A Travellerspoint blog

Final thoughts and Observations about Chile

...and some cute pictures of the kids!

We have a week left on our trip here and have mostly been hanging out around the house, doing our Spanish lessons, eating good food, watching crime shows and the basketball playoffs on TV, and I´ve taught myself how to crochet with ´yarn´ made from plastic bags (thanks to my friends Lornor and Hagit for the inspriration). We also took a walk to the Plaza Maipu (just down the street from the house) to see the large modern cathedral there. The site of the cathedral was the location of the most famous battle in Chile´s history. It was when Bernardo O´Higgins defeated the Spanish and won independence for Chile in 1818. Here´s a picture of the modern cathedral in the background and the historic cathedral that was destroyed in a big earthquake in the 1960s.

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In other family news, yesterday Delaney´s grandfather Lew passed away. We spent the day remembering him and being thankful for all of our memories with him. One of Delaney´s favorite things about grandpa Lew was that he took him on many interesting travleing adventures around the world: from Africa to Hawaii. Lew´s love of travel inspired Delaney throughout his life to keep traveling, and is part of the reason that we found ourselves here in Chile in the first place. Thank you Lew, we will cherish your memory always.

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There is a lot that we have learned along the way from our travles and throughout the blogs I have put in bits and pieces. But, there are so many cultural, fun, interesting, weird, annoying, and remarkable things that didn´t fit into the context of the past blogs. So, in this one I am going to try to list some of these things so that you can get to know Chile a little bit more.

One of my favorite things about Chilean food is Empanadas. They are avaliable everywhere in panadarias (bakeries), which are located in every neighborhood. They are easy to make, so one day last week Pamela´s sister Loretto came over to make empanadas. The basic recipie is dough (1 kilo of flower, one egg, and hot water), and whatever you want to put inside. We made the traditional Pino empanadas, which have carne (ground beef), cooked onions, a slice of a hard boiled egg, and an olive. Empanadas are a perfect snack or lunch. While making the empanadas we enjoyed some pisco sours made with the pisco from the distilleries, Los Niches, we visited in Pisco Elqui.

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Plus while we were cooking we played with Maite in her new ´Johny jump up.´ She is so happy and smily these days.
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Chilean food is very basic. I like to joke that the three spices are lemon juice, salt, and mayonaise. You will for sure find these on any salad that you order here. Salads are usually one vegitable alone with the above spices (unless you order an ensalada mixta). But what Chileans really love is meat...and a lot of it. We went to a parrilla (barbeque) restaurant with Anne and Gil and here are some pictures of what we ordered: a tower of meat, traditional salads (mixta, papas mayo-potatos and mayonase, tomatos and avocado, and beets), papas fritas (french fries), and of course a pisco sour and glass of red wine.

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We have had some great asados (home barbeque) here in the backyard. Garrett follows Chilean traditions quite well: first we put on the salchiches (sausages) and some onion slices on the grill. When those are almost ready we heat up some fresh baked bread from the panadaria down the street and eat with...of course...mayonaise. Then, on goes the carne, the steak, sprinkled liberally with salt. While its cooking we enjoy our Escudo beer, red wine, or if we´re feeling fancy a pisco sour. When we are ready to eat, out come the salads and listo!

My other favorite thing about Chilean food is simply, paltas (avocados in Chilean Spanish...different from aguacates in other Spanish speaking countries). Paltas are avaliable most of the year here and in season are really inexpensive. The price of paltas has actually risen in many parts of Chile, however, becasue they are increasingly being exported to the US, where they are sold at much higher cost to the customer. Next time you buy an avocado (especially in the winter) check to see if it is from Chile.
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A typical place to buy fresh food is at the local feria. There is all of the typical fruits and vegetables, however, they only have them in-season. Our favorite part of the local feria is the fresh fish, which is resonably priced, hasn´t been frozen, and was usually caught the day before. My favorite fish to eat here is the reineta, which you can´t see in this picture.
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Another great thing about Chilean food is well yes, there is fast food...and thats not so great. BUT what is great about it is that you can order a beer at a fast food restaurant...and you can walk with it out the door in your hand without the fear of getting arrested for drinking in public.

