Confession Time

Call me crazy, but I think some of you may have noticed I haven’t posted much since Raeski and I returned from Chile. In all honesty, I miss Chile much more than Raeski and have been at a loss for a solution for what I’ve been missing since we’ve been back.

Recently I read a clarifying question asking expats returning home what they missed. “Was it the place, people, or the challenges you faced?” After giving it much thought I came to the conclusion that the challenge of living in Chile was invigorating. For a good sense of the challenges, read the ‘El Diario’ posts.

In Chile, boredom was banished from our lives and replaced with constant challenges to overcome. One article I found explains four stages of expat life. I made it through the first two and struggled with the third. Armed with the knowledge I have now, stage three would be a lot easier. In stage four there is a warning for returning expats I live with almost every day – feeling out of place and struggling to cope.

Do you think it’s strange to feel homesick for a place you only lived in for a year? I get teary eyed when I think of the generosity of the people and how they help their countrymen when disaster strikes. I smile when thinking of how much we did and saw in a year. Hiking in Patagonia, visiting Easter Island on Easter, Machu Picchu, Zapallar, the Andes, active volcanoes, lakes, glaciers, the marvelous street art of Valparaiso and much, much more. I miss the challenges and the people. I also felt safer there than here.

So, is there a solution to this malaise, Wooly? One that could fill my need of challenges, be affordable and expose me to the great outdoors while a bit closer to home to keep Raeski happy?

The good news is there is life after Chile. In January I placed an order for a 17’ Freedom Deluxe Casita travel trailer and we are picking it up in Rice TX at the end of June. A travel trailer checks all the boxes I need.

  • Exposure to new environments at a much lower cost – Check.
  • New challenges to overcome – Check.
  • Travel, travel, travel – Check.

I know I have a lot to learn about travel trailer life which will be part of the fun and anguish. Does this make us trailer trash???

One of my dreams is to find a place you like and stay as long as you want until you feel a need to move on. Taking time seeing all the sites, hiking the trails, visiting museums and taking lots of pictures.

It’s also good to know a Casita, much like an Airstream, doesn’t lose its value as fast as other travel trailers. In fact, I was going to buy used until I discovered I could buy a brand new Casita cheaper than the few of the 5-year-old trailers I had looked at. And there aren’t a lot of them listed for sale and people seem to really love them.

In hindsight, my decision to buy a diesel-powered Jeep Grand Cherokee becomes even better now. I won’t have any problem towing the trailer, I already have the tow package on the Jeep and a huge list of places to go. I’m ready!

This means changes are coming to WoolyandRaeski to accommodate our new lifestyle. The main page will be the blog and new tabs will appear for photography and travel articles. All of our South American adventures will be archived under a new South America tab.

I hope you like the changes and thanks for your patience waiting for me to write something.

I love comments so please let me know what you think.

Cheers, Wooly.


A Photo a Week Challenge: Tender Moments

Penguins, a girl feeding pigeons in Arequipa, Wooly and Raeski in Lima, llamas in San Pedro de Atacama, and a young mountain goat sticking close to mom in Rocky Mountain Natl. Park.


Where the Hat is King

Once you get away from the big city almost everyone wears one.   You are not fully dressed without one.  For those “in the know” the hat even identifies where you are from.  Whether at work, shopping or play, the hat is ever-present.  In Peru the hat is king.

In Chivay you can sit on a hat or even play on one.

Of course most hats are worn.

Even statues have hats!

And occasionally even Wooly and Raeski – especially when it’s cold.  Brrr!

(Extra)ordinary Winding Roads

I love winding roads.  From the Moki Dugway (see what the heck is a Moki Dugway), to crossing the Andes, descending toward Cerro Castillo and finally ascending to Machu Picchu.  I hope you enjoy the photos as much as I loved riding on the roads.

Number 30!

We just had earthquake number 30 since we moved to Chile.  We had just gotten back from a trip to the Lakes District and the northern part of Patagonia so it was like a welcome home tremor.  It was a small 5.0 tremor and Wooly slept through it.  Raeski didn’t.

We are now packing our bags for our return to the U.S. this Wednesday.  Living in Chile has been a great experience that we would do again if we had a chance to start all over.  Our latest trip like all the rest included things that made you say WOW!

We started in the Lakes district of Chile where volcanoes, active and dormant are almost everywhere you look.  Flying over Chile is amazing.  It’s just one volcano after another including the highest volcano in the world (Ojos del Salado – eyes of salt).  There are over 500 volcanoes in Chile, of which over 100 are considered active.  And you thought Chile was all about earthquakes.

We stayed in Frutillar on the edge of Lago Llanquihue (yawn key way) where Volcán Osorno dominates the landscape.  It is called the Mt. Fuji of South America due to its resemblance to Japan’s famous volcano.  Wooly has been fortunate to see both and agrees with the assessment.  Here’s some photos of the volcano.  What do you think?

There is a road that leads part way up the Osorno.  From there you can take a chair lift even higher.  At the end of the chair lift there is still another 1,000 meters elevation before the summit is reached (2,652 meters, 8701 feet).  Of course one must cross the glaciers to climb it.  Many climbers have lost their lives on the mountain.  But you’ll have to wait for that story another day.

The second part of our trip took us to the northern part of Patagonia.  From Puerto Montt we took a ferry to Puerto Chacabuco.  From there a transfer bus took us to Aysen.  We had a room reserved in Aysen for the evening but our ferry was 10 hours late and we arrived in the morning.  Since our hotel room was already paid for we stopped in for a 3 hour hotel stay.  (Neither Wooly or Raeski had ever done that before!)  Since the room was paid for we wanted a long hot shower and breakfast.  And we got it!

After our three hour stay (no, this isn’t a TV show) we climbed onto another bus and headed to Coyhaique (Coy I kay).  The ride was stunning as there seemed to be a waterfall around even bend in the road.  Sadly we were on a bus and couldn’t capture the beauty of the place.  It is definitely a place we would like to spend more time.

The next day we went to Cerro Castillo.  Again, amazing scenery that must be experienced to fully appreciate.  One interesting fact about the area is that the forest there is denser than the Amazon jungle.  So it really is an important global biological resource.  There are more photos to come in later but enjoy these two teasers.

Now back to packing…

El Diario: 8 Enero 2015

We are getting close to wrapping up our year in Chile and coming home.  It’s been a great experience that we would both do again.  We’ve learned a lot about ourselves during this last year.  We’ve met some really great people and have been able to do and see some truly amazing places and things.

We’ve made friends who we will make an effort to stay in contact with and hopefully visit or have them visit us in the future.  Yesterday we were able to see some of the cadets that we taught English.  Yup, we’ll miss having that job.  Teaching English is a great way to meet people and learn what a country is really like.

Travel comes to mind first as we prepare to travel to the Lakes District of Chile tomorrow.  We’ve been to Easter Island on Easter, traveled throughout Peru, and just finished a spectacular trip in Patagonia last month.  Wooly is still working at processing photos because he had to switch to shooting in the RAW to save disk space.  Can’t wait to get home to purchase another photo drive and get the current one fixed.

The things we’ve encountered have been fun, at times, awe inspiring, and thought provoking.  One can’t look at a Moai without thinking about of the people who created them.  If you’ve never seen a large glacier up close you need to see one with the realization that they may be gone in the future if nothing is done about global warming.  Penguins are fun to watch in their natural habitat.

We’ve just had 3 tremors (earthquakes below 7.0) in the last two days.  I doubt we’ll miss them after having 29 since we’ve arrived.  Check out the earthquakes tab if you’re a science geek.

We’re looking forward to coming home and re-establishing our friendships but are sad to leave the friends we gained in the last year.


“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.” Mark Twain