Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Ranch Roots

In Chile, the most common way to dress a salad is with oil and vinegar and/or lemon. Over time, I have completely adapted to this kind of dressing and actually had reached a point where the idea of pouring a thick glob of "American" dressing over my salad did not sound appetizing at all. And then a couple of months ago, while perusing the aisles of the grocery store in the duty free zone of Punta Arenas (it only carries imported food so sometimes you come across gems like peanut butter and teriyaki sauce), I happened upon some regular Ranch dressing (none of that low fat stuff in this house) which caught my eye. For some reason I threw it in the cart, supposing it would be good for dipping veggies or something. And then it happened, slowly but surely: I found myself dousing my salads in Ranch and LOVING it all over again.
I've gone back to my "culinary" roots, folks! And now comes the bad news: Fernando just got back from a trip to Punta Arenas which included a stop in the duty free zone and there was NO RANCH dressing! Even worse, the brand of the dressing, normally sprinkled throughout the store (canned veggies, sauces, cheese) was suspiciously absent from the shelves. Is this the end of my love affair with Ranch dressing? I guess it's for the best health-wise but man was it delicious while it lasted!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Fun Indoors

What's a girl to do when her outside play options are limited? Take a pair of sunglasses, add galoshes (thanks, Josie!) and then traipse around the house. Problem solved!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Our Friend the Wind, Part 2

As a runner, I am particularly sensitive to the wind and its nasty effect on the outdoor ambiance of Porvenir. As mentioned in a previous post, I found a way to "beat" the wind on particularly windy days by running point to point with a tail wind. I tried this strategy two days ago only to discover that the wind was coming from the other direction (very rare occurrence), but as I was a half hour run away from home, I just had to put up with the wind right into my face the whole way. But then there are days like yesterday when there was only a gentle breeze and a beautiful shining sun, perfect for a long run. And then today: raining off and on all day, no sun in sight but completely still air, not even a touch of wind (not bad for running but kind of soggy by the end). I think I've become just a little obsessed with evaluating the weather... The upside is that wherever we live after this, it WILL have better weather and I WILL appreciate it!!!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


I have blogged about the strange and untimely knocks at the front door but this afternoon I had a front door experience that reached a whole new level of strange and untimely. Olivia and her nanny had just left the house to walk around the block. Often when we go outside with Olivia for a short period of time, we leave the front door slightly ajar as there is another door just inside (so the cats don't sneak out and the cold doesn't sneak in!). So as usual, they left the main front door slightly ajar and went on their way. After my long, hilly, windy run this morning, I was feeling tired and decided to lay down and take a little nap. Just as I was falling asleep, thinking about how good it felt to close my eyes and relax, I heard a strange male voice say "permiso" (excuse me) in the front hallway. I missed half a beat thinking about who it could be (not Fernando's dad, a handyman?) and then realized it was someone who was NOT supposed to be there. I jumped out of bed and into the hall to find a DRUNK old man about to wander into my living room!!!! I immediately turned him around and started ushering him to the front door telling him he had to leave. Luckily he walked willingly. Then he said, "Don't push me as if I were an indecent person." And I said, "Sir, you just walked into somebody else's house uninvited. You can't do that." And he said, "Well, I said excuse me!" OMG!!!!!! Thank goodness he left willingly and thank goodness he had announced his arrival because otherwise who knows where he would have ended up (passed out on the couch?) or what he would have done (stolen or broken something?). And to have the audacity to get mad at me for "pushing" him out of the house!!! From now on, no leaving the front door ajar, not even for a 5 minute stroll around the block.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Our Friend the Wind

I know. I know. You get it. It's windy here. But honestly there are times when I feel compelled to share with you what I really mean when I say "windy." It's not easy to convey online. It's certainly better understood firsthand, poking your head out the window or strolling around town here in Porvenir. But I do my best to keep you as informed as possible. When Fernando and I went to Torres del Paine, we crossed the Strait on the other ferry, which is at the skinniest part of the Strait and only takes 15 minutes to cross (the disadvantage of course being that you cross from the middle of nowhere to the middle of nowhere and have to do a lot of extra driving). Aboard the ferry but before it started moving, it was SO WINDY. Check out this photo. Look closely at my pant legs, clinging to my ankles and my hair which is not tied back but rather being held back by the wind:

And if you really want to get a more in-depth understanding of the wind, check out the video that goes with the picture. Remember that the ferry is NOT moving.

And on a side note, we finally got a semi-decent shot of the cool black and white dolphins!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

New Hat

I recently bought a new hat which is the perfect hat for Porvenir. It's a wool winter hat but it has a visor on it which is great for shading my face from the fierce sun we get here. Olivia loves wearing the hat and agreed to model it for this post (ok maybe it didn't go down exactly like that...)

Super cute, eh? (hat and baby!)

Friday, March 19, 2010

Olivia's First Couch Fort

What else to do on a lazy windy Friday in Porvenir?