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Ok enough about food....now transportation. For the most part, the public transportation is much better in Chile than in the U.S. There are tons of different options that take you pretty much anywhere. The only exception is trains. Before Pinochet, Chile had a rail system, but the dictator removed all of the trainlines and instead built roads. Pinochet did this to weaken the workers unions who were able to use train strikes to gain power. He crushed all the unions and along with them the trains. But, trucks on roads are a bit harder for worker unions to control so they built roads instead. In fact, Pinochet built the famous Carratera Austral, which we traveled on in southern Chile. Anyway...Delaney and I took buses pretty much in between every city we visited. They are less expensive than traveling by car (due to the high price of gas and road tolls). And since there are so many bus companies, it was easy to get a bus that fit into our travel schedule.

When you are in the cities, the best way to travel without a car is often by colectivo. Colectivos are similar to taxis, but instead of only carrying one passenger, the collectivos pack in a bunch of people going to roughly the same destination, and thus are much cheeper than taxis. This is a much needed transportaion option in the U.S. since it is basically carpooling made easy. Here is a picture of a street crowded with collectivos in La Serena. They are typically black with yellow doors and a sign on top indicating their direction.

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The roads in Chile are better than many places in the world, but of course hardly any country outside Europe can rival the roads in the United States. In many towns and cities we visited there are both paved and unpaved roads. The unpaved roads in places can be quite bumpy, but no worse than some of the US forest service roads I´ve been on. Most of the main highways are privately owned and operated, which brings benefits and downsides. The big downside is the expensive tolls. But, the upside is that the company pays to keep them very clean (despite Chilean´s bad habit for littering) and have complimentary road-side assistance. We found this out the hard way when our car broke down and a tow truck took us to the nearest off ramp. It was great to get off the highway and in a safer location.

Another interesting thing to note about roads is the proliferation of road-side shrines. They are typically shrines to people who have died on the road, similar to those in the US, but there are also shrines to saints who are said to protect travlers. My favorite shrines are the ones that have piles of water bottles around them. At first I was really confused by this, but Tamara told me the story and it makes a little more sense now. There was a woman who was said to be travelling in the desert with her baby. She died of dehydration, but miraculously her baby is said to have survived by drinking her milk even after she died. Travelers, especially truckers, put full water bottles around the shrines with images and figurines of this scence to ask her to protect them on their journey.

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Also, like everywhere in the world, people in Chile drive as fast as they can. In the US we keep our speed down for fear of a speeding ticket, but here in Chile the carbineros (police), hardly pull over drivers. So, instead they control speed the old fashioned way: good old speed bumps. This can be quite hard on the cars, especially becasue they aren´t always marked or obvious and are usually really big.

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One of the worst things that we experienced in Chile was the abundance of litter. There is trash everywhere...except in the places where there are people paid to pick it up (bus stations and city parks for example). In most of the popular places that we went camping there was usually trash strewn about the campsites. Really disgusting. We have frequently seen people just drop trash on the ground...and why not, when there is usually someone to pick it up. Despite this bad habit, like I mentioned the city parks are very clean and free of trash every morning. But that comes at a price. there is someone in almost every park daily picking up the trash and literally watering the plants with a hose. Its a great way to keep people employed, I guess.

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While Chileans may have a bad habit of littering, they do conserve in ways that would be beneficial for us in the US. For example, every house has an on-demand water heater, rather than a hot water tank. Also, our favorite is the returnable bottles. Most of the glass and some of the plastic bottles that you buy can be returned to the store in exchange for a new bottle. When you first buy the bottle, you pay a little extra for it, but if you bring an empty bottle back, you don´t have to pay again. The empty bottles are taken to the bottling factories, cleaned, and filled with delicious beer or soda again.

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There is a small movement in Chile to be more ecologically concious and I saw this vertical garden in a storefront down the street in Maipu.

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Another random thing to note is the crazy wiring above the streets in Chile. Most of the wires are not electical, but still...its a knotty mess.

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Like many Latin countries, the Chileans have a thing for hot women. You will see them all over the front pages of the local newspapers (except the two most respected papers in Santiago), on all the TV talk shows, and as weather girls. Why have an ugly old man tell you what the weather is going to be when you can have a former Miss Chile do it? The sad thing is that while most of the women here have darker skin and dark hair, the archetype of beautiful is light skin, eyes, and hair. There are some Chileans who fit this profile (German or English immigrants mostly), but they are a small percentage of the population. However, you would think if you watched TV and read the news here that there was a much larger percentage of lighter skinned women.

