Surfing at Maintencillo

Trip Start Aug 15, 2007
Trip End Jun 01, 2012

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Flag of Chile  , Región Metropolitana,
Saturday, May 21, 2011

Heading out of Santiago is a favorite pastime of many who live in the city... like any city it can grind on the soul.  The only problem with leaving is coming to a decision of where to go... as the surrounding possibilities seem endless. This weekend we decided to let the guys choose, they chose to head to the Coast to do some surfing.   Carsten has already been a few times with some buddies and Aidan was rocking to give it a try.  

 We packed up the SUV, met a friend and her son at a local gas station and took the hour and a half drive to the coast... arriving in Maintencillo to the sounds of waves splashing on the shore and the cries of seagulls squabbling over various shellfish strewn on shore.   A quick exchange of pesos for surfing equipment and a few hours lesson for Aidan, and the boys were off in the Ocean for an afternoon of ripping up the waves... or should I say being ripped up by the waves.  I almost joined in the lessons, except I was nursing a pulled muscle from a few days back... trying to respect my body more these days, now that I'm almost halfway from 40 to 50... Either way the oversized beanbag chair on the coast was a perfect place to catch the boys catching the waves... perfect.  Deb and Merriam headed off to grab a cup of coffee as I enjoyed the fresh air and very entertaining show of the boys bodies being flipped, tossed and turned by most of the waves that slammed into them.   After a while they started to get their sea legs and had a few good rides... casting their heads in my direction so I could give them the big thumbs up and a few shakes of the fist.  I need to say that being a Dad is often the best part of my life... also often the hardest, but most rewarding in many ways... and today was one as I watched my kids gain a bit more confidence in yet another outdoor rec sport... hoping they will carry the passion into their own adult lives... Work Hard and Play Hard is our family motto these days. 

As I was at the car grabbing an apple, a voice from across the street called my name. Standing next to one of the beachside cabins was Ximena, a co-worker from the school I work at in Santiago.  Ximena invited me in for an afternoon pisco sour with she and her parents.  We spent about an hour talking about Chile, our travels and how damn good an afternoon pisco with new friends can be.... as we watched the boys across the street surfing the waves. I find the Chileans are often reserved at first, but once you get to know them they are a very welcoming and friendly people.  

When the boys were done we headed off for a hike along an absolutely beautiful and intimate trail along the coast... passing a few penguins along the way.  It was at this point that our day went from light to heavy as our friend's dog Roxie, who had joined us on our journey to the coast, started wobbling off the trail... seemingly unable to control the muscles in her legs.  After giving her the water that was left in a few bottles we had packed for the hike, we realized that she was getting worse and started heading back towards the cars so we could get her to a vet. Within a matter of minutes she was unable to walk as her entire system broke into uncontrolled convulsions... to get her out of the cliff encrusted coast was quite the task, as Roxie is a Bernese Mountain dog... about the same size as a Saint Bernard.  I had to pick her up for much of the way and hike up the cliffside to the cars, where we quickly put her in and raced off to a vet clinic that a few locals had told us about.  The woman who owned small clinic did everything she could, but Roxie died in the arms of our friend and her son, as they held her steady so the doc could put in an IV... trying to rehydrate her, as well as get a muscle relaxant in her system. We all watched as she slowly succumbed to death. The vet told us that she had most likely drank too much salt water and that her body went into toxic shock as it dehydrated her system beyond was a very traumatic and sad event... especially as her owner blamed herself for her friend's death... Roxie being more a friend and a sibling than a pet... as dogs often become.  On the way home we had many conversations with the boys about death... but more about life and the fragility of it... a jolting reminder for us to remember to enjoy each day that we have.
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