Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Awesome day at work today

We are working on installing a traveling exhibit called Beyond Planet Earth, which comes from the American Museum of Natural History.  It is so much fun!  Although to be honest, I've never had a job where I was on my feet so much during the day!  All I want to do is sit when I get home afterwards.  I probably shouldn't have been messing with the stuff for the exhibit, but I find it hard to imagine that other people don't also do this.  So here's me in the astronaut helmet:

I was reminded by the guy in charge of installing it that I should make a better pose, so I did one where I was looking off into the stars (above) and one where I was an adventure astronaut (below):

I also got to drive the Genie!  Which is the thing that I'm on in this picture:

Again, I probably shouldn't have been allowed to do this, but it was really fun and I felt so cool.  I got to do all the directions (including up!), and operate a drill and wear a hard hat while I was on there.  Also, this next picture is just a joke:

Don't worry!  I did not actually get a hole drilled into my shoulder.

I sure am learning a lot of new things here!  It's so fun!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

First week in Haifa

Here are some pictures from the first week in Haifa.  We went on a couple of walks over the weekend (which is Friday and Saturday here, rather than Saturday and Sunday) to explore the city.  It's very hilly, like Sam said!  At the top of one of the hills, we found this cool bench in a park with a roof:

We also went on a run.  This is a pretty weird-shaped building that we passed, and which we can see from our porch balcony in our apartment:

We also ran past a mosque, which is pretty but nothing compared to the ones we saw in India:

Sam says that Haifa and Boston are sister cities, which I think is a kind of silly thing, but I guess some city in South Korea is also sister cities with Valparaiso, Chile, so I guess I had heard of that before.  Anyway, here we found this sign:

We also finished our run by the beach, which was sort of a pain to get to but will be very nice when the weather gets warmer and the days get longer:

The water is very blue, but still quite cold.  Then on the way back, which was almost exclusively uphill and often steep, we found this punch balloon in the road.  I know it's gross, but we picked it up and kept it all the way back to our apartment, which was a nice distraction from how long the walk was and how uphill:

We also walked past the Baha'i Gardens, which we're going to see more thoroughly at some point soon:

And finally, here are the 100+ steps that we have to go up every time we want to go somewhere from our apartment.  It's really hard to see, but that dot at the top left side of the stairs is Sam.  It's a lot of stairs!  And that's not even counting the 50 we have to do to get to our apartment once we get to our building:

Yesterday I went to take care of some stuff at the Technion campus, and then Sam and I went to look at the pool, which is under some maintenance for another week or so.  And look, the pool is named for me!  No, of course I'm not covering anything up, why do you ask?

Friday, February 22, 2013

Happy Birthday Alan!

Happy birthday to our friend Alan!  We hope you have a great birthday!  Just like for Keith's birthday, I can't think of anything cool for 2/22/13, but clearly you've got a good one coming up in 2022. 

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The south of India - more like a tropical paradise, fewer Mughal forts

Kerala's slogan is "God's own country." It certainly felt like a tropical paradise to us!
Our first week in India was absolute craziness. Delhi had many great parts, but it is also an enormous, overflowing city with poverty and dirtiness like we had never experienced before. Our trip to the Taj Mahal was wonderful, and we really enjoyed seeing Jaipur, but it was a lot of time in traffic on crazy roads...still kind of tiring.