Another way that Chilean business men enjoy hot women is in coffee shops in downtown Santiago. They go during the work day, usually with business associates, to a ´cafe´with black windows where there are strippers that serve them coffee. While they drink the coffee, the women dance for them...and unlike strip clubs in the US there is no ban on touching. Yikes.

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Ok enough about that...Chile has clearly embraced capitalism like no where else in the world. The people here have a truely entreprenurial spirit (coffee shop strip clubs for example...I swear Portland-with the highest per capita strip clubs in the US-is ready for one). Despite the proliferation of walmart here (disguised as Lider), there are still lots of small businesses and markets everywhere. In Pamela and Garrett´s neighborhood, for example, there are about a dozen small markets, a furniture maker, a car parts store, bottle shops, an empanada shop, a completo (hot dog) stand, and a Chineese restaurant. Plus, on practically every street corner, especially on hot days, you will find people selling drinks and ice cream out of coolers and all sorts of random crap. If there isn´t someone selling you something the intersection is almost sure to have a street performer juggling for change from passing cars. People find creative ways to make money everywhere, like driving around neighborhoods selling propane, veggies, and cleaning products out of a truck or on a bike trailer. It´s almost impossible to park in the city without paying some random person to watch your car and help you back up. Teenagers help you bag your groceries at the store for a small tip. Some of these eneavors are so much more convienet for the consumer, and some are pretty annoying, but overall they show the hard-working and creative spirit of the Chilean people.

Now language. When we told other travellers about our plans to study Spanish here in Chile many people were surprised by our choice. This is mostly because Chileans are known to not only speak really fast, but they also have a thick accent (although not as bad as Argentinians) and use a lot of slang that is unique to Chile. Palta (avocado) is just one example of a word that doesn´t really exisit in any other Spanish-speaking countries. They even have a verb conjugation that it their own. We have had some pretty funny encounters with Chileans, especially in Patagonia where they would talk to us and we could only pick out the general meaning of what they were saying--if that! And, to make matters worse, some Chileans couldn´t understand us when we spoke because we were speaking too slowly. Seriously, a guy at the feria couldn´t even understand me when I said, ´dos cebollas´ (2 onions). So, I just pointed and got 5. Go figure.

Another example of a typically Chilean slang word is the word Flaite (pronounced fly-tay). It generally refers to young city people, who are loud, vulgar, typically lower-income, and wear clothes that are of a certain fashion (hard to describe really). The best translation that we have might be ´ghetto.´ The interesting thing about this word is the urban legend of its origin (and its the only word that rhymes with Maite). Basically when Nike Air Flights were really popular in the 80s kids started wearing them in Chile. The shoes said ´Flights´on their heel. Soon, people started refering to these kids as Flaites.

There is so much else to say about Chile, but I´m not writing a book. So, I´m gonna end with my favorite thing about Chile: its people. The people here are so generous, warm, friendly, inviting, and welcoming. Everywhere we travelled we had positive experiences with the local people. It has truely been a wonderful place to practice and learn Spanish (despite the slang and the accent) because people want to talk to us and listen to our story. We are so excited that we will have three Chilenas with us back in Oregon, so we can continue to enjoy Chilean culture and its wonderful people.

Thank you to all of you who have followed our blog. Its been really fun to write and document our adventures through stories and photos. Now it is time for our last adventure, returning home and reacclimating to the states. We hope to see you all when we get there. Until the next trip! Hasta luego!

Posted by Delaney..Jennie 05.24.2012 10:59 Archived in Chile Comments (0)

Mendoza and Chile´s Norte Chico

Wine in Mendoza and Pisco in the Valle del Elqui

sunny 20 °F

After Anne and Gil left us in Santiago, Delaney and I set off for another traveling adventure. I´m sure that Garrett and Pame appreciated some space away from family!

Our first trip we took out to visit our friends Tamara and Dan in Mendoza, Argentia. We know Tamara and Dan from our time in Yosemite. Interestingly, they had the same idea as us...to travel in Patagonia and settle somewhere to learn Spanish. We were never able to cross paths in Patagonia, so Delaney and I headed east over the Andes to Mendoza. We´d traveled there when we came to South America the last time about two and a half years ago. We enjoyed it so much that it was worth it to go again. We had a fabulous time catching up with Tamara and Dan, exchanging stories of our adventures and experiences, talking about our friends in Yosemite, and just hanging out with some Norte Americanos.

