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

Picture of the Day 016

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

Picture of the Day 011


Saturday, May 23, 2009

Picture of the Day 010

I live with this furball.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Picture of the Day 009

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

Picture of the Day 008

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

Picture of the Day 005

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

Picture of the Day 004

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.