Friday, October 30, 2009

Finally A Play Date For Olivia

One issue we have had here in Porvenir is finding friends for Olivia. Poor little Olivia is stuck in the house all day with adults. It's too cold, but mostly too windy, to go outside for very long and there is not a wide selection of parks to go to. The playgrounds that do exist do not really have any age appropriate play things for Olivia. And anyway, nobody goes to the parks this time of year because it's too windy!!!! The point is that we have not really been able to meet anyone with babies Olivia's age. So after bumping into the same woman twice at two different stores over the past two weeks who also has a baby Olivia's age, I went out on a limb and invited her over for a play date! They came over today and the girls seemed to have a good time (blissfully unaware of each other most of the time!). I couldn't get a good shot of them together; this is the best I could do:

And yes, that is chocolate on a stick that Olivia is sucking on. Not something I would normally allow but finding a play date friend was reason to celebrate and what better way to celebrate when you are one year old than with chocolate on a stick?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Los Caiquenes

The wildlife scene in Tierra del Fuego can sometimes seem a bit monotonous as you go for miles and miles and only see flat land with low growing bushes, some dried out grass, lots and lots of sheep and a few cows here and there. But there are some interesting animals native to this region that help mix it up. My personal favorite is the "caiquen" (translates to upland goose). What makes them so interesting is that they travel in pairs, one male (mostly white) and one female (mostly brown). I assume they mate for life but haven't been able to confirm that in my quick Internet search but I did learn that they lay their eggs in November and one female can have up to 10 eggs although many of the chicks fall victim to foxes and eagles. Whenever I see one caiquen, I always search around to be sure its mate is nearby and inevitably, it always is! Here's a cute shot of a pair of caiquen who somehow managed to scare off the sheep.

I love this photo but if you want to see a better close-up of the birds, check out this link.

Monday, October 26, 2009


The weather here is in need of some major therapy. It changes its mood abruptly, feels the need to constantly prove its strength by blowing wind at some point every single day, precipitates in various forms (rain, snow, sleet, hail) in short bursts, and is completely confused about what season we are in. Transitioning to spring has never seemed like such a painful process before. Today it snowed and snowed, big beautiful wet sloppy snow flakes. Olivia enjoyed some time in the snow although it was freezing cold outside. Within a couple of hours the snow was gone and the sun was shining again!

Our backyard:

Backyard again, cannot even see the bay:

And then, only two hours later:
(More on the state of our backyard and fences later....)

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Signs of Spring

It is still quite cold, in fact it has been colder this month than last but the dandelions are blooming!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Trip to Cameron

There's living at the end of the earth and then there is living at the end of the earth. There is isolated and remote and then there is isolated and remote. Yesterday I had the opportunity to visit a small town even further south than Porvenir and even more remote, called Cameron. The actual town population must be around 100 but the region includes many "estancias" (farms) where people live and work. They travel to the town occasionally to meet up, exchange information, have medical check-ups and get in touch with the rest of the world. The town is called Cameron and it is a 2 hour drive southeast of Porvenir on gravel roads along the coast of the Strait. The day was beautiful, blue skies and sun so that may have something to do with my impression but I have to say the town was beautiful and quaint and I quite enjoyed it! Here are a series of photos from my field trip.

View of the whole town from up on a hill looking back at the town toward the Strait:

View from the main road looking towards a house and the Strait in the distance:

View from the Strait looking back towards the town. Yes, there are sheep everywhere, even in the town!

View of the Strait:

View on the way out of town. The mountains in the background are even further south and are part of La Cordillera Darwin which sits on the southern most part of Tierra del Fuego:

View of the coast:

Every town in Chile (in the world?), even the smallest of towns has a church:

And a supermarket:

And they do have a health center:

And my favorite, a moving dental clinic which I assume goes around to the estancias providing dental check-ups:

What town in Latin America wouldn't be complete without a soccer field. And in this case with sheep who play soccer:

They also have a day care center, gymnasium, jungle gym and a very small town plaza.

It was quite an interesting day getting to know Cameron. It felt pretty cool to be so remote and to breathe in all that tranquility while listening to the sheep bah. And it definitely made me appreciate the *luxuries* we have here in Porvenir (good Internet connection, cell phone service, selection of stores, a hospital, restaurants and PEOPLE!).