We went to some nearby hot springs one day...steamy.
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Explored the foothills of the Andes in a town called Uspallata another day. The desert air was fresh and beautiful and the cottonwoods were golden. There we rented bikes (with incredibly uncomfortable seats) and visited two archaelogical sites near the town.
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The first was a metal smelting site that was used both by native peoples and by European settlers. There were some really beautiful old adobe buildings there.
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The other site had pre-columbian rock art. Really cool.
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The next day we rented bikes again and went wine tasting in the Maipu region near Mendoza. It was a gorgeous day and we could enjoy views of the snowy peaks above the grape vines.
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Interestingly, the first winery we ended up at, Delaney and I had visited on our previous trip. We took a picture in the same location as one we took before.
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We got one of Tamara and Dan as well.
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It was really fun to taste some realy amazing wines, including one of my favorite varieties, Malbec. The Malbec grapes are a french variety that trives in Argentina.
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We spent almost a week in Mendoza before returning to Santiago for a night before catching another long bus up to La Serena, a coastal town about 400 km north of Santiago. La Serena is the second oldest city in Chile, founded by Pedro de Valdivia. It served as a stopping off point for the early European settlers between Santiago and Lima, Peru. There were many beautiful old adobe buildings in the city. Here is a photo of the Plaza del Armas.
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In town we enjoyed shopping in the artisan markets and visiting the arcaheological museum. Before this excusion, we hadn´t bought any souveniers for ourselves. Luckily there were a lot of beautiful things to choose from in La Serena. The museum was really interesting and had a lot of beautiful artifacts. Including pottery and one of the Easter Island Maoi heads. Here is a picture of replica Diaguita pottery from the area that we saw at the museum.
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One of my favorite days of the whole trip was our guided excursion out to Isla Damas off the coast north of La Serena. We had heard from some travellers back in January about the trip to visit the National Park to see the Humbolt penguins and other marine wildlife. It was so spectacular! Our guide was so knowledgeable and passionate about his work. We also had a great group of other travellers with us, including four women from The Netherlands, a woman from Morroco, and a French family. Our guide (and Sarah Grace later) told us about the unique and productive waters of Chile. The cold Humboldt current comes up from the south pole allowing for a lot of upwelling of nutrients to occur all along the Chilean coast. This enables for large populations of fish, marine mamals, and birds to thrive. The local fisheries are protected by a unique system that is controlled by the local fisherman rather than by national governments. Sarah told me that Chile´s fisheries management practices are seen by experts as an example for other countries to follow. Here are some pictures of the adventure.

Lobos del Mar (Sea Lions) chillin on the rocks.
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Boobies and Cormornats galore!
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Penguins! The penguins build their nexts at the top of the island, so that predators, like the Sea Otters can´t reach their eggs. We could see penguin trails leading up and down to the beach and little penguins waddling up and down. Its hard to tell from the photo, but there are a few penguins waddling on the trail. So amazing!
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Lily Cormorants
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Sea Otters! The first ones I´ve seen in the wild. We got to see them pull a fish up out of the water, onto the rock and eat it. They two otters were playing with each other, wrestling in the water and cuddling. So cute!
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We also got to explore on foot one of the islands. As soon as our boat landed the sun came out and the ocean turned a fabulous aqua color. 1P1020274.jpg1P1020271.jpg1P1020267.jpg1P1020266.jpg

