Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Thanksgiving List

Yeah, yeah, yeah, so I'm a week behind on the list. I did write it a week before Thanksgiving, I'll blame it on my rigorous work schedule and general malaise surrounding anything that requires brainpower when I'm off of work. Thanksgiving was a little strange this year as I spent it away form family and friends and waited on rich people for twelve hours. Not all bad though, lest you're feeling sorry for me. My friend brought me a plate from his grandmother's that included some AMAZING oyster dressing and shrimp-mirliton stuffed bell pepper, plus some kick-ass sweet potato pie.

dental floss
discovery of new foodstuffs such as lucuma,merquen and machas
chilean wine and wineries
sunny days in November
learning to live with others again and also the intricacies of living with so many, multicultural people this year
getting unexpected gifts in the mail
all the 2009 baby girls in my life, Beatrix, Neely and Sadie
my beautiful and newly enlarged family
free shrimp boils on Friday nights
hot water heaters that don't need to be turned on with matches
clothes dryers
book-lending coworkers
the brief opportunity to be free and untethered
sunrise over Playa Ancha
phonetics, syntax, idioms
lentils and their endless yet still delicious iterations

Book: A Prayer for Owen Meany. It's not new but just read it this year.
Album: Javiera Mena and Kid Cudi
Movies: Ummm.??? I'd like to see Precious and the new Almodovar movie but haven't yet.
Meal: Prietas, pastel de choclo and ensalda chilena that Sebastian made for me my last day in Chile. Had some other very good meals in Chile with all my visitors including mango pisco sours, clams with ginger and lime, duck ravioli with port reduction, ostrich carpaccio!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Simple, Elegant, Delicious

I haven't been cooking much lately, mostly because I am working a lot and in restaurants so my meals are cobbled together from various vegetal matter at home, employee meals and eating out. Yet I have been making this super-easy and fast meal lately that I am in love with. It couldn't be more simple. Grill some asparagus. Toss with lemon juice and mushroom-truffle sauce (sub truffle oil if without the sauce). Top with shards of romano or parmigiano and a fried egg. It might be the best five minute meal you've ever had.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Antidote to Craptaculousness

So I'm having this colossally shitty week, certainly the worst this year, in fact I can't remember having a period of time with this many craptacular days in a row in quite a while. In any case, I usually remedy weeks like these by making a parody of it to whoever will listen and then making myself something delicious and comforting.

I'll spare you the gritty details but suffice to say that shuttling back and forth between various offices at City Hall, all manned by surly people who could, quite frankly, use a makeover and perhaps another cup of coffee, is not fun. Did you follow that run-on sentence? Me neither, sorry. Anyway, there was the mess at City Hall, some medical issues and being reminded that anyone I'm attracted to likely has a criminal record and/or borderline personality disorder. I'm not being dramatic, I swear it's statistically significant with a strong confidence level. I mean, I haven't run the regression analysis and I didn't do the p-test and I'm sure this sentence is only relevant or humorous to you if you've slugged through a semester of Quantitative Methods for Public Administration so I digress. Oh, and then someone hit my car and left me a nice big hole in my bumper and blithely sailed on with their day without nary a word or an apology note.

I've been surprisingly unperturbed about things though, which is of slight concern to me. I didn't even cry once and I am usually queen of the Water Works. Wait, I take it back, those snarky bitches at City Hall make me cry every time. Well, whatever, I felt like some comfort food so I splurged on an organic chicken, roasted it with some Yukon Golds, rosemary, lemon and leeks. It was just what I needed. Give it a try.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

I've Been So Bad

I was really rolling with the blog thing for a while and there is SO much to tell you but, as I said, I've been a very bad blogger and since I can't possibly catch up on all that now, I'll just pop in for a brief bite.

I'm obsessed with dates and golden raisins and anchovies right now. The golden raisins in Chile, ooooh, I know what you're thinking but you probably have never had a golden raisin from Chile. The ones I have from Guercio's are a faint substitute but I throw them in everything, from oatmeal to red sauce, which reminds me that I made this sauce from tomatoes and zucchini, onions and garlic of course, then added copious amounts of basil and mint, some anchovies, capers and the raisins. It sort of reminds me of St. Joseph's Day pasta con sarde, but fresher. Or pasta puttannesca I suppose.

That leads me into anchovies, which are delicious with pasta of course. Also, the other day, I grilled some baby bok choy, laid an anchovy down each one and poured some homemade caesar dressing over it. This was inspired by Greg's famous grilled caesar salad that I adore. It was spot-on with the bok choy, the crevices between each tender little leaf a perfect receptacle for holding little pools of lemony-salty-briny delight.

Dates. I am buying these fantastic dates from Guercio's; they're big and dense and moist, not like those nasty, dry, ashy-looking ones you get sometimes. I just eat them plain or, like the raisins, in my oatmeal OR stuffed with goat cheese that has been jazzed up with walnuts, mint and lemon zest. I made these treats last summer and loved them and now I'm kicking myself for wasting whole year without them.

You may think I've been cooking a lot but this is really all I can handle lately. Stuffing goat cheese into dates. Boiling pasta and making quick-cook tomato sauces. Add to that my other dishes in heavy rotation including....Peanut butter toast. Massive amounts of green beans from the garden sauteed with onions. Really, I'll just eat a whole pound of beans for dinner sometimes. Tomato-basil salads. Fried eggs. I'm not feeling terribly motivated to cook these days. However, I am looking forward to moving back to New Orleans and having all kinds of fresh seafood and other goodies to mix up my current, funky, rutted eating repertoire. That's right, I said it, going back to New Orleans! More updates to follow!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

World's Most Amazing Coffee

No, it's not from Chile, I think I mentioned they are Nescafe aficionados there, which I still can't figure out. Anyway, my sister went to Hawaii in January and I asked her to pick up some Kona coffee for me; I've had it before and thought it was fantastic. She did indeed bring me back some Kona coffee but apparently it's SUPER expensive so it was just a 10% blend but they labeled it Kona anyway. Cheaters. However, she and her husband happened upon a little lady who roasts her own coffee and when they asked why Kona was so expensive, she dismissed it as swill and proclaimed hers infinitely better. Well, I don't think Kona is swill but I have to admit, this coffee was absolutely perfect; complex, caramel hints, balanced without being acidic. So, this is a super boring post that I'm mostly writing to document the contact information for this woman, should you or anyone you know be in Hawaii. I've had the empty bag sitting around here for weeks and I keep telling myself to write it down so I can get rid of all this trash cluttering up my apartment! Without further ado,

Poppi Beanz
100% Maui Grown, Kaanpali Estate
Red Catuai Beanz

Full City Roast by Haz Beanz Coffeehouse
115 Baldwin Avenue
Paia, HI

Normally I'd write off anyone who spells "beans" with a "z" but I'll let her slide on this one, it's that good. Get me bag or two please if you are in Hawaii!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Desert Adventures and a Trek to Bolivia

This first part sort of repeats a bit from my last post, although I am more detailed here. Why did I do that? I don't know and I'm not editing it. Stick with it though, there's lots of new material!

