.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. Cheers, Wooly and Raeski
El Diario: 18 Octubre 2014.
This week when we got to work we were asked if we felt the tremor (check out the Earthquakes tab) earlier in the morning (we didn’t). That got me to wondering what Chileans believe is the difference between an earthquake and a tremor. They called this year’s 8.2 in Iquique and the 7.1 off the coast of Easter Island an earthquake and Tuesday’s 5.2 a tremor.
To further complicate matters – on the same day last August we had a 6.5 tremor while Napa had a 6.0 earthquake. Confused yet? Well this got Wooly thinking (oh, oh) about what the difference is between a tremor and an earthquake. After checking numerous sites on the web that all disagreed about the intensity required to promote a tremor to earthquake status Wooly came up with one conclusion.
Armed with that conclusion Wooly decided to test it at work the next morning. When he asked his gringo friends they pretty much concluded anything above 6.0 would qualify as a full-fledged earthquake. A couple of them said before they came to Chile that number would have been around 5.0 or so. Yet when the Chileans were asked they all pretty much agreed it takes a 7.0 or greater to be called a bona-fide earthquake.
So there you have it. If you live in an area where ground movement is rare or occasional, anything you feel is an earthquake. Yet someone living in an area with frequent ground movement it takes a higher number. Or in the case of Chile with lots of large earth movements (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_earthquakes_in_Chile) it seems a 7.0 or greater is required before the local folks grant a tremor earthquake status. For those who remember, just think of the damage the 1989 6.9 Loma Prieta (the World Series earthquake) caused and how many lives were lost or the 1994 6.7 Northridge quake in the L.A. area. I had to chuckle last March when a friend commented on the 5.1 earthquake they had in L.A. had him shook up. Sorry, had to do that.
And what about the Valparaiso and Viña del Mar areas where we live? Here is a list of Valparaiso earthquakes:
1730 – 8.7
1737 – 7.7
1822 – 8.5
1829 – 7.0
1831 – 7.8
1833 – 7.7
1900’s – Nothing
2000’s – Nothing
A 200 year gap without any significant earthquakes makes us overdue for a very large one. It could possibly even be in the 9.x range. Here’s hoping it doesn’t happen while we’re here, or if it does nothing falls on us or collapses underneath us.
.El Diario: 24 Agosto 2014.We made it through a week of testing at the Academy. Actually a week without lesson planning was quite nice. Now we get to return to the routine of lesson planning for the week.It’s been cloudy and fairly cold this week. The weather let us know it’s still winter down here with a week of clouds and rain. The wind coming up from Antarctica can be quite cold at times. Especially out on the point where the naval academy is. Teaching in concrete buildings with no heat makes it seem even colder. Brrr!While California woke up to a 6.0 earthquake this morning and made the national news, Chile uneventfully rode out a 6.5 yesterday. Nope, no buildings fell apart, no cars were crushed by falling bricks and no deaths. Just a small one by Chilean standards. So far this year the 8.2 Iquique quake has been the largest. We don’t seem to be able to go much beyond 30 days without a quake.We are looking forward to spring here. Some of the trees have been blooming for a couple of weeks and smell wonderful when walking under them. The bright orange poppies are popping out and other wildflowers are starting to bloom. I love spring because it means the end of cold weather is close at hand..El Diario: 13 Julio 2014.I’ll admit it. I’ve had a difficult time getting back into our Chile routine after an amazing trip in Peru. The school routine has been hard because many of the cadets are on a ship practicing being in the Navy so there aren’t many students left to teach. Much of the week has been planning and creating all the tests and quizzes for the rest of the year. At least that’s done and out of the way..Going back to winter, fog and cold is never easy. We already miss the warm sunny days we had everywhere we went in Peru. And it didn’t take long before we had our welcome home earthquake. Check out the earthquake tab for the details..On another note, we have finalized everything we need for our temporary residency permit. We are now officially legal aliens in Chile for the next year. When we get our card we are supposed to be able to travel between countries