Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Where in the world are Sam and Caroline?!

I cannot believe it myself, but the first leg of our year of international travel is nearing its end. We have had a wonderful time here, and we will be leaving Santiago this Saturday night. Wow, weird.

From the plane, I'll write a post summing up my thoughts and highlights from this first part of the experience. For now, I just wanted to post about the next stages of our travels, for anyone who was curious - or anyone who wants to meet up with us somewhere! (Just ask our friends and family who have already visited us in South America - it was a blast)

Here's the plan for the remainder of the journey. For those who don't care about the details, I'll give you the short version first:

Short version: We leave Santiago and fly to India, travel there for 2 weeks, then arrive in Haifa, Israel on Feb. 19 where we will stay until July 21. At that point, we'll do a little more traveling and then come back to Boston by about August 4.

Detailed version:

  • Feb. 2: Fly from Santiago to Tel Aviv, via Toronto. Yes, we know, we know, Toronto is not on the way. But we booked Air Canada because it was cheap and now we have to deal with it. It's a 10.5 hour flight, a 10 hour layover and then an 11hr flight. Yay.
  • Feb. 4: Arrive in Tel Aviv. We'll be staying in Tel Aviv for one night with a friend of my parents. We'll also leave some of our luggage there, before heading back to the airport the next day for...
  • Feb. 5: Fly from Tel Aviv to Delhi, India. It's through Vienna, Austria, but we won't have enough time to see anything there.
  • Feb. 6 - 14: Travel around Delhi and surroundings. We'll spend a few days in the city, then do an organized tour of the so-called "Golden Triangle" which also includes the cities of Agra (with the Taj Mahal) and Jaipur.
  • Feb. 14 - 19: Travel around the south of India. We got a lot of recommendations to spend some time in the South since we'll experience the North in Delhi. The South has different food, a more hindu culture (rather than muslim), and MUCH hotter weather.
  • Feb. 19 - July 21: Live and work in Haifa, Israel. Obviously there's a lot to say here, but we'll wait until we're actually in Haifa and experiencing it to tell you all about it.
  • July 21 - Aug. 4: Travel through Europe back to Boston. We will be traveling briefly through Turkey, Morocco (I know that's not Europe!) and London before coming back to Boston. We'll hopefully visit one of Caroline's childhood friends who will meet us in Morocco, and a few MIT friends who live in the UK.
So that's the plan! We might be halfway done with the time, but I'm sure we still have way more than half the excitement left to come.

Oh, and if you're wondering about plans when we get back to the US...we'll spend August visiting our families in Philly and Minneapolis, then we plan to find an apartment in Cambridge and start working at the start of September. I have accepted a job offer from an educational consulting firm called the District Management Council, and Caroline will hopefully be working again at the Museum of Science Boston.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Made it back safely from Curico

We had such a great time in Curico this weekend!  We stayed with an amazing couple from Couchsurfing, and they were so nice and welcoming.  I will write a whole long post about all the awesome stuff we did, but for now I just wanted to say that we made it back safely to Santiago and we're very busy catching up on all the things we didn't do this weekend (laundry) and getting ready to switch countries in a week.

How was your weekend?

Friday, January 25, 2013

We're going to Curico this weekend

We had meant to do a last trip somewhere in Chile before leaving, but we couldn't really make up our minds about what to do after we decided not to go to San Pedro de Atacama because we think it would be too expensive.  And time kept passing and we didn't plan anything.  So then we thought, let's just take the bus somewhere closer and see another part of Chile without being so fancy about it.  So then we put out a couple of requests on Couchsurfing for Curico, because it's somewhere new that seems cool and isn't too far away or expensive to get to.  But that was only 2 days ago, and we hadn't heard back by this morning.  So we decided to cancel the trip.  And then right before lunch, a lovely couple (hopefully!) responded and said they could host us tonight and tomorrow night.  So now we're going!  They seem really interesting.  I think they own a vineyard and have horses!  Don't worry too much, parents.  Not that that will stop you :)  But they have positive reviews on Couchsurfing.  I am excited!