Sunday morning arrived, time for my last jaunt through northern Chile, with a pitstop in Bolivia.

I thought it was genius of me to get a place ticket from Santiago to Calama, thereby avoiding a 23 hour bus ride. Really though, I had to take a micro to the bus station in Valpo, a bus from Valpo to Santiago, the subway from Las Rejas to Pajaritos to catch a shuttle to the airport, my flight to Calama, a taxi from the airport to the bus station and after a three hour wait, a bus to San Pedro de Atacama. Still, I left my house in Valpo just before noon and arrived in San Pedro at 10:30 that night, not too bad. However, I had set up a place to stay which, in typical Chilean fashion, fell through so I was left wandering around SP looking for a place to stay after traveling all day. I should note that I went out dancing Chilean cumbia the night before and got home veeeerrrrry late and on the way home, there was one of those fantastic downpours so my damp jacket and wet clothes in tow didn't make things easier. Anyway, I found a place to stay and put myself right to bed!

Lucky for me, the next day, June 29th, happened to be the festival of San Pedro and I happened to be in the town of San Pedro. I went to an outdoor mass in the central plaza, where there were people all dressed up, some in indigenous costumes, others as various animals and still others in their marching band best. Mass was followed by a parade down Caracoles, the main street. Two men dressed as chickens lassoed me and pulled me into the parade. I have no idea what this means and I didn't see anyone else get lassoed. Unfortunately, my camera had just decided to make its final exit from the world so I didn't get any photos from this exciting event. I spent the rest of the day wandering around the little town, checking out the many shops selling overpriced shit you can buy in every country in South America, shopping around the many storefronts offering tours to all the wonders of the desert. I signed up for the Geyers del Tatio tour the following morning, meaning I had to get up at 3:30 to be ready for pickup at 4am. Apparently the geysers are best appreciated as the sun rises, the reflection of light on steam and sediment creating an incredible array of colors. Well, let me tell you something about the desert. It's cold as hell at night and blazing hot during the day. So when I got up at 3:30, it was FREEZING!!!!! I am going to apologize in advance, because I am going to abuse the word “freezing” like nobody's business in this post. I should have kept a count of how many times I heard the word congelado during the week. Another thing, Chileans seem incredulous that we tourists are cold. They say “But you're from New York, it gets cold there.” Umm, yeah, but we have HEAT. I realize indoor heating is expensive but to not have it in cars? That is bullshit. Hence, the two hour bus ride without heat before the sun came up was uncomfortable to say the least. Oh yeah, and the road was RELENTLESSLY bumpy so even if you wanted to catch a little shut-eye, no luck.

Let me interrupt by saying that you must think my experiences in Chile have all been horrible, based on these blog entries. Not in the least, quite the contrary. It's just so much easier for me to write in a self-deprecating style and that just doesn't lend itself well to writing about some of the magic I've experienced. So instead I will poke fun at all my random, uncomfortable and, I like to think, totally hilarious adventures. Anyway...

OK, we got to the geysers and I have to say, I was underwhelmed. There was some steam rising out of the ground, whoop-de-doo. No gorgeous colors to speak of. What WAS impressive was watching the sun come up over the mountains. I don't know what it is about these landscapes that inspires such awe in us, maybe it's the feeling of our smallness in the face of such grandeur, maybe it's the revelation of the spectacular forces of nature that created such beauty. Whatever the reason, it was truly amazing. On the drive back, we stopped several times to get out and take pictures, or in my camera-less case, gawk at the scenery. A couple times I thought to myself there was no need to get out, I don't have a camera and I can see this very well from inside the bus. But then I'd get out and my sense of scale was completely altered. Still though, I don't need to stop and get out every time we see a damn llama, which is one of my main beefs with these organized tours. Another beef is stopping in these “quaint” villages to soak up some indigenous culture. We stopped at a little place that consisted of about 6 huts, all selling more overpriced crap. I could really skip this orchestrated, tourist marketing scheme, thanks anyway.

Christ, it was already my third night in SP! I got back from the tour and busied myself preparing for my three-day excursion to Bolivia, filling every bottle I could find with water, changing pesos for bolivianos and so on. Once again, I put myself to bed early to be ready for our 8am departure.

I arrived at Colque tours office and boarded a bus with a bunch of other confused-looking people, this would set the tone for the entire trip. After an hour of driving, we reached the Bolivian border, where we were all herded off and into the customs office to pony up our money for Bolivian travel visas. Everyone else had to pay 2100 pesos, less than $4, but those of us lucky enough to have an American passport had to pay $130. I think this is ridiculous but people comforted me by telling me Bolivians have to pay the same when they go to the US. I am not appeased by this, I don't want them to pay either but nonetheless, that's the way it is. Actually, I slid in by paying the bargain price of $50 since I'd only be in the country 3 days. They didn't stamp my passport though, likely because this is somewhat illegal but we all know I'm no stickler for rules, especially if it saves me $85 dollars..

After the border shenanigans, we split up into smaller groups to fit into the jeeps we'd be traveling in for the next few days. My tour included two jeeps; in mine was me, obviopo, Laima from Holland and Nicolo from Italy. The other jeep had two girls from Manchester (Bex and Katy), Rafa from Spain and Moses from Brazil. We stopped at a hot springs and several lagunas the first day; Laguna Verde, Laguna Blanca and Laguna Colorada. I'm sorry I don't have my own photos to share with you but my travel buddies have promised to send some my way (the ones I have here are from Rafa) but you should really do a Google image search. Actually, it was pictures of Laguna Verde that convinced me too do the Bolivia trip.