After La Serena we headed east into the Valle del Elqui. The Rio Elqui flows from the Andes and down through the valle all the way out to La Serena on the coast. The valley is a rich agricultural oasis in the middle of the desert. People have been growing food their for thousands of years. First begining with corn, beans, and squash and now a rich array of fruits (figs, papayas, avocados, grapes) and citrus (lemons and organges). It is mostly known for its pisco grapes which are used to produce the famous Chilean licour, Pisco. The grapes were turning a beautiful yellow. This is the Rio Elqui and surrounding countryside near Vicuña, where we stayed for two nights.
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We visited two different Pisco distilleries, one is in Vicuña and the other is in the town of Pisco Elqui. The one in Vicuña is one of the largest distilleries called Capel. It is a cooperative of over 1000 farmer-owners that was formed back in 1938. We learned that the process of making Pisco is very similar to wine. Actually it is identical, except that once the wine is created, it is then distilled to form the liquor. The Liquor is then either bottled (to make the sweet pisco used in fruity cocktails), or stored in oak barrels to make a stronger flavored drink similar tasting to whiskey. Here is a picture of the distillery equipment and the first Capel bottles from the 30s.
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The other distillery we went to was one of the first in Chile, and is called Los Niches. It created the first brand of pisco, Tres R´s, which has since been purchased by another distillery. It is almost 150 years old and still uses much of the old ways of making pisco. Including a wood fired distiller. We were lucky that they still had some late-harvest grapes going through their system that we could taste. For all pisco, a grape with a very high sugar content is used. It must be at least 14% sugar in order to qualify. So, the grapes we tasted were super sweet!
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Another fun excursion we took near Vicuña was a visit to a restuarnat with a solar kitchen. The food was fantastic and simple. This would be an amazing addition to any desert community in the US!
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The weather for our trip to the valley was perfect! Cool breezes, sunny and warm. Plus, we found beautiful hostels with gorgeous gardens full of fruit trees, shade, and views of the mountains and the sky. It was a perfect place for us to relax and read. It made me feel like I was on a proper honeymoon, but rather than looking out onto a tropical ocean, I was gazing at the mountains. Here are some pictures of the garden and view from our hostel in Pisco Elqui.
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Pisco Elqui was one of my favorite places that we visited on the whole trip. It was so relaxing, beautiful and had a vibrant artist community. I was inspired by the natural beauty and the beauty of the art and adobe architecture in the town. The history of the town´s name is also interesting. Since Peru and Chile have been fighting over which country is the mother of Pisco, Chile decided to rename the town from La Union, to Pisco Elqui back in the 1930s. We took a hike up the hills to get a good view of the town and valley from above.
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Creative reuse of Pisco barrels for bus stops and a gorgeous mural.
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The area is also known for its clear skies and astronomical powers. Back in the 1960s a group of hippies from Chile and around the world founded a town in the Valle Cochiguaz (a valley that feads into the Elqui valley) becasue they believed that the center of magnetic power of the earth had moved from the Himalas to a mountian in the valley, Cerro Cancana. In fact, that mountain does have the highest concentration of electro-magnetism on earth. The valley boasts at least 10 different observatories hosting many international astronomers. Delaney and I were able to go to one up in Valle Cochiguaz. It was so amazing to see many constalations, including the southern cross and our own zodiac constalatons Virgo and Gemini. The Milky Way was was glowing and we were able to even see a galaxy with our naked eye. It looked like a fuzz of white in the night sky. We were also lucky to see Saturn and Mars. We were able to look through a fairly powerful telescope to get a glimpse of Saturn´s rings and moons, a nebula, and a galaxy. It was an experience of a lifetime! Here is a photo (not mine) of the southern sky and the observatory we visited.
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Posted by Delaney..Jennie 05.12.2012 09:09 Archived in Argentina Comments (1)

Santiago and the Environs

Time with the Grandparents

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For the last three weeks we have been busy exploring the areas around Santiago with relaxing days in the backyard inbetween. Grandpa (Tata Gil) and Grandma (Abuelita Annie) arrived two weeks ago and are headed back home today. This blog is full of pictures. Enjoy!

Before the Abuelitos arrived, Garrett, Delaney, and I took Amaya on her very first backpacking trip: A one day adventure up into the mountains east of Rancagua (just south of Santiago). Garrett and Pamela lived near them before and had explored this little river drainage before. Amaya did wonderfully and when it came time for us to go she wasn´t ready to leave. The highlights were fishing for real fish (caught some tiny ones) and algae fish (Amaya was excited she could catch one every time), sleeping in tents, roasting marshmellows and making smores (Amaya liked eating all the pieces separately!), and watching Amaya be perfectly entertained in the outdoors. It was a fun adventure.

Funny faces
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Algae fish!
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more fishing and chillin on the rocks
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The next fun day was our Easter egg hunt. Of course Amaya was ecstatic for every egg she found. And even more excited to find the chocolate bunny hiding in her swing.
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Then the grandparents arrived! For the first few days while they were here we hung out around Santiago. Here are some pictures of us around the house. Playing with the kids. Lots of singing songs, bouncing the baby, and playing with ¨bady bugs¨ (potato bugs) in the backyard.

