Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Birthday Party

Any of you reading this in Chile know that Chileans love a birthday party, kids and adults alike. To prove my point, imagine that even here in Porvenir where many stores and restaurants are hard to come by, there is a store dedicated exclusively to selling birthday party supplies and there is a birthday hall with an inflatable slide and trampolines for having birthday parties. Olivia has now been to two birthday parties at this hall called "Happy World." She absolutely loves it! Here are some pictures to give you an idea of a Porvenir style birthday party.

Lots of kids and lots of decorations!

Pushing the birthday girl's face into the cake. A Povenir or Chilean tradition? Not sure but kills your appetite for the cake!

Olivia hanging out with the *older* girls who are completely fascinated by her lighter colored hair and her English.

Fun on the trampoline:

More fun:

And how about a close up of that funny trampoline face!

I think we have no choice but to have Olivia's birthday party there in August!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Vamos Chile!

Yesterday Chile played its third game in the soccer World Cup. The good news is that although they lost, they still advance to the next round. This is huge news. Chile often does not even qualify for the World Cup and had not won a World Cup game since 1962 going into this year's competition. I think that most Chileans have been able to watch the Chile games, whether it is on a TV at work or in the case of a small town like Porvenir, at home on the couch (some businesses here allowed people to go home). Porvenir's often ghost town feel is even more ghost like during the games. During yesterday's game, Olivia and I were walking outside and I knew exactly when Chile scored because there was a collective cheer reverberating in the air (pretty impressive assuming most people were inside with the windows shut!). My favorite part about the games is the celebration afterwards. The WHOLE country celebrates. Even in Porvenir there was a mini caravan of cars honking their way up and down the main drag after yesterday's game. In Santiago people head to the Plaza Italia. It would be my worst nightmare to be there personally (don't do well with lots of people in small spaces) but I LOVE watching it on tv! The Chileans are very proud and know how to show it! I took some pictures of the TV and wanted to share:

(Yes, that's 50,000 people in the Plaza Italia!)

And one last sad shot - see how nice and light out it is in Santiago live on the TV and how very very dark our window is behind the TV :(

Next up, Chile vs. Brazil on Monday! (The USA is holding their own too!)

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Shop 'Til You Drop

One question that people often ask me when inquiring about Porvenir is: "Are there any stores there?" There are in fact a lot more stores than you might think, if you can stretch your definition of "store" just a little bit. There are of course no malls or shopping strips. The stores that do exist are all extensions off of private homes. By this I mean that there is a house and the owners have either built a separate building on their property or have just transformed the whole front part of the actual house into a store. This holds true for ALL the stores: groccery, clothing, hardware, stationery, bakery, butcher, and toy.

I have never attempted to buy an article of clothing in Porvenir, for two reasons: 1) I hardly buy any clothes in Chile in general (The low prices, good quality and varitiey in the US are too hard to resist and I am usually disapointed in Chile with the lack thereof.) and 2) Being such a small, isolated town, I just can't imagine there being an interesting variety at a reasonable price.

BUT, I want to put these assumptions to the test. At the end of July we will be traveling to Santiago for my sister in-law's wedding and I need a dress. I pledge to search high and low in Porvenir to find that dress. Let's see if the Land of Fire comes through for me!

Monday, June 21, 2010

It can only get lighter

I have briefly made reference in a couple of other posts about the late sunrise and early sunset this time of year in Porvenir, but I thought I would take advantage of the shortest day of the year to give you more specifics on this timely topic. I have copied and pasted the sun and moon rise and set information from Accuweather for Punta Arenas today. Have a peek:

In case the picture is too small to read, let me highlight the most interesting points: Sunrise is 8:59 a.m. and there are 17 hours of darkness. Anyone else wondering if they have a high rate of seasonal affective disorder here? I am telling you, the lack of light really messes with your mind. The early sunset does not bother me that much, but it's just not right to wake up at 8:00 a.m. (ha! like Olivia let's me sleep in that late anyway) and have it be pitch black outside. Also, the sun never fully rises; it sits low in the sky all day long. Your shadow is perpetually long and so it always feels like the day is on the verge of being dusk, even at noon. Here is a photo of my shadow I took last week outside of the fishery at 3:51 p.m.

Here's the good news: since we have to go from one crazy extreme (7 hours of light on June 21) to the other equally crazy extreme (17 hours of light on December 21), it gets noticeably lighter very fast. Every week we will feel that wonderful sun peeking up over the horizon just a little bit earlier and a little bit higher.

Happy longest day of the year to my friends up north and happy "it can only get lighter from here on out" to my friends way down south.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Father's Day

We woke up this morning to a very cold Father's Day: 17 degrees Fahrenheit (that's -8 Celcius for you metric system readers). It was unusually cold but sunny and not windy. We headed out for a walk all bundled up.

There was a parade going on that we did not know about. Here are some kids lining up. Notice the skirts and knee high socks (and the bare skin in between!). It makes me cold just looking at them.

Then we went on a little drive up into the hills where it was even colder and snowy. Olivia had her first walk through the snow.

I love these benches. They are literally in the middle of nowhere on the side of a dirt road, looking back over the Strait. The funny thing is, it is almost always too cold or too windy to sit on a bench and it's not near anything so who would even stumble upon them and decide to sit and ponder life while trying not to freeze or be blown away?

