Cajón de Maipo


Our first week of  school consumed a fair portion of our days. Classes run from 9:30 until 1:00, and then the class will generally gather at a local restaurant for lunch. This helps with the Spanish because with the broad mix of Europeans and Brazilians, Spanish is often the only language we have in common.
The school had scheduled a field trip to Valparaiso and Viña del Mar for Saturday, but Karen woke up feeling less than enthusiastic about a long ride. It seems like the change in diet had caught up with her. We decided to hang around town, and on Sunday she was much better so we saddled up and headed down to Cajón de Maipo about an hours ride southeast of town. A paved road runs for about 40 kilometers along the Rio Maipo before turning into a fairly good gravel road that runs higher up the canyon to some thermal baths. We only traveled for a few miles up the gravel before turning back, but the landscape and the vineyards that are sprinkled along the edges of the river are beautiful. The river itself is a class III rapids for the entire 35 miles or so that we traveled. There are no really outrageous rapids--but then again there is no still water whatsoever. It is whitewater for its entire length. If someone were to fall in, they would have a rough time making it to shore.
Local people take advantage of any of the small shallow streams that feed into the Rio Maipo to escape Santiago's summer heat. Below, bathers and campers flock to the estuary of Rio Colorado.