Jennie with the two baby cousins: Maite and Emilia.
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Maite in her beautiful hand made hat from Jan in Hood River.
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Grandpa and Grandma with the baby
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Out to lunch at a German restaurant...beer and pisco sours. Pisco sours are the national drink of Chile (although I think Peru claims it as well). Ingredients: Pisco (alcohol made from grapes), fresh squeezed lemon juice, powdered sugar, and if you are feeling fancy, egg whites. Delicious!
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The first weekend we went up to the mountains south of Rancagua to a place called Siete Tazas (Seven Cups). The name refers to a beautiful natural formation in the river made up of waterfalls, and pools. Due to the late season, and perhaps water diverted underground during the big earthquake a few years ago, the waterfalls weren´t falling and some of the pools were empty. However, it was still a beautiful area to explore.
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Plus, our cabaña was on a beautiful pasture with an amazing view out to the peaks in the distance. We enjoyed watching flocks of Chilean Parrots, the alpin-glo on the peaks, Amaya follow around the horses and cows, campfires and asados, and the fresh mountain air.

The cabaña
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Views
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Grandpa and Amaya
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Amaya and the white horse she finally was able to pet
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Hangin out
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The marshmellow
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The 1000 year old Coigue tree that was near the cabaña
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Chilean Parrots
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The next weekend we all headed out to Cahuil, the beach town near Pichilemu we went to in January. We stayed in the same cabaña right near the beach, went back to the salt estuary, and enjoyed the beach. Nona (Maria, Pamela´s mother) also came along with us.

Hanging out around the Cabaña.
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The ultimate competition: Amaya v. Delaney...¿Quien puede ver la mas fuerte? (who can see the strongest)
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Who can hear the strongest?
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Who can read the fastest?
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And my favorite, who can be quite the longest...Amaya lost that one by saying ¨silencio¨ haha.
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The sunset over the ocean
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Two days before we left there was another large earthquake in the middle of the night (6.7) that woke us up. So far Delaney and I have felt three big earthquakes since we´ve been here-all stronger than any I´ve felt in California. Of course we talked about tsunamis and our preparedness plan for when we got to the beach. We were glad to see that the town had indicated the evacuation routes up into the hills.
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Playing on the beach
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Back in the salt estuary
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Delaney and I were able to sneak away for a day to take a long walk along the sand while the rest of the family went to another town, Buculemu to the south. In Buculemu, the family watched the fishermen unloading the delicious fish from their boats. Amaya decided that she wanted to be one of the tractor drivers who unloaded the fish when she grows up...sounds fun!
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Nature photos from our beach walk. Delaney was excited to see the sunflower sea stars that are rare to see in North America. Very cool. We also saw some of the ¨seaweed¨shacks, where people come to harvest seaweed from the ocean. They pull it up from the shore to dry before hauling it away in their trucks.
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Overall these last three weeks have been full of fun. The next two weeks Delaney and I are leaving Santiago and heading over to Argentina to visit two of our friends from Yosemite, Tamara and Dan, in Mendoza. Then we are heading north to La Serena and the area around Norte Chico and hopefully we´ll see penguins!

Posted by Delaney..Jennie 04.25.2012 08:12 Archived in Chile Comments (1)

El Tiempo de la Familia

Hangin with the fam in Maipu

sunny 70 °F

Well we´ve spent the last three-ish weeks here hangin mostly in Garrett and Pamela´s backyard here in Maipu (the largest suburb of Santiago). The weather has been sunny everyday until today when it is actually feeling a little bit like fall. Our days have been super chill and have consisted of waking up late, breakfast (pan y palta...bread and avocado) while reading the ny times on the ipad, playing barbies and muñecas (dolls) with Amaya, swinging Amaya on the swing in the backyard (Amaya: ¨Culumpia me Tio!¨), Spanish lessons on our DVDs (thanks John and Anita), one of Pamela´s amazing almuerzos (lunch) in the mid afternoon, cuddling with Maite and watching her grow, drinking escudo our favorite Chilean cheep beer in the evening, and watching Portland Trail Blazer games late night. Here and there we go to the park, the mall, and the store all adventures of their own (especially with Amaya in tow).

