Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Room for one more.

“I’m hungry,” says she.
“You’re always hungry,” says he.
“I’m tired too,” says she.
“You’re always tired too,” says he.
“I feel a little bit nauseous,” says she.
“You’re always…”

We’d like to announce that there’s going to be a new addition to the Harper family.   This in turn leads to the odd-hour crusades for necessary foods to stifle cravings.

“I want a bacon and avocado sandwich,” says she.
He sighs a sigh of relief – they have those ingredients.
“It’d be really nice on that groovy bread from the other panadería,” says she.

For the viewers at home watching on Black and White sets, we have named all the bread we buy, groovy bread, dimbo, triangle thingys, the double ones, that one we bought the day we went to the park, etc.

Groovy bread comes from a panadería in el Plan.  “The bread from that panadería in the pan?” asks he.
She nods.
“How long will it take you to cook the bacon?”  asks he.
“Seven minutes,” says she.
“Time me,” says he.

Six minutes and thirteen seconds later he returns with a token of his undying love, groovy bread from the panadería in el Plan and enough lactic acid to drop a cow.

Monday, 29 August 2011


For the most part, Valparaíso is covered with art but there is an increasing amount of graffiti showing up.  The local government has been installing rubbish bins all over the city and they usually end of with someone’s tag on them within a few days.  Last weekend they installed three new bins around the ascensor.

One week later they had been vandalised.  This isn’t an expression of art and when you see how much amazing art there is in this city it’s a shame to see graffiti like this.  Thankfully the proper art works seem to be respected and are rarely tagged.

Sunday, 28 August 2011

We're going on a bear hunt.

Rain clouds threatened but we’d already made plans to explore out to Parque La Campana.  The first leg of our journey was on the Metro.  These clean, modern electric trains run every fifteen minutes between Valpo and Limache and it only costs CLP$650 to go from one end of the line to the other.  It’s a relaxing way to see the outskirts of Valpo and some of the more rural areas.

From Limache there are Micros (local buses) that run out to the National Park, almost.  In all it only took about 90 minutes to travel out to the park.  We had to walk the last kilometre to the park entrance but we’d gone there to walk so it was no big deal.  Plus we got to meet some dogs that were acting tough behind their side of the fence.

Charles Darwin visited the park but we missed him by some 180 years and had to be content with plaques recounting his musings on the countryside.  It’s a beautiful area with an abundance of hiking trails and streams that flow with clean water.  We only saw two other families there.  It seems that Chileans haven’t quite got into the groove of visiting their national parks yet.  There are two main mountains there that you can walk up but they take about seven hours return trip and we just weren’t ready to piggy-back the girls that far.  We did find some old mining caves but without torches we couldn’t explore them properly.

This is the sort of place that hikers look for, low crowds, good facilities and a variety of flora and fauna.

Friday, 26 August 2011

Onwards, to infamy and beyond.

We try to talk about a variety of topics but the student protests keep popping up and can’t be avoided.  Wednesday and Thursday past saw the biggest gathering so far.  Sadly the riots have claimed their first fatality.  There's more information here

The building I work in closed early, which means I lost a day’s work.  Is this the irony of wanting free education?  Due to the students I’ve lost a day’s wage – being an ESL teacher in Chile at the moment does not lead to Easy Street – but we still have to pay all our living expenses, the girl’s education being one of them.

It was anticipated that there would be problems with families joining the march, safety and transport so many schools were closed, ours included, for Wednesday and Thursday.  Lena and I were there with cameras at the ready and one old man turned sideways and crab walked past us so we could read his sandwich board and snap a picture of him.  This was his chance at 15 minutes at fame.  To be honest he wasn't worth photographing so I ignored him and he resented it.  Even if you don't know the words being spoken to you, you can still get the meaning.
There is a rumour circulating that if you suck on a lemon it softens the effects of tear gas.  There was one man selling lemons for 100 pesos each.  You can normally buy them in the markets for 200 pesos a kilo.

We skipped over to Boris’ house on the other side of town and made empanadas and crab pie while Truce took photos.

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Back to night school.

The clocks have been changed again for summer time.  This means that we're up before the sun and after we drop the girls off we can turn around and watch the sunrise.

Sunday, 21 August 2011

A franchised Sunday.

You may remember a few months back our noisy neighbours having a party that lasted from 7pm to 7am.  Last night they started up their music at 10 and we knew we were in trouble when we looked out the window and saw a DJ set up complete with dance lights.