Another Father's Day shot:

And some guanacos to finish:

I have never seen a guanaco crossing sign. I wonder if they exist?

And the guanaco money shot, taken at dusk - you know, 3:42 p.m.

Happy Father's Day!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Giving gifts from afar

Although this post is not specifically about living in Porvenir, it does relate to anyone who lives far from family and friends or anyone looking for a special present to give. One challenge I have had since living abroad is finding the right gift for friends and family back in the States when birthdays or other special days come around. Unless I have something particular in mind, I don't like to buy a "token gift" online and spend on shipping because then it feels like I am just giving a gift to give a gift. But it is often hard to think of something unique, especially since I can only virtually browse. Sending something from Chile is not really an efficient option because although receiving packages here hasn't been a problem, going the other way seems to take ages and sometimes doesn't arrive at all. And then today, the perfect solution appeared in an article in my favorite newspaper, The New York Times. Why not donate to a good cause instead? For example: sponsor an African giant pouch rat who can sniff out landmines in 20 minutes in an area that would take humans 2 days to cover. Wow! Of course there are lots and lots of charities you can donate to and the idea is not so novel (remember George on Seinfeld and the "Human Fund?!!") but what I like about this article is that it pulls it all together and mentions some interesting sites where you can donate and just in time for Fathers Day. So Dad and Bob, you know what's coming tomorrow, right?!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Fishery Website

I have been meaning to post this for awhile. The king crab business website is up and running! Here's the link:


Anyone want to import some king crab???!!!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Hot drink on a cold morning

This picture was taken this morning at 8:00 a.m. Please note the darkness in the window in the background. Yes, it is pitch black here at 8:00 a.m. Ugh!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

World Cup - Donde estas?

What's the deal? We were able to see the Super Bowl but the soccer World Cup, which is a MUCH bigger deal to Chileans, is nowhere to be found on our satellite TV. All of the news channels talk about the World Cup, show clips of people watching the World Cup, and include commentators analyzing the teams and results reporting direct from South Africa but we can't actually SEE any of the games!

Update: Glitch has been fixed, just in time for the USA vs. England game. USA! USA! USA!

Further Update Sunday Morning: World Cup is gone again. Apparently they are only showing some of the games. Random!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Ice Ice Baby

This week Olivia learned about something new: ICE! She had never seen it before and now she has seen plenty of it. The temperature here isn't often below freezing (it hovers just above it) but sometimes at night it drops below freezing and in the morning - voila: a frosty Porvenir. For Olivia it's fun because she gets to walk on the frozen puddles (holding hands of course) but for everyone else it's pretty dangerous because there is black ice everywhere. And even though the temperature goes above freezing during the day, the wind, combined with a lot of shady spots (more on the position of the sun later), means a lot of black ice all day long. Also there are no salt trucks or any other resources dedicated to melting the ice. It seems that the locals are pretty used to it and they all know to drive veeeery slow, especially on all the downhills. I have to keep reminding myself there is ice on the road because it's impossible to see.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Kitchen: Before and After

Finally finally finally posting pics of our remodeled kitchen. The only true "before" picture I have doesn't show the whole kitchen because Fernando took the picture as part of a series of images of the house to send to me in Santiago. As I was agreeing to buy a house site unseen, he tried to angle each picture as strategically as possible to make the most of a kind of shabby looking place! So here goes.

The kitchen before:

Same angle after:

Here is a semi-before picture of the other side of the kitchen but in this photo, the walls have already been repainted, new flooring has been put in and a double-pane window has been installed.

Same angle after:

I am very happy with our kitchen, especially considering that I am SO NOT interior decorating inclined (unlike my super decorating inclined college roomie). I designed the cabinets by literally sketching them on a scrap piece of paper and then discussing it with the handyman. He then determined all the measurements and made a list of all the cuts of wood (or rather particleboard with veneer) we needed. Then Fernando and I had to call a store in Punta Arenas to order the cuts of wood, send someone to pay for them, take my father in-law's truck on the ferry, fit the pieces like a puzzle in the back of the truck to make room for it all, stay at a hotel (praying that it did not rain on the truck!) to wait for the next ferry and then bring the whole load back to Porvenir. The joys of remodeling when living on a remote island...

Here is the kitchen, waiting piece by piece to find its place in the cabinets, drawers and counters!

And here is the miracle-working handyman who literally built all the cabinets in THREE days, basically by himself (with some minimal help from Fernando!).

Friday, June 4, 2010

Send Good Vibes!

Tomorrow Fernando is taking a very important professional exam in Santiago. Please send him lots of good vibes. Go Fern!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

More Funky Seafood

It's been a long while since I have posted about strange seafood and although nothing will ever beat the giant barnacle, here are some photos of the latest and greatest to come out of the waters of the Strait! Just before going to the States, we had the pleasure (ahem...) of receiving a bag of sea snails. They were HUGE. Take a look.

To give you a size reference, they are about as long as a pen:

And here they are, all cut up and ready to be slathered in mayonnaise:

I admit, I'm a wimp and did not eat them (see previously mentioned traumatic barnacle debacle), but I do wonder if those who do indulge in sea snails taste the snail or just need an excuse to eat spoonfuls of homemade mayonnaise?