Beaitiful little Maite (born on February 18th)
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Model Shots
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Racing on the scooter
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Llanka
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Amaya´s photography skills...el poni en la jungla!
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Beautiful Pame and Maite
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Hermanas!
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Being Silly with Tio!
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Maite´s amazing mohawk
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Learning to ride the bike
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Amaya is ready to work on the orchard!
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Maite loves being outside looking up at the grape arbor
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Couldn´t resist putting this one in of ´el guapo´
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Other highlights include taking Amaya to the zoo (forgot the camera...grrr) and celebrating Amaya´s fourth birthday. Garrett and Pame threw a great party for Amaya at a kids jungle gym in the mall. There were a few of Amaya´s friends there to celebrate. They all got to run around and eat massive amounts of dulces (candy) and cake. Amaya was whooped at the end of the day (something that rarely happens since she has so much engery). She loved all of her presents which of course included a couple barbies and babies (her favorite). We gave her one of the wallets that I made with some coins in it. Since she is a big girl now she can have her own money, she claimed!

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Amaya has been the best spanish teacher. She talks all the time. My favorite quote of hers so far is ¨me encanta hablar!¨ (I love talking!). She is also very patient with us and will wait for us to look up words en el dictionario. Speaking from a barbie´s point of view is not very difficult either since Amaya dictates most of the conversation and we can just repeat what she wants us to say. Also, I am able to mess up and she has fun correcting me and helping me to pronounce words, ¨Bien Tia!¨ We´ve also learned all sorts of useful kid words like brubujas (bubbles), columpiar (to swing), and hilar (to spin).

Garrett and Pamela live very close to Pamela´s mom, Maria, and her sister, Loretto and Emilio and their large family. Loretto has five kids: Camila (18), Fernanda (14), Sebastian (12), Maxito (almost 2), and Emilia (4 weeks). Maria has graciously lent us a room in her house. We have also spent time babysitting Maxito and Emilia. Emilia is so tiny still and is only three weeks younger than Maite.
Emilio and Emilia
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Maxito
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Maria aka Nona
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Garrett and Pamela are doing well too. There are getting ready for their big move to the United States. Garrett is going to go to law school in the fall. He is about to decide where to go, and we are all rooting for Lewis and Clark, so they can be in Portland or Hood River with us. Pamela is practicing her English with us in between dipers and feedings. She is the most amazing cook and I have been learning a lot of tips from her recipies. Butter is the secret ingredient!

We are looking forward to next week when Anne and Gil (Delaney´s parents) join us all here in Maipu.

Posted by Delaney..Jennie 04.04.2012 11:30 Archived in Chile Comments (1)

Chile´s Lake Region

Pucon and Volcan Villarica

all seasons in one day

Pucon is a speedy (11 hour) bus ride from Bariloche. We arrived tired, but accomplished reading many more pages in War & Peace, the mammoth of a book we have both been reading since we picked it up at the Eco Camp in Villa O´Higgins (thanks Mauricio). We took a day to rest and prepare for our next trekking adventure, the Villarica Traverse, a 6 day hike across the Parque Nacional Villarica. Luckily, the weather was gorgeous and we got to spend our first hours in in the south basking in the sun next to a lake without crazy winds. I even went swimming for the first time since the beach in Pichilemu. So fantastic.
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The next day was also gorgeous and since we didn´t want to waste any good weather time we hit the trail. The first two days we spent hiking around Volcan Villarica from the north, around the west side, and down to the southern side. The weather stayed clear the entire first day, but at about noon on day two we walked into the cloud. The views before the cloud were absolutely incredible. We could see all the way down to to the Lago Villarica and Pucon, out to another large lake, Lincan Rey, up to the top of the SMOKING volcano, and out to so many other peaks and volcanos in the distance. Around us we saw beautiful alpine plants, insects, grasses, and lava flows of many different ages and types. One of my favorite things about the hike was able to walk in the Arucaria Forests (Monkey Puzzle trees). Chileans claim that they are the oldest living trees (although I´m fairly sure that the Bristlecone pine claims that statistic). We also found some prints of the elusive Pudu, the tiniest deer on the planet (this statistic I think is true)!

Views down to Lago Villarica
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Smoking volcano
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Views out to distant volcanos (I tried to copy the shot I got of Mt. Hood with the grass I posted in the first blog..sorta worked!)
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Arucarias
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Pudu print with Delaney´s hand
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Lava flow
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We woke up on day three next to a beautiful river, with the sun just peaking out from the trees. We had a long slog back up out of the river canyon and back up into the alpine zone. We were now headed south eastward towards the other volcanoes in the park, Volcan Quetropillan and Volcan Lanin. Luckily for us the weather stayed gorgeous all day and we got amazing views once we got above the trees. We had a fabulous campsite next to a little creek and a view of Volcan Villarica. We dunked in a tiny hole in the stream, and enjoyed our first warm evening of the entire summer in patagonia. So refreshing and welcomed. The sunset that night was beautiful as well and the smoke coming out the the volcano blazed red. The picture I got doesn´t quite do it justice, but you get the point!

Volcan Villarica and Arucarias
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Delaney with Volcan Quetrapillian and Volcan Lanin in the background
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Views from the top
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Luckily we met some Chilean hikers who got one of us both!
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Smoking volcano
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The next day we woke up to storm clouds. The good weather couldn´t last the whole 6 days could it?! So we got wet walking in the rain becasue we were lazy and didn´t get all our rain gear on in time. My boots leaked, D´s rainpants leaked, I got a blister, we got hungary, and a little cranky, and so after only three hours of hiking we stopped at Lago Azul to pitch the tent and get out of the torrents. Unfortunately the camp was really trashy...literally trash everywhere around the campsites, including poop with toilet paper above ground...come on people, really!? Our book recommended camping somewhere else because of the trash, but due to the rain, which didnt stop for a couple hours, we ended up caming at the trashy camp. No real need to get out of the tent much, so I tried to not let the trash bother me. War & Peace kept us occupied and happy. No pictures from that day, but just picture being inside of a cloud with about 40 feet of visibility on the ground in front of you.

Day five was also rainy with the same amount of visibility for most of it. We got a really great understanding of the alpine plants and lava rocks that we could see just around the trail. We also became expert mallin crossers. A mallin is a wet (very wet in the rain) meadow. By the end of the day it really didn´t matter anymore that there was mud in the middle of the trail or a stream flowing through it. We were already so muddy and wet, what was a little more. We got to camp and the rain stopped...yay! So we were able to at least get our rain clothes dry and eat dinner outside. The unfortunate thing about this camp was, yet again, there was human feces right in the camp. It was really the only dryish place to camp, so we made due and ignored the fact that we had to brush toilet paper away from our tent spot. But the next morning when Delaney realized that he had stepped in shit somewhere around the camp was the worst. I really appreciate that Yosemite rangers explain in a very detailed speech how to poop in a hole, how to carry out your toilet paper, and even sell folks plastic bags for the deed. The Chilean parks need to get their shit together...literally.

Luckily the weather broke that night and we enjoyed sun again for our hike out. Unfortunatley all of the supreme views we had missed as we hiked in the clouds the two days prior, were gone, but no matter. We walked through the forest and enjoyed the trees, streams, and mallins along the way. That night we stayed in a campground a few kilometers outside the park right next to the Rio Puesco. It was situated in a beautiful canyon that reminded us of the Merced River canyon back in Yosemite. A nice reminder of our most recent home.

The concept of home is becomming less clear for me the more I travel down here. It has been difficult for us to explain where we are from. At first we were saying ¨California and Oregon.¨ But that made it seem like we weren´t together. So we started to say ¨Oregon,¨ but that doesn´t quite work for me, since really just my stuff is living in Oregon, not me. Then I realized that I was getting a little homesick for San Diego (our nice day at the beach cured that!) eventhough its been a long time since I´ve lived there. Even though its confusing not quite having a home isn´t that big of a deal. It helps to not have a picture of somewhere that we could be instead of where we are and therefore helps me to stay present. Home is right where I am.

After the traverse we headed to two different hot springs (termas) near Pucon, rested in our hostel, and finally made the again long (12 hour!) bus ride up to Santiago. We are now getting settled back at Garrett and Pamelas. Maite Isabel, our new nice, is a beautiful little baby. One month old now. We are looking forward to lots of playtime with Amaya and Maite, helping Pame with whatever she might need, and Spanish classes. We´ll be able to nest a little bit here in Santiago and make our home here for the next couple months.

Pics of the Termas Los Pozones
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Posted by Delaney..Jennie 03.20.2012 10:40 Archived in Chile Comments (1)

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