in South America without a passport. We will test this in September on our planned trip to Iquazu Falls. The Argentine side won’t be a problem because we already have a tourist visa good for another 6 years. However Brazil is another story. A U.S. citizen is required to obtain a visa before traveling to the country. Since Iquazu Falls has a Brazilian side we are going to try going to that side on our Chile ID card. If it works we are set for Rio and we will save the $160.00 cost of the visa..We have decided to start our southern South America trip early in December instead of waiting until January. It will be a bit colder with a little more rain but considerably cheaper by being on a shoulder season. Since we will be taking our time to see as much as possible the trip may very well stretch into January anyway. So far we know we will be traveling by plane, ferry and bus. Renting cars in South America is horribly expensive so we are trying to avoid that mode of transportation..El Diario: 11 Junio 2014.Wooly and Raeski will be in Peru for the next 17 days. We’ll be checking off a few bucket list items on this trip. Machu Picchu, Lake Titicaca, Colca Canyon and the Sacred Valley are all on the agenda..Going on our past experience there will be very few postings (if any) on the blog while we are on the road. We hope to bring back great photos and memories to share with everyone..And remember – life’s too fragile to not follow your dreams..El Diario: 8 Junio 2014.
Gringo Gazing seems to have increased with the Gringo Gawking becoming the more prevalent form of watching the gringos. People are less inclined to look away when Wooly returns their look now. This has had Wooly pondering what is different as our physical appearance is still the same. You know, no deformities and such. Earlier in the year when Wooly would glance their way they would almost always look away like a child caught with his hand in the cookie jar.
The he figured it out. We are a rare species of the gringo genus. We are “Out-of-Season-Gringos”. Yes, we are one of the rarest genus’ of the gringo species which occasionally are spotted wintering in Viña del Mar. While we haven’t had anyone tripping over us recently, they seem to keep their distance as if they are unsure whether we are docile or not.
It’s been a while since the last diary posting and of course that means the ground must have moved again. We had another small earthquake again on payday. Wooly isn’t attaching much significance to this. It’s kind of like living in Oklahoma except they now have more earthquakes than Chile because of all the fracking for oil there.
Winter weather has finally arrived accompanied by rain. Streets seem to flood a lot when it rains here – just like Phoenix. At least we haven’t had to wade to work yet. Wooly bought an umbrella to be prepared for the rains and as luck would have it, the first time it was needed the wind was blowing too hard to use it.
Our work visas are almost ready! Our current visa expired a month ago so technically we’re illegals. It only took one month longer than they said it would. We are supposed to pick it up next Wednesday. It had better be ready because they have our passports and we need them Thursday to head to Peru.
That’s it for now. We are busy getting ready for our trip to Peru later this week. The camera gear is going but the computers are staying home so we will be out-of-touch until we return at the end of the month. Cheers, Wooly and Raeski.
El Diario: 21 Mayo 2014
Today is Navy Day in Chile. It’s a national holiday which actually means something here. Holidays are really observed and most people get the day off. Forget about shopping, nothing is open. The department stores close as do all the small independent shops. Don’t bother trying to grocery shop either. The stores are closed. If you forgot to buy your alcoholic beverage of choice you are out of luck and dry. Even the trains and buses run on a reduced schedule.
And what’s being observed? It’s all about a battle in the War of the Pacific. No, it’s not about WWII, it’s about THE War of the Pacific if you live in Chile. It was a war that pitted Chile against Peru and Bolivia.
May 21, 1879 was not a good day for Arturo Prat, Chile’s greatest navy hero. His ship, the wooden Esmeralda was in the Iquique harbor (the place of this year’s 8.2 quake on April 1st) when the iron clad Peruvian ship Huáscar approached. A four hour battle ensued where even the Peruvians were amazed by the Chilean will to continue the battle against overwhelming odds. Finally the Huáscar rammed the Esmeralda.