And many more to come, I am sure!!!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Cocktail Fun

In a previous post, I talked about a fun Sunday lunch with people with typical jobs here which are not so typical elsewhere. Last night we had a similar gathering which also consisted of an interesting mix of people I would not normally find myself with under other circumstances in another (bigger) town:

Chief of Police
Head of the Army base
One of the three doctors from the hospital
One of the two dentists from the hospital
Head of the Tax Office
The person who sells the tickets for the ferry and who has worked aboard the ferry for 31 years

There were some very interesting conversations!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Rain or Shine or Earthquake

Living in Porvenir merits lots of boxes of goodies being sent to us since we have even less access to things here than in Santiago so my parents have been sending packages since we got here in August. Here's the interesting part: they get here in less than two weeks which is way faster than any box I ever received in Santiago! My theory is that packages which have a final destination outside of the capital city bypass the bottleneck of packages destined for Santiago and thus make a speedy arrival even when the arrival is all the way at the bottom tip of the country. And here is the even more interesting part: my dad sent a package to me on the 23rd of February, i.e. 4 days before the earthquake. We were sure it was lost forever or at least for a while since the airport is a mess and there are bridges out south of Santiago but... the package is here!!!! Woohoo!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Pics from Vacation

Here are a few pictures from our week in Puerto Varas, a very quaint beautiful town, with German heritage, situated on a beautiful lake with two volcanoes nearby.

Olivia's first open water swim - immortalized by her photo fanatic papa:

Olivia sporting mama's sunglasses. She loves wearing them!

The Osorno Volcano:

A very cute cafe/hotel built with the typical architecture from the region:

Another shot of the Osorno Volcano taken from the Saltos de Petrohue waterfalls:

More beach time:

Hanging out at a family friend's lakeside summer home:

We had a great trip despite getting stranded for a few extra days in Puerto Montt. The weather was great and we were finally able to get some SUN and HEAT!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Hospitals and Horses

It's not everyday you go to the hospital and see horses parked out front but here in Porvenir it's not an unusual occurence to see a horse here and there hanging out. Last week when I took Olivia to the hospital for her vaccines, we came upon two horses grazing in the grass just outside. Olivia loved it and it was a great distraction post-vaccine. Here you can see the lovely horses and the shabby looking but adequate hospital.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Pictures of Las Torres

We have SO many pictures from our trip to Torres del Paine that I don't even know where to begin when thinking of sharing them here. I thought I would share pics of the actual Torres (Towers) to start for no other reason than that they are the park's namesake. We actually did the hike to the Towers on our last day of trekking. When arriving to the lodge where we stayed, you have to cross a bridge with this sign:

In case you cannot read that small, it says "Bad Condition Bridge. Please let all passengers get out of the car before crossing the bridge." Not very comforting, eh?

The hike was supposed to take around 8 hours round trip, but our athletic and competitive crew booked it up to the top and back down. The trail was sometimes green and foresty and other times more vast and open, like this:

Below is a classic shot of the Towers from the end of the trail. We were so so lucky with the weather. Like Porvenir, Torres del Paine normally has a lot of wind and a constant change of seasons. We had sun, sun and more sun (and NO wind) for all three days of hiking!

And here is a team shot of that fast, intense crew I mentioned. We hiked with an old friend of Fernando's, his wife, a friend of their's from the MBA he did in the US and two friends of her's, also from the US. It was great meeting everyone and we had an awesome time (and lots of speaking in English, yeah!)

And check out those custom made t-shirts (dri-fit, of course) the crew from the US brought. Thanks again, guys! Here's a close-up of the girls from an earlier day of the trip, so you can check out the awesome tees (the other famous mountain, cuernos/horns, is in the background).

More photos to come, just have to get organized and sort through them all!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

How to Help

We have been home for two days now and it feels so good to be safe and sound. It is a bit strange to say I am in Chile and then turn on the nightly news and see a completely different reality of what "Chile" is right now and what I am living down here in Porvenir. They did not feel the quake at all here and life is going on normally. Strangely enough though, we have had internet connection issues and spotty cell phone service. There is a donation drive going on to collect supplies to send up north but other than that, you would never know that another part of this country is dealing with destruction and in so much pain. In the back of my mind, I wonder if we will have supply issues in the short/medium term because all of our fruits and vegetables come in trucks from the north (mostly from Santiago) and there are a couple of big bridges down on the highways south of Santiago. I imagine that we will either continue to have the produce but at a much higher price or not have them at all at some point for a while. Obviously this is a minor issue compared to what many people are dealing with though.

If anyone reading this in the US is interested in making a donation, there is a reputable place to do it (tax deductible) online: www.levantandochile.org

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Home Sweet Home

Just a quick post to let everyone know that we made it home to Porvenir today. I don't know how we got on one of the only two flights to Punta Arenas from Puerto Montt yesterday but we did! It's so nice to be home. My thoughts and prayers are still with those who are not as lucky as we are to be safe, with water and food, electricity, phone and internet.