Thursday, December 31, 2009

And They're Off!

My family left early this morning, heading out on the tiny plane that goes across the Strait to Punta Arenas. They have a long voyage ahead of them and will get back home around noon tomorrow. We had a great time (minus the flu blug). Here are some highlights:

Christmas Eve with Fern's family:

Olivia playing with her cousin:

Up late on Christmas Eve:

A visit to a sheep farm:

A visit to the fishery:

Off on a windy run:

A salt lake outside of town:

Time at home on the computer:

Lots of meals at home (not too many restaurants to go out to!):

Final morning goodbyes:

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Penguins Galore

As mentioned in a previous post, last week we visited the Otway Penguin Preserve. As promised here are some pics from the trip.

My recently arrived family at the beginning of the walk:

Is that a little wave the penguins are giving?

Sun bathing on the beach:

Heading back in from the beach:

Up close and personal (notice the way the penguin in the background is sitting!):

They live in these burrows. Did you know penguins live in holes in the ground?

And my little penguin waddling/running along:

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Merry Christmas! (?)

Our first Christmas in Porvenir ended up being not so merry. Everyone came down with a flu bug, including Olivia and we haven't left the house since Christmas Eve, trying to calm our stomachs and resting. Olivia did enjoy opening and playing with all her gifts, especially her Cozy Coupe! Unfortunately my family has yet to see much of Tierra del Fuego since no one is feeling well. Hopefully by tomorrow we'll be able to head out for a drive to at least see some guanacos!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

More Penguins!

The Fam arrived safe and sound yesterday and today we took a field trip to the Otway Penguin Reserve just outside of Punta Arenas. Lots of photos coming soon but here's a sneak preview!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

~Home~ For The Holidays

This afternoon we are headed to Punta Arenas to meet my dad, step-mom and brother who will be arriving tomorrow afternoon. They are making the long trip from Columbus to Atlanta to Santiago to Punta Arenas, followed by a short "break" and then on Wednesday we'll be crossing back over to Porvenir for Christmas. So if you were doing the math - that's 3 planes and 1 ferry! We've been preparing Olivia for their visit by looking over photos from our trip to Columbus in June. Here they all are together. Olivia has changed so much!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Happy Baby Girl

Olivia loves to go outside and even more so now that the weather is getting nicer. If she hears anyone preparing to leave the house she starts saying "vamos!" ("let's go" in Spanish). It's very sweet. Here's a shot of her earlier this week in our backyard. The look on her face is priceless!!!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Summer Fruits Are Here!

For anyone who has been following my blog since the beginning, you know that getting a variety of fruits and vegetables here is not so easy. I did briefly go through a broccoli crisis when I was told it was not to be found but then found frozen broccoli and have since found a new veggie place that has FRESH broccoli every now and then. Sooo... I've learned to live with less variety, and more importantly I have gotten the inside scoop on where to get the good stuff when it's available. (For those of you concerned with the lettuce issue, i.e. iceberg only, I have found a *greener* lettuce that is available throughout the spring and summer - whew!)
Now that summer is on it's way (at least according to the calendar if not the weather), I am happy to report that many of Chile's yummy fruits have found their way all the way down to Tierra del Fuego. We have peaches, nectarines, melons, kiwis, cherries and watermelon! Granted I am not adhering to the "buy local" philosophy which I heartily agree with but at least the fruit is from Chile and not farther than that. And I am quite impressed that we can enjoy all of Chile's summer produce way down here!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Rise And Shine!

As we approach the longest day of the year, I thought I would point out that our longest day of the year is probably longer than the longest day most of you have experienced. Today the sun rose at 5:00 a.m. and will not set until after 10:00 p.m. It is a very weird sensation to wake up and see a full shining sun and then look at the clock and see that it's only 5:30 in the morning!!! And it's very hard to go to bed "on time" when it's still light out so you're busy doing stuff around the house and suddenly you look down at your watch and it's 9:45 p.m.!!! Black-out curtains are a must and thankfully Olivia does not seem to be too effected by the only semi-darkness she goes to sleep in and wakes up in. And it's actually kind of fun to have such a long day. Of course this means our shortest day of the year will be veeeeery short, boo!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

OMG It's Actually Warm Outside

Highs in the sixties today, bright shining sun and I am wearing a tank top! We literally went from long sleeves and jackets yesterday to short sleeves today. And we spotted two people actually swimming in the bay (ok, it's not THAT warm but I guess people will take what they can get!). But the question is.... WILL IT LAST?????