Laguna Verde

Laguna Colorada

I should say a few words about Bolivia. If I thought the Chilean desert was cold, I was blown away by the Bolivian altiplano. The elevation is much higher so it's way colder. The country is also much poorer and less modern than Chile, plus we were in really remote areas, meaning that there was no electricity or running water at the places we were staying. Also I will now state my disclaimer that I am about to talk some major smack about Bolivia but that shouldn't taint any ideas you may have about the country because I was only there three days and barely saw anything. That said, Bolivia ain't my cup of tea. It probably would have been much less painful during the summer than the winter but I still only have so much tolerance for barren towns made of mud and peopled by women in skirts and bowler hats. I fear that I am about to sound very ignorant and small-minded but I'm just going to embrace it. If you've seen one woman in a bowler hat, you've seen 'em all. I do not want to pay anyone for a picture of me and a wrinkled lady in llama leggings and that goddamn bowler hat. Why do they all wear the same things? And how did this fashion trend spread all over Bolivia and Peru and who knows what other countries​? It SHO' ain't cute and more importantly, it doesn't seem all that warm either.

Case in point...

Anyway, we stopped at Laguna Colorada for lunch and also to spend the night. We were at an altitude of more than 4,000 meters, which is pretty damn high and super-cold. But we were all still in pretty good spirits and had a mediocre but filling lunch. Then we realized that there was not a whole lot to do here, we had only a few hours of daylight left and already it was unbelievably cold. Fortunately, there was one lookout, which I thought was very meanly named Aguas Calientes ( I mean, just don't mention hot water if there isn't any, okay?). We walked through the wide open altiplano, clutching each other and screaming to be heard, until we reached the lookout and saw a small exhibit about the laguna and why it changes colors, micro-organisms etc. With nothing left to do, we headed back to our room to layer up, push our beds together and wait for dinner.

I believe this is where it started too sink in for me that we would be sleeping in this godforsaken place. The bathroom, if I may call it that, had toilets that did not flush and no running water in the sinks. The smell, well, I don't need to tell you, but the bathrooms so far in Bolivia were impressive in their stench and squalor. Then it hit me, “Are you kidding me? Are we FUCKING CAMPING?” I could feel a hysterical note rising in my voice and this is where it is great that someone like Laima was along on the trip. She is one of those delightful people with twinkly eyes who immediately links her arm through yours and unabashedly asks to borrow your mascara and if you'd like to split a piece of chocolate. I love these kind of people, they're almost caricatures of real people and just crack me up to no end. So although I was tricked into a miserable camping trip in Bolivia, at least I was in good company.

Our "hotel" on the first night, I'm depressed all over again just looking at that picture.

After dinner, we all brushed our teeth together, sharing water bottles to clean off, haha, God, isn't camping fun? Then we went to bed and they turned off the generator at 8:30 and I spent one of the worst nights of sleep I've ever had. Not only was it ungodly cold, but that altitude really does something to you. Actually, we made jokes about it over the next few days, blaming everything on the altitude, especially things that had no relation to altitude whatsoever. Yet, the altitude absolutely makes you feel tired and dizzy and slightly sick. After waking up for the 17th time, I blissfully saw the sun rising, which meant it was time to get up. I sat up and felt like I drank 2 bottles of whiskey and smoked 14 cartons of cigarettes the night before. And perhaps someone had also hit me over the head with said whiskey bottles. Of course, nothing of the sort happened but the altitude gave me a clanging headache and the dryness of the air sucked the moisture out of my skin and throat.

Day Two was pretty great, I think you haven't really lived until you've sped through the altiplano with a crazy Bolivian driver while blasting reggaeton. Marcos and Chino, our drivers, seemed to delight in racing each other and scaring us shitless by driving through rivers and riding alongside huge ridges at impossible angles. I loved seeing how the scenery changed. The day before, it had been huge mountains, composed of all shades of red, brown, terracotta, bronze. Which was stunning, of course, but then we cruised into different terrain, lower slopes, looking misty blue in the distance, with golden-green shrubbery creating a beautiful contrast. It looked like a cover of one of those paperbacks about the Wild West by Elmore Leonard or whatever his name is. I only know that from shelving his books those years of working at the library in high school. Again, we eased into yet another striking scene, with huge rock formations created by wind erosion. It looked like a set from Beetlegeuse or something totally otherworldly.

Desert racing...

Arbol de Piedra

We stopped for lunch in another incredibly depressing town called Villa Alota. There appeared to be no sign of life, it looked completely devoid of people and activity. After lunch, Chino told us that there was a problem with frozen water at the place we were supposed to stay at that night so we were going to go straight to Uyuni and sleep there. This sounded great to us because Uyuni meant civilization! Internet! Running water! Along the way, we stopped in another horrible town, although this one had a market that we wandered around in for a minute before we spotted a bathroom. Now, how it works in many places here is that you have to pay to use the bathroom, with a nice little sign indicating such. Well, there was no sign and no attendant and so I bravely went in first, holding my nose, clutching my toilet paper. Without getting too explicit, I was using the bathroom when this lady kicked in the door and demanded 1 boliviano. I could care less about the boliviano but umm, can you shut the door and I'll pay you on my way out? Nope, she stormed out and left the door wide open. I kinda felt like smacking the bowler hat right off her head. Enough of these little towns, please get me to Uyuni!!!!

So, this post is already way too long, I will get to Part Two of my Bolivian adventure soon, stay tuned!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Hey Kids, I´m in the Desert!

I just wanted to write a quickie before I take off for Bolivia tomorrow, I have been told by the tour guides that the accommodations will be ¨rustic¨ and ¨basic¨ and since hot water=luxury here, I am going to infer that the next few days will be internet-free.

So I left Valpo on Sunday, which was super-sad because, although I will be back next week for one day only, I said goodbye to my apartment, had breakfast for the last time there etc. Next Tuesday I´m going to be staying at the boy´s house (yes, there is a boy, come on, of COURSE there is a boy. That´s all I´m saying about it.) so no more Casa Peral for me:((( So, I hopped on a micro to the bus station, bus to Santiago, the subway from the bus station to another station(for some reason, the bus didn´t go to Pajaritos, who knows why)to catch the shuttle to the airport. Got on a plane, landed in Calama, cab to the bus station, another bus to San Pedro de Atacama, goddamn, I am tired just thinking about it! Then I couldn´t find/get in touch with the woman who I´d arranged to stay with so I got to walk around town at 11pm looking for accommodations. Did I mention that I went out the night before in torrential rain and so my coat was still soggy? It was awesome, let me assure you!

I managed to find a slightly overpriced room, but it was mine, all mine, no sharing. No internet or breakfast, which kind of sucks and the water wasn´t working when I wanted to take a shower but these are just small details, right? I walked around town looking for a place in the morning with these ¨luxuries¨ and everything was full or way overpriced. Hotel Puritama turned out to be just fine in the end.

June 29th also happens to be the festival of San Pedro and what better place to be than San Pedro de Atacama? I took some pictures before my camera finally committed suicide (yeah, it´s been working pretty well for the last month or so but I think it took it´s final swan dive yesterday. Fantastic timing. There was mass outside in the plaza, followed by a parade with some decent marching bands, altiplano dancing and men dressed as chickens inexplicably lassoing me. Hmmmm. Then I had a DELICIOUS empanada, one of the best I´ve had in Chile, that was full of olives, egss, onions and meat that I will pretend was llama. By the way, I love llama. I had a llama skewer today in a little town called Machuca, on the way back from seeing the Geisers del Tatio. I thought the geisers were totally overrated and getting up at 3:30am in -15 degree weather even worse. But once the sun came out, the scenery was absolutely breathtaking. I´m so pissed I can´t take pictures!!!!!!!

Ok, my time here at the internet cafe is running out, I gotta run, see you soon!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Four Month Check-In

That's right, it's been four whole months since I left Buffalo, a bittersweet day indeed. I've had a wonderful journey so far, and I still have a month left, but it's official. I'm ready to come home. Don't get me wrong, I will be SUPREMELY sad to leave here when the time comes but the life of an ex-pat is a sort of lonely one. Sure, I've met great people but meeting other travelers/English-speakers mean that they are inevitably leaving, and many of them have. My Chilean friends are fantastic, I feel really blessed, but being really ME is limited, which I have mentioned before. At first I thought I wasn't really ready to leave or homesick for home, just a little lonely. But now I know, that just ain't true. I miss YOU, my garden, my niece, cheese, the library, my gym, ole Blo, picking up the phone to call people. In short, it'll be time to go when the time comes. However, I've got one more trip planned before I jet, on June 28th, I will fly to Calama, in northern Chile, to visit San Pedro de Atacama, the desert, Valle de la Luna etc. Then I will go on an expedition to Uyuni, in Bolivia. Back to Valpo on July 7th to pick up my stuff and say my goodbyes and I am OUT OF HERE July 8th. Anyway, soon enough I will have my own photos to post but in the meantime, here are some titillating shots of both locations!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Daytripping in Quintay/Picture of the Day 18

I've been kinda lazy about exploring lately and my time here is winding down, que lata. So the other day I decided to start taking some small day trips and remembered several people telling me to go to Quintay. It's about an hour south of Valpo and was the epicenter of Chile's whaling industry in the late 1800s/early 1900s until 1967, when whaling was officially banned worldwide due to hunting the poor things until near extinction. (Everyone signed the treaty but Norway and Japan, what's up with them?). Quintay also has a number of good seafood restaurants, so no one had to twist my arm to get me there!!!

I tried to go last week but I got to the bus station at 11:20 and the bus left at 11:15, since when do things happen on time in Chile? Pucha! The next bus wasn't for several hours and since winter is approaching, the sun sets early and I decided to wait for another day. Monday broke, gloriously sunny and oddly clear. I could see all the way to the snow-capped Andes, past Santiago, which I have never seen from this far away.

On the bus ride, I watched the beautiful interior glide past me and I realized I had become complacent about how gorgeous Chile is. I noticed that the other day too, walking down a street in Valpo and it just seemed like a street to me, not a fascinating, ramshackle, South American alley. So it was a good reminder not to lose my sense of wonder and HOLY SHIT, LOOK AT THIS PLACE AND TAKE IT ALL IN!!! Just before we got to Quintay, we were treated to the most breathtaking view of the beach and cove below from the incredible height of the incoming road, I couldn't take a picture because, well, we know how well pictures through windows turn out. Trust me though, my day would have been complete just seeing that view.

The town is pretty much nothing but if you walk down the path to the harbor, you can see the old whalery??? Is that a word? I don't know the word in English. 500 pesos got me into the old place, there was a pretty uninspiring exhibition hall that had pictures of starfish and excerpts from Moby Dick pasted on warped cardboad. But touring the old, abandoned complex was totally worth it, the day was perfect, the camera was behaving, sort of. Magnificent.

The water had a brillo especial about it.



Whales are big.

I wrapped up my afternoon with a big pastel de jaivas, which I could describe as a an enormous dish of local crabs, baked au-gratin style. Mmmmm. On the way home, I realized I completely missed walking along Playa Grande, which is supposed to be quite lovely. Maybe another day...

Monday, June 1, 2009

Picture of the Day 017

I'm a thief. I was walking to the store the other day after work and saw this MAGNIFICENT sunset. Sadly, I didn't have my camera, and even if I did, I'm having so many problems with it that I can't rely on it at all. Anyway, you can imagine how happy I was to see that Matt at posted this picture and more of this very same sunset! Thank you Matt!

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Things I Don't Miss About Home/Love About Chile

Perhaps I should split this into two separate lists, as I was noticing when I did the combo Things I Miss in the US/Things I Hate in Chile post, but I think there is too much interconnectedness.

-I do not miss my car. Not one little bit. See, that leads into THREE things I love about Chile, which is public transportation, the brilliant colectivo system and living in a walkable city. Or rather, these are things I love about Valparaiso because this sure as hell is not the case in Santiago, ugh. Valpo has innumerable micros, or buses, which are very easy to figure out because they have signs in the front window listing major stops and streets. Unlike Blo, which just lists the end station, where the hell is Elmwood Loop? I have no idea. There are trolleys and buses within the city, buses to Viña, Reñaca and other cities nearby for a paltry sum. Then there are colectivos, which are cabs that run on a fixed route and are often just as cheap as the bus or cheaper. The system fails sometimes though, around rush hour when there are lines 10 deep of people waiting to catch a colecivo up the hill after work and before I figured out where to catch certain routes, I had a couple of long waits. But generally, I can get around in minimal time with a couple coins, or, better yet, I can just walk pretty much anywhere I want to go.

-Don´t miss my TV. Actually, I kind of wish I had one here because I have learned a lot from watching shows with subtitles. But overall, I don´t miss the distraction. OK, I admit, I found this week and devoured the second season of Mad Men in no time at all. But that is neither here not there.

-Work. You think I'd be bored down here, now work or school to speak of. Actually, I have started working for a friend who has a gallery here but 10 hours a week doesn't really count for anything. Plus, I am at work right now and I am sitting on my butt, writing to you all. Anyway, my days feel full and happy and I could easily live as a leisurely lady who lunches for the rest of my days.

Well, that ends the Things I DON'T miss, now on to Things I Love.

-The feria. I love, love, love the biweekly market that sells fruits and vegetable and flowers and eggs and kitchen utensils and so on. It is super cheap and I would imagine it's mostly local produce. It's funny how quickly I got acclimated to prices. A few months ago 500 pesos (less than a dollar) for a bag of brussel sprouts seemed great, now I scoff if they are asking more than 250 pesos. Also in the beginning, I was less than willing to call out a vendor when I knew I was getting the short end of the stick, now I just cut them my "Are you kidding me" eyes and they sigh and concede. In keeping with how much I adore living in a totally walkable city, it is just so EASY here to go to the market every few days and load up, making my three weeks without a refrigerator much less of a pain in my ass. Sidenote: In my new apartment, the sink didn't work and so we had to empty out a big bucket every time we washed dishes, there was no hot water so we had to heat it up to wash said dishes and I had to cook on a hot plate for three weeks. We all know how much I LOVE camping! All remedied now, except the hot water in the kitchen sink thing but something tells me this is not a matter of urgency for the roomies.

-Street Vendors. Yes, I know they exist in the US but not so much in fair Buffalo and I don't mind if I do partake in a manjar-filled churro as I stroll to the feria and a sopaipilla on the way home. Except, good Lord, the churro-lady in Plaza Victoria is so disgusting, every time I pass her by and think I could be tempted by the hot, sweet fried dough, I see her commiting yet another egregious act. If she's not smoking and letting the ash blow all over the treats, she's letting birds roost on a mountain of churros. The other day, she was mopping the ground with a horrifyingly dirty mop and no bucket of water or sink in sight. She makes me sick, that lady. But the guys in Parque Italia are pretty friendly and clean, although they're kinda stingy on the sugar. Oh, and those hot peanuts with sugar, which I've never sampled but the smell....ooooooooWEEEEEE. Actually, speaking of smells...

-...there are innumerable bakeries here and while I am generally unimpressed with a lot of their sweets and the daily pan amasado, the smells just kill me. A while back, I was lamenting about the lack of bakeries in the 'Lo, a friend new to the area asked me about a good place to get baked goods on a lazy weekend morning and I had to say Wegmans. I love Wegmans just as much as anyone but it's not exactly what you think of when you conjure up images of quaint, neighborhood bakery. I found a place recently on Plaza Victoria that has LOVELY stuff, including these glazed, whole chesnuts that are DELICIOUS!!!!

-Speaking of chesnuts, have you ever had chesnut puree? I know it exists other places, I'm just wondering if it tastes the same as it does here so I know whether or not to fill up my suitcase with it on the way home. Lucuma puree is another current favorite, it's a fruit here that I suppose has no translation, wiki calls it eggfruit, like chirimoya/custard apple, this does nothing for me. The flavor reminds me of maple syrup (and wiki says sweet potato, I can see that), the good stuff, and it is a wonderful addition to yogurt, oatmeal or straight out of the jar. I have no shame. It's also my current, favorite ice cream flavor, mixed with a little Cuatro Leches (yes, like my beloved Tres Leches cake, but as an ICE CREAM flavor. And with coconut milk as the fourth milk!!!!!)

-Fixed lunches. I mentioned above that I would like to be a lady who lunches. In fact, I do quite often. Most places do a fixed lunch menu, three courses, for anywhere from $1400-$3500 pesos ($2.50-$6). Well, the really ritzy places might be as high as $5500 pesos but I'm not referring to them. At that price, I could eat out daily and often did when we were, ummm, "camping" those first few weeks in the new place.

-I realize I have been talking only about food, sorry! Even though I sometimes get annoyed with the relaxed sense of time here, I have learned to take advantage of it. For example, the other day I was supposed to work at 11 but I didn't feel like it so I called the boss and told her I'd be there at 3. She does it to me all the time so why not turn the tables? And it was totally fine! That would NOT fly at home. I learned this tactic from my bestie Amy-she used to drive me crazy when we'd be sitting on the couch and she'd say "Cleatis (that's what we call each other)? Get me a glass of water?" I'd look at her exasperated and say "But you're closer!" to which she'd reply "Yeah, but I'd do it for you!" And she would, so instead of being annoyed about it, I just started asking her to pick stuff up at the grocery store for me when she was on her way over. Likewise, instead of getting crabby that someone is 45 minutes late, AGAIN, hit snooze! Let 'em wait! Have another cup of coffee, whatever!

-Back to things that crack me up linguistically, I am super-enamored with the use of the words super,yapo and especially appropriated words form English. Chileans like to put super in front of everything and for some reason, I find this super-chistoso. It's also super-easy to do in English so you can expect to hear it super-a lot from me. We've already discussed how the suffix 'po' is used and I especially love it after 'ya,' which means already but here people use it in many ways like "ok, got it, ready to order? be right there, enough, cut it out." Add po on the end and I am dying. The little boys I live this would use this all the time with each other, drawing out the syllables "Pero Manuel, yaaaaa-po!". You can imagine my delight when I came upon the Yapo store.

Excuse the abrupt ending, but I need to close up shop and head home!

Friday, May 29, 2009

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Looking over Santiago from Cerro San Cristobal.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

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The other day, while wandering around Playa Ancha, I turned around and saw this view. Will I ever tire of seeing the bay and the hills offered up around every bend?

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

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Yesterday I became one with the ocean.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

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I have no idea what this means, I just appreciate the use of "po."

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Never saw a sand castle like this one in Puerto Varas.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

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Saturday, May 23, 2009

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I live with this furball.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

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I'm feeling generous today.

Subida El Peral, my stairs.

My very, very, very fine house.

Looking out towards Playa Ancha from Paseo Yugoslavo at sunrise.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

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Steak. Wine. Buenos Aires. Bliss

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My hood, Cerro Alegre.

Monday, May 18, 2009

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Plaza Victoria, El Puerto, Vina and beyond from the spectacular patio at Gato Tuerto.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

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This one is for my mamma, who loves laundry pictures. This shot is out my window into our courtyard.

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You know what happened yesterday? I was going to post a photo in the morning but thought better of it and said to myself "Wait until the end of the day and see if you get any good shots." Well, I was seriously reaching for my computer last night, feeling all self-congratulatory for keeping up with this picture a day thing for FOUR WHOLE DAYS and the lights went out. We were plunged in darkness. Juan Pablo tried flipping the breakers but to no avail, there was no electricity to be had. And since I killed my computer battery last week, working without a functioning electrical outlet is impossible. So I read by candlelight for a bit and went to bed at 9:30. Anyway, I refuse to concede failure so today, you will get a morning and evening photo to compensate!

Casa Crucero, around the corner from my house in Cerro Alegre.

Friday, May 15, 2009

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It's two-for-one Friday over here at the Rincon Porteno. Sunset looking out my front window and the garden, respectively.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Lucy Love

I have meaning to do some sprucing up here for a while now, but like I said, I am lazy. I finally got around to adding a picture to the title bar and changing up my food/Sabres theme, that was soooooo 2007! Now the blog is officially devoted to my favorite pastime (eating), my current locale (Chile) and the love of my life, my niece Lucy. She has been absent far too long from this blog so I need to change that. Here is my girl over the weekend. Like auntie, like niece!

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Walkway at House #1, Cerro Esperanza

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Picture of the Day 001

When Kim was visiting me, she took a picture of the day with her blackberry and sent it to her parents. That was such a lovely idea and now I'm stealing it. I am only going to put in writing that I will do this for a week, but mentally I am telling myself a month. It's just that I'm super lazy about follow-through so I'll try to get through the week so that I don't beat myself up when I quit after two weeks. Watch me not even get through seven days, ha. Well now, without further ado.

(Turn off your television. Live your life.)

Things I Miss about the US and Also Things That Drive Me Crazy in Chile

Before you think I am all Negative Nancy, be forewarned that I have a post on deck about things I love about Chile and things I do not miss about home. I'm very balanced like that. And it would be interesting to compare how I would have written these entries three months ago because I think the list the things I liked about Chile would be shorter then. When I got here, I was definitely enjoying myself but I wasn't in love with Chile. Even as of early April when I went to Buenos Aires, I questioned if perhaps Chile was the right choice. But now I am deep in Chile-love and I can see that leaving in July is going to be much harder than I anticipated. But this post isn't about that, God, focus Laila!

-I miss a number of food stuffs, too much really to list here but peanut butter is top on my list. I can't believe I have gone through three months of my life without peanut butter! Also, cheese. Oh CHEESE! There is no cheddar here and worse, they national cheese seems to be waxy, tasteless swiss cheesy-looking stuff and that's one cheese I never got along with. I also am adjusting to life without tofu and soy milk. Weirdly though, I missed this stuff a lot at first and now I am over it, mostly. I never thought a cheese-less life would be okay, but it is. That does not mean I won't run to Wegman's cheese shop when I get home, because I will.

-My washer and dryer. Well, anyone's really, I'm not so attached to mine. The washing machines here SUCK and people just do not own dryers. Also, there are no laundromats, there are laundry services that will wash and dry your clothes but it is expensive and I don't like strangers touching my dirty clothes. This no dryer thing was acceptable when it was hot and sunny all the time but now the weather is changing and I've been waiting for my jeans to dry for two days. It's a wonder the whole country doesn't smell like wet towel.

-Pandora. It's unavailable in Chile and that is a shame.

-Gas that just comes on. I pay my gas bill and hence, I turn on the stove and there is gas. I want to take a hot shower, and I do. Just like that. Here, people use tanks of gas that need to be lit when cooking and showering. I had an old stove explode in my face in my first, shitty apartment in Allentown so this makes me a little uncomfortable. Plus, you never know when you're about to run out of gas or you worry that you might not have turned it off and the house will have blown up in your absence.

-Being understood. I can express what I need to here but obviously not as well as I can in English. Factor in also that people expect not to understand me because I have gringa written all over me. For example, I got into a colectivo the other day and said "Teatro Mauri." The driver said "Ehhh?" I said "Teatro Mauri." He looked at me like I had two heads and the guy next to me said "Teatro Mauri." "OHHHH, Teatro MAURI! Yapo." I said it right, I know it, I even rolled my tongue, but only once because the single "r" is one glottal flap, just like I learned in phonetics. I wonder if people here think I am stupid or if they know that sometimes I can be funny. Sometimes I think I can't be the REAL me here and other times I think I can only be the real me, because I have nothing to lean on or hide behind; I can't be coy or use humor to deflect like I can in English.

-Paper products, soap and hot water in bathrooms. I am not a huge germaphobe but it's pretty skeevy that most bathrooms are not stocked with these products. And what's the point of washing my hands if there is nothing to dry them on? Actually, I have that beef with a lot of home bathrooms I've visited in the US too. People! Where are your hand towels?

-Dog diarrhea and dog erections. Not a pretty subject, I know. Oh, by the way, that falls under the Things That Drive Me Crazy about Chile category, not Things I Miss. Anyway, there are almost as many mangy mutts here as there are people. I think this illustration, expertly rendered by one of the little boys I live with, gives you a visual of one of the reasons this is so annoying. (Fijate por donde caminas=Watch where you walk.)

There is dog shit EVERYWHERE!!! You have to really pay attention while walking to avoid it. And these Chilean dogs have diarrhea a lot, it must be all the garbage they eat. Also, since these are wild dogs, none of them are fixed and a day does not go by that I don't see at least one in a heightened state of arousal. Gross. I mentioned the dog situation at a party a few weeks ago and related a story about my mother calling Animal Control to pick up the wild dogs outside of the school where she works. They all thought an office called Animal Control was one of the funniest things ever.

-Overemployment and Underpayment. In what I can only assume is a strategy for reducing unemployment, lots of people here have completely unnecessary jobs. I'm sure they aren't making much money but some mindless, senseless job must be created so that the government can say they are reducing the number of people without jobs. I first witnessed this when in Chiloe, buying a towel from a department store. I selected a towel, walked to the cash register and paid. Instead of the young man handing me my towel, he gave me a receipt, indicated that I should follow him across the room, where he handed off my towel to another useless employee and I had to wait in line to exchange this stupid ticket for my towel. Moronic.

