I did my best, but in all honesty, I could use some serious folding practice. Mine were not exactly gorgeous. But, there are lots of online resources for learning different folds, and even cool little gadgets that make it a breeze!

Oddly enough, one of my favorite empanada fold guides is from an empanada vendor in Seattle called Pampeana Empanadas. I actually did a story on this company around when they first opened last summer. The owner is a mother-daughter team and the daughter went to Argentina…..you know what? You can read the story I wrote yourself! The point it, the site has a great little empanada fold guide which I love.  Check it out!

After awkwardly trying to fold my empanadas (square for pino, half-moon for the cheese/tomato/spinach), I make sure to lightly brush the tops of the empanadas with an egg yolk mix (egg yolk, teaspoon of milk) so that they had that pretty golden brown color. I baked them for 25 minutes at 400 degrees.

Que rico! (despite the ugly folding)

I might also add that my housemate Amanda made a video of the process! So, stay tuned for that.

In addition to empanada making, I also decided to go on a hike this weekend  with Katie and Amanda which was a lovely change of  pace and  a great way to enjoy the Spring weather we’ve been having! (That’s right, it’s Spring here in the Southern Hemisphere)

We went up to Cerro Pochoco by taking the 406 up to Escuela Militar, then the C01 bus to Plaza San Enrique. After that, it was a fairly quick colectivo cab up to Observatorio Pochoco.

We had a great time. There was lots of slipping and sliding and general silliness, and it was awesome to get outdoors and breathe some fresh air!

Well, I’m going to enjoy the last of bit of my long weekend. Fun, but damaging to the bank account..ya know?

But, such is life.

Until next time! Ciao, cuidate, verte pronto!

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