Road Trip to Mendoza Argentina

So it was easter week here in lovely christianized south america, and Cristina was itching to get out of dodge so we opted for what we thought initially would be a proverbial “3 hour tour” to cross the Andes mountains over to the Argentinian side of the border, and the fabled city of Mendoza which is famous for wine and great steaks.  Looking at the map it looked like 3 hours of driving, but we added a safe 2 hours to handle the vertical since we would be going from about 3,000 ft to about 10,000 ft at the pass, … Continue reading Road Trip to Mendoza Argentina

Electricity, Electricity!!

Electricity is a great thing, especially when it powers the pump that draws water from the well deep in the earth beneath your home owners group’s shared property.  The swimming pool showers, toilet refills, and dish washing was getting really old. A world without electricity is now much easier for us to imagine—it is one devoid of light in the evenings, of iphone charging during the day, of VOIP telephony to talk to business colleagues in China and the USA, and without the joy of LED powered LCD monitors full of lovely images to watch.  Carlos had done a unit … Continue reading Electricity, Electricity!!

5 days, no electricity yet :(

So i wanted to start with something positive, so here is a nice picture taken earlier this (southern hemisphere) summer by our friend Jeannie Duisenberg who visited us for a lovely week together with her partner Rich Hlava.  We had so much fun with them, we were sad to see them go!  One of our two kittens is pictured here with us, her name is Bilz. Bilz is sister of the other cat, Pap.  Bilz y Pap is a duo of “fantasy drinks” (aka sugar water with carbonation and lots of synthetic coloring) that are homegrown Chilean brands, just like … Continue reading 5 days, no electricity yet 😦

Chilequake Day 3

We’ve been without water and electricity the last few days.  As there is no electricity in our general part of the city (the north) there is also no gas at the stations (no pumps), so we’ve been mostly home bound.  At the house we have the swimming pool water to use for flushing the toilets and for washing dishes, so we’ve been relatively well off.  We bbqed the defrosting meet from the freezer so it wouldn’t go bad, and we have plenty of fruits and vegetables.  We were down to our last bottle of drinkable water, but on a excursion … Continue reading Chilequake Day 3

Earthquake madness

We were awoken last night by the 8.8 earthquake that hit chile. We ran to our children’s rooms after we realized it was not the usual 10 sec shaker which is so common here given the subduction zone of the pacific and continental plate here which among other things produces the Andean mountain range with dozens of sub 20,000 ft peeks. We huddled under the doorways with a kid each in hand. Thankfully our house survived structually, although we could hear shattering glass throughout the house. It seemed to go on forever, reports say 90 secs but if you told … Continue reading Earthquake madness

Buying a car in Chile–why Latins get called “Lazy”

So i’m trying to buy a car in Chile, and i’m running head on yet again into some of the basic cultural differences between the hyper efficient commercial society of the USA and China (in this regard, China is really on the same page as the USA), and the much more casual and laid back experience of commerce here in Chile.  Here are some maddening and frustrating examples of where my expectations are not in alignment with the society: Closed on Sundays.  Sure, that might be a day when car buyers might flock to showrooms in the USA, but apparently … Continue reading Buying a car in Chile–why Latins get called “Lazy”

The Eagle Has Landed

Well, time to cool our heels for awhile, stop moseying.  It feels like we have been on perpetual vacation since June.  But now we are settled into an AWESOME colonial-style furnished house in the country outskirts of Santiago. We are a good 20 minutes outside the actual capital and have again found ourselves in a rural part of the world that feels like another era.  It’s like being in a Latin American tele-novela without any actual drama other then where in this big house are Caetano’s shoes when we need them. No housewarming barbecues until Forest returns from his looong … Continue reading The Eagle Has Landed

Santa @ the Beach in Southern Hemisphere

In what is clearly the most damning evidence that Santa Claus and Cristianity in general are ill suited to southern hemisphere culture, we are enjoying the pagan winter equinox festival which coincides with the coldest and darkest season in europe, summer equinox style at the beach in Zapallar with family.  Balmy days, sun setting at 9:30pm, and santa arriving at the beach do deliver colorful balloons at sunset while the kids scream and go crazy—good times! Happy holidays everyone! Continue reading Santa @ the Beach in Southern Hemisphere

Roads

Only one road goes in and out of this town.  No one goes to work in an office. Kids don’t play organized sports of any kind, and although there is a big open dirt field to play futbol, hardly anyone does. There are three nice bars and 2 divey ones. Everyone hates the foggy coastal city La Serena. I have yet to meet someone who doesn’t do some kind of art, craft or music. You can get Pisco Sour flavored ice cream. When we need to buy one or two things for a meal, we go to the local almacen … Continue reading Roads

Punta Choros and Isla Damas

This weekend we picked the kids up after school and headed down to the coast to explore the Isla Damas national park area, famous for fauna lining the islands just off the coast.  The Humboldt current runs along the coast of most of southern Chile, with icy cold waters that come up in a subduction zone that brings rich nutrients from the depths up to the surface where fish can gorge themselves, and then a sequence of predators can gorge on them and each other in a fantasmagorific orgy of consumption.  Bottle nose dolphins, orcas and other whales, dozens of … Continue reading Punta Choros and Isla Damas

Desert drive to coast, yummier than a Dessert!

Emilio and I did an amazing overland trip from Pisco Elqui.  When you look at a map of chile on Google Maps, you get a very false impression that all roads are created equally.  In our part of Chile, maybe 10% of the roads are paved, so a good local map not only distinguishes between paved/not but also between degrees of “not paved”, which range from packed gravel, to packed dirt, to loose dirt, and then the lowest form of them all, loose dirt SINGLE TRACK, roads that are so gnarly that you not only need a 4×4 vehicle, but … Continue reading Desert drive to coast, yummier than a Dessert!

Halloween in Chile

When i was a kid living in Chile in the 1970s, the lack of a Halloween celebration was one of my biggest beefs with the country (the other two were lack of Root Beer, and no saturday morning cartoons).  So it is with surprise and amusement that we now find that Halloween is a serious event here, even in our own little town in the mountains.  I have mixed feelings—on the one hand, it is obvious that kids love the fun and the candy, so it is a great thing for children everywhere to partake in.  On the other, the … Continue reading Halloween in Chile

Pisco Elqui – Mistral Pisco Distillery Tour

Per the namesake of our little town, yes, there is actually some Pisco distillery action in the ‘hood at the Pisco Mistral production plant.  Pisco is a Chilean and Peruvian liquor that runs between 40 and 55 % alchohol levels (80 to 110 proof), and to my untrained palette taste pretty much like a brandy.  In it’s basest form, the stuff is usually mixed with Coca Cola to make a “piscola” drink which gets you drunk in a hurry and at a super low cost.  A bottle of generic Pisco runs as little as $5 USD at the market.  The … Continue reading Pisco Elqui – Mistral Pisco Distillery Tour

The neighbor’s porch is insane!!

So our little house in Pisco Elqui is part of a vacation rental complex run by our neighbor/landlord called Cabanas Elquimista, and amongst the little cabins/houses dotting the side of the valley wall is his house itself, which he built and which has a super groovy hippie good-times vibe going on.  My favorite feature of his house is his porch, which has a completely open/infinity-horizon thing going on because it actually has no railing/safety perimeter, rather, it just extends to an edge and then drops about 12 feet down the ravine… a perilous environment or late night drunken accidents to … Continue reading The neighbor’s porch is insane!!

Road Trip to Copiapo

This weekend we decided to hit the road, departing from Pisco Elqui (where we have been living in Chile, in case that is news to you!): (view from our home’s porch, up the valley): The valley behind leads down from our town towards the sea and the "city" of La Serena… … (which is in the IV Region of Chile) to head north towards Copiapo, capital of the III Region.  A gorgeous drive on the new "coast highway" in the III Region, about 200 miles of "dirt" road that drives like a dream–we could make 60mph+ for long stretches at … Continue reading Road Trip to Copiapo

We are here!

Which is where? Pisco Elqui, of the Valle del Elqui, about 6-7 hours north of Santiago, due east of La Serena, close to the Andean border with Argentina.  Beautiful, dry and warm climate.  A throwback to the 70s with Chilean hippies, lots of crochet, and a very non-commercial yet tourist friendly ambiance.  Tiny.  It is 1% the size of San Miguel de Allende in Mexico, with the same blend of colonial/rural/mestizo look and feel with a reverence for nature and new age spirituality. No gringo owned art galleries, no outrageously gorgeous jewelry stores, but a handful of tiny shops with … Continue reading We are here!

When “making the connection” is a bad idea

Cristina and I have been a fan of “making the connection” ever since I first learned of the concept whilst reading a Tom Cahill travel story about “spelunking”, the sport of cave exploration.  In caves, the challenge is to find a way out of the cave that is different than your way in, so that you have “making the connection” through the cave—usually this follows the current/past path of water through which formed the cave structure.  We learned to apply the spirit of “making the connection” to any kind to many sorts of adventurous—car trips, walking and hiking outings, multi-country … Continue reading When “making the connection” is a bad idea

New Chapters in countries that start with “CH” sound

So we are on to our next adventure, in our quest to live in all the countries in the world that start with the “CH” sound, we have packed our things up in China, passed through Seattle, and are on our way to Chile.  In a few years we plan to move to Chad, completing the trifecta. Specifics of what we are doing there, how, and where exactly in the country… i will save for when I’m actually there and can write from a sofa wih the laptop in front of me and a cold Pisco Sour in hand.  Suffice … Continue reading New Chapters in countries that start with “CH” sound

Back in Seattle

Well, after almost exactly 2 years of wonder and adventure, we are back in the USA and I (forest) am back in Seattle, full circle in many regards, but completely heading in a different direction with a different perspective in most.  The experience in China and Asia at large was absolutely fantastic and life changing for all of our family members, both my immediate family, and are many friends and relatives who took advantage of the opportunity and traveled to the region to visit us and share some travel.  For me, this last week has been physically painful, as I … Continue reading Back in Seattle

Winding Down in China

Our time here is winding down. We have moved out of our big American style house in the burbs. All of our stuff is being shipped to Seattle. Now we are staying in a super cool apartment/hotel downtown. When we moved to Beijing two years ago, we stayed here, so it feels like coming full circle.  My nephew Lucas is with us, and the boys have been enjoying camps, swimming and cartoons. I love waking up and seeing my favorite park in the city, Tuanjiehu, ringed with high-rise apartments and construction cranes fading into the distance. At night before bed, … Continue reading Winding Down in China