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...!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Buying A Sheep Skin

Since moving to Porvenir, I have been eyeing my mother in-law's sheep skin throw which she has on the back of her couch. It's beautiful and natural and couldn't be more typical here in Tierra del Fuego (sheep, sheep and more sheep all around). But getting my hands on my own sheep skin has proven to be quite a task. Asking around yields answers like, "Oh yeah, there's a woman, la Senora Lopez, who works with sheep. She lives three blocks up and then another block up and you have to pass the XYZ house and it's the last one on the left." Um yeah, how about an address and/or phone number??? (I have yet to be given directions here in Porvenir that actually help me find the location I am looking for, not one of their strengths...)

So I finally found the woman who works with sheep skins and went out to her "estancia" (farm) to check out her "curtiembre" (translates to tannery in my best estimate). It was so interesting to meet her and learn about her life on a sheep farm and her artisan tannery process. Below are some photos of my field trip.

Here is a sheep skin hooked up to be brushed and cleaned. I believe that the leather also gets worked and softened here. Eventually the whole thing is trimmed down to its final shape.

Here are the finished sheep skins for sale.

She also dyes some of the wool (pink would not be my first choice) and occasionally has natural black wool. Below are some cushion covers (I bought the black and white ones!).

Here's what the view was like on the road to the estancia. Baby sheep are born this time of year. As my car would pass, the lambs would look for their mothers, run towards them and then scurry away together. It was quite sweet to see them pair up with their moms.

And here is the sheep skin in its new home on my couch.
I do feel a little conflicted about enjoying the cute baby sheep and then buying a sheep skin. But what I do know is that the sheep here live good lives, with plenty of grass and roaming space. And apart from the anti-parasite drugs they give the sheep, my understanding is that they would otherwise be classified as organic. So I am going to enjoy my almost organic sheep skin from Tierra del Fuego!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Meeting The Extreme Tourists

One fun thing about living in Porvenir are the tourists you run into. Can you imagine the type of foreigner who makes it all the way to the end of the earth and even makes a stop in little Porvenir? Because Porvenir is so small and because Fernando and I are probably the only two residents here who speak fluent English and French, it's quite fun to strike up conversations with the tourists. And now that "peak" tourism season is starting, there are more and more foreigners passing through. And these are not your ordinary tourists. For example, in the past two weeks, these are the tourists we have talked to and in some cases hung out with:

FRANCE: A couple from La Rochelle traveling in an RV for one year with their three daughters aged 15, 12 and 2 years old. They started at the southern end of America and will end up in Halifax, Canada. (The two older girls work a couple of hours everyday through the internet to keep up with their studies.)

NEW ZEALAND: A group of 8 Kiwis on motorcycle completing their "bucket list" trip from Santiago to Ushuaia. (According to them, the Santiago-Ushuaia route is a MUST DO for any hard core motorcyclist.)

GERMANY: A young couple traveling with their 3 year old and 1 year old daughters for two months all over Chile.

ENGLAND: And perhaps most extreme, a British couple who started 4 months ago in Cuzco, Peru and will end in Ushuaia in two weeks more, traveling by BICYCLE. That's right, the kind with pedals and no motor...

Can you imagine how interesting it is to talk to these people? And can you imagine how shocking it is for them to come across us here in Porvenir?? It's really fun and I am looking forward to meeting more and more tourists as the season wears on.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Has Spring FINALLY Sprung???

What a weekend! Blue skies, shining sun, moderately warm temperatures and most importantly, no wind... yes, that's right... NO WIND. (Ok, perhaps a gentle breeze here and there but it hardly counts!!!) The weather was so so nice. Porvenir was transformed into a completely different place. People were walking around outside; kids were riding their bikes across town; couples were strolling along the waterfront. There were kayakers and horseback riders. It was so peaceful and beautiful.
Of course we took advantage of the weather and spent a lot of time outside with Olivia. Here are some pics which document the weekend.

Walking along the waterfront (picture taken just before Olivia walked right into the water).

Going for a stroll through town, breaking in our new backpack.

Olivia enjoying the grass and dandelions on the waterfront (love this picture, snotty nose, chocolate mouth and all).

A cool funky kind of poppy flower we discovered on our walk.

Walking through the town plaza.