We might also go to Parque Nacional de Siete Tazas, depending on how things turn out when we get there.

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Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Happy Birthday Dad!

Today is my dad's birthday!  Happy Birthday, Dad!  This is not as cool as my mom's birthday (12/12/12), but I hope 01/22/13 is a great day anyway :)  I love you!

Monday, January 21, 2013

The butterflies were almost as cool as the falls. Well, not really, but still awesome.

This post is going back in time to December 2012, when my parents were visiting us. We did some traveling around the Santiago area, then flew to Argentina where we had a terrible cab ride. Fortunately it was all worth it for the amazing experience at Iguazu...

This was right before we got totally soaked!
From Iguazu Falls

My dad loves waterfalls. It's always a highlight of a family trip if we can find a waterfall. My dad once said about waterfalls: "I just wish I could experience them with more senses."

Fortunately, Iguazu is exactly the place to go if you are a waterfall lover. It's a spectacular, gigantic series of waterfalls set in a tropical paradise. And for a true aficionado like my dad, this is the place to experience a waterfall with all five senses - we obviously saw it and heard it, but we also tasted and smelled the mist in the air, and even went under the falls to feel it. It was great.

Besides the falls themselves, we also saw a lot of beautiful fauna, including some stunning butterflies. Check out the album below, with captions, to see more about our visit.

Trippy red giraffes and even trippier colored wheels

Turns out the giraffes were only one part of the spectacle!
OK, the posts have been REALLY out of order lately. We know. This is another post about Santiago a Mil, the theater and culture festival in January. You can read the first post here

Las Jirafas

We went to this without knowing exactly what to expect. I had seen a photo like the one at the top of this post, so I figured we might see some big red giraffe puppets and that would be it. Little did we know...

When we arrived at the amphitheater, it was clearly set up for a show and there were lots of parents with little kids around. But the 7:30 start time came and went, with no sign of a show. By 8pm we were worrying we had come to the wrong place. But then we heard a little commotion a ways up the main boulevard, so we went to check it out.

We found the giraffes, and much more besides. It's difficult to describe the scene, but imagine Cirque de Soleil, crossed with an opera, with everyone dressed in fancy hotel bellhop uniforms, and the three main singers standing on 15 foot tall rolling podiums that move down the street. Got it? The show had been slowly advancing down the boulevard since 7:30, and had now come to rest in an intersection for a little opera singing and drama.

It's hard to see, but the woman in the white fur coat standing behind the middle giraffe is the opera singer.

The plot was pretty simple to follow. The guy wanted to be with one woman, then after he got her, he strayed and messed around with the other woman. The whole thing was a bit raunchy - you could tell he was interested in a woman because he would take a break from singing to bury his face in her breasts or dive down below her skirt. The crowd loved those parts, even though I wouldn't have called it family friendly.

After a few minutes at the intersection, the plot thickened and one person started chasing after another, by which I mean that the bellhops started moving one rolling stage platform to chase after the other rolling stage platform. This meant that the whole crowd (by now in the hundreds or maybe more than 1000) had to keep up alongside the moving performance, so this giant mob of people followed the opera and the giraffes down the street.

They did a few more stops at intersections for a song or an important plot point, and by the time they arrived at the amphitheater it was getting dark out. This just made it even more beautiful and spectacular, as the show included pyrotechnics, flares and beautiful lighting on the red giraffes.

I'm not sure if this description has helped you visualize the performance, or just left you confused, but it was really magical. It just felt like all of a sudden our entire city had become focused on this drama unfolding in spectacular fashion, traveling through our normal environment which at that moment was anything but normal.

Las Ruedas Colores

Whereas the giraffe experience had been unique and indescribably new, we found ourselves making a lot of comparisons while watching the colored wheels event. 

It's like the Cambridge public dance party. It's like the Lady Gaga concert. It's like Blue Man Group. It's like an East Campus Party. It's like the Pride Parade.

While we could make many comparisons, this was still something new and wonderful, and I'm so glad we went.