We were hoping that the south would be a change of pace, and fortunately it was. We had decided to visit the state of Kerala, because a number of our friends had recommended it, and our friend Jayson actually grew up there. We flew into a city called Kochi, and we could immediately tell things were different. The weather was 20 degrees warmer, there were palm trees everywhere, and for the first time since we arrived in India, we weren't besieged by touts.
Jayson's dad, at the business school where he happens to be dean
Our first stop was at the SCMS business school, because Jayson's dad is the dean there. It was fun to meet him, though he was very busy so we didn't get to talk long enough to make jokes about Jayson together :)

From there we went to our hostel in Kochi. Compared to our stays in Delhi, this place was such a welcome change. The guy running it was named Anoob, and he was so friendly and easy going, and he just liked to laugh all the time. It was a fun place. The old part of Kochi is a fairly small town, so we hit most of the recommended highlights in just a couple days.
We visited the oldest synagogue in India. No photos allowed inside, so you'll have to be satisfied with the gate

Inside a basilica

The chinese fishing nets are a famous landmark in Kerala. They were a gift from the chinese from hundreds of years ago, and they are still in operation today (thanks to hardworking tourists like us!).

We took a dip in the Indian ocean

We tried all sorts of interesting south Indian food. Turns out there is way more than just dosas and biryani.
After Kochi, we went to the town of Alleppey, where the famous activity is to ride on the backwaters in a houseboat. The backwaters are like a network of channels, partially freshwater, partially saltwater, slightly inland from the ocean. Our overnight cruise was beautiful, and it was a fun experience to be pampered a bit with a whole boat to ourselves and a dedicated onboard cook to make our meals!
The backwaters are very lush and green.

The boat was much bigger than we expected. Here we are on the upper deck.

More south Indian food. The soup is called sambar, and it is a very peppery vegetable soup (that you can even have for breakfast, I believe!)

You can get a sense of how relaxing the backwaters are, and you can also see what a houseboat looks like.
Our last stop in India was another town called Munnar, a few hours inland and up in the mountains. It is famous for its tea plantations - India is a huge producer of tea. This might not sound so exciting, but the mountains covered in tea are a sight unlike anything we'd ever seen before. We enjoyed a couple small hikes, and just took in the views.
Rows and rows of tea bushes. 

Near the bottom middle, you can see two women picking the tea. It kind of gives you a sense of scale, but then imagine entire mountains covered like this.

Here you can see how the fields span across entire mountains.

This is how I would look drinking clear tea from a clear glass.
We are so glad that we did the trip to India, but I think we are also glad that we did only 2 weeks for our first trip. The whole experience was definitely filled with new challenges, so I think we'll be much more prepared for the next time. We'd love to go back, since there are so many things to see in India and a 2 week trip is only enough for some highlights.

For those who have been to India, did you also find the first visit to be pretty tough? What food did you like the best? We had so many delicious things...

Haifa is great, but sure has a lot of stairs!

India was so exciting, but also exhausting. We are soooooo glad to be done traveling for a while, especially after our last 24 hours that included 3 flights, more than 14 hours on planes, and barely any sleep overnight.

We finally made it to Haifa last evening, where we were picked up by our wonderful host, Sara. She has been so welcoming, friendly and easy going. We are renting a room in her apartment, but she actually lives in a separate unit upstairs so we still have privacy and a huge apartment to ourselves! There might be other renters in the future, but there is plenty of space so that will be no problem. Sara seems like a great host - she is artistic, energetic and has done loads of travel herself.

We will put up pictures from Haifa soon, but just a few quick highlights for now:

  • The view from the apartment is UNBELIEVABLE!! Haifa is a very hilly coastal city, and we are near the top of the main hill with a patio that looks out over the whole city and the Mediterranean Sea. It is so beautiful. I can even see the view from the kitchen!
  • We live less than a 10 minute walk from Caroline's museum, and just a little farther to the very happening area with shops, cafes, restaurants and bars. The whole place feels much more like a small town after Santiago, just like a nice cozy welcoming feel.
  • The language situation seems pretty good so far. Our host Sara speaks great English, and when we stopped at a bakery, the guy spoke good English too. Also, we didn't go into Caroline's museum yet, but when we walked by we noticed that all the signs are in both Hebrew and English (and often Arabic too).
  • One catch - it is REALLY hilly! We walked down the hill to the grocery store this morning, and the walk back up was SO steep. We didn't count, but I think we have nearly 100 stairs from the bottom of our street to get up to the apartment. I guess that's the price you pay for a good hillside view :)
That's all for now. I need to spend some more time sitting on this balcony and enjoying the view!