Earlier that day when Arturo Prat surveyed the situation he gave his crew this pep-talk. “Lads, the battle will be unfair, but, cheer and have courage. Never has our flag been hauled down before the enemy and I hope this will not be the occasion for it to happen. From my part, I assure you that as long as I live, this flag will blow in its place, and if I die, my officers will know how to fulfill their duties. Long Live Chile!”
When the Huáscar rammed the Esmeralda, Prat ordered his men to board the Peruvian ship. Unfortunately in the heat of the battle, only two other men heard him and one of them slipped and failed to board the ship. Undaunted Prat advanced forward on the deck of the Huáscar to the amazement of the Peruvian crew. He almost made it to the command tower before he was shot in the leg. But he refused to fall and pressed forward until he was shot in the head.
Meanwhile his crew watched in horror at what was happening. When the Huáscar rammed the Esmeralda more Chilean sailors boarded the ship but this time the Peruvians were ready and cut them down with a Gatling gun. Crippled the Esmeralda sank to the bottom of the bay, her Chilean flag still flying.
Like the Alamo, Arturo Prat’s bravery became a rallying cry for Chilenos and was a turning point in the war which Chile eventually won. Today Arturo Prat is honored for his bravery, four naval ships have been named after him and many town squares across Chile have statues of him.
In Valparaiso there is a monument of him in Plaza Sotomayor. If you take a South American cruise that has a Valparaiso port of call, he will be waiting for you in the plaza by the docks.
. El Diario: 4 Mayo 2014.Last week I decided it was time to back-up all the photos I’ve taken since we moved to Chile. It was then I discovered I did not have a cable to connect my backup drive to my computer. Thus began a quest that took four trips to complete. I went to the computer specialty stores, video stores, phone stores and electronics repair shops. No luck! Finally when shopping for groceries in a large superstore/market I found a cable! Just in case I also bought some blank DVD’s..When I got home and connected everything my disk drive would not spin up. It seems like the power cord with the 12 volt converter wasn’t working. I tried another and the drive would start to spin up only to have nothing else happen. Is anything easy when you’re thousands of miles away from home???. I’ve decided to not trust the data recovery to anyone here in Chile so I guess I will wait to get it fixed when we return to the states next year. There’s already a lot of photos on the drive so I am a bit worried about recovering the data which has me thinking of purchasing an online backup service..I shoot both RAW and Jpeg simultaneously with my camera which means there’s a lot of data on my laptop. I have made the decision to save the jpeg files and hope for the best with my RAW files. If the drive on my laptop crashes at least I’ll have the jpeg files which aren’t bad.I finished everything I’ve shot in South America this year and next up is all our travels from last summer. So that’s what I’ve been doing today….El Diario: 2 Mayo 2014.It’s been a while since our last earthquake. We had another this week. Check out the Earthquakes tab for the latest entry. Last weekend we went to the Casablanca Harvest Festival with four other teachers. I wish wine tastings poured as much wine in the US as they do here..On the way home we encountered a falling down Gringo Gazing. All six of us were headed up the hill in Cerro Barón when an older woman stared at us and missed seeing the steps in front of her. Needless to say she fell. We stopped to check if she was okay and then had a good chuckle about how rude behavior sometimes bites us in the tush. The next day we encountered a head cocker gringo gaze. The head cocker is similar to what a dog does when they hear unusual noises. It was quite comical when a human does it..Yesterday was Labor Day in Chile. It was interesting to see that almost all businesses were closed. The places that were open were a few liquor stores and US based companies like McDonalds and Starbucks. It is also a day to stay away from Valparaiso because it is a day were whatever cause you want to protest, this is the day to march..And speaking of Valparaiso, the final loss of homes numbered 3,000 leaving over 11,000 people homeless. Across from the Naval Academy there is a field that is now guarded by the Army because it is filled with building materials. We also pass a warehouse area filled with donated household goods and clothes. Chile’s citizens are very willing to help each other when disaster strikes. Perhaps it is because disasters happen so frequently here that they know it’s only a matter of time before disaster strikes home..El Diario: 17 Abril 2014.We are off on another adventure tomorrow.We head to Santiago to catch a flight to Easter Island (Isla de Pascua or Rapa Nui).We decided since we are so close it would be criminal not to go to there while we’re in Chile. So tomorrow we fly into Mataveri Airport, the most remote airport in the world. At 2,200 miles off the coast of Chile, Easter Island is also one of the most remote islands in the world. .Plus it’s Easter weekend! Of course we’re going to see the moai of the island and whatever else we can find. We were fortunate enough to get some very good travel tips from a Naval Academy cadet who lived on the island. In no particular order they were, rent a car and don’t waste your money on land tours, by all means take a boat tour, and bring wine to barter with. .We will let you know how it all turns out when we get back.The camera gear is packed, all filters and lenses cleaned, batteries charged up and lots of memory cards. I have no idea how many pictures I will take, but going by my history it will be a lot. We’re traveling light so I won’t be answering any comments until we get back, but don’t let that stop you. We love those who take time out of their busy schedules to drop us an occasional note..El Diario: 14 Abril 2014.It was a somber day at work where all our thoughts were on the victims of the inferno in Valparaiso. The horror of what so many families have gone through is incomprehensible.Many of the 2,000 homes destroyed were at the tops of hills which in Valparaiso mean the residents were very poor and lost everything. Some even their lives. It will be a very difficult Easter for the 10,000 plus people now living in shelters.The fires still burn but after 20 aircraft joined the fight they are not raging as they did Saturday and Sunday. It is estimated it will take 20 days to extinguish the fires. Marshall Law has been declared for Valparaiso and the Army is in charge of maintaining order.Cruz Roja Americano (American Red Cross) is taking donations to aid the victims..El Diario: 13 Abril 2014.Last night was hellish and horrific for the residents of Valparaiso. A forest fire swept into the city hills and the ensuing inferno destroyed over 500 homes, left over 5,000 homeless and claimed the lives of some unfortunate souls. Many of the residents had to be treated for smoke inhalation.Valparaiso is prone to many kinds of disaster and fire is probably the most feared by its 250,000 residents due to the sheer number of buildings constructed before modern fire codes became law. Century old wood framed homes stacked upon each other are tinder-boxes waiting for a spark. And that spark came yesterday.It was heartbreaking seeing people on the news watching helplessly from afar as their homes burned knowing they were losing everything they built over a lifetime. Fire is a part of life in Valparaiso but this is an epic disaster dwarfing all others in recent memory.Today smoke from smoldering ashes hangs over Valparaiso and neighboring Viña del Mar. Odors from the fire are ever-present. People are being allowed back to their homes to sift through the ashes in hopes of recovering any personal items.A state of emergency has been declared and shelters for the homeless are being set up in local schools. The army is in charge of distributing food to the victims of the disaster. The American Red Cross has provided aid for other Valparaiso disasters so if you are inclined to help I think a donation to the Red Cross is the best way to help from afar.I personally find taken photos of people suffering from disasters distasteful so I will present some photos showing the area before the fire.
Valparaiso before the fire.
Valparaiso before the fire.
Valparaiso before the fire.