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Just Can't Help Myself

I know I have already posted photos of the view from our kitchen two other times but I just can't help myself. It's such an amazing view and it's constantly changing depending on the lighting and weather. There are great puffy clouds here often which make for a great back drop to any photo. Also, I realize I haven't posted any photos of the inside of our house (except for the funky bathroom and the heater!) which I am planning on doing soon but in the mean time check out the colors in this shot!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Olivia and Callie

Olivia doesn't say many words (although she does "talk" alot). She is taking longer to talk than the average baby because she is learning Spanish and English at the same time so her brain needs extra time to sort through it. When she does say words, one of her favorite things to say is "Callie" (our cat) which she uses not only for Callie but also for Lola (our other cat) and cats in general. It's very cute. Here is a video of Olivia in her crib (with Callie!) yesterday.

P.S. The weird tent over the crib was originally purchased when Olivia was first born to keep the cats out. We ended up leaving it up because Olivia likes it!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

A Trip To The Public Library

Recently we made a trip to the Porvenir Public Library to sign up for library cards and to check out the book selection. As you might imagine, it's a small library with a small selection of books but a library all the same and maybe it will motivate me to start reading more in Spanish. This is basically the entire library:

I checked out a book on remodeling bathrooms since we are looking for ideas for one of our bathrooms. Unfortunately the book was a bit outdated. Here are some of the photos from the book.

The women are so distracting that I couldn't focus much on the *design* ideas. Needless to say the book was not so useful but it was entertaining!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

La Estufa

Now that it's starting to get chilly up north and it continues to be chilly here (although apparently the wind got my message and is taking a much needed break), I thought it would be a good time to post about our heating system. Prior to moving to Porvenir my only experience with heating systems in Chile was in Santiago. For some reason Santiaguinos cannot accept the fact that it gets cold during the winter (ok, not Midwest cold but 30 F cold) and most houses and apartments do not have central heating. The most typical kind of heat comes from free standing kerosene heaters, electric heaters and portable gas tanks hooked up to a heater (or in other words a huge fire hazard). The cold weather denial runs so deep that even some places of business have no heat and I have spent many dinners out with my coat on during the entire meal because it's so cold inside the restaurant.

Down south however it's a completely different and BETTER story! There is no denying the cold here. It has been recognized and conquered. The heat is subsidized by the government (I guess because people might freeze to death otherwise??). We have gas heat here which comes in the form of "la estufa." They are hideous looking and also lean towards the fire hazard category but they make the house cozy warm. The downside is that the system is not centralized, so if a room does not have an estufa, it's cold. For example, our bathroom does not have a heater so if the door is closed all night, it makes for a very cold awakening first thing in the morning. When have you ever rushed OUT of the bathroom after drying off from the shower in order to get warm? To regulate the temperature we turn on and off certain estufas throughout the house.

The cats are big fans of the estufas. They've managed to figure out how close they can get (apparently very close) without burning themselves! And Olivia has already learned not to touch them and makes a blowing noise (for hot) every time she passes by one!

So this is what they look like:

Ok so it's not something you can easily work with decorating wise and it's not central heating but it keeps us warm which we apparently need to be concerned with most of the year...!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Anyone Know The Address To Send This Letter?

Dear Wind,
You and I go way back. I have felt your icy breeze through all my Ohio winters. I have run and skied through your gusts in Vermont. I have inhaled your gentle sways along the Mediterranean coast. But let me ask you this: What exactly did I do to deserve your wrath here on the Strait of Magellan? Must you continue make yourself known in this incessant manner? Let me take this opportunity to acknowledge your force and strength and ask you to please go away. You have made your point. Do you have to blow so hard that you set off our car alarm at 3:00 a.m? Must you keep rattling the windows and doors? Did you really need to attempt to rip off the roof of our shed? How many times do we have to relight the water heater pilot light? And we could really do without the extra trash that now whips around in our yard. For starters, if you could just pipe down a bit. It's your relentless howling that has driven me to the brink. And don't you get tired? Take a break. You can always come back to visit another time. Just leave us alone for a while, please!!!!!
Losing Her Mind and In Search of More Gortex in Porvenir (and maybe some earplugs?)

Monday, October 12, 2009

Weather Confusion

Ok, so this is getting ridiculous. I already get all confused when the seasons transition living in the Southern Hemisphere but here in Porvenir I swear we are transitioning from winter to winter having skipped the other three seasons all together. Today, Monday October 12, which should be well into spring, the current "RealFeel" temperature is SEVEN DEGREES FAHRENHEIT (that's -14 degrees Celsius for you metric readers). This is the coldest day I have experienced since being here and I arrived in the middle of winter two months ago. If you are reading this in real time you can see the weather info on the right side of the screen but the moment has also been immortalized here:

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Trip to Punta Arenas

Fernando and I are back from our quick trip to Punta Arenas which we made in order to run errands and buy groceries. It was a good trip! Here are the highlights.