House for sale

Our apartment overlooks their yard and we shouted out the window around 11:00 with no reaction and at 2:30am we were ready to dial for the police when we saw a few officers coming up the stairs.  The music died down long enough for us to fall asleep but at some point the music went back up to where we could feel it in our chests.  Our bed is against the window and Talluah, who has since admitted she gets grumpy without enough sleep, opened the window and gave them a double barrel Spanish lesson.  I held onto Talluah’s legs to make sure she didn’t fall out the window.  In her rage she had broken the rule of don’t lean on anything which has now be converted to don’t lean out anything.  Our neighbours didn’t respond quickly enough so Talluah threw a jug of water into their yard and asked, “¿Quieres más?” I think the DJ feared for his equipment and the music was eventually turned down.  By now it was 4:30am and they were ready to wind down anyway. 

This morning was filled with plans of revenge but we decided to use our powers for good instead of evil.  We headed north of Viña to Reñaca.  It’s a highrise dotted tourist town with franchises that, thankfully, aren’t in Valpo.  We opted out for lunch from McDonalds just to see if it tastes the same no matter where you travel to in the world.  It does.

It’s possible that we sat in the sun for too long and had developed sunstroke but we all saw the same thing, a giant donut walking along the beach. The giant donut was handing out flyers for Dunkin’ Donuts.  In our sun-dazed state we succumbed to the 24 for the price of 16 deal. Saying you’re going to buy 24 donuts and doing it are two different things.  That’s 4.8 donuts per person.  Luckily we have the hills of Valpo to counteract the effects of 4.8 donuts.

The stretch between Reñaca and Viña is peppered with high priced attractions for kids such as trampolines, jumping castles, bike hire and fairy floss.  There is plenty for nothing too.  There are several playgrounds, buskers, sand sculptures and just playing on the beach.  I imagine that this is a very popular place to go in the warmer months.

Saturday, 20 August 2011

When do we get off the bus?

Laguna Verde is a little town with dirt roads and kilometres of open beach. It’s about 35 minutes south of Valparaíso and the bus runs about every hour out there.  We went out today for the first time and managed to go through the town, miss Laguna Verde altogether and had to get off the bus on another dirt road in the middle of a forest.  Where we waited almost an hour for the return bus to Laguna Verde.

Before we headed to the beach to play we decided to have some seafood for lunch at the local restaurant.  When I say restaurant I do mean the only one in town.  Our hopes of a delicious lunch we’re slightly dashed when we opened our menu’s to find more mould then print.  Although we we’re discouraged, we are humble people and realised that the carrots sticks and the packet of biscuits we brought with us would not last 5 people all day.  So, we sucked it up and ordered just one plate of fish and enough chips to keep us from starving.  Have you ever heard the saying “Don’t judge a book by it’s cover.”?  The fish was amazing and the five of us fought over ever last speck.  We all agree we will be going back to, Galeón, in Laguna Verde just for the fish. 

After lunch we went over to the beach and watched a few brave souls venture into the water.  We decided that we’d be happy to just play on the beach. We’re still not accustomed to needing jeans at the beach.

Friday, 19 August 2011

Little chameleons.

The student marches continue on a weekly basis and now some primary and secondary schools have stopped classes to show their support for the university students. 
Our school has decided to remain open.  There is some concern that there may be some backlash from other members of the community that we aren’t showing our support for the Educacion Gratis fight.  Our personal opinion is that children have no place or reason to be in any protests, marches or demonstrations regardless of how peaceful they are.  
As a precaution against any possible criticism from outsiders the school has given permission for students to wear casual clothes instead of their uniforms until further notice.

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Dead poets society.

Today Lena and I ventured up Cerros Bellavista and Florida.  Our first stop was Pablo Neruda’s home.  I have to admit the dead poet's house was probably never going to make my bucket list but since we live so close and had sent many of our previous visitors there, I thought we should go.  I warned Lena not to hold her breath for anything amazing, thankfully I was wrong. 

The audio tour was offered to us in English and was fascinating and comprehensive.  The house is filled with the personal touches of the poet and his wife and almost everything in the house has a story or a purpose.  On the first floor, Neruda is said to have positioned two paintings opposite each other, one of a man and the other a woman so they wouldn’t be lonely.  Both Lena and I enjoyed Neruda’s house and even more so the walk down the very steep hill.  The streets are filled with art and interesting houses.

By the time we reached the plan we were hungry from all our roaming and photography.  Lena decided she would try a Chilean Completo (hot dog). The Chilean’s have their own take on the hotdog.  You may remember Ricky and Indy’s first inauspicious Completo in Santiago in our first week.  We have since found reputable vendors and so Lena and I headed over to one.  The completo has avocado, tomato, mayo and a strange cabbage salad mix.  The overwhelmed sausage didn’t stand a chance.   Half way through Lena called it quits and I gave it my best.  As we approached CD (crazy dog, who seems to enjoy terrorising Lena) I thought I’d make him an offering of friendship with some of the remaining hotdog.  Unfortunately he didn’t like the cabbage mix either.