Happy Birthday Keith!

It's our friend Keith's birthday today, so happy birthday Keith!  We hope you have a great day!  Unfortunately, the date 2/20/13 doesn't inspire me to say anything particularly cool, so sorry about that.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Things are going great in Kochi

Just a quick update for today, since we are excited to get out and see things. We are currently in Kochi, a major commercial center in the southwestern part of India.  We're staying in the old part of the city, called Fort Kochi, or Fort Cochin if you use the old British name.

And wow, if this isn't a huge major change of pace from Delhi.  It's like a breath of fresh air, in both the literal sense that the air is much cleaner and in the sense of relief from the stress of being in Delhi.  It's beautiful and much smaller so we can walk everywhere and the people are nice and friendly without wanting anything from you, which is a huge change from Delhi.

Tonight we're going to a Kathakali show, which is a pretty touristy thing to do, but hopefully it will be really cool also.

Here's a picture of the Chinese fishing nets I took last night just after sunset:

Isn't this awesome?

Thursday, February 14, 2013

More from Delhi: A fort, a mosque, Hare Krishna and more

This was written a few days ago, on Feb. 8. Because of spotty internet access, I just got around to posting it now.

We had intended to wake up early today to make more of our daylight
hours, but jetlag got the better of us and we slept until almost noon
again. However, just because we slept in doesn't mean we had a quiet

On our way to the metro, we sought out a dhaba that we had heard
served a really excellent chole bhatura, a spicy chickpea dish served
with fried bread. We had tried to find it yesterday without success,
but today we asked a few people and found it.

The place had a line, which seemed like a good sign. It was a bit
more...informal than the previous places we've eaten, but it seemed
clean and like a real establishment, so we went for it. It was really
good, but left us a little nervous if we'd be sick (spoiler: so far,

From there, we took the metro to the Red Fort, one of the most iconic
sites in Delhi. It was built by the same emperor who built the Taj
Mahal (I think). It was very cool and majestic, but it has not been
kept up well so it could really use a good restoration. Caroline will
post pics, I'm sure.

After the Red Fort, we went to a nearby mosque that is the largest in
Delhi, and was built around the same time as the Red Fort (1600s). You
can really see the resemblance.

When we first arrived, the prayer service was happening so we could
not go in. We waited a bit, and then when we tried to enter, a guy
stopped us and said we needed to buy tickets. We had read that entry
was free, and this sort of seemed like a scam, especially since Indian
people were just waking right by (including ones who looked like
tourists, not just Muslims going to pray).

We tried to argue with the guy, and he showed us the official tickets,
little printed slips. An indian guy inside tried to signal us not to
pay. We tried to just walk past him, but he grabbed my arm and
wouldn't let me go. We were quite sure it was a scam, but not sure
what to do.

We approached a family that was leaving the mosque and asked them if
we could enter. They seemed pleased and said of course. We asked if
there were tickets and they said no, and when the scammers came over,
the family argued and berated them in Hindi a bit, and then told us to
just go in. We did, and this time no one stopped us.

Inside we saw some beautiful architecture, and lots of people sitting
around in circles that looked like study groups. There is a minaret
tower that you can go up to get a great view of the city, and of
course there were people selling tickets for this too. However, we
asked a few people and this time it seemed legit, so we just paid and
went up. The view was really worth it! (Caroline will post pics)

After this, we hurried back to the metro to try and reach the Baha'i
Lotus Temple before sundown. It was a long ride so we didn't quite
make it, but it was lit up so it was still beautiful to see at night.
Also, near this metro stop was a huge modern shopping mall and fancy
western hotels. It felt like we had ridden the metro to a whole
different country.

