On life and love after 50: meeting a future king

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By Tom Blake

On March 2, 2009, Greta and I flew to Santiago, Chile to begin a three week land tour of South America. We booked a tour guide named Mauricio online to pick us up from Santiago airport and transfer us to the Orly Boutique Hotel, where we would be staying for three nights.

We also scheduled Mauricio to show us around the city on a half-day tour the next day.

Greta and I were so impressed with Mauricio that we hired him to lead us on a day trip to see the Casablanca Valley wine region and the port city of Valparaiso on March 4th. Valparaiso is 75 miles from Santiago. Our first stop in the beautiful Chilean countryside was at Emiliana, a remote organic winery about an hour west of Santiago.

There were only a few other visitors to the vineyard that morning. For 45 minutes we wandered around the estate seeing peacocks, geese, chickens and other birds eating insects, instead of the winery using pesticides. There were also llamas.

When we got back to Mauricio’s car, the battery was dead. The cellar had no battery charging equipment. Mauricio borrowed a phone and called a truck from Valparaiso to fix the problem.

While waiting for the truck, a weird thing happened that surprised Greta, me and Mauricio too. Seven green and white police motorcycles entered the vineyard with flashing lights and blaring sirens, followed by two army trucks.

The caravan turned in our direction. There were three snipers standing in the back of each truck, holding powerful rifles and machine guns.

All three of us looked at each other. Did we do something wrong? Were we going to jail? Would we be victims of a military coup? Trucks and motorcycles passed within 20 feet of us and disappeared into the vines.

Mauricio asked the vineyard employees what was going on. We were relieved to learn that this was just a security check before a visit the next day to the winery by Prince Charles and Camilla from the UK. We were told by the vineyard staff that Prince Charles’ hobby was organic farming, which is why the royal couple were visiting Emiliana.

Not to play politics, but I confess that I didn’t care, because I was not a big fan of Prince Charles.

Ten minutes later, the security contingent emerged from the vines and left. Soon we were on our way to Valparaiso, somewhat relieved not to be handcuffed in the back of an army truck. And Mauricio’s car had a new battery.

Fast forward to September 8, 2022. The airwaves were filled with announcements of Queen Elizabeth II’s death. Prince Charles became King Charles III and Camilla became Queen Consort.

Upon hearing the news, Greta and I looked at each other. I said, “Think about it, 13 years ago we missed by one day an almost private meeting with a future king and queen consort at an organic vineyard in Chile. Few people can say that. »

We both smiled. During our travels we encountered a few firsts for us, including excitement at the Emiliana Winery in 2009 and being at the ABBA Museum in 2013 in Stockholm on the day the museum opened. Unexpected events like these are travel rewards.

Emiliana is the largest organic vineyard in the world. In 2021, more than one million cases of wine were sold.

If you are traveling to Santiago, Chile and want an amazing tour guide contact Mauricio. There is a excellent review about it on Trip Advisor.

If you book Mauricio, remind him of this story at the Emiliana vineyard in 2009. And now he probably keeps a spare battery in his trunk.

Tom Blake is a retired Dana Point business owner and resident who has written books on middle-aged dating. See her website at findloveafter50.com. To comment: [email protected]

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