-Actually, that last point leads into my next one well. Chileans are obsessed with receipts and tickets. If you buy a bottle of water, they will slowly, painstakingly write you a receipt for 300 pesos or whatever measly amount it is AND if you don't take it, they will chase you down, press it into your hand and tell you to GUARD IT!

-My, my, I am segue-ing nicely here! Chileans also seem to love telling people to watch their things. I think they must have an overinflated sense of danger. I'm sure there is some violent crime here but mostly what seems to go on is petty thievery. They must not know I am from the WEST SIDE, ok? Seriously, I don't walk around with money out or have a big camera, so LET IT REST! Just because I am a a gringa doesn't mean I have no street smarts. Interestingly, there is a sizable network of women from the US-living in Chile bloggers and some of them have touched on this subject. They mentioned that's just how it is in the US, you know, you can leave your laptop on the table in the cafe when you go to the bathroom. Huh? I wouldn't leave my pen on the table if I didn't want it stolen, here or at home.

As soon as I publish this, I will think of another point to make so I may be editing and updating this. And I'm sure my lovely family members who visited may have some things to add to this list so feel free to jump in!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Holler At Me

I am lonely and waiting for a letter from YOU! I have only received one piece of mail since I've been here, thank you Nicole! So, if you feel like writing to me, I will smile and you will make my day and then I will write nice things about you on here.

My new address is:

Subida El Peral 138
Cerro Alegre, Valparaiso, Chile

More on What I'm Eating, Have Eaten, Plan to Eat

Despite my somewhat dire previous posts, all is not inedible here in Chile. In fact, I've had some lovely meals but that's mostly because I had kind and generous visitors who are used to, umm, a step above my slummin'style of travel. As I mentioned before Mamma and Greg journeyed down here in the beginning of April. Our first foray into Chilean cuisine was at a lackluster little cafe, no that's being kind, cafeteria rather, on Plaza de Armas in Santiago. Mamma tried the congrio, which is the local fish about which Pablo Neruda waxed poetic. Neruda was also a fervent Stalinist so maybe that should be an indication that not all of his tastes are in line with mine. Anyway, it was oily, heavy and had an off-putting texture. Yuck. Greg got chicken a la cognac and I still have no idea what that says about the preparation because it looked like pretty regular chicken to me. I got the standard fried fish and mashed potatoes and then we all shared a most disgusting salad of iceberg lettuce and canned corn.

Things picked up on Day Two when we went to Bellavista, which is one of my favorite Santiago neighborhoods. It kind of reminds me of New Orleans but I say that about nearly every Spanish colonial city I've ever visited. Anyway, it's low-slung buildings with narrow doorways and decorative ironwork with a decidedly bohemian feel. At La Boheme (a French-Chilean fusion place and if you think that sounds weird, it is), I was proud to introduce M&G to the pisco sour. Pisco tastes to me like grown-up white grape juice, so naturally I love it, as anyone who remembers my White Grape-Peach phase would understand. A good pisco sour incorporates the spirit, lemon juice, egg white and sugar. It's simple, it's sweet, it's tart, it's fantastic. It's a bit like drinking lemon meringue pie, well, not quite as sweet but it uses the main ingredients of the oh-so-delicious dessert. I already know that I love the traditional pisco sour so when I have the opportunity to try a different iteration, I take it, obviopo. I had a chirimoya sour that might well be one of my favorite sour variations. What's chirimoya, who knows, google says its a custard apple, which doesn't illuminate matters much for me.

We also had a splendid rendition of moules frites after spying the colossal beauties on a nearby table. Later that night, we dined in a near-empty restaurant with fabulous Oriental rugs and Cher playing on a huge screen, to my mother's great pleasure. We started with OSTRICH carpaccio, which was delightful. Texturally, it reminded me of fresh tuna but flavor-wise, it was bigger and beefier. Speaking of beef, my cumin-rosemary scented filet was the main course hit. We were all too full for dessert but somehow Mamma managed to make enough room for a bag of potato chips once we got home :)

Sidenote about my mother. When I was 13, my best friend moved two blocks away on Ashland and Potomac, scary 'hood, right? I was thrilled to have my bestie so close but less-than elated when my 4 ft. 7 inch mother insisted on walking me there. I'm not sure why she thought that it was safer for her to walk alone than me, since I have about 2 feet and a million pounds on her but argue not with a Sicilian mother! They make no sense! Just do as they say! Anyway, I bring all this up to say that once we got home to our apartment in Santiago, my mother had a craving for potato chips. I, being the fabulous, attentive daughter that I am, suggested I run across the street to fetch a bag. Literally, I could step out of our doorman-attended building and spit on the store but my mother acted like I was suggesting donning some Lycra and going out to work the Alameda. She physically barred the door. I thought she was joking but once she let her guard down, I scooted out the door and could hear her wailing "Greg, STOP her! Nooooooooooo!" Upon my return, about 2.5 minutes later, chips in hand, I opened the door on a very somber Mamma, who immediately let out a huge breath, clasped her heart dramatically and said "LAILA!" Does my mother not know I have been out on streets at night before? Does my mother think this is the first time I have ventured solo in Chile? Is she crazy? Yes, yes, she is. She is so cute. Anyway, that was a long note, moving on...

Well, the next few days, we dined sumptuously on machas a la parmesean and sipped pisco sours on various patios overlooking the beautiful bay. We had some seriously amazing Greek food, odd, I know, in a restaurant owned by a Chilean, whose family fled to Switzerland during the political upheaval in the 1970s, followed by time in the US to attend culinary school. As Greg put it, "My man is full of beans" and he was definitely a smooth-talking bullshitter. More on that in another post. Regardless, the moussaka and baklava were outstanding, as was the ouzo sour.