While walking back from the Lotus Temple, we noticed another
illuminated building nearby. As we got closer, we saw the letters
ISKCON, which we recognized as something recommended in our guide
book, though we couldn't remember what it was!

As we got closer, we saw that it was a very fancy, ornate building,
and quite modern. It was very busy, with lots of cars in the parking
lot and people going in and out. We asked if we could enter, and they
said yes, and then said "hare Krishna"

Turns out we were at a major hare Krishna temple, and it was very
interesting. There were sculptures and paintings of Indian elephant
gods, serpents and women in pleasure gardens. There was also some sort
of robotics show and spiritual movie, but we didn't do those.

We wandered around and found a long line of people waiting for food.
As we got closer, we saw that the food was served for free, so we
thought it might be feeding the poor. But as we pondered that, we
noticed that everyone in line looked very middle class, not poor and
hungry. While we were trying to figure this out, a guard came and took
us to the front of the line to get food. It made us feel very
welcomed, but it was a bit weird since he cut us ahead of a group of
kids - I didn't need my food before them!

We ate the small bowl of spicy grain and spinach, then found a stand
that was selling some desserts. These were really tasty. The guys were
very friendly to us, especially to Caroline, but the spoke to us in
Hindi so we don't know what they said. Caroline says she thinks one of
them might have asked her out.

Finally, we went to the main part of the temple, and feeling brave, we
checked our shoes with the clerk (barefoot only) and went up to the
sanctuary. Inside was a very relaxed scene: a bunch of people sitting
cross legged on large rugs, chanting a mantra to the accompaniment of
some drumming and a lead singer, who also sat on the rugs. Considering
how out of place we were, no one made us feel awkward. We looked at
the various altars with ornate sculptures of hindu gods, spent a
little more time, then made our way out.

It was definitely a peculiar experience, and made me want to read more
about Hare krishna. Our guide book used the word cult, and we could
kind of see signs of that: there were "life membership" offices,
people encouraged us to participate, and the very nice building had to
be paid for somehow. Still, it was a very welcoming experience and I'm
curious to read about it - and I'm very curious about the robotics seems to be related to some beliefs they hold about

From there, we headed back to the restaurant where we ate the previous
night. The guy at the counter remembered us, and seemed happy that we
had come back. We ordered chole bhutara, same as lunch, so that we
could compare. The verdict? Both were delicious! Our whole meal, with
naan, was about $2.00. Wow.

Our night ended with the most unexpected surprise of all. As we were
walking from the metro back to our hostel, we heard music and saw some
parading lights down the block. As we got closer, we realized it was a
wedding procession, complete with groom on a white horse. We stood by
the side of the road and had a very cool chance to see a real Delhi wedding!

What a fun day. I feel like we have packed in so much, but still have sample
only a tiny portion of what India has to offer.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The International Toilet Museum and Qtub Minar

We went to the International Toilet Museum yesterday and it was possibly my favorite experience in Delhi. I'll write more about it later and post a ton more pictures, but here's one for now:

Also, today we went to Qtub Minar, which is a bunch of structures from around 1200 to 1300 AD. I will put more pictures from that up later too.

Tomorrow morning we leave Delhi to fly to the south. We'll be in Kochi primarily, with a side trip to Munnar. We're looking forward to South Indian cuisine!

Monday, February 11, 2013

It finally happened...

I got sick. I knew it was only a matter of time with my poor delicate digestive system, and sure enough, it was. In fact, I'm surprised it took as long as it did. But I woke up around 5am with that feeling I'm all too familiar with, and you can imagine the rest, not that you'd want to. So maybe don't.

But I did feel well enough after to do this:

And this:

And this:

And this.  This was in the Mirror Palace, or Sheesh Mahal.  I think that is a great name:

This is a reflection picture of us!  Can you tell we're backwards?