Friday, December 11, 2009

Mini Art Show

Olivia's babysitter/nanny, Julia, has been taking an art class every Saturday afternoon since soon after we arrived here. We never really knew exactly what she was learning to do until last weekend when her class had a mini-expo to show off their work. It turns out that Julia is quite the artist and made a kind of tapestry of the indigenous people from Tierra del Fuego (selknam). I am not sure what kind of stitch it is but it is beautiful. She made the one in the bottom of the picture:

And here you can see the group of tapestries plus the selknam masks they made (paper mache) and painted. Julia's tapestry is the nicest!

They had lot of other artwork on display but the most interesting were picture frames and little boxes decorated in what looks like pieces of ceramic but in fact are broken egg shells. Interesting!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The Tree Is Up!

Yes I brought my tree all the way from Santiago (we have a fake tree) and yes I have all my childhood ornaments which over the years I have brought all the way from Worthington, Ohio. Most of the ornaments have my name on them along with the year they are from so it's a very *personalized* tree!!!

Now let's see if the tree survives two tree climbing inclined cats and a curious baby....

Monday, December 7, 2009

A Visit From A King

Today we received a visit from a king. "Which king?" you ask. No, not Elvis. No, not visiting royalty from abroad. THE KING PENGUIN!!!!! So the good news is I have finally seen a penguin. The bad news is that I think they were seriously lost. Two (a couple?) of king penguins were hanging out in the bay near the fishery, clearly lost. They were huge (learned online afterwards that they are second in size only to the Empire penguin) and a little tentative around people but not scared. Of course we took lots and lots of pictures!

Fernando standing near the penguins. Can you tell how big they are?

A nice close-up.

Approaching the water.

Heading back out to sea, hopefully getting back on track.

And immortalizing the moment. Joanna and Fernando with the penguins!

It was so amazing to see them. And did you notice we don't have coats on? On top of seeing penguins for the first time here, we had a fantastically "warm" sunny day. The penguins were beautiful! I hope they find their way home.

Here's a video of the penguins heading out to sea.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Finally Enjoying King Crab

I have to admit that I have never really understood the obsession with king crab. I have always thought that it tastes ok but not out of this world like most people think. I know, I know, not something I should be saying but it's true! Maybe it was my landlocked upbringing and my lack of exposure to seafood growing up but whatever the reason, king crab is not one of my favorite foods. However, yesterday I finally understood how good a king crab can be. We ate fresh king crab, never frozen and it was so sweet and tasty. So it turns out I do like king crab. I just have really expensive and demanding taste!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

New Pastime: Dyeing Wool

As I have found myself surounded by sheep here in Tierra del Fuego, I caught some kind of wool bug... an arts & crafts wool bug that is! Most of the sheep farms sell their "dirty" wool to Standard Wool, a large British wool processing company which has a factory in Punta Arenas. Standard Wool cleans, cards and combs the wool and then sells the majority of the "clean" wool (roving) in bulk quantities to other companies who subsequently manufacture the wool (clothing, rugs, etc...) but Standard Wool also sells small bunches of wool to walk-ins like me! This is how the wool looks when you buy it:

This plain white wool is beautiful and pure but kind of useless as is. There are many things you can do with the wool: dye it, spin it, knit it, and felt it to name a few. I am still figuring out exactly what I want to do with it but I did learn how to dye it (part of my art class a few weeks ago!). The good news is that it turned out great (see below). The bad news is it was supposed to be black!

I never thought wool would be something I would be interested in, but here I am in the land of sheep, taking advantage of the local resources!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Trip to Punta Arenas With Olivia

We just got back from another trip to Punta Arenas. Crossing the Strait of Magellan has practically turned into a hobby. This time we took Olivia, who had her 15 month check-up (her first time off the island since arriving in August!). And the diagnosis is HEALTHY! According to her measurements, she is tall, thin and has a bigger than average head. Sounds like the right combination to me!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

First Ever Thanksgiving Celebration In Porvenir (?)

Today we had our Thanksgiving celebration. The menu included a delicious turkey along with a lot of my traditional favorites: green bean casserole, corn bread, glazed carrots, broccoli salad, mashed potatoes and home made dinner rolls. Instead of baking a pumpkin pie (which would have required making the crust which is not in my cooking repertoire), I made a pumpkin flan and it amazingly turned out great. Here are some pics of the meal.

Fernando, Olivia and my father in-law gearing up for the turkey.

