So…it has been about a year since the last post, and maybe there isn’t anyone reading this blog, but it seems not to have ended, it just stopped and somehow that doesn’t feel right. Also, a friend recently asked if we were still using it, and I got a guilt pang…
Where are we, and what’s up? We are settled in, in Santiago. We have a fine big apartment, and over the months have furnished it to quite a comfortable level, we have two (replacement) motorbikes parked downstairs and a small VW SUV. The bikes have been super reliable, and perfectly sized for running around the city, and for week end forays out into the country side – which here means either into the mountains or out to the beach. We are discovering Chile, a little at a time.
Still think a lot about the trip, and still think it was a most amazing time, so rich with experiences that it is hard to get your head around the whole thing. If anybody stumbles across these words because they are considering such a journey, stop thinking and just do it. It is easier than you think. As some of you have heard me say, it is just like going for a loaf of bread…but you keep on going.
What are we up to? I (Mike) am learning fast how the copper mining industry works down here. I work for a construction company, and business is enormously good. Projects are large and fast, and it is a much less ordered contracting business than I was used to in my past lives. More rough and tumble. Heather is cutting hair again, and I have quickly become known to most people, not by my own job title, but as “Heather’s Dad”. It ain’t so bad.
We have MANY new friends down here, both through work and not. It is a multi-national crowd, with strong representation from the US, Australia, and of course Chile. Some days, I think my Spanish is getting better, some days I wonder if I speak Spanish at all. But it comes “poco a poco” (little by little). Heather’s world is a blend of folks, many of whom speak no English at all, and she is studying, so her fluency and vocabulary have really, really improved.
Also, Heather made a trip to Scotland to see a very special young man. She and Andres have known each other since high school in Bolivia, but waited until they had half a world between them to get interested in spending time together. Ah well, such is the way of things, yes?
And…I had to take an altitude physical for my job (many sites are VERY high). Flunked the EKG, so got to know a good cardiologist who tuned up my pump and now a feel great. Highly recommended…Health care is, btw, very good here. Surgery in Spanish was a treat.
So what’s next? We just finished the on-line, classroom part of the PADI scuba course. This was a precursor for the first “home leave” trip out of here, which will happen in September. We are headed to visit a dear friend who lives in the Cayman Islands, and while there we will finish the open water diver certification. I have always wanted to learn scuba, since watching “Sea Hunt” as a kid. THAT reference will send the youngsters to the internet… But then the big party will be a week cruise with James, Becky and Molly. Should be great, great fun. Then, back here in time to watch the South American summer kick off, and hopefully to finish the run down to Patagonia this year. That was on the original trip itinerary, but weather didn’t support it. Now, it should be time.
So what’s to become of this blog? Not sure. It holds amazing memories, but if it is to continue, it will have to be in some sort of “Chapter 2” version. Hmmm…will have to consult with the co-owner and see what we can come up with…
So, tipping more into the chapter two mode, a few words about some of the adventures we have had so far:
We spent most of last summer getting set up in the apartment and getting transportation sorted out. But there were a couple of visitors, including Heather’s friend Beth who came in for a couple of weeks. The two of them loaded up on Heather’s bike and bopped over the pass to Mendoza, which is about a day’s ride over one of the higher passes in South America. Then, Heather and I made a trip out to a little surf town called Pichelemu for a week end of clouds and drizzle. The coast here shares the northern California tendency for clouds to roll in and drop the temperature dramatically, but it was a good ride and a cute town and we enjoyed it. Soon after that, it was a week end at a cute little lodge in the mountains a couple of hours south of here. Besides the general outing, we did a little fly fishing in a nice little fished-out river down there. The locals fish the water pretty hard, in the sort of harvest mode we used years ago, so water near population is not exciting to fish. But it was good to wet a line and rekindle and old love.
Then, recently, we popped over to the coast to a little town that was a whaling station until well into the 1960s. It is called Quintay, and the whale processing docks and facilities are still there as a museum. It must have been a pretty grissly site when it was operating, and they appear to have done a remarkable job of killing off the whale population, as they are rarely sited anymore. It is a UNESCO site, preserved and protected. And the locals apparently got very excited last year when a whale and her calf were seen in the area.
Then, last week end we returned to San Pedro de Atacama with some good friends (Angus and Kate) and their visiting parents. We were there last year on bikes, but flew this time. It was a really good visit, mostly for the company, but also for the adventures. You may know, San Pedro is a dusty little town in an enormous desert, but sidled up against a range of volcanoes. While there, we got up at 4 in the morning to rattle up a corduroy road for 90 km (55 miles) to see the sun come up over a geyser field. It was at about 14,000 feet, and cold as stink. We were underdressed. Angus further underdressed by peeling off and jumping in one of the soaking pools they had up there. Dang…he is tough, even for an Aussie. The rest of us saved the soaking for a hot spring that was much lower (and nicer) the next day. Other than that, it was mostly a whole lot of eating (great restaurants in this little town) and just decompressing from city life in Santiago.
So now, it is a cloudy sort of chilly day, the mountains of Santiago are shrouded in snow and clouds, and we are just goofing off. In a couple of weeks, Rafael and his tribe are headed down to visit their son who just started University here, and we are finalizing plans for the Caribean getaway. I have a pork roast to toss on the grill, and will take a shot at something called “camarones al pil-pil”, which is a tapas sorta thing that originated in Spain but is very popular here. By the way, converting our US grill to use a Chilean gas cylinder was a hoot, but I got it well and properly McGyvered, and it hasn’t blown up yet (much to Heather’s surprise).
If anybody reads this, and wants to see more, maybe we will kick it back to life. Let us know…