Fundo "El Sombrero"
A bit of background...
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This page is actually only meant to be "required" reading for those of you who are seriously considering a trip down South (see bottom of pageThe "Mini-Ranch" concept), and would like to find out a bit more about the inner workings of "El Sombrero". Everybody else would probably be better served by the somewhat "meatier" page that follows....

Spring in the mountains...

ABOUT THE "FUNDO", and how it came to be.....
The Physical Aspect
Situated on an isthmus between two lakes (Panguipulli and Rinihue) this uniquely beautiful "fundo", which covers some 1.600 hectares (4.000 acres), has been operated as a ranch for well over a hundred years, but had been sadly neglected by the previous owner for the past thirty. This latter part has now all been put right.
"Your humble correspondent" (oh yes, I do watch O'Reilly - and yes, the ranch now has satellite television as well as internet hook-up thanks to micro-honda technology) has been a busy bee since acquiring the deeds in '93.....the grazing pastures (about a third of the total area) have been cleared and fenced, while the remainder - mostly wild, mountainous virgin forest, surrounded by rivers and crisscrossed by creeks cascading down deep ravines (sorry, I tend to get lyrical when describing the "hinterland") - has been left untouched, except for the opening up of horse-trails where necessary.
The original buildings have been restored to their former (German colonial) glory, all infrastructures from year-around roads to electricity have been put in place, and a guard-house by the bridge that constitutes the only entrance to the "fundo" ensures absolute privacy.
The Philosophical Concept
I probably don't have to explain to most of you what life's like in the so called fast lane, but the similarity to a horse with blinders is striking - concentration dead ahead with little or no time to balance your perspectives. When with age or success we get a chance to move over into a slower lane the mental field of vision tends to broaden, and some of us (well, at least I did) start to think.....there's got to be a "raison d'etre" beyond the mundane, and the clock is ticking.....
You don't have to be an avid Rousseau aficionado to appreciate the wisdom of going back to basics - an idea that certainly has a lot more relevance today than it did then. To experience the satisfaction of interacting with the nature for which we were actually once designed, to find peace-of-mind, to leave the the outside world behind......
....And How The Two Came Together
So, some ten years ago, having had enough of the rat-race in Hong Kong (and not particularly wishing to live under Chinese rule in any event), I started my search for "peace & quiet". Having no love lost for political correctness (worse still, I'm an inveterate pipe-smoker), I didn't have any inclination whatsoever to return to Europe or the U.S. - nor for that matter, to any part where I had previously been (which pretty much took care of the map).
At a bit of a loss as to where to go, I travelled to the few places remaining - from the south island of New Zealand to Uruguay - and in the process happened upon the Lake District in Chile; - a scheduled week became a month, then two - and when - after having explored the region from Temuco in the north to Puerto Montt in the south, Valdivia in the west and the Argentinean border to the east -I first set eye on "El Sombrero", I immediately knew that I had found "IT",.... bought the "fundo" on the spot, and to this day consider it the best decision I've ever made. Only once have I managed to tear myself away since (a brief trip in '96  for compelling personal reasons) and I sincerely hope it was the last time....not bad, for someone who's never been able to live more than five years in any one place before!
(cntd. next column - sorry, no linkage..)

The fundo's main "highway".

Someone recently opined that Chile today offers the same opportunities as California did 80 years ago, and the investment climate certainly is very favorable at the moment. 
One interesting note, which I would be happy to explain in more detail should you express an interest, is that the government offers a foreign investment contract, which guarantees would-be investors the safe repatriation of their capital without any deductions or taxes, so with the land prices rapidly increasing it is hard to see how you could lose.
I may also emphasize that property rights are enshrined in the constitution, titles are free and clear, and there is no restriction on foreign ownership. Property taxes (in particular rural) are almost nil, and living/operating costs are very low indeed.

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And why have I been telling you all this? Well, it might just be that at least one of you has been similarly at your wits' end as to where to find your peace, but never had the time for this sort of legwork.
So why not take advantage of my investment in time? There's no extra charge - all part of the service, and never knows, if there should be ten of you out there, I could cancel this webpage, throw the bloody computer out the window, and get back to my horse....In the meantime, this is the prelude to.....

The cordillera in November

.....The Business Proposition
Having at (perhaps too great a?) length explained how "El Sombrero" takes care of the soul, now's the time for practical matters; - Not being a great enthusiast for "high production ranching" (heck, we don't even use fertilizers) and refusing to consider logging the forests or (horrors!) take in tourists, it has occurred to me that something else has to be done if I am to continue living in the style "to which I have become accustomed".
As such I have decided to share my discovery with a few weary fellow travelers and offer up to ten parcels of about 25 - 100 acres for sale, in the most desirable part of the "fundo"(seeThe "Mini-Ranch" concept). Not more, because it would defeat the purpose, and not too many less, because there would not be a sufficient base to support the planned Club.
The more I think about it, the more I like the idea, actually. Despite my general misanthropy, it would be nice to occasioinally be able to play a game of if you're the sort who likes beer with country music as much as good wine with classical fare - both literally and in the abstract - have a sense of humor and love the great outdoors, please check us out......
Obviously, this is no ordinary business proposition - after all you're going to be my neighbours - and your personality matters at least as much as your cash, and could indeed affect the already very reasonable price tag. But be warned; - over my wife's loud protestations, I cannot resist quoting from Basil Fawlty's (in)famous advertisement: "No riff-raff, please..."

An intruder in the "maternity ward"...

ABOUT CHILE: There are many authoritative sources for general information on the country (I'd be happy to provide some links on request). Suffice it for me to make a few personal observations, the most important of which is that, unlike the rest of Latin America, Chile works! Argentina, for example, might be more "fun" but I wouldn't put my money there. Chile by contrast enjoys a stable currency and sound financial institutions, and the dominant reason for this is that by South American standards at least, Chile is virtually free from corruption.
It's been suggested that Chile is an anomaly in Latin america - that it should be cut loose from the continent and towed across the Pacific to change places with the Philippines - because it has a lot more in common with the "Asian Tiger" economies than with its present neighbors, and the Philippines, well.....would fit right in.
Perhaps the real reason for the difference is that most modern foundations and infrastructures were laid by British, German, Swiss, Dutch, Yugoslav and,ah..a few Scandihooligan - immigrants, in addition to what had been created by the original Spanish settlers - even the national hero and liberator, O'Higgins, was Irish - and this cultural blend is still very much in evidence.
In short, Chile is a lot less "Latin" than the rest of Latin America. It is also much less populated and there is no abject poverty.
This is particularly so in the Lake District.
And wait until you taste the food and wine.....

"El Sombrero", the mountain.

A "coloured" view of the Villarica volcano

Fundo "El Sombrero", Panguipulli, Chile

The Mini-Ranch Concept