Other standout meals, or dishes of the week included the broiled clams with ginger and lime, duck ravioli with port and dried cherries and salmon ravioli with curry and spinach at Pasta E Vino. In fact, we liked dinner so much, that we went back again the next night, although the clams weren't as tasty and I got strawberry gnocchi with a champagne sauce and clams. Does that sound revolting? Because it was. Over at one of my favorite blogs, 101 Cookbooks, Heidi, who I have the utmost respect for, traveled to Chile last year, ate at Pasta e Vino and apparently enjoyed said ravioli. This did not sound like a winning combination to me for a number of reasons. Can you really transport the ethereal, fresh taste of strawberries into a ball of dough? I think not. Also, I love champagne, but let's be honest, any time it is used for something besides drinking, it is absolute pretentiousness. And finally, strawberries, champagne and CLAMS? Christ, I hope I don't need to explain why that is completely abhorrent. Heidi, you let me down, don't let it happen again! I kid, I kid, in fairness, she did not say they were delicious, I'm sure she had them clam-less as she is vegetarian and her post is actually about making peach gnocchi. But whatever. The nice thing about this meal was that a wine we had by the glass the night before and LOVED was unavailable but once the sommelier was summoned, a call was made and the bottle appeared at our table within minutes. I felt very special and would also like to note that I cannot afford restaurants in the US with sommeliers on staff.

We had lunch at the Greek's the next day and I had this tres leches cake that I would gladly eat for the rest of my life. Sadly, I'll never have it again because I went for dinner there with some friends a few weeks back and the Greek was in fine form, or rather he was pissy drunk and extremely scary. A terrified employee basically told us to get out after we heard plates crashing and saw waving fists so I don't think I'll be going back there, not even for that wonderful cake.

That's it, I think I've been writing this blog for the past two hours and I still haven't gotten to what I am currently eating. So it goes with blogging, I start out one way and it turns out another. You'll just have to wait until next time for more exciting adventures involving fried eggs and Nutella.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Valparaiso: Not for the Disabled

This is part on an ongoing installation I am working on. I don't know how old people live here, but they do, ambling up hills wiht their bags from the market. Also amazing to me in this city is the number of people on permanent-looking crutches and scooting around legless on scooters. How do they do it? Incredible.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

This and That

I have so many random things to document so I will utilize my favorite writing method, the list, to share some of observations about Chile. This is a topic that I could go on about forever and will definitely elaborate on in future posts but I am getting so very behind so here goes.

-Linguistically, Chile kills me. Obviously, all countries and regions that share a common language have their own distinctive vocabularies, slang etc. but Chile is known for having an unusually colorful and varied dialect known as chilenismos. I actually bought a book prior to leaving the US, entitled Chilenismos, and while it has been somewhat helpful and an endless source of entertainment to my Chilean acquaintances, it is a bit limited. First up, the addition of "po" at the end of every word. At first, I thought "this is dumb, so totally unnecessary, I will NOT leave here saying si-po, no-po etc." Except that is is hilarious and sooooo Chile. Entonces, not only do I say si-po, no-po, obvio-po, ya-po, but I also add it onto English words to make myself laugh. Hence, when I am back in the US, expect to hear me say things like "Turn off the stove-po!" "What are we doing tonight-po?" and so on. Po.

-The use of words such as "claro," "obvio," and "logico" when things are neither clear, obvious nor logical. For example, last week, I got up on a Monday morning and the boys were in the kitchen. I still can't quite understand school schedules but I am quite sure that at 9am, they should have been there already. I asked if they had school that day and they told me "Obvio." OK. Then Coti asked if I could stay with them for a bit while she ran an errand. Sure. She got back around 11:30 and told the boys they would have lunch and then off to school. "Pero Mama, nooooooooo, por que???!!!" And she responded "You have to go school. Obvio. Logico." I don't think it was obvious or logical why the boys weren't in school already but hey, what do I know?

-Kissing. No, I am not talking about a romance, mullets and skinny jeans are in fashion here and I just can't get with that in my men. I'm talking about kissing as in greeting and then again to say goodbye. Generally, I like this quite a bit but it was a tad unnerving when I went to get my toes done and afterwards my pedicurist grabbed my face with both hands and exuberantly pulled me in for a farewell beso. Then I get confused sometimes about when it is appropriate, like last week when I got out of a cab and almost kissed the driver before I thought better of it.

-Lying and roundabout communication. Chileans think it is rude to talk directly, it's considered cold. Therefore, they will talk around and around and around to say something that could be accomplished with about 43244255 fewer sentences. Thus, it is also rude to say no so you can expect to be lied to if you ask a question with a negative response. Similarly, it is more socially acceptable to stand people up or not return calls rather than deliver bad news. Hmmm.

In other news, I moved again for the final time last night. I am absolutely enchanted by my new home but my camera is acting funky so I will hopefully have some pictures sooner than later. And, the big news for those who don't already know, I have made a decision about school this fall and I will be moving to New York City to attend COLUMBIA!!! You didn't think I was that smart, huh? Me neither. Wish me luck!

Saturday, May 2, 2009

The Jig is Up!

I really have little excuse for not communicating better with you all, my gentle readers. Oh sure, I've had a lot of guests this month but seriously, I don't have a job nor am I going to school and the fact that I am so behind in uploading my photos and generally documenting every move I make while on this journey, well, damn, it is just inexcusable! Or, que feo! I am a big fan of this phrase, which ostensibly means “how ugly” but is appropriate as well to mean “that is totally uncalled for” or “what bullshit.” Oops, I cursed, which leads me to the title of this blog post and also one of my numerous excuses for not being better at this update game. I think it has been hard for me to keep up the blog, send out emails that are suitable for all audiences, separate what I eat from what I do etc. So I am consolidating, it is just too much for me to try censoring myself, from here on out the emails will consist of a link to my latest blog entry. Hopefully, this will streamline things and I can avoid repeating myself or underreporting. Do forgive me though, I am politically incorrect, uncouth and I can exercise a real potty mouth from time to time. There, I said it, sorry Mamma!

(Chile's answer to Jim's Steakout, don't hate me that I find it hilarious that there is a sandwich called Ass Italiano)

Besides my disclaimer, life is love-love-lovely here! Kim came for a visit, we went to Mendoza and I can't for the life of me figure out why the town has such a thriving tourist industry. We also had a grand old time in Valpo, visiting wineries in Casablanca, dancing the night away, getting tested for swine flu at the border...
we also had a stellar despedida for my best friend here, Maija, who sadly went back to Finland on Monday. Then my friend Giulia came to Valparaiso before saying adios to Chile. It was great to see her again and swap stories of our adventures since we departed in Puerto Montt two months ago. I saw her off to the bus stop, wrapped myself tightly in my lana-chal and walked straight into the fading, golden, change of season light reflecting off my hill.