Date night with the hubby at a tasty restaurant called Jekus where we enjoyed the Calafate Sour drink (calafate is a local fruit):

Staying at a lovely boutique hotel called Hotel Patagonia Pionera , an old Danish house which has been refurbished. Take a look:
Having this view from the king sized bed in our room:

Eating Ket Chup. I wonder if they sell other types of Chup?

Hearing "Hangin' Tough" not once but twice on two different occasions while out shopping.

Other highlights:

Buying 3 jars of peanut butter (gotta stock up on the essentials!), shopping (didn't realize how much I was missing the act of perusing until I got to the mall), and meeting a very nice fellow "gringa" who lives in Punta Arenas and who gave me the scoop on everything I needed to know (like where to buy the expensive cat food!).

And the icing on the cake of this trip was that the ferry crossing was so smooth both ways, it was as if we were not even on water but rather a perfectly paved road.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Still Waiting For Spring And Dreaming Of Warmer Days

Fernando and I made a last minute trip to Punta Arenas last night on the ferry and will be here in P.A. until tomorrow afternoon running errands and picking up grocceries that we can't buy in Porvenir (fresh broccoli anyone?). Now that we are well into October we keep waiting for the warmer days to come but they have yet to arrive (still wearing my winter coat) so in the mean time we just have to dream of warmer days....

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Trying To Eat Our Vegetables

As I have mentioned before, the selection of fruits and veggies here is less than optimal but we are doing our best to get our greens. Olivia is setting a good example, chomping down on a whole green pepper!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Porvenir's Annual Road Race

Yesterday, Fernando and I participated in a road race here in Porvenir (the only one they have from what I understand). There were 3 categories: 6k for high school girls (gym teacher promised them an A if they participated), 9k for high school boys (the grade thing again) and women, and finally an 11k for men. Now I should have run the 11k just on principle (why should women run less k's?) but I have only been running for two weeks now (after a loooong break which started during the first trimester of my pregnancy). So I signed up for the 9k and funnily enough, the only other woman running was one of the other American women here teaching English! So I ended up winning... first out of a field of two!
The race was very fun and very crazy. They drove us out of town to start the 9k and we had to run back into town. Almost the entire time there was a huge cross wind coming from our right. The wind was so strong and so constant that I must have done something in my stride to compensate and the whole right side of my body is sore and out of sorts now. At the beginning the wind was actually kind of cool because it was just so ridiculous that I had to laugh and just think, "You know what, I'm a badass for being able to do this!!!" But by the end I was quite tired of the wind and at times felt like I was almost standing still. There were a few marvelous moments when the wind was at my back going up hill and it was like the wind was lifting me up. There were no water stops or race numbers or people cheering along the course but still it was fun and I am glad to see that Porvenir is getting on the road race bandwagon and at least "organizing" one race a year.

Here is a shot of the entire women's field post race:

Yes that is a champion's stand behind us. We got HUGE trophies. How fun!!!!

The trophy was absurdly large given the low-keyness of the race (and lack of advertisement, we found out about the race the day before through word of mouth!). And it's not just a trophy, it has a big golden cup on top of it which Olivia has already turned into a toy to store things in:
I'm not sure you are fully appreciating the trophy so just to be sure, here is a close up. Check out those boldly splashed colors.
What a great souvenir of my first road race at the end of the earth!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Welcome Spring

In theory spring is on its way, right? (at least in the Southern Hemisphere) The weather here is always temperamental but today was just ridiculous. Wind, sun, rain, snow, sleet. Repeat. Take a look at the weather in action in the video below. Be sure to turn up your volume and listen to that wind (and don't worry, the house is still standing!).

Thursday, October 1, 2009

My First Restaurant Experience

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, for my birthday, my mom and I went out to lunch. This was my first (and so far only) experience eating out in Porvenir. There are a handful of restaurants here, some more enticing than others. We chose to go to the most recently built (and thus nicest looking) restaurant which is a pizzeria called Che Alfredo. It sits right on the bay so there is a great view of the water. We arrived at 1:30 which is prime lunch time in Chile and were the only customers! Fortunately, the pizza was delicious. But... there was one tiny detail. The plates were already out on the table when we arrived and they were covered with a thin layer of dust. Could it be that so few people go to the restaurant that the plates are collecting dust??? Well that is definitely part of it. But it's not as bad as it sounds. The dust is also due to the fact that the restaurant is right on the bay with a dirt road in front of it. Just imagine the amount of dust that swirls around there. But then why leave plates out on the table? In conclusion, great pizza with dusty plates makes for a memorable birthday. Here's a shot of the pizzeria.