The turkey, which I surprisingly was able to order cooked and stuffed from a local store (first turkey I have seen in Porvenir).
And the Chileans who enjoyed their first Thanksgiving meal (corn bread and pumpkin flan were the favorites)!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Take That, Wind!

Those spring days we had apparently were just to lead us on. It has been windy again all week. I have been trying to run on a semi-regular basis but the wind has really derailed my plans. Remember, I'm talking "need two hands to close the car door" wind. These are not the kind of conditions ideal for someone just getting back into running. (My first set back: I injured my ankle when compensating my stride for a cross wind during a race!) Today I decided, enough is enough! The wind will not continue to keep me from running. So I rode along with Fernando to his work at the fishery which is at the other side of the bay and I ran home... with the wind at my back the whole way. So take that, wind! You will not keep me from running anymore. I will no longer be intimidated and demotivated when I look out the window and see the white caps on the water and the flags flapping violently. I have turned my back on you, wind!

And anyone who needs some motivation to get out and exercise, try to appreciate the fact that you do not have to battle the winds of Porvenir like I do (although actually HAVING to use all that dri-fit, gortex technical gear to take on the elements is gratifying - it's not just to look cool!).

Happy running!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

I hope that all my friends and family in the US are having a great Thanksgiving, stuffing themselves with a yummy feast of food. Here in Porvenir it is not a holiday but I can still give thanks. So here goes! I am so thankful for
  • my family and friends (far and near, mostly far!), especially my family who puts up with my living farther and farther away and who makes the long trip to see me wherever I am, now literally to the end of the earth.
  • my health
  • modern technology, which allows me to stay connected to the world even from here (thank you Vonage for the Columbus phone number hook up in Porvenir and free long distance to 70 countries!)
  • our new life in Porvenir which has given us amazing and different opportunities for which we will be thankful for years to come
  • my husband, who had the idea of coming to live here and who probably does not even like it as much as I do now :)
  • the woman in Porvenir I found who is going to cook me a stuffed turkey on Saturday (I had never even seen turkey in Porvenir until I stumbled across her little grocery store last week which had one whole frozen turkey in the freezer which I took as a sign. But then realized I didn't want to cook the thing myself so she said that she could cook it for me!)
  • and most importantly my little baby girl, Olivia. She is healthy and happy. She is growing and learning new things every single day. Oh and she is freakin' adorable also...

I came across this picture of Olivia the other day. She was 3 1/2 weeks old. I can't believe how tiny she was! She is still a tiny little person now and I try to appreciate her tininess everyday, knowing that she will never be as small as she is right now.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!!! Will post pics of my Chilean Thanksgiving turkey later this weekend!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Ferry Fun Fact

On my way back from Punta Arenas the last time I crossed, the ferry was very full. I have since read on the ferry company website that they can carry up to 300 people and more impressively SEVENTY cars! Wow! The ferry really does not seem that big. Below is a picture I took on my last crossing. There are two full size tour buses and a small house. Yes, that's right, a prefab house. So although we are quite remote in Porvenir, almost anything can find its way over to the island!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Road Trip

Yesterday Fernando, Olivia and I took a road trip to Cameron. Highlights of the trip are included in the pictures below. Not included are the low lights, primarily Olivia getting car sick multiple times. My poor little baby!

We spotted three foxes throughout the trip. Three seems like a lot considering I had never seen one on any previous trips.

Fox #1 mingling with the sheep:

Fox #2, much better close-up!

We also saw a lot of guanacos which is very typical. A guanaco is from the same family as the llama but cannot be domesticated. You can see in the photo below that they easily jump over the fences which keep the sheep in.

And the money shot of the guanacos - actually looking at the camera rather than running away!

Olivia (pre-nausea) enjoying her new favorite activity - playing with rocks.

As always, plenty of sheep. What I love about this picture are the sleeping sheep. Who knew a sheep could make itself look like a rock? A defense mechanism?!!

An interesting stop we made was at a very small cemetery at an "estancia" where a few English settlers had lived. We saw the grave of Alexander Cameron (i.e. town of Cameron's namesake). The two graves pictured below described the fate of the poor souls. One man was killed by the "Indians" and the other accidentally drowned in the bay. The tombstones are in English. It was quite interesting to be in the middle of nowhere and come across English.

We also learned more about sheep. Sometimes the mama sheep dies and to ensure that the baby sheep survives they try to introduce it to another mother. Below is a mama sheep with her biological and adopted babies.

It was a scenic, interesting trip as usual, but we could have done without the drama of a car sick baby...!