And something I didn't know about before we got here and wasn't specifically on our itinerary, but LOOK AT THIS PEOPLE.  It is a palace in a lake:

Here we are at the Jantar Mantar celestial observatory in Jaipur:

And here we are at the largest silver vessel in the world - it's in the Guinness Book of World Records, so I suppose you can check:

And at the summer gate with peacocks in the City Palace (too bad about the finger on the lens):

So I suppose I was able to overcome the morning situation.  Which is more impressive after a morning of barfing, this or Machu Picchu?  I hope you don't have to determine this based on personal experience like I did :)

More India pics: Taj Mahal, Fatehpur Sikri, and the pink city

Of course, a first trip to India would not be complete without a visit to the Taj Mahal. We had heard that it truly lives up to expectations, and indeed it did. I can see why it is called one of the modern wonders of the world.

Of course, a trip to India would also not be complete without a visit to an "authentic marble workshop" for a high pressure sales pitch of souvenirs similar to the Taj Mahal. In truth, they were very beautiful pieces, but we just weren't interested and managed to make our way out of there without buying anything.

After touring Agra and the Taj Mahal, we set out to Jaipur, the capital of the state of Rajasthan. It is sometimes called "the pink city" because the old parts of it are all built from reddish-pink stone (and repainted to be even pinker when the Prince of Wales came to visit in the late 1800s). We found Jaipur to be a very beautiful city, set into mountains and with a less chaotic character than Delhi. We also visited some wonderful sites there, but the pictures from most of those will be in another post.

For now, you can see a slideshow of pictures below, or click here to view the album.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Some pictures from India

Phew, we have had an exhausting few days. Travel in India is waaaay more draining than places we have been previously. This is truly a third-world country in a way that we haven't experienced before. Chile was so nearly the same level of development as the US, and this is just completely different - there is no comparison.

So, we are very tired out, but we have had many amazing experiences already, and still plenty more to come. But hey, I promised pictures, so I will save the stories for another post, and you can click the slideshow below to see some highlights from our trip so far. If you prefer, you can also click here to view them at your own pace.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

I am LOVING the food here in India!

After five months in Chile of eating pretty limited options of vegetarian food, I have been really excited for India. I was talking about it so much near the end that Caroline had even warned me to tempter my expectations, because we might be too sick the whole time to enjoy the food.

Well, so far after 2 days here, not only have we stayed healthy the whole time, but we have really enjoyed the food so far! As we posted yesterday, our first couple meals were just at the hotel restaurants, since we were exhausted and anyway wanted to play it safe with staying healthy. Today we got a little more adventurous.

For lunch, we went to a sort-of-fancy restaurant near Connaught Place, a very central shopping concourse built as part of British New Delhi (I don't know if it was built to be a shopping area or not, but that's what it is today). The restaurant wasn't actually Indian food, it was more like Chinese and Thai, which seems to be very popular here. The food was pretty good, and most importantly (for me) it was properly spicy! South American cuisine is generally very un-spicy, and as a spice lover, I had really missed some good spicy food. (I had previously expected South American food to be spicy, because of my experience with Mexican food, but it turns out that the food in SA is pretty tame in terms of flavor - though I'm sure there are exceptions!).

We mostly enjoyed the meal, but we accidentally ordered more food than we really needed, which made me feel really bad. I just had this little voice in the back of my head saying "clean your plate, there are kids starving in India." I really don't mean that as a joke, the poverty in some places here is obviously very extreme, and it so it does induce a bit of guilt to throw away food after a meal.

The lunch place was also a bit pricier than other places we've seen. Not expensive per se, but more like American prices rather than the cheap food here. Still, it was worth it to pay a little more for clean food that wouldn't make us sick.

For dinner, we tried to be a little braver. We took the metro to an area called Karol Bagh, which had a very cool outdoor shopping market. There were tons of street vendors, and shops on the side selling beautiful Indian clothing, including a lot of bridal and groom shops (the grooms get ornate clothes here too!). We found a place on the corner that looked clean enough and had a lot of customers.

It was kind of organized like a chinese place in a mall food court, with lots of prepared dishes that they heap on your plate. We scanned the options and decided to get a lentil dish, naan bread, some rice, samosas and rice pudding for dessert, all for about $4.50 total! We took our tray to a little table on the side of the street that you just stand next to, and joined an Indian couple there that was about our same age.

The food was so great! Caroline kept saying "this won't be worth it if we barf, but this sure is good!" Then she tried the rice pudding, and said "this might actually be worth it if we barf!" It was a delicious and fun experience. The couple next to us had a dish that seemed very popular. They told us it was called Chole Bhature, and if we don't get sick tomorrow, we will definitely go back and try it.

Overall, we weren't sure beforehand how much our experience eating Indian food in the US would be relevant here. After all, people often talk about how chinese food in the US is nothing like in China. So far, I would actually say the food here is very similar. The difference is that it is more consistently good here, like even the cheapest places here have been tasty, whereas you can definitely get lousy Indian food in the US. Also, while the food here isn't CRAZY spicy, everything here is spicy, and it just seems like you won't find "mild" level food (fine by me, and Caroline's been doing great with it too).

The one thing that helps a lot from eating Indian back home is that we know the names of dishes. The menus just have names, no explanations because everyone just knows what these dishes are. It would be like if a menu in the US explained that pizza is a bread crust, with tomato sauce and topped with cheese. For us, it's been really reassuring to see the same items we love in the US on menus here, so we know what we are getting. Of course, we plan to try some new things too, that's the whole idea!

For those of you who have been to India, did you also think the food was pretty similar to what you've had in the US? For those of you from India, is this total blasphemy? :)

We're in India!

We made it to India!  Sam beat me to the punch on the first post from here, but I've got pictures.  We went to the Delhi Public Library:

Sometimes Sam forgets to smile for pictures:

Here are some old books up on the second floor:

A statue of Gandhi in Gandhi Park (we're watching the movie Gandhi also in bits while we're here and on the plane on the way here):

More to come!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Thoughts from the first 24 hours in India

A post with photos and more details is coming, but this is just some thoughts from our first day here in India.

Here is a list of our accomplishments from our first 24 hours in India:
- no one barfed (yet)
- the driver at the airport was actually there with a sign, and we
made it to our first hotel
- we crossed busy, multilane streets in Delhi
- we had two delicious meals of Indian food
- we did NOT get scammed
- we rode the metro around Delhi

Overall, not a bad first day!

India, so far, is a whole different world from Chile. I think before
visiting either, I would have guessed that they were at similar levels
of development, but in truth, Chile (especially in Santiago) is very
modern and developed, and India is exactly what you might expect.

The hustle and bustle of this city is just crazy. Just as you've
probably heard, the streets are shared between cars, motorcycles,
motorized rickshaws, bike rickshaws and pedestrians. There are no
separate lanes and rarely even sidewalks. Usually we are just walking
on the road alongside parked cars, with all these other vehicles
zooming by.

When we have to cross a street, we find a group of Indians waiting and
we cross when they do as part of their group. It's very nerve
wracking, and Caroline is a bit braver about it than I am.

We stand out a lot because we are white. Except at the hostel, it's
rare to see any other white people at all. We might have seen 10 total
all day.

A lot of young Indian guys will approach us offering advice, but we
have read that these are all touts or scams, and that you should
basically avoid anyone who approaches you like that. It's sort of
disappointing and also stressful, because they mostly approach me, not
Caroline, because it's not so typical here for men to talk to women
they don't know well.

The food has been really good so far, and I think we'll find even
better food, because so far we've only eaten at our hostels'
restaurants. The prices are amazingly cheap - like $1.00-1.50 for a
vegetarian dish or $.70 for naan bread - but actually a guy staying at
our hostel told us that this is a bit pricey compared to street
stands, called dhabas.

We are not sure if we will eat at the street places at all. So far,
we've had two tasty and cheap meals with no getting sick (yet!), and
we might decide we just don't want to take the risk to try a place on
the side of the road...but we've seen a lot of food that looks REALLY
good, and nearly everything is vegetarian! We might decide to take the
risk, but not yet.

We chatted with a nice German couple at the hostel this evening. They
have already done many of the stops we will be doing, so it was cool
to hear about that. We might run into them touring tomorrow, since we
has overlapping plans.

Ok, that's all for now. We are really tired, but I don't know if it's
from jetlag or from 4 straight days of traveling. Either way, some
good sleep tonight will do the trick.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013


This is the story of how Caroline and I ended up sounding like cranky old people shouting at the hip kids. Except that in this story, we're the good guys, and the hip kids are jerks. I'm pretty sure. You decide. A story in three parts: The Background, The Escalation, and the Showdown.

The background

Our apartment has been pretty nice overall, but one of the major flaws is that we have a lot of noise. Our windows and sliding doors face out to an alleyway, and just across the alley there is another high rise apartment building facing back to ours. The result is that any noise in the alley is extremely echo-y and loud. (Bill Elliot, our friend who is an acoustical consultant,  would hate this place!)

This is annoying for typical background noises: dogs barking or whining, car alarms, trash cans banging around, etc. But the real problem has been our neighbors across the alley, the partying apartment.

Immediately across from us and one floor down, there is an apartment where a few young people live. During the day, they often have the sliding door open and loud music playing, but that's ok - sometimes it's even good music, and during the day it's no big deal. However, on many weekend nights, they have LOTS of friends over and we can hear the loud music and shouting and other party noises, sometimes as late as 5am. I know this makes us sound like grumpy old people, but we want to sleep!

The Escalation

A few weekends ago, we had a bit of an escalation. They had a really loud party with singing, shouting, open windows and blasting music, continuing to 3am. At that point, Caroline and I had been laying awake for an hour or so, and we were getting pretty frustrated. We were already using earplugs and a white noise background, and still couldn't sleep.

Finally, I decided to go down and talk to the doorman of our building (in spanish). I didn't understand the whole conversation, but basically he was saying that my two options were to go talk to the doorman in the other building or to call the police. I went to the building next door and started to explain to the doorman how loud this apartment was being.

He cut me off and basically said "Yeah, I know. We've had complaints every weekend, and the police have already come once tonight!"

I replied: "What? The police had already been there? Why couldn't they do anything about it?" I'm not exactly sure I understood, but I think the doorman said that the police wrote a ticket for the partiers, and when the doorman tried to give it to them, they wouldn't even open the door, so he just slid it underneath.

While this is happening, another guy from our building comes over for the same reason. We chatted a bit about how terrible these guys are, and when I went back to Caroline I felt emboldened to take action since I knew that it was really disturbing other people too.

The Showdown!

I didn't want to just give up and feel totally helpless, so I opened our sliding door that faced over the alley, and in my loudest voice, I shouted across to the partiers: "Baja la musica!!!!!" which I think means turn down the music. I got their attention, and they tried to shout some stuff back and start a conversation, but I just kept saying angrily "Baja la musica!"

Not surprisingly, this didn't solve the problem. They kept on partying loudly.

I kept shouting: "Can you think of the other people?!"

At this point, other apartments facing the alley are starting to light up, and people from both buildings are also leaning out to yell at the partiers. It started to feel like maybe we had enough critical mass to make them shut down, but still, the partiers shouted taunts at everyone and continued.

We started shouted to some angry tenants in the other building, and they seemed to be saying that they were going to go and knock on the party apartment door from the inside. We had them surrounded, but still, the noise continued!

With no other ideas, I turned to the one option I could think of. I grabbed a rotten tomato off the counter, and I whipped it across the alley where it hit one of their window panes. THAT got their attention. (an consideration here - the alley was fairly wide, and our apartment is one floor up from theirs, so the throw for them to retaliate would be much more difficult).

At this point, they turned the music down a little, and a few girls came to the window to try and talk with us. They tried to explain "All of Santiago is a party on Saturday night!" but we just kept saying to turn off the music. While this is going on, we can see the door to their apartment open and the other angry tenants confront them from the other side. Meanwhile, I just stood there with another tomato in hand and shouted again "Baja la musica!"

Finally, after a few minutes of this situation, they turned the music way down and closed their windows, so we could finally sleep. Caroline and I cheered our little victory, and finally got some rest.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Museo Histórico Nacional and Santiago Cathedral

I wrote this post earlier, and scheduled it to post now.  We're actually traveling right now!
Two weekends ago we went to the Museo Histórico Nacional and then stopped by the Cathedral in the Plaza de Armas.  Both were free (since we went to the museum on Sunday) and both were really cool!  In the museum, there was a lot of cool historical stuff from Chile, going from very old to much less old but not too recent.  Here is a map of where different groups lived in Chile before it was conquered by the Spanish and made into a country.  I think that yellow region in the middle is the Mapuche area, which is a group we've learned about and whose culture still exists today:

This statue is a stairway to the sky, as I recall:

I think this was the founding of Santiago, but I took the picture because Sam said it looked like a Dominion card:

If I had this dress and this were the fashion of the times, I would never have to worry about my hips!

Sam is excited and sleepy about the cannon:

An upcoming post will explain why he was so sleepy that day (it's a great story, one we'll tell the grandkids :) ).  Here is a painting of a woman fighting in battle.  This is something I'm not sure I have ever seen before!  I wouldn't have even noticed it if Sam hadn't pointed it out.

This is "The configuration of an Elite" in some time period.  I guess this would be a better description if I remembered the time period.  Oh well!

I guess being an elite involves having a fancy box to stand near:

I took this picture of some cool old doors for Jenn:

Look how giant the keys were!  I guess it's hard to tell the scale, but the smaller one is thicker than a pencil and the bigger one is just comically large:

I liked this spiral column:

I think this is another one of the founding of Santiago.  I'm pretty sure those guys are San Martín and/or Pedro de Valdivia:

A cool old carriage:

This is an old Chilean flag.  I'm not sure why the picture turned out so bad:

I really liked this painting of some sailboats:

This is a cannon with a cannon ball in it.  And you could touch it!  You probably aren't supposed to, but Sam investigated and it turns out you can pick up the cannon ball:

The traditional Chilean cardboard desk:

Just kidding, I'm not sure what the deal is with the cardboard, but I don't think it's a real Chilean tradition.  But here is a cool old telescope:

And a cool old sword and scabbard:

We had been seeing a bunch of portraits of famous guys that have streets named after them in Santiago, streets that we are often either on or crossing.  Then Sam said we'd seen almost all of them, except Manuel Montt.  Then I asked him if he was just kidding because this was right behind him:

And guess who that is?  Check it out:

You can't plan that sort of thing!  Here we are in the reflection of a fancy old mirror that was functional, unlike another one in an earlier room:

This picture of an old sewing machine is for my mom:

Speaking of street names that are named after old guys from Chile, here is our patron guy:

Vicuña Mackenna, the guy our street is named after!  So he really did exist!  It's a pretty good street, too:

A really epic ship battle scene painting for Keith:

Here I am in the second floor of the courtyard in the middle of the museum:

Then we went to the Cathedral.  It had some cool stained glass:

This is a statue of Mary that was on top of the front of the cathedral until it fell off in the major earthquake in 2010:

Now she's inside the cathedral, hopefully on a more stable support.  There has been a lot of restoration on her too:

Another cool shot of the inside of the cathedral:

Here is a lot of silver:

A view from the back towards the front:

And a little side room off to the left when you first enter: