Sunday, December 29, 2013

Magical Mystical Chiloe

Saturday, we drove down to the end of Ruta 5, about 1 1/2 hrs, and drove onto the ferry to Chiloe. pronounce chill-oh-way. This island was settled by a tribe of mapuche indians and then the spanish arrived in 1567. The spanish and indians intermarried and developed their own culture separate from Chile. The Jesuits arrived in 1608 and built many churches all over the archipelago. Many of the churches are still standing and there is a tour you can make of the most popular ones. People farm & fish and cater to tourists here. Not much else to do! There are some towns and shopping.
You can click on the map and zoom in. the beaches we went to are northwest of Ancud.

Ver mapa más grande

Here is the ferry - 4 of them were going back and forth all day and its not even the busy season.
No waiting, you just drive right on- pay the ferrymaster $20 and relax.

There is an outside viewing deck for tourists. The trip is around 1/2 hr. across the Chanel de Chacao.
All these heavy trucks and buses make me nervous! but this is the only way to the island.
Our first stop was the penguin beach. Boats go out to the small islands off the coast to view the magellanic & humboldt penguin breeding grounds. I think this is the farthest north they go. Look hard because they blend in well with the rocks.
Lots of chicks but most parents are out fishing to feed all the hungry mouths!

This rock split in the 2010 earthquake
Voila! now 2 islands!

Thomas is having a great time! as we all did

Cool caves all along this rocky coast

Beautiful rolling hills and farmland

This is the most awesome beach ever!
Miles and miles of sand - just a few houses and we only saw one guy on the beach. he was scuba diving for kelp.
We drove down on the beach and explored several caves, one of which is in this big rock
Lots of shells and interesting rocky areas

Lots of flowers blooming like this thistle
You can bet we'll be back! Next time - the church tour and the capital of Castro.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Our Lady of Guadalupe; Empress of the Americas

Yesterday 12 December 2013 was the Feast Day of Our Lady of Guadalupe which is celebrated by the Catholic Church. As some of you who follow this blog are not Catholic I thought that this was a miracle that transcends all Christian faiths. Indeed the miracle covers all humanity and is as important for this fact, since the Virgin Of Guadalupe first appeared to a pagan who had little or no knowledge of the Catholic Church. The Mother of God appeared to and for all of us. Even if you are not a Christian (and I hope you are) then this extraordinary event, which can still be seen today 500 years later, can not be explained by modern science. Indeed the miracle continues every day since it first happened as the "Tilma" is like a living apparition.

Here are two links. The first one describes the miracle and the second is a scientific probe into the event.
This is a great description of what happened and continues to happen:

This man is a scientist who at first tried to disprove the miracle.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Some different things about Chile

There are some unusual and different things about Chile. Here is a list of a few things, some quite puzzling and humorous.

1. Don't ever go into the bathroom stall at a public restroom without checking the toilet paper first. Either there is none or it may be stationed outside the stall?!
2. Lots of people hitchhike - young and old! it is common and safe. many people can't afford cars and though buses are very common and go everywhere sometimes it is just more convenient to hitch a ride. Also it is considered good Christian form to pick some one up and snobby not to. Of course you use your own discretion. Use your emergency blinkers when you pick them up.
3.Milk comes in boxes unrefrigerated and jam comes in bags (very messy!)
4. Many chilean products are poorly designed and constructed - the weeny easybake oven (it is neither) that seems to be the standard stove for most chileans that can't fit 4 pots on the top and you need 3 arms and the patience of a saint to light the oven. The washing machine where the clothes come out dirtier than when you put them in and the dryer that sounds like 100 squeaking rats are inside turning the drum and it takes 2 hours to dry a load of clothing. I have grown to love my clothesline with all that nice fresh Patagonian air and a good torrential downpour gets most of the dirt out!
5.Dirt / Gravel roads are common but well maintained though a little dusty when it's dry and it's not uncommon to see oxen pulled carts on the side of the highway or what we would call the interstate. You will also see bicyclists and pedestrians on the interstate.
6. It is good form when you enter someones house to say "permisso" or permission. It is like the Irish saying bless all in this house! Chileans are very polite and just saying hola to someone you don't know is too casual for chileans. You should say "Buenos Dias, hola" especially to someone you don't know
7. Chileanos are real big on receipts. They must give you a receipt even for the most simple purchase and they are real insistent that you take it. This has to do with the tax laws. Also if you do a credit card or debit purchase they will ask you to hit enter on the machine to verify the amount that they put into the machine. This is to prove that they are honest.
8. They love bags or bolsas. If they were selling you bags they would put them in a bag and that in a bag and so on.But the bags are so holey you have to use 2 at the grocery store.
9. You get to kiss your banker. It is common to kiss someone on the cheek when you say hello (opposite sex). Like the frenchies.
10. Chileanos do not like BBQ sauce or sweet meat like chinese or americans.
11. They love bubbly water or carbonated water.......... actually I have come to prefer it as well. You can't get just a free glass of water at a restaurant. It is always bottled and you have a choice- con or sin gas. with or without carbonation. Samuel & Andrew still get confused by this.
12. There are many little roadside shrines a symbol of the catholic heritage of this country.
13. The language is always good for a laugh. Like when Jim asked the ladies at Kuchenladen for a Bodega de galletas which is a barnful of cookies instead of a bagful or when Jim wanted to grill a cerro instead of a cerdo - a hill instead of a pig. Our friend told us his ancestors came from germany on sheep instead of ships. I have been teaching the ladies at our favorite cafe some english so they can help the american tourists. We have a good laugh as they try to pronounce some of the sounds that are difficult for a spanish tongue.
14. Tipping - the waiter tips are only 10% but it is customary to tip many others including the bag boy at the grocery who only makes $2.50 per hour, the guy who helps you park your car and then makes sure it isn't broken into (you hope!) and the juggler who entertains you while waiting for the light change.
15 which brings up another topic on parking- there are no meters on city streets but there is usually a guy with an official orange vest who will put a ticket on your car and then conveniently take your money when you are ready to leave which is only a $1 or 2 depending on how long you are parked.
I assume they are city employees?
16. The roads are pretty well maintained - in town they paint the street lines with hand brushes and weed the roadsides with weedeaters- both very time consuming and though seemingly inefficient I guess it does provide jobs for the locals!
17. Though i must admit chileans are ingenious and learn to make do when they can't afford an item or it just isn't available for example - workers pouring concrete on the roadside are using a smoother with homemade stick handles and if you don't have a ladder tall enough you just build it with scrap wood!
You fill up your car with firewood if you don't have a trailer and if you don't have a car you use a wheelbarrow and if you don't have a car, your back is just as good!

Monday, December 2, 2013

Holidays & Holy Days

Holidays are a bit different here. They have some obscure catholic/saint holidays when all the stores & banks are closed but no one goes to church. Of course, they don't have Thanksgiving but we did celebrate that special day with our American friends as we have so much to be thankful for!

We also celebrated All Saint's/All Souls day with our American host family who came down from Santiago to spend the weekend with us. We had a dress up as your favorite saint plus some games and fun!
The donut game

Bobbing for apples

Birds in the tree

Now we are getting ready for Advent and Christmas. And I can't believe I have done 2 things I've never done before- first I bought a fake tree. they just don't sell live trees here. and second I put it up Thanksgiving weekend. Thomas was just too excited.

Here is the Advent wreath I made from scratch- You'd be proud of me, Mom!
Just some branches Thomas cut from the yard and some electrical wire

Not bad for $10 - Thomas put it together and decorated it plus he's even been making some gifts for Emily
Won't she be surprised!
Thomas is very industrious!

A few of our favorite things .....

Number 1
The awesome sunsets in the east!
No, the sun doesn't set in the east here but when it sets the eastern mountain range becomes a range of purples, pinks & blues. Quite enchanting especially when the moon is rising.
These are taken from our front porch.

Number 2
The nectar of the gods

Raspberry juice for under $3
Life is good
Don't worry Emily, I'll stock up before you get here!

Number 3 
The fresh produce

Fast food here is stopping by the neighborhood mercadito and picking up some fresh vegies for dinner
It is so much easier than a grocery store when you can park curbside and go right in and most of the display is on the sidewalk
Much of it is local
The flavors are sweet and fabulous 

Number 4
The people 
The people are friendly and welcoming
This picture was taken at our first BBQ when we hosted the Mennonite church of 30+ people
at our home with dinner on  Jim's new grill - a real southern BBQ
Chilean people are generally reserved, quiet, genial people
Not as outwardly friendly as southerners but always generous and helpful
Overall, Chileans are happy and simple people

Number 5
The country life
We love the farms and the animals and look forward to having our own someday
We love the wide open pastures and all that fresh Patagonian air!