El Diario: 10 Abril 2014.Just rode out earthquake number 11. It’s been very warm for April here in Viña. Like much of Southern California coastal areas, when’ there is a land breeze it warms up. Of course warm here is in the 70’s which is a far cry from what we left behind in Phoenix. A couple days ago there was a large brush fire in the hills behind our place that lasted for several hours and filled the air with smoke that partially blocked the sun. Anyway, still safely rockin’ and rollin’ in Chile..El Diario: 4 Abril 2014.Well, another day, another earthquake. Actually make that two. We just had another one. We’re rocking and rolling in Chile. Check out the Earthquakes link for the details..Also, you may have noticed Wooly figured out how to embed a slide show in our postings. I think it makes the posts look cleaner. However I’m going to try different looks because I don’t like that you can’t click on the photos to enlarge them. What do you think? Yes, I really want to know..We’ve made travel reservations for Easter. What’s our destination? It’s Easter Island because we like the synchronicity. We are quite excited about this trip and the discoveries in store for us.In June we have a two week school break and are considering going to Peru. We are busy planning the sites we would like to visit. We’re not sure if the Galapagos Islands will be a destination on this trip..El Diario: 2 Abril 2014 – Part Two.Since the 8.2 earthquake last night there have been many aftershocks. Currently the largest has been a 6.2 and there have been 21 aftershocks magnitude 5.0 and larger. The worry in Chile is this may be a precursor quake to an even stronger one. A 6.7 quake hit Iquique two weeks ago and very possibly will be ruled a precursor quake. Hopefully this won’t be the case with the 5.1 quake that recently struck Los Angeles..Three cities in Chile have been most affected by the quake – Iquique, Arica and Antofagasta with a total population of 725,000. I watched news reports saying this is a sparsely populated area, but I don’t think three quarters of a million people would agree..It was a bit eerie going to work this morning. A lot of people stayed home and the train wasn’t crowded and the ride was very quiet. Raeski and I travel to the end of the line which is the Puerto stop in Valparaiso where ships also dock. Valparaiso is a fairly busy port and all the ships were out to sea due to the tsunami watch last night. We have never seen the port empty before. There are always at least five or six ships in the harbor at any time..The tsunami didn’t cause any damage here and the waves must not have been that high. However it was very apparent a series of waves hit shore because of the water color. The entire bay had been turned into this brown muck. Even stranger was the calmness of the ocean in areas where waves normally are crashing ashore. In place of crashing waves was a flat brown ocean and I haven’t found the reason why this happens. If you have an answer I’d love to see it. And that’s the news in our corner of the world. Thanks for all the kind thoughts..El Diario: 2 Abril 2014.We live much farther south of the area struck by the earthquake. Where we live was unaffected by the tsunami so it looks like it will be a normal day for us. Since we teach English to Naval Academy cadets we may get more news when we get to the academy. Thanks for all the well wishes. Please direct them north to the people who are living through this catastrophe.Thankfully the death toll (5) is going to be very low. It has been reported that some old adobe homes have collapsed. There have already been numerous aftershocks above 5.0 that will continue for days. Below is a link to the USGS site that tracks earthquakes..http://earthquake.usgs.gov/earthquakes/map/#%7B%22feed%22%3A%221day_m25%22%2C%22search%22%3Anull%2C%22sort%22%3A%22newest%22%2C%22basemap%22%3A%22grayscale%22%2C%22autoUpdate%22%3Atrue%2C%22restrictListToMap%22%3Atrue%2C%22timeZone%22%3A%22local%22%2C%22mapposition%22%3Anull%2C%22overlays%22%3A%7B%22plates%22%3Atrue%7D%2C%22searches%22%3A%5B%5D%2C%22viewModes%22%3A%7B%22map%22%3Afalse%2C%22list%22%3Atrue%2C%22settings%22%3Afalse%2C%22help%22%3Afalse%7D%7D.El Diario: 1 Abril 2014.This is NO April Fools joke. A very large 8.2 magnitude earthquake hit offshore close to Iquique, Chile tonight. We are far south of the area affected by the quake but the coastal city of Viña del Mar where we live is under a tsunami warning. The tsunami (so far measured at seven feet) will hit in a couple of hours..The evacuation of the low lying areas was very orderly. The roads that