It was listed to start at 9:30, and we arrived closer to 10pm - only to find that this was also a moving performance and that it had gone a few blocks before we arrived. We quickly biked to catch up, locked our bikes to the fence and enjoyed an amazing view of these giant wheels:
The performers were wearing nothing but a loin cloth, body paint and glitter. And yes, that means the women were topless.

There were about 10 wheels of different sizes, parading down the main street in all of Santiago, called the Alameda. The street was blocked off, the sides were mobbed with people, and these beautiful colored wheels were dancing in the middle. The smallest was about as tall as a person, and the largest about 3 stories tall.

They were operators by a group of performers, all of whom were covered in gray body paint and glitter, so that they almost looked like human statues. The wheels were accompanied by two carts, in the front and rear of the parade, that were blasting dance music. When we got there, the first song was Satisfaction by Benny Benassi, a favorite of mine.
Here are the colored wheels in front of La Moneda, the presidential palace that is basically their White House.

The whole scene was so much fun. Performers dancing in the streets, thousands of people dancing along the sides, and because the whole show was on the move, we kept running ahead to get good spots to watch them come by.

After about 30 minutes, we were about to go home, thinking it was going to be more of the same, when we saw there was also a big stage just ahead with even more wheels. As the show 

Friday, January 18, 2013

We walked from the seaport to the airport in Buenos Aires

When we got back to Buenos Aires after Uruguay, we arrived at the port and decided to walk to the airport since we had 4 hours and it was only about 4.5 miles (I just looked that up.  I thought it was only 3 miles in my memory when we decided to do it).  But we didn't have much stuff, just one backpack each and one rolly bag between us.  And we saw some stuff along the way, so it was worth it:

This tower was a gift from the British:

This bike rider is walking his bike.  This is a sign we hadn't seen before:

The camouflage trees as mentioned in the previous post:

We saw this dog walker walking so many dogs!

So Many Dogs!

Wow, look at all those dogs!

Obviously we got to the airport safe and sound and in plenty of time.  And then everything was fine with our flight and we got back to Santiago, which is where we are now.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Christmas in Uruguay

Since it was way too expensive to come home for Christmas, we decided to do something special to feel less sad about being alone.  We were starting from Buenos Aires, so it was an easy boat trip to get to Uruguay!  Here is Sam on the boat:

The view of Uruguay out the dirty window of the boat:

We didn't have a Christmas tree, obviously, so we made do with a revival of the Atheist plant that was in our room in the hostel.  Those are our presents underneath it.  And yes, some of them are fruit that we smuggled into Uruguay, and others are wrapped in hostel towels.  It was not our most festive Christmas.  Oh, and it was about 100 degrees the day we got there.  So it was definitely our most exotic Christmas:

The streets of Colonia del Sacramento, the city we were staying in:

The trees looked like they were wearing camouflage outfits.  And here is a cool picture I took of a palm tree:

We found this old car that was parked outside a restaurant.  It is very cute with the plants in the trunk:

But wait, look inside!  It's a table for the restaurant!  Awesome, huh?  But we didn't eat there.

A view of the boat we took heading back to Argentina at sunset:

The smaller area of beach in the town:

Another view of the smaller beach.  This beach had so much sea glass!  Although technically it's a river, I guess.  But anyway, I filled up a whole ziploc bag with sea glass!  I can't wait to make something out of sea glass when I get back.  I will add this to my sea glass from Maine and from Denmark.

Gorgeous sunset:

It was much cooler the second day, probably down in the 70s.  Here is the restaurant where we had Christmas dinner:

There was a cute little cactus at our table:

Aren't those clouds so pretty?

A sample of my sea glass.  See those blue ones?  Excellent!

Here we are after dinner:

We went to another place to have dessert.  I look that happy because of what was in front of me...

