Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Leaving on a jet plane

My flight from the US to Chile is imminent... a countable number of hours away. I won't be more specific just in case I do have an internet stalker who would love to foil my plans... with my luck in this move, that might just be the case.

I can't believe the departure is finally here. It has been an exhausting week, packed to the minute with last minute details and good-byes.

We had to go to Houston on Monday for our last papers. The legalization of my university documents and the kids emergency travel papers (in lieu of a Chilean passport to enter Chile as Chilean). It had to be left to the end because they give you a window of 10 days to travel. So the timing of everything has been a little stressful.

It is about a 2.5-3 hour drive. About an hour into it, we started having car problems. We decided to risk it and keep driving. We HAD to make it to the consulate. There were a few scary moments, but we got to our exit, pulled up to a red light and the car died... like died, died-couldn't even pull the key out of the ignition.

But considering a quite unfortunate situation we were VERY fortunate!

We were two blocks from the consulate.

We were right next to a Starbucks and 3 guys came over and helped push the car into a parking lot.

One of the three guys used to be a mechanic at his parent's garage, so he set us up with towing numbers and his parents. He looked under the hood and said it was the serpentine belt (runs the alternator--all the power for the car)

We finished our activities at the consulate and got the car towed to this guy's parents' shop.

His parents are perhaps the sweetest people we have met in a long time. The man is in his mid 70's, has had a heart-attack, and is hard of hearing. His wife of 60 years works by his side, helping run the same old-time garage for over 50 years. All of their 5 kids have worked there at some time.

Our car isn't very common in Texas (where you are no one if you don't have a Ford 150-it is bizarre) so it was hard to find the part. This little old woman called and ran all over Houston, until 8:00, trying to find the right size belt finally found one, but the store closed. So we had to wait until the next day. The man had been helping entertain the kids with little Texaco trucks from the 50s and 60s. The woman took us to Target to get some supplies and then to a Hotel nearby.

In the end, the bill was much less than we had imagined. the belt itself cost about 70 and I think they charged us for 1.5 hours of labor, plus the towing, so it was not the catastrophic amount we imagined when we broke down.

We were so moved by the generosity of these people, going way above and beyond what a normal garage would do for you... so sweet! He even asked for our address so he can send us the photos he took of my filthy kids playing with trucks.

It was one of those experiences that alters your view of humanity.

We drove back yesterday and have since been lost in a whirlwind of tasks.

......and my next post will be from SANTIAGO, CHILE!!!!!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

River play

Still waiting on the consulate, of course...

We are having lovely fall weather so we got out today to enjoy it. I finally let my hubs talk me into renting a canoe with the kids. I have fought it until now because the idea of tipping over and having to try to save the kids with my lousy swimming skills frightens me. But they are getting old enough to know to sit still so we did it. They loved it of course! We also rode the train (and saw Jack Black) and had pizza and snow cones.

It is still in the upper 80s here so my little fishie begged to play in the water. It was a little mossy for my taste, but she clearly had no problem.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Shipping News

Have you read that book? It is good, but slow, and not at all what this post is about.

It is not that I have been lazy about blogging, I promise, just busy keeping the kids from chasing the cats and being loud and touching things and running or jumping... just being kids, generally, which seems to be annoying to people who don't have kids... but they will soon, so they will see.... haha, the joke is on them...

We have had some delightfully informative conversations about parenting and discipline where I like to say: "Yes, that is brilliant... in theory" ... and then I chuckle knowingly to myself.

The good news is that we finally shipped our boxes. Our final pile looked like this:

We debated and fretted about what company to use for shipping and finally decided that one of the port-to-port alternatives we found (recommended by friends in Costa Rica)would be cheaper and much more straight-forward. It does mean that we had to take our boxes to Houston (the port) and we will have to pick them up in Valparaiso (Port in Chile).

In the end it feels like any method of shipping you use and any company you contract, you end up genuflecting, silently blessing your boxes, closing your eyes and just hoping it all works out. But it feels SOOO good to finally have that taken care of.

They were organized on three pallets and shrink wrapped and measured and weighed. There is about 10 cubic meters and probably over 3000 pounds.

It kind of looks like a lot of boxes, so it is surprising how useless most of it is in terms of setting up a house. It is all books and tools, some kitchen stuff and a few toys.

The tools part was fun! I tried not to question what my hubs wanted to bring... I mean, I have boxes and boxes of books and I was adamant about bring other things(kitchen) that I know will be hard to find. So I tried not to be judgmental about the tools. But I found myself asking: "Really, there won't be shovels in Chile?" and "Where will you store that enormous and very heavy extension ladder?" and exactly what and where will you be digging with those three pick-axes?" But my hubs loves garden tools. What can you do?

The worst part was that every time I said we had to be packing, he'd start organizing his tools. It brought us close to divorce and nearly drove me insane. Now when people ask him what he is going to miss most I jump in and say "his wife."

One day he spent a good 20 minutes trying to take the head off of a rake-with different drill bits and then a saw and I said "really? is this a good use of time? how are you going to reassemble that?". I finally had to put my foot down and make him do something useful or die a slow and painful death. I am bossy and make very unrealistic threats to get my way. It is the only way to get things accomplished, I have found.

We are almost ready to fly... just have to get a hold of the consulate. I wish they would answer the phone.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Big changes coming up

So, we did it... we finally sold the house! It is done. We are out. We packed eveything we are sending to Chile in boxes; we packed everything we are carrying with us in suitcases. We signed away the first and only house we have ever owned.

There is so much about it that still seems surreal. I already miss my own space. I miss our friends down the street that I never tire of seeing. I miss the park two blocks away where we have gone almost daily for nearly 4.5 years. I have this heavy sadness now, though I have been too tired and busy keeping my kids from picking up, chasing, releasing into the wild, or otherwise harming (or being harmed) by the 5 cats of the friends we are staying with until we take off (yes, that is every bit as fun as it sounds.)

Is it always sad to leave a house? I am not sure. Perhaps, because we are not leaving it for a new house, where the sadness might be overtaken by the excitement of filling up a new space. There is excitment somwhere inside too, for the new adventure that lies ahead, but right now the sadness is most present. We are leaving our own space for a space that isn't ours. We are leaving a life already established for a life that will take a few years to settle into. We have sold almost everything we have accumulated in our 9 years of life together and will arrive with books and baking sheets.

So we will be heading out in a few weeks. We don't have a date yet, we still have to take care of a few things like shipping our things. As soon as that is taken care of or scheduled we'll buy tickets and make the final trip to the consulate for the final paperwork.

Can you believe it? Soon I'll be blogging from Chile!

Speaking about blogging from Chile... I have contemplated starting a new blog for this new chapter of my life (now with more photos! and fewer posts on marital strife!) ... would that confuse my 3 readers? Would that be annoying? Part of the reason is that I have never liked the title I gave this one... I just needed something-- played with a spanglish title and then settled for an alliteration obsession. But I am NOT actually all that "unabashed"-- well maybe about illegal immigration and health care reform-- but generally speaking, I don't just lay it all out there (or maybe you think I do, who knows?) so it has never seemed to fit. I even contemplated trying out a new blogging platform, like wordpress, but I don't know... does thata require a lot of patience? Because I am fresh out...

Any ideas? suggestions? objections?