lead to higher ground were jammed earlier but are clear now. The sidewalks were filled with people walking to safe areas. All businesses have closed. Chilenos are very experienced at this sort of thing..There is an estuary that cuts through the middle of Viña and the roads over the bridges have been closed. The tsunami warning sirens were wailing (we now know what that sounds like) and the carabineros (police) were driving up and down the roads ordering people to move to higher ground. Bus service that heads toward the ocean has stopped..We are safe 14 stories up in a very well built building that rocked and rolled without damage through the 8.8 quake four years ago. Building codes in Chile are on par with Japan and much better than in the U.S. We feel very safe..El Diario: 20 Marzo 2014.Have you ever felt like a side-show freak? You know, when people stare at you and leave you wondering if you just grew a third eye or something? Raeski and I get these looks all the time when walking around town. After a few times of this and after checking to ensure I hadn’t grown an extra eye or had some lunch stuck on my chin or cheek, I realized it’s fairly rare to see gringos on the streets of Viña or Valpo..What makes us stand out even more are Raeski’s blondness, my height and spikey hair. Okay, an old tall guy with spikey hair may stand out, but it could also be Raeski’s sense of fashion. But normally they look at me first, then Raeski. Maybe they wonder what she’s doing with that weird old dude. At times like these I would love to be able to read minds..The other day after literally stopping traffic Raeski coined the term ‘gringo gazing’. I suppose it could also be called gringo gawking. Anyway, this guy was stopped at a light when we approached the crosswalk. The light changed and the guy just stared at us until the driver behind him honked his horn to get his attention back on the road. I guess the driver behind him wasn’t into gringo gazing or it would have been the third in line to honk their horn..Anyway I’ve decided I have no future with a life of crime in Chile. I figure I would be the first person singled out of any lineup. I can picture it now. “Yeah, that’s the guy. The old tall guy with the salt and pepper spikey hair that’s several inches taller than the others…“.Maybe we need to put names to the looks we get. The “Traffic Stopper” would definitely go on the list of gazes. “Clumsy Gawking” might be when they stare so long they run into something or trip. Then there has to be the “Quicky” where they stare, realize they’ve been caught and quickly look away. I imagine them going home and saying, “Hey honey, you’ll never believe what I saw on the street today. A gringo couple!”In a way we are a side-show to Chilenos. So we’re going to roll with it and revel in the thought that even at our age we’re traffic stoppers..El Diario: 12 Marzo 2014.Have you ever taken the wheel of a naval destroyer? Today was an interesting and fun day at work. First we had no students because all the cadets were in Santiago at the presidential transition ceremonies. But the real fun was found at the simulator. Yes, there are simulators for ships too..After explaining the four year cadet simulator training program we were given a shot at the simulator. The challenge was to thread our way through a narrow channel dodging three other ships being sailed by our teacher peers and additional things the guys in the control room wanted to throw at us.Perhaps all of us would have done better if we had known the first thing about driving a destroyer. And once you thought you had the hang of it the control room guys would toss stormy seas and other emergencies at you. When it was over we wanted more. Now if our cadets would only feel that way about their English classes..El Diario: 9 Marzo 2014. Yesterday was quite warm for the Viña area. It got up to the low 80′s! Laugh all you want you Phoenicians, we were warmer than you yesterday. This morning we had another earthquake. Wooly felt it because he was sitting on his rear end at the computer. Raeski didn’t because she was standing up and moving around. We have decided that Wooly could rent his butt out as a seismograph..We decided to go on a harbor cruise today. What a great day to do it. It’s clear, temperatures are back in the 70′s and you could see the Andes. The pelicans were diving for fish and Wooly took over 100 pictures while on the boat. Now if only a few of them turn out..After the cruise we rode an ascensor to see what was at the top. Again, it took us to a rather sketchy area where we didn’t linger long. As we walked