Spring, please please please stay!! We had such a nice time with you this weekend and look forward to many more pleasant afternoons together.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Crossing El Estrecho

I just got back from Punta Arenas, crossing the strait ("estrecho" in Spanish) in the ferry as I have done many times before. Everytime I get on the ferry I think, "what a hassle, what a long trip, what a waste of time and money, having to stay in a hotel 2 nights due to ferry schedule, etc..." But when I get to Punta Arenas it's always fun (even though it always involves ALOT of running around, taking care of errands, stocking up on everything we can't get in Porvenir). This time I had sushi which I actually hadn't had since 2007 (due to pregnancy, nursing and then running out of time in Santiago before the move). Yum yum yum! The main purpose of my trip was for an intensive one day one-on-one art class (living in Porvenir you learn quickly to BEG for special treatment in Punta Arenas since it's such a process getting over there). "An art class?," you ask. I am still perfecting my art but will post at some point later about that.
Happy weekend!

Monday, November 9, 2009

The Mysteries Of A Porvenir Spring

We just can't figure out exact what spring means here in Porvenir. One thing is does NOT mean is warmer weather. Since arriving here in August each month has gotten progressively colder. Yesterday Fernando and Olivia went out for a walk. Within 5 minutes of leaving the house a huge snow storm came!

Luckily Olivia was wearing her snowsuit!

There's a little room to grow but will the snowsuit fit next winter? Maybe it doesn't matter because she will get to wear it all summer too!

And this photo is from a week ago but wanted to include it to show the lovely wind effect. Check out Olivia's face! Also, that's our house in the background.

Happy Spring!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Los Gauchos

A gaucho is a cowboy who lives in Southern Chile or Argentina who is typically nomadic, traveling around to the estancias (farms) to basically work as a shepherd taking care of the sheep. On one of our road trips through Tierra del Fuego we came across this gaucho who was traveling with his entourage of 3 horses and 5 dogs, pretty much in the the middle of nowhere, on his way to Porvenir (but with a good 15 miles to go still).

When we asked him if we could take his picture, Fernando got this great photo posted below which I absolutely love. Despite his hard lifestyle and current situation (in the middle of nowhere, living off the land, looking for work), which can be seen in his worn look, he has a gentle smile on his face. And he was more than happy to have his picture taken!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

My Definition Of Heaven

I have been craving chocolate chip cookies lately. I am pretty sure it's because Olivia loves leafing through my Oprah Magazines which are full of mouth watering photos of yummy foods, one in particular of a freshly baked chocolate chip cookie, which I have now seen over and over again as we flip through the magazine. In general my food cravings for American food (or rather the food I can get in the US that I can't get here) have diminished over time. I am going on 8 years living outside of the US (that's right EIGHT!) so I guess my system has adjusted to not having a lot of foods I used to crave.
But today, oh boy, did I need a chocolate chip cookie and fast. Chocolate chips and brown sugar are not to be found here but luckily I had some stored away.
Seriously, it was HEAVEN. After eating what seemed like half the batch as raw dough I thought I wouldn't have room for the actual baked cookies but turns out I was wrong. HEAVEN.
I told Fernando that from now on it's very simple. It doesn't matter where we live, he just needs to consider this easy equation:
Having the ingredients for chocolate chip cookies on hand = Happy Joanna.
It's really that simple.
Off to dinner now (i.e. plate of cookies).

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Photos of the Living Room

Finally posting some pics of our living room and who doesn't love before/after shots??? I have to mention though that the before shot was taken by Fernando before we bought the house to show me what we might be getting ourselves into. Thus, he tried to take the picture with the very best angle to make the living room as nice as possible but the truth of the matter is it was not very nice so imagine it even worse than you see here :)


AFTER - taken from the same angle:

AFTER - taken from the other side looking back:

We are very happy with how it turned out especially considering that neither one of us is very interior design inclined and it's not like there's anyone around here to hire for professional design help! And yes, that is my trophy on top of the book case and yes, that is Oprah Magazine on the coffee table - all the way at the end of the earth. It's a very cozy living room (hideous heater and all!) with a high ceiling. We just need to hang more things on the wall, any suggestions?

Monday, November 2, 2009

Olivia Videos

I try not to post too much about Olivia because the purpose of this blog is to share things specifically related to our lives here in Porvenir not just to post pics and videos of our amazing little girl but... here are links to two short videos of Olivia this past weekend. Skip if babies bore you but the videos are short and sweet and she's pretty darn cute: