Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Room with a View

When we were looking for a house in Punta Arenas, it was not an easy process to manage from Porvenir- between ferry crossings, cancelled house showings, and a mixed bag quality-wise, the search was slow and painful. Fortunately, we were able to narrow it down to two nice houses and would have been happy with either one. The one we did not choose was newer and in some ways nicer than our house. It is in fact a house in a neighborhood of houses fully imported from Canada - from the floors, to the cabinets, to the windows. Apparently about 25 years ago a company undertook a project to bring Canadian houses here and constructed an entire neighborhood. Touring the house was fun because it felt so familiar - very similar to houses you might see in the US (even the air vents for the central heating system! none of those ugly heaters!).

The house we did decide on is a little older, a lot creakier, and in an older neighborhood. But what I like about it, among other things, is that it is less than a block from the water. (The Canadian house was further "up" away from the water with no view.) We have a great view of the Strait and can keep tabs on all the comings and goings of the ships and yachts passing through. It's actually pretty amazing how many ships come through here and even more amazing to see the small sailboats and wonder who the people are crazy enough to sail here from who knows where!


Here's the view right on the water (not directly from our house) looking toward the main dock:


And then looking the other way towards a secondary dock where military ships are docked:


And there goes a cruise ship:


And two sailboats:


Currently there are four sailboats, which is the most I have seen. There is no marina so they just have to anchor in the middle of the water. I like that they happen to "park" right outside our front door. There is something fun about living on the water (even if it's too cold and windy to swim... ever) after having been landlocked my entire life!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Backyards

As I mentioned in my previous post, I am much happier living here in Punta Arenas instead of Porvenir. One of the many reasons, somewhat simple but important, is our new backyard. It is small and surrounded by a horribly ugly cement and brick wall but given the hostile climate we live in and Olivia's age, it has some great advantages:
1- Tall ugly wall containing a small space = less in your face wind (yard in Porvenir was a constant wind tunnel)
2 - Tall ugly wall containing a small space = cats can go outside, semi-supervised and enjoy eating grass and smelling the world (poor things never got to go out in our "jungle" backyard in Porvenir)
3- Tall ugly wall containing a small space = Olivia can go outside to throw a ball, run, jump, whatever (could not do this in Porvenir because the terrain of our backyard was very uneven and full of tall weeds). When you are two, you don't need a ton of space to blow off steam outside!

And now the photos.

Here is our old backyard, picture taken from the very end of the yard looking back at the house. It was a HUGE backyard but very useless, full of weeds, holes and even broken glass and nails (don't ask, I have no idea...)


Here is Olivia enjoying a RARE day in short sleeves, making "soup" in a bucket:


And a random photo not related to backyards but taken on that rare day and she looks so cute I wanted to share:


And one more shot showing you that amazing view we had from our house of our huge backyard and the bay in the distance (photo taken on moving day, during which Olivia cried the whole time the movers took everything away!):


And now, the new backyard:


I know it looks *depressing* compared to the wild, natural huge backyard we had in Porvenir, but remember all the pros I mentioned above. And also remember that now we live in a "city" so many houses don't even have backyards. Given the climate we live in, the opportunities to go outside are not that often and having a smaller, blocked in space is actually advantageous. And so far, Olivia and the cats have no complaints!

And the view from our bedroom makes up for the lost view in the backyard. Hello Strait of Magellan!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Punta Arenas = Tropical Rain Forest...

...minus the tropical climate and minus the forest! What I mean is that IT HASN'T STOPPED RAINING SINCE WE MOVED HERE. Ok so I am exaggerating slightly. What I really mean is that it hasn't stopped raining at some point during every 24 hour period of time since we moved here. What's up with that? I haven't gotten a clear answer from anybody- the time of year, a fluke, not really sure. And because the weather is so moody down here anyway, it's been a constant change of season, temperature and precipitation within the rainy cycles. Sometimes the rain is just plain old rain, sometimes it's a torrential down pour, sometimes it gets a little crazy and turns into hail or sleet and yesterday it went all out and pronounced winter officially here with our first snow fall of the year (April = October for you Northern Hemisphereians). But throughout all this crazy rain, guess what has been suspiciously absent? THE WIND! Which leads me to another point to ponder- which is worse: constant in your face, blow your little dog away wind or constant soppy wet rain (sometimes hail, sleet, snow or a combination thereof)?
So I'm complaining about the weather again. But it's Patagonia so it's par for the course.
Now the good news: I LOVE living in Punta Arenas! Our quality of life has gone up big time. More on that soon.