It was a beautiful morning in Curico we had breakfast then departed for the Tripan plant nursery where we toured a tree nursery with the owner Rodrigo Correa. He has been operating the nursery for 10 years. They mainly grow Redrasis Pine and eucalyptus. There were about 800,000 trees on site 80% of the production was already sold. They supply the copper companies to restore mined areas, superstores, and construction companies. It costs them between 20 and 150 pesos to grow the trees for six months. The biggest challenge they have is keeping the stem mass and the root mass balanced to ensure a good solid product to their customers. They also were the second largest grower of native species like Ruble which is used to make wine barrels.
|Class VII at Tripan Plant Nursery|
Off we were to Molina, we were running ahead of schedule so we stopped downtown as shops and stores were opening for the day. The town came alive as we walked around. It reminded me of old west movies, how the people were sweeping the streets and stocking up for the day. There were lots of butcher shops, bakeries, souvenirs, clothing and groceries. All were gracious towards us as 32 of us swept through the town.
|Beautiful park in downtown Molina|
A short bus ride later we arrived at the San Pedro winery, established in 1865. It is owned by several families and is the second largest winery in Chile. It consisted of 1200 hectares. They mainly grow three kinds of grapes and the yields vary from 17 tons/hectare to 4 tons/hectare. The winery employs 400 people, 300 are pickers and the rest are in business, agronomy, or the actual wine making as well as stirring to shipping process. They irrigate the grapes off the Andes Mountain Range 3 to 4 times per day. Some trees were as old as 60 years. The grapes come in off the field and are sorted by variety and color. They are then pressed and stored in one of 200 stainless steel tanks for 10-14 days. The total capacity is 14 million liters. The red wines are mixed with the grape skins however the white wines are not. Computer technology blends the wines by color and variety for consistency. The wine is then moved to one of 13,000 barrels that are only ever used 3 times in their life. Ten percent of these barrels come from the US and the other 90% from France. It’s then moved into the cellar for up to 18 months. Each of those barrels were worth $1000 US full of wine and $20 for an expired barrel.
The cellar was very vintage and full of character; the smells were extraordinary- ones I will never forget. Our tour guide took us to the side of the mountain for some great photos then to a wine tasting where we learned the Chilean version of wine tasting. In went a cowboy, out came a wine extraordinaire (it was very good) a wonderful tour and a chance to buy San Pedro wines.
|Class VII at San Pedro Winery|
Then we were on our way to the SOS Orphanage.
We were greeted by Angela, manager, and her little daughter, both with huge smiles on their faces. The orphanage was very neat and clean. Angela explained to all of us how Chilean laws work much like in the US. The social worker will get called in to observe and act on a situation with a family. It is then up to the court system to decide where and for how long the child will stay. The children could also end up being adopted or given to a foster home.
|Monica teaching a girl to do a double high five|
At this orphanage there were 6-7 mothers each with 5-7 children in a home. The mothers were special people with solid mental capacity and stable lives. She told us each of the children’s parents would be graded on a performance type situation to possibly get their child back or how much time they could spend with the children. Usually after going home with the parent or parents it takes 3 months for the child to adjust back to the orphanage. Soon the children began to arrive around all of us. From that point on I watched as we all took the longest journey of our life - 18 inches from our head to our hearts. We toured their homes, had a snack prepared by them, and interacted with the kids by showing pictures and playing football (soccer) and Frisbee. Once showing the children our talents in football they challenged us to a championship game, SDARL vs the children, Mike Frey and I. (They picked us what can I say??) For Team SDARL all I can say is sometimes you have to lose great championships before you can win them. Losing is a learning experience that’s worth a fortune. Today was a blessing and truly a learning experience.
|The soccer players at the SOS Orphanage|