We’re not flying back until tomorrow but decide to take Cielo (our beautiful hire car) back to the airport rental place today, instead of trying to negotiate the streets of Santiago with her and Dervla on New Years Eve. Fortunately the drive to the airport is far less traumatic than the drive from Casa Chueca to Cascada de las Animas was, but saying goodbye to Cielo hurts. She’s stuck with us through thick and thin, has played nicely with Dervla, and she’s been a dream for someone with no prior experience of a 4×4 to drive. The Alamo car hire guys start laughing when I drive in and park perfectly, obviously remembering me as the woman who almost cried on day 1 because she was knackered and didn’t have the foggiest about driving an automatic, so ended up driving all the way in 1st gear. Yep. Not even the strange, loud noises had alerted me. Sleep deprivation can be dangerous.
We take a very reasonably priced and speedy Transvip minibus into the city to our last stop of the trip – Casa Moro. I don’t want to come across as melodramatic, but oh my, if you come to Santiago, you have to stay here. It’s run by the wonderful Walter and Marcelo who both have backgrounds in art, and is THE perfect place for two tired travellers who need a bit of TLC. Walter ushers us in despite us arriving several hours early, and then offers us a late breakfast, somehow telepathically picking up on the fact that we’ve not eaten, and haven’t got the energy just yet to go out and forage. His home made lemon curd is to die for, and yes I asked for the recipe. I will make some soon, and it will be labelled ‘Walters Lemon Curd’. After scones, waffles and copious amounts of tea we’re left alone to play with the rescued cats and dogs whilst our room is prepared and Walter takes some of the former guests to the airport.
And what a room it is. Huge, comfy bed, cute little ensuite, ensuite wardrobe and study area, and a front door straight onto a rooftop terrace. I want to live in a place like this. I adore quirky things, and the terrace is filled with colourful wind chimes, sculptures, mirrors and plants. It’s a sun trap if you want it to be (there are shades), and most importantly peaceful. You can still hear a little traffic outside but only if you listen very carefully. The textures, nooks and crannies bring the house to life, and with Walter and Marcelo being such wonderful people it makes the whole experience a stunning one. And that’s exactly what staying here is, an experience. Forget just being offered a bed and meal. Here you get looked after, but not in that horrible 5 star pristine way where everything is sterile and boring. At Casa Moro you’ll eat like kings; enjoy stimulating conversations with Walter, Marcelo and guests; get to play with the gorgeous fluffy creatures which they’ve rescued from the streets; all in all experiencing Santiago at its very best.
After a long nap we stroll over to the Presidential Palace, or at least as close as we can get to it as they’ve started blocking off the roads for tonight’s New Years Eve celebrations. There are quite a few drunk people lolling around President Bulnes Avenue, but we suspect that they’re there regardless of the time of year, and that more than likely they’re homeless. We pop into one of the few mini-markets which are still open to buy some fudge and pop – even at 7pm it’s very, very hot, and then make our way back to our little oasis to get ready for the grand party.
9pm and we’re drinking pisco sours and a creamy Bailey’s like drink made with condensed milk which again I have to replicate at home. For the first time in our lives we’re served devilled eggs and empanadas, followed by a once in a lifetime dinner of de-boned chicken, quinoa, roasted veggies, watercress and rocket salad, salmon and prawn carpaccio, and copious amounts of wine. Walter and Marcelo have literally spent most of the day cooking. We’re joined by 5 other guests and two friends of Walter and Marcelo, and the company is as perfect as the food. One of the couples is from New Zealand and they’ve fallen in love with Chile so much that they’re planning a move in the near future. The other guests are all from the US. After several puddings including huge chocolate dipped strawberries we each grab a champagne flute and follow Walter and Marcelo around the block to watch the fireworks. They’re not as insane as those we’ve seen in Reykjavik (safety concerns, what are those?!) but they’re very pretty and the atmosphere is a good one. We return to some slightly agitated furry creatures who don’t like all the big bangs, and by 12.20am we’re tucked up in bed, listening to the sounds of other local parties. Here’s to 2013 everyone. May at least one of your dreams come true. Preferably more.