Okay, yesterday I ran a letter I received from my friend Killy Stanton who lives with her husband, Robert, and sons in Temuco, Chile, which was about 160 miles from the epicenter of the quake. As she reported, things were very, very scary for her and her elderly parents (her husband was in Santiago with their son when the quake hit). Today, I’m going to run a letter I got from another good friend, Liz Caskey. Liz lives in Santiago where she operates a food and wine tour company, Liz Caskey’s Culinary & Wine Experiences. Liz notes, as did another Santiago tour operator, Brian Pearson, whose letter we ran yesterday, that things are pretty normal in Santiago and they hope everybody doesn’t get all scared off by the media reports of damage in the south and cancel trips to Chile. Here’s her report from the capital:
Dear Friends and Family,
I want to truly thank you for your continued support during these tough times in Chile. It has been so wonderful to hear from you all through calls and e-mail as Chile deals with the aftermath of the quake. We appreciate your prayers and thoughts.
To give you an update, now 5 days from Saturday’s devastating events, things in Santiago are thankfully normal, as in much of the country. As you know, with Chile’s long geography, the majority of the country is functioning perfectly normal with the exception of the affected areas within 100 miles of the Concepción area and the coastline hit by the tsunami. While the news images continue to show looting, please know that the military, Red Cross, and many volunteers have already arrived with food, water, and aid. Electricity and communicatio(ns are being restored as we speak to these areas. Today (Friday), there is a huge drive, Teletón, raise millions of dollars to provide temporary housing for every family who lost their home. There is a sense of real solidarity here. The of light of hope has appeared for these people. The next huge step is reconstruction.
The wine industry here did suffer some serious losses of inventory and damage to facilities, mostly in the regions of the Maule, Curicó, and some areas of Colchagua. Others escaped completely unscraped. I will be posting later this week with a full update since many of you have asked. It is a complex situation since harvest is due to start any day and vintners trying to manage where they will make the 2010 vintage in some cases.
Many of you have also requested information on how you can contribute to the rebuilding efforts in Chile. Beyond the Red Cross, which is for aiding relief efforts, we suggest these three ways.
If you have traveled to Chile, have a trip scheduled here, or know people that do, please encourage friends, family, and colleagues to still come. Refer them to my blog, where I directly addressed this issue yesterday. The images the media is “exporting” and messages the US State Department issuing are harmful for the country in the long term and can impact its tourism. The information they are providing is simply not accurate since many people do not understand the country’s geography and where the quake is contained. They stick all of Chile in the disaster boat and this is completely false. Chile is operative and normal in ALL areas minus the above-mentioned affective area. We have had clients on wine tours this week and heading to points in Patagonia with zero problems or alterations. Don’t let TV paranoia ruin what makes Chile so wonderful. Help spread the word.
Our business has started a direct initiative to support a local non-profit foundation with a school and organic farm we visit with our tours to channel funds to families affected by the quake both locally and in the south. We are donating a significant portion of the proceeds from our Eat Wine Santiago guide, a food & drink e-guide to the capital. Please help our efforts by purchasing this e-guide. Ask your family and friends to help too. Even if you/they don’t plan on coming to Santiago, Eat Wine Santiago includes a great wine list, insight into Chile’s food/wine culture, will directly contribute to reconstruction efforts in Chile, and seriously, costs less than a dinner for one or a bottle of decent wine. We also will be offering free updates for the first two editions for friends, family, and colleagues who may have Chile on the horizon in the future. Click here for more information.
Now more than ever, please buy Chilean. Organize a “Support Chile” dinner party or wine tasting. Accompany with classic dishes like Cazuela, Savory Chicken stew, ceviche, or Ensalada Chilena, Chilean tomato salad. You can find recipes on my blog. Serve Chilean wines from Sauvignon Blanc to Carmenere which you can find throughout the US/Canada easily. Incorporate Chilean ingredients like fresh fruit (blueberries, peaches, and grapes at this time of year). At Wholefoods and gourmet grocers you can find Olave olive oil and the piquant smoked chili spice, Merkén.
I promise to keep you all updated and in the loop of our efforts to turn a devastating situation into a promising one. If there’s one thing I have learned in life, with the right attitude, we as human beings are capable of confronting any situation and doing anything we put our mind to. As they say here, Chile se la puede. Chile can do it. We are doing it. Chile will step forward. But in addition to your prayers, I hope you will consider supporting us the reconstruction directly here in Chile.
Please feel free to e-mail me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions you may have.
Un abrazo cariñoso,
Liz & Team
p.s. This photo is taken at San Pedro bakery in Barrio Brasil, a family-run bakery and one of my favorites in Santiago for delicious marraqueta bread. One of the many faces of small business in Chile.