Monday, November 29, 2010

Going Local

One of the great things about getting out of Santiago, and especially of going down to southern Chile, is the local products and dishes. There are areas known for certain agricultural products, fruits, other areas for wine, others made famous for national or regional dishes, and then there are dairy products like cheese and butter that just taste so much better bought from some little farm or local factory and sold at a picturesque road-side stand.

For example, we stopped for lunch and ate "Plateada" which is a cut of meat similar to brisket, but cut in thick strips, slow cooked--braised really, and served with potatoes. It is a dish that is served all over Chile (as far as I know), but for some reason in Romeral, at the restaurant "Colo-Colo" it has gained national fame.

Then, on our long drive from the south of Chile back to Santiago, we stopped and stocked up on some local goodies:


Longaniza (sausage-above) and home-made country cheese from Chillan (below)



and cherries from Curic├│

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Life gets harder...

Ok, that is a blantant lie!

It hasn't gotten harder (yet... but I am sure it will). Life did get more breathtaking for a week as we accompanied my father-in-law to his conference in Puerto Varas, a small touristy town just north of Puerto Montt, in the Lake Region of southern Chile (about 1000 KM/621 mi--10 hours by car with my speed-devil FIL).





Puerto Varas is one the shores of one of the biggest lakes in Chile: Lago Llanquihue (yan-QUI way) with the background view of two volcanos: Osorno and Calbuco.





Among Chileans there is a kind of collective nostalgia for the south of Chile... captured in one of the songs from Los Prisioners in the 80's: Tren al sur


With its lakes, rivers, forests, volcanoes, mountains, and fjords (and lots of rain) it is also a popular destination for tourists who come to Chile. I love the south of Chile, I think because it is very similar to the geography of the Pacific Northwest where I lived for many years. In fact if you flip the globe they are on parallel inverted lattitudes (if that makes any sense).

While travelling with two small tots is never exactly relaxing, we did have a great time and enjoyed the stunning scenery.






We ate in places like these:



I tried raw oysters for the first time. I tried to photo-document it, but it turns out I am not all that attractive while eating, so I will spare you that photo. Verdict: they are actually pretty good, I am not sure why I resisted so long.

By far, the highlight of the trip was the Saltos de Petrohue, a series of falls at the base of the Osorno Volcano.





I still can't get over the color of the water... mesmerizing!




Lovely, huh?

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Don't hate me...

... just because I get to spend weekends and holidays here... (meet my father-in-law's beach house in Mirasol)





My brother-in-law (who is an arquitect) designed it.




Did you see that?



Yes, that is the view!




My hubs helped come up with ideas for the gardens...




We hung out at the beach


and went here


and ate this



with this lousy view


It was a tough weekend! But you can feel a little bad for me because on the beach, my hair looks like this:


And though our first day was lovely-sunny, our second day was only lovely-cloudy



I went running on the beach in the drizzle and then had to spend the rest of the morning like this, meditating over coffee...


The kids were clearly unhappy too



So, you see, there are some perks to living in Chile...

Now, when are you coming to visit?

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Here

After a long over-night flight trying to make the kids comfortable enough to sleep, hence without sleeping much ourselves, we are here, in Chile. It almost doesn't feel real yet.

Our first few days we spent recovering and having long lunches, full of welcome speeches, with my husband's family. The kids have loved having all this new attention, they love their new room and new toys, playing with their aunts and uncles and cousins and Tata (grandpa). They don't seem to be having any problems living in a new country.

oh, except G REFUSES to speak Spanish. She understands, but she won't answer or repeat... I am sure that will change, but for now I think it is important to respect her process.

These first few days have been vacation-like, but I know the complicated part is just about to get started. After a few days of rest, we started "tramites" (errands), bureaucratic steps, like getting ID cards and practical matters, like getting a cell phone.

It is odd to be back in a country, a city that I knew much better at one time, but now only vaguely remember. So much has changed and so much has remained the same, it is both disconcerting and comforting.

It is a re-encounter with many things, some positive, like the view of the Andes, the corner stores where I ran to get bell peppers and then 10 miuntes later returned to get oregano while we were in the middle of cooking lunch and others negative, like the ambiguity of all bureaucratic processes which result in standing in line at the registro civil to get my carnet (ID card) discovering that I am missing a step, making a trip downtown and standing in line at International Police to register my visa, a step that the consulate failed to mention and that wasn't specified anywhere on the website, and now I get to go back to stand in line again to get my ID or going to the supermarket (Jumbo)--OH MY GOODNESS! the number of people they can fit in a store here!.

I took the metro (subway) downtown today to run some of these errands. The subway system is awesome and would totally be awesomer except for the herds of people that make it intolerable at certain times of the day at certain stops. But it was lovely to walk around my old stomping grounds (I used to live and work right down town, a few blocks from La Moneda--the presidential palace).

I had to change dollars into pesos, so between that and carrying some important documents, like my passport, I was a little nervous. My husband says I am too cute to rob, but I am not sure that is a good enough deterrent ;-) haha. That is another thing that will be hard to get used to-the sense that you have to be cautious and aware at all times.

We went to the cemetery today to visit my mother-in-law's gravesite (my husband hadn't been back here since just before she passed away four years ago this month).

I saw so many interesting things and didn't have my camera

... next time, I promise.