down the road back to the Valpo ‘plan’ we came to a square at the top of another ascensor where a few days ago the police warned us not to go further because of the area and crime..While on the hill we could see all the way to Argentina. Well at least Mt. Aconcagua which is the highest peak in the Americas at 22,841 feet or 6962 meters. These clear days are rare because of the high humidity..El Diario: 6 Marzo 2014.After last night’s earthquake woke us up at 1:37 Raeski thought it would be interesting to count the number of earthquakes that happen this year in our area. Wooly, being the science geek that he is wanted to add measurement parameters to which ones we count. After all, Chile has a lot of earthquakes..Because of my geekiness this is what we settled on. We are only going to count earthquakes of magnitude 4.5 or greater. Since the geek can’t be held down for long, Wooly is also going to count the ones he actually feels..So far the count is 5 in the area, 3 felt by Wooly. For more details, Wooly is starting a new tab with more details on the earthquakes. You just can’t hold back the science geek in Wooly..El Diario: 4 Marzo 2014. Wooly was sitting on the patio in Viña del Mar 14 stories up when an earthquake hit. Fortunately Wooly recognized the P-wave and knew enough to get off the patio before the S-wave and real shaking began. Wooly is convinced being prepared covers 80% of being safe. .It only took one second before the real shaking began but Wooly was already crouched by the doorway. The shaking was mild (a 5.7 quake really isn’t that much) and nothing fell but a couple of open doors were swinging back and forth like a dancer swaying to the music. .As a good citizen Wooly reported his observations to the USGS earthquake “Did you feel it” page. This is an important thing to do if you are in an earthquake because the data received helps scientists develop better Shake Maps..The other thing that Wooly saw was an interesting sign. The sign was one that could only be produced by a sign maker who didn’t know English very well, and a store owner who was equally handicapped by a limited English skillset. The shop was a t-shirt shop and the sign almost had it right. It only lacked one letter. As you may have guessed, the “r” was missing. Here’s a photo of the hilarious mistake. Yes, you can’t make this stuff up.
El Diario: 22 Febrero 2014
Surprises always await those brave souls that dare to step out of their comfort zone. Imagine our surprise upon discovering the simple act of getting internet in Chile, the most wired in nation in South America, is next to impossible for a non-resident. A Permanent Resident Visa (which takes a year to obtain) is required to get internet. No visa, no internet. A year without internet??? Really???
Fortunately we have a kind landlord who took pity on our plight and was willing to sign on the dotted line for internet with the understanding we would pay. We were told two weeks and much to our pleasant surprise it was actually delivered on time – 15 megabytes of switched fiber bandwidth of pure bliss into our apartment. Hey, it’s South America, nothing happens fast here.
Until now our iPhones have been workhorses keeping us somewhat in touch with the world. If you have masochistic tendencies, try going a month using only your smart phone to keep in touch. It doesn’t take long to realize that tiny screen along with its tiny fake keyboard is no longer a convenience but more of a pain in the rear.
Freed from the device we used to think gave us freedom, we were overjoyed to return to that clunky old laptop with a wonderful keyboard we once thought enslaved us! Ah, the blessed internet, signals entering our home from around the world. Now that’s liberating.
Oh, and the phone thing? It’s also another device that requires the right kind of visa for a contract. What, you have the wrong kind of visa? Well its pay as you go pal. And we all know that’s the most expensive way. But as an added benefit, our phone service would tell us it was time to take a two hour siesta daily at 2pm by going dead.
I’m sure the surprises will keep coming but isn’t that part of the adventure? Here’s a few pictures of Viña del Mar.
The Pacific as viewed from a Viña hillside.
Viña is a modern city with more skyscrapers than Phoenix!
A peek-a-boo view of the Pacific Ocean from our apartment.
Buildings getting enveloped by the evening fog.
El Diario: 5 Febrero 2014
This is our first day at the Naval Academy. However it wasn’t for teaching but a meeting with all the teachers at the Academy. Oh yeah, they tossed in an Academy breakfast too.
Breakfast in Chile is quite different from the U.S. Chileans love their bread so every meal has bread. Chileans also love their sweets! So every meal has sweets. This could be a problem for Wooly and his waistline. Our breakfast consisted of two kinds of sandwiches with the bread’s crust removed; one with cream cheese and lettuce and the other with lettuce and a dried meat. The sweet was scrumptious banana bread like cake with layers of dulce de leche, chocolate, and a very sweet white frosting of whipped egg whites and sugar.
Afterwards it was onto the meeting. Of course the head of the department speaks in Spanish which Wooly is lucky if he understands 10% of the words. I do a lot of head nodding and toss in the occasional smile and laugh when everyone else does. Now I know what so many Mexicans in the U.S. feel like. Ms. Raeski is much better off understanding 80% of what’s spoken.
However Ms. Raeski tells me she is learning many new words in Spanish, or as an anthropologist might say, ‘Chilean’. One can actually observe how language changes the further it gets away from the homeland here in Chile. I suppose to most Spanish speakers Chile, being as close to the end of the world as one can get, is about as far away from the source as you can get. Come to think of it, with the exception of New Zealand and Australia it is as close to the end of the world as you can get.
But back to the meeting… Apparently the ‘gringo’ teachers were mentioned in the meeting because everyone turned around and looked at us. I’m assuming it was good because their looks were friendly instead looking like they were looking at some strange zoo animal. Being a Naval Academy there was also the self-promotion of how teaching at the academy is a very prestigious position. I guess I would feel that way if I was teaching at one of our military academies. Right now Wooly doesn’t know enough about the culture to make that call.
That was pretty much it for our first day at the academy.
El Diario: 3 Febrero 2014
For those who follow our blog, I will soon be adding an “El Diario Expat” page for our Chilean adventures. The posts will always be titled with an “El Diario and the date” with a short synopsis of the post. The entire post will be found in the diary page. After a couple weeks or so the synopsis will be deleted so if you miss a post it can always be found in the diary page. My hope is this will maintain the integrity of the main page as a travel blog. And for those of you who could care less about our expat adventures you know you can skip the post.
The days have been jammed packed since we arrived in Chile. We rented an apartment in Viña del Mar on the 14th floor which is quite a change for Wooly and Raeski. We have a view of a bit of ocean and lots of high-rise apartment buildings. Viña is very modern and actually has more high-rise buildings than Phoenix.
Currently we are waiting for internet to be turned on in our apartment so all communications are restrained by the need to find a Wi-Fi gratis (free Wi-Fi) spot to get online. This puts a bit of a cramp in Wooly’s style but it also gives me time to write. Currently I am working on an article I hope to sell to International Living magazine. If it works out I hope to do a series of articles for the publication.
Shopping for produce in Chile is a bit different from the U.S. The best and freshest produce is found in farmers markets that are open on Wednesdays and Saturdays in Viña. In Valparaiso you can find markets open every day of the week. Our first shopping lesson learned was you must first take your produce to a clerk who weighs it and hands you a slip of paper with the items and their prices on it. Then, and ONLY then, do you take it to the cashier. Much to our chagrin, and our SECOND shopping lesson, we discovered this is also the system used in grocery stores.
We have two grocery stores and a mall across the street from us. Having to walk home with groceries limits the amount of groceries Ms. Raeski can purchase thereby creating more trips to the store. Wooly thinks Ms. Raeski likes this unexpected benefit.
Buses are ever-present and so far there has been no need for a car. Our offices are a short walk from our apartment. To get to where we will be teaching we ride a subway to Valparaiso and then take a bus to the Academy. As you might guess, teaching at the Naval Academy is a prestigious position. One may liken it to teaching at Annapolis. Ms. Raeski likes the idea of teaching all those handsome young cadets and Wooly is hoping for a couple of female cadets in his class for a little balance.
Hopefully we will get our internet soon. For now ciao. Yes, Chileans say ciao instead of adios.