Which was this brownie ice cream fudge explosion:

Mmmm!  Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Tango show in Buenos Aires

We went to a tango show in Buenos Aires with Sam's parents.  It was amazing!  Beforehand, we went to dinner and walked along this walkway trying much harder than we would have expected to find the restaurant.  The bridge in the background here is supposed to look like a tango dancer's leg:

This was the theater where we went to see the show, called Los Angelitos (the little angels).  I took this picture on the phone using HDR mode, which I then experimented with for the rest of the night.  HDR mode gets different light exposures to try to make your pictures look better if there is a big difference in the amount of light in different parts of the shot.  So here's the theater.  Note how well you can see the ceiling:

Jerry and Louise waiting for the show to start (probably should have used a different mode on the camera for this one):

And now for some tango pictures!  The idea with the show was to showcase the evolution of tango, so there were many different styles and costumes.  Here's the first one they showed:

Another one:

I think this one was supposed to show the African influence on tango:

Not a good picture, but this one was really cool.  Also here you can see the band in their little cave above the stage.  The band was also amazing:

Blurry, but a classic tango pose:

Getting more modern here:

This one was sort of weird, the woman started out in the cave with the band and then got down with the help of the man.  But why was she up there in the first place?  Is this part of the history of tango?

It was a tough competition for weirdest part of the show, but this probably wins.  Her dress is attached to the stage!  Eventually, it detached by a belt around her waist, but I didn't see that coming:

The tango show was amazing, and I couldn't find all the pictures I thought I took.  But this is probably enough for everyone else anyway.  And even better, the next night we went to a tango lesson and got to try dancing ourselves!  (Spoiler: we weren't very good.)  We are very much looking forward to our next tango lesson, which is yet to be scheduled.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

A run where nothing was stolen in Buenos Aires

When we first got to Buenos Aires, Sam and I went on a run starting from our hotel.  We saw some cool stuff by running around the area.  Here's Sam in front of a canal we crossed:

Here's some sort of creature we encountered.  We had seen some other ones of these in IguazĂș two days before.  I think they're actually pretty common and my taking a picture of this would be like someone taking a picture of a squirrel in the US (aka pretty strange).  But here it is:

And the best part is when we didn't get the phone stolen.  We stopped to take a picture (Sam was going to take it of me) and then this guy running by us in the other direction offered (in English) to take it of both of us.  That is one major difference, by the way, between Santiago and Buenos Aires - WAY more people speak English in BA, and much more fluently.  Anyway, so we gave him the phone and then of course he pretended to run away and steal it, but stopped quickly so it was obvious he was joking.  Except that my adrenaline had already started in that fraction of a second and I was about to start running after him (good decision??), so maybe you can tell I'm feeling weird in the picture.  But I guess he was just being friendly?

And then we kept running and encountered a scene from a movie or something being filmed.  What you can't see in this picture is the giant truck and the rest of the equipment around the area.  The actors are the two people on the bench in the middle.  We never found out what they were filming:

Another pretty view of the scenery on the run:

We took this picture for Ben (I don't know if he even reads this blog) because he works in bike sharing and we like bike sharing:

So that was our run.  Pretty eventful, huh?  I am glad we took the camera/phone.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Cajon del Maipo

The Cajon del Maipo, or Maipo Canyon, is just outside of Santiago and easily reachable by a combination of public transit and taxi, or public transit only if you're so inclined.  It's a gorgeous place to spend a day or a weekend, with tons of hiking and nature.  One of my coworkers goes there almost every weekend with her family.  We went with Jerry and Louise and did a hike that was quite challenging (for us), but at least we didn't get lost too much.  

First you have to break in to the park using Jerry's lockpicking skills (just kidding):

Then you have to cross this scary-looking bridge, on which Sam thought it was funny to be as shaky as possible.  Stop shaking, Sam!

Gorgeous scenery:

We had lunch right here at the base of this waterfall:

I know Sam already posted some of these pictures, but I forgot to coordinate with him when I started writing this post.  Sorry you have to look at some of them again!

This is one of the points that I worried about when I thought maybe we were lost:

I like this rock because I think it looks like a sideways koala face, or maybe an owl:

Here, Jerry is making a face to show how hard this hike was:

I like this picture I took of a butterfly, I think it is very artsy:

Awesome view of the waterfall:

We made it!

At the entrance there were these huts that looked like they belonged in a movie, like they were made out of toadstools or something: