Monday, December 31, 2012

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Seeing Santiago with Sam's Parents


We’ve had a bit of a lull in activity on the blog, but it’s only because we have had such a flurry of activity in our travels (speaking of flurries, are any of you guys getting snow for a white Christmas? We are most definitely not!). I am currently writing this from a very small airport in Iguazu, Argentina, home to one of the most spectacular waterfalls in the world. We have TONS of pictures from that, and I will post about that soon. For now, let’s go back in time by 10 days to my parents’ arrival in Santiago.

On Monday 12/10, they arrived at the airport very late at night. Caroline and I went to meet them at the airport, and it was so wonderful to see some familiar faces! They are staying in another apartment in our same building that we were able to rent by the day, which has made things very convenient.


Their first day in Santiago, we went to visit Caroline’s workplace, the Museo Interactivo Mirador. I will post pictures from this later (my parents have them), but it was really fun! We saw tons of little school kids playing on the exhibits, and Caroline helped steer us towards the best ones. My favorite was the new Earthquake exhibit, called “The Earth…and it moves!” Caroline has written about this before – it has a cool model of the inside of the Earth that uses heat lamps so you feel how the core is very hot. There is a Tsunami wave generator. There was a cool animation of how the tectonic plates have shifted over geological history to shape the continents.

(Did you know that the Indian subcontinent broke off from the landmass of Antarctica and moved VERY quickly to ram into the south of Asia? We saw it fly across the ocean waaaay faster than anything else moved in the animation. I guess that explains why the Himilayas are such a huge and tall mountain range.)

That evening, we went out to the nightlife area to a restaurant called Like Water for Chocolate. It had been highly recommended to us by another American friend, and the place looked beautiful. In the end, it was fine but I don’t think we’d go back there.

After spending only 1 day with us, my parents went right back to the airport and flew to the north of Chile to visit the Atacama desert. Caroline and I went back to our normal routine for a few more days – she was working at the museum, and I finished up my last few tutoring sessions before my students went to summer break.


My parents arrived back to Santiago, and we had a very nice Friday night dinner and Hanukah on the roof of our building.




The next morning, my dad and I woke up early and went to synagogue at a place that I had been to before. We had a really nice time. The people were friendly and many spoke English. There was a lunch after services with some pretty good vegetarian food too!

From there, we met up with the ladies at an area in Las Condes called Pueblito Los Dominicos, an area of crafts shops. It was a perfect beautiful day, and we had an excellent time checking out all the little stores. I would definitely recommend it to anyone in Santiago, and I think we will go back there. It’s located near an old church that looked gorgeous in the nice summer weather.


Lunch was a bit of a hassle – first I suggested we go to a metro stop which turned out to have very few restaurant options, then we tried to go to a sushi place we knew but it was closed. We were pretty tired out by the end of the whole day, so that evening for dinner we went to a favorite restaurant called El Huerto. It’s a vegetarian place and has big portions. Check out my delicious mexican platter in this picture!


Coming up next with my parents: our visit to Valparaiso, more time in Santiago, then off to Iguazu to see the falls. More posts coming soon. We are so glad that my parents decided to make a trip down here, and can’t wait for the pals to come visit next week.

Anyone else have fun plans for the holidays? Any vacations to new places? Getting together with friends? We love hearing what’s going on with all of you! Send an email or leave a comment to keep in touch.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Sam's parents are here (this time with pictures)!

This is at Patio Bellavista, a collection of restaurants and shops surrounding an enclosed patio area which is really pretty.  That wall with the suns behind Sam and Louise is a mosaic!

This is the coolest way I've ever seen a ramp integrated with stairs.  It makes the stairs a little confusing to go down, but I think it's worth it!

Louise's food came on fire (no flash so you can see the fire, but that made the rest of the picture blurry):

Sam and I got a giant amount of vegetarian fajitas to share.  But it all came sort of smooshed together, and it was way more than we could eat.

Jerry's here too, I promise.  But I guess he didn't make it into this round of pictures.  Sorry Jerry!

It sounds like someone outside is training a whale to sing

By using a squeaky toy.  Very weird.  It's never quiet here in our new apartment!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

You can't take a picture of the ice cream in the airport in Peru

But we did anyway!  What rebels we are!  But that's why it's blurry:

We wanted a picture of it because it was formed into the shape of castles, sort of.  But it's really hard to tell in this picture, so you'll have to use your imagination.

Happy Birthday Rebecca!

Happy birthday to our pal Rebecca!  Her best birthday will probably be in 2 years, for 12/13/14, but this one I bet is going to be pretty great too!  Rebecca we hope you have a great day and we can't wait to see you so soon!  We're sorry we're missing your birthday party, it's probably super great :)

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Happy Birthday Mom!

Happy Birthday to my mom!  It's definitely the best birthday possible this year (12/12/12), and some might argue the best of the century!  Happy Birthday, Mom!  I hope you have a great day!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Sam's parents are here!

They arrived late last night and we met them at the airport.  Today they're coming to see the museum and then possibly go on a tour of the city.  I think tonight we might go out for dinner at a restaurant recommended to me by Sarah, which is Como Agua Para Chocolate (Like Water For Chocolate).  We scoped it out last week and it looks great, so we just have to hope the food is great too!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Human vs. HAL: Microphone stand

This post is part of a series “Human vs. HAL” highlighting a peculiar trend we’ve noticed in Chile. There are many jobs here that are done by people that would be done by machines in the US. We are trying to take photos and notice as many as possible to document here!

As Caroline has already documented, we stumbled upon a very cool event with the Korean Navy when we were in Vina del Mar, which even included two renditions of Gangnam Style (of course).

Well, beforehand we had just been talking about the way many jobs here are done by people instead of machines, and so Caroline pointed out a hilarious example of it during this event.

This woman is reading her speech, and that's right, instead of a microphone stand, there is a person standing and holding the microphone to her mouth. Yes, a human microphone stand. To his credit, the guy was a real pro.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Santiago - a city of spontaneous culture!

There was a guy re-directing traffic so this group of bikers could take over the road.

I spend a LOT of my time in Santiago on buses. Most weekdays, I have a tutoring job in the far-flung wealthy suburb of Lo Barnechea. It's beautiful, but it is not easy to get to if you don't have a car. So, I take the extremely crowded Metro, transfer from the green line to the red line, then transfer to a bus and ride that for 30-45 minutes. It can be a long commute, and while it's a chance to see the city, it's not my favorite.

Three mornings a week, I volunteer at La Bicicleta Verde, fixing bikes. I enjoy that job, and I really enjoy biking to and from it. Biking is such a fun way to experience Santiago, and as summer has arrived, I've realized that there are quite a few Santiaguinos who bike around the city as well.

One of the cool things about biking in a city is that you can change your route whenever you feel like it, you aren't stuck like on a bus. This is great because Santiago has a lot of free, outdoor cultural events going on all the time. Sometimes I find myself biking by artisan fairs, music concerts, drum circles or other fun things.

Just recently, I was biking home from Bici Verde and I encountered a huge group of cyclists taking up the road. I knew that Santiago has a critical mass event, but I also knew that had just happened a few days prior, so I figured this was something else. Since I had a little time, I joined the group and biked alongside. 

I did my best to pull up to someone friendly looking and ask what it was all about. They answered, but I didn't really understand the response. I asked a few more people, and eventually pieced together that this was part of an "urban intervention" and that we were going to the GAM, a cool cultural center/museum.

After following the group a bit more, we did end up at GAM. People parked their bikes and then started participating in some kind of outdoor urban art project. I didn't have a ton of time, so I looked around a little and then went home. I did see a few especially cool things, you can check them out below:

This says "Before I die..." and then there are a bunch of lines that say "I want to..." and people fill in the blanks with chalk. It was fun to read ones that I could understand, like "Antes de morir, quiero un taco"

This says "Sin Bip! Sin Tarjeta. Soy feliz en bicicleta". It's backwards because it's for screen printing on t-shirts
The screen printing thing was really cool. The idea is that you bring your own t-shirt and the guy would print it for you. I almost had him do my shirt right then and there, but it wasn't a good one to get printed. The text is awesome. It translates roughly to "Don't need a metro card, don't need a bus, I'm happy on my bike!" but it also rhymes :)

This was one part of the public art project. There were many more things being painted and built too.
 Have you ever stumbled upon something cool during your commute and decided to investigate?

Friday, December 7, 2012

How do you say "there's a giant tarantula" in spanish?

Caroline and I have been trying to stick to a running schedule, since we are training for the Tel Aviv Half Marathon in March. It will be my first half marathon, and obviously Caroline has run that distance plenty of times, both while training for the Boston Marathon and in a couple half-marathon events.

We have found a few good running routes around our apartment, mostly through the parks that form a chain through the city center. This is nice for our typical runs, around 3-4 miles. However, once a week we are supposed to do a longer run that slowly builds up in distance until we get to the 13.1 required for a half marathon.

For the longer runs, we try to run somewhere more interesting. A great run nearby is up Cerro San Cristóbal, a hill that is central in Santiago and overlooks the city. It is topped with a statue of the Virgin Mary, of course. It's part of a very large park; in fact I've been told that it is the largest urban park by area anywhere in the world! Quite a claim! (though not quite as grand as being the third largest city in California by land area)

It's a tough run uphill, but earns you a great view and some macho pride for doing something tough. Part way up, we saw a troupe of girl scouts coming down the road, and some of them seemed to be freaking out a bit. Well, as we got closer, we saw there was a real-life giant tarantula crossing the road. The thing was about the size of my palm. I'm sure many of you know how I feel about spiders, but it was a cool thing to see so long as I kept my distance :)

One of the girl scout troupe leaders was very brave, and tried to shoo the tarantula off the road so it wouldn't get run over. She sort of nudged the thing with her foot...I was impressed. We stopped long enough to take a picture, and then continued our run.

What's the weirdest thing you've ever encountered while running?

Cultural differences

Sometimes the cultural differences here are very stark.  I think I've mentioned before how much less diversity  there is here, including racial, religious, nationality, languages spoken, etc.  There are also way fewer people in Chile than in the US.

Anyway, today at lunch I found myself surrounded by (all female) coworkers talking about whether they liked (I think just the men of) a certain race.  I was extremely uncomfortable!  They asked me if I liked that race and if I had ever had a boyfriend of that race.  I was flabbergasted and tried to explain how that sort of conversation is not appropriate in the US, and how I think people should think of people as individuals who have their own personalities and you shouldn't say you like or dislike a certain race.  I definitely didn't explain myself as well as I would have liked to, partly because it was in Spanish and partly because I was just too flabbergasted.  I told them it was racist to say things like that, but I just don't know how much the idea of racism exists here, because of the relative lack of diversity.  It certainly isn't the same concept as it is in the US.

And then there was an anatomy discussion and I learned some new terms.  So there's that.

I'm sure I didn't handle this as well as I could have.  Any suggestions for if it comes up again?

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Museo de Bellas Artes (Museum of Fine Arts)

2 weekends ago we went to the Museo de Bellas Artes.  It's free entrance on Sundays, or contribute what you wish.  So for a handful of coins we saw this museum we've been meaning to see.  When we first walked in, there was this weird exhibit which apparently is made out of tea leaves:

I think I don't know how to appreciate art museums.  So I made Sam do this:

Here it is without Sam:

This is a view from the balcony area of the second floor in the main room of the museum:

That gray thing under the arch is made of styrofoam.  Here's another view of the balcony:

And another view, looking up:

Like I said, I am bad at appreciating art museums.  When I was doing this, two guys were coming by behind Sam taking this picture, and they were laughing at me, which is why I am making that face:

One of my favorite things in Chile is these trees, which are SO BEAUTIFUL.  The flowers on them are this weird mix between blue and purple, and they are gorgeous.  Look how pretty this one looks in front of the museum:

That's artsy of me, right?

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Lady Gaga Concert

We went to the Lady Gaga concert on November 20, and it was absolutely amazing.  We misunderstood the timing of the concert and so we arrived when she had already started, which was a huge bummer, but I think we only missed a couple of songs.  I'd wanted to go to a Lady Gaga concert for a while, but they are so expensive in the US and I could never justify it to myself to spend that much money on a concert.  But it was slightly cheaper here (about $75 per person instead of $100), and it somehow seems easier to justify expensive things when we're here because it's "part of our travel experience."  Don't get me wrong, we're still being just as frugal as we always are in day-to-day things, but we have had a few more expensive splurges than we normally would (e.g. Machu Picchu).

So the Lady Gaga concert.  It was worth every penny.  We paid for the cheapest seats, but since we got there late it took no effort to just walk right in to the middle open area, rather than going to the back where our seats actually were.  So we were closer than we expected, which was awesome!  If you know anything about her, you would know that Lady Gaga had to change her outfit multiple times during the concert, and she did not let us down.  You can sort of see her first costume in the screen in this picture:

The set for the concert was this awesome moving castle thing with all different styles of lighting and moving parts.  Unfortunately it's really hard to take good pictures at concerts, so they're pretty blurry.  But hopefully this gives you the idea:

For the song Electric Chapel, the castle was lit with multicolored lights:

Here's us with the Electric Chapel stage in the background.  You can tell by how weird my neck looks that it was a self-taken picture :)

For a couple of songs there was this weird glowing face that had some parts of it (mouth and eyes) moving and some parts fixed (the rest of the face).  I think it was not actually Lady Gaga behind the face.  It's the thing on the right of this picture that looks like it could be the moon:

No great pictures, but definitely a great concert.  I would definitely do it again!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Pictures from Thanksgiving

For Thanksgiving, we were invited to the apartment of another American who was having a potluck for a bunch of Americans (and some of their Chilean boyfriends).  Sam made chili and rice (haha chili in Chile!).  Other people made all sorts of things, because Thanksgiving is different in different parts of the US, I guess.  So we had the traditional pumpkin pie which I didn't eat, apple pie, turkey and stuffing (not for me), fruit salad, macaroni and cheese, regular salad with homemade salad dressing, homemade bread, and a bunch more stuff:

At one point something in the kitchen started leaking.  It might have been the sink, or it could have been the dishwasher (but I'm not sure because I don't know if they had a dishwasher).  So our host, Chris, had to spend some significant time mopping.  I offered to help and he said no, so I took a picture of him instead:

There were a lot of people packed into a pretty small space (but compared to our current apartment, this apartment was palatial!):

I wore my green dress (probably the only time ever I will get to wear my green dress for Thanksgiving):

And that was it!  Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Caroline's Machu Picchu Pictures

Sam already posted the story about our trip to Machu Picchu, so this will mostly just be my pictures.  I feel like such a traveler when I take pictures like this, which is probably why I take them:

A view of Cusco, Peru (elevation 3,400 m), from the plane:

The train we took leaving from Ollantaytambo to go to Aguas Calientes, the town at the base of Machu Picchu (it's still dark because this was about 5am):

A wonderful picture!  This might be the best one we have, and it really captures the magical feeling of being up there in the cloud forest.  That hat is the one I won at the Neuroscience Fair:

Once the sun had come out:

A cool flower, which I always like to take a picture of:

Alpacas contributing to the lawn maintenance:

We were really high up in the mountains when we were at the ruins:

Check out that stonework!  There is no mortar or anything, they just cut the rocks like that:

A cool little nook.  Note all the jackets that we decided we didn't want to wear after we started the hike (too late not to bring them with us) strapped to the back of the backpack:

This one is the opposite of the one Sam posted.  Can you see Sam 3 rooms away?  (P.S. Mine turned out better, I think.)

Another cool view.  Check out the clouds above:

You can see the Sun Gate here, which we think is where you come in from the Inca Trail, which we didn't do.  It's at the crook of the elbow made by where the two mountains meet. 

Here Sam is sitting in a window:

These were the coolest of the zillions of steps we had to take to get up to (and then down from) Machu Picchu:

At the entrance at the bottom, after quite a long day:

The bridge across the river back to Aguas Calientes:

The river was really cool:

This picture kind of blows my mind.  That's the moon up in the middle of the sky:

A view of Aguas Calientes as we hiked back in:

A cool flower:

Another cool flower:

These rocks in the river look like they are made of clay that someone pushed their thumb into a bunch of times.  Not the one in the foreground in this picture, but the ones behind:

Last one.  Look at that weird ball in the top of this tree: