30 October 2014

I thought I'd give you a glimpse of the past few weeks.  I've had these photos sitting around on my desktop, waiting to share with you.  They don't have a unifying theme other than that they are snapshots of our current life.

Since moving to Valdivia, I sometimes feel like have returned to a place that I once new.  A real place, with real trees, and real culture, with real worries and real mountains in the distance, with hillbillies that speak their special way, and with cold weather that can only be cured with big mugs of hot cocoa.  In this place, I have neighbors that grow things like apples, and blackberries, lettuce and swiss chard and others who have mean dogs and spotted chickens.  In this place, that is the real world, I get to make decisions like "let's put a hammock in the living room" or "let's ride our bikes to wherever we want."  In some ways, I feel very much like I have returned to where I was before I ever went to the desert.  To a place where I am free to do as I please.

And strangely enough, I think that bluegrass is also the tune for this landscape.  Listen to my current obsession here.

^^ apple trees next door ^^
Pablo was pretty pleased with the hammock stand that he made.  We are also enjoying dinners on the patio!
Crazy spider web designs, drinks at the skybar over-looking the city and river
Best view in town!

25 October 2014

View from the top!  On one side the ocean, on the other side volcanoes!

Can you spot Valdivia down there nestled in between the fields of trees?  She looks so very tiny from this vantage point.  Sometimes its hard to remember that we are surrounded but such beautiful country when we are stuck in traffic or trying to cross through the city.  While Valdivia might be rated as the fourth best city to live in Chile, I have to say that the city itself is not that pretty (photos will come in a later post).  Maybe Pablo and I are just spoiled after having the opportunity to visit some of the world's most beautiful cities, but I think most would say that Valdivia is a quaint and nice place to live, though its history of earthquakes and rain-begot-mildew has left downtown a bit tired.  But holy cow, outside the city is spectacular.  It is an eden for outdoor enthusiasts.  We have a lot of exploring to do.

Can you see the tree volcanoes in the photo below?

We could definitely feel the strong ocean breeze at the top of the mountain! Burr!

23 October 2014

Hip, hip hooray for big photosynthetically active organisms!

Maybe the excitement for trees only comes after spending several years in the desert?  I don't know, but goodness it sure is nice to be able to take a walk in the woods.  Don't get me wrong, we had a lot of fun exploring the Saudi landscape, but there is something comforting about being surrounded by big trees.  Something about protection, secrecy, and the smell of decomposing leaves just feels good.  Do people who grew up in desert or rocky or coastal landscapes feel the same way?  

I like to imagine all the people that have passed by these big sturdy trunks, all the years that these trees have stood tall, through rain and wind and some very cold days, from when they were just mere saplings to now, magnificent in their commitment to growth.  Reach for the sun, spread your roots far and wide, drink a lot of water and you shall stand tall for many days.

19 October 2014

We left the city and entered the forest.  The trees are so tall and green, when the sun is out to filter through their leaves, it is really beautiful.  

We drove and we drove and we drove.  I started to get the feeling that maybe we were lost, we had turned off the main road onto a dirt path what seemed like many hours ago, but then, just when I was about to say, "uh, where the heck are we?" there was a clearing in the trees and we got our first glimpse of the surrounding snow-capped volcanoes!  I know, right, v.o.l.c.a.n.o.e.s!  I also had no idea that we were living right next to lava spouting mountains.  Quite impressive, one day we will make a trip to visit them too.  But, we snapped some photos and pushed on and as we reached the top of the little incline that we were climbing, we were graced with yet another spectacular vista!  The sight of the sea with only New Zealand on the other side.  And it is funny here because that million dollar view belongs not to some movie star or billionaire, nope, it is just a bunch of sheep that wake up to that everyday.  

Oh, Chile, you are something else :)

17 October 2014

This weekend we are having upwards of 30 people over for the inaugural Asado y Frijolada at our house.  If you have seen the pictures of our little less-than-100sqm abode you might feel a bit nervous (like I do) that there exists the possibility that everyone might not actually fit inside.  Let's hope it doesn't rain :)

Last weekend, however, we decided to get out of the city and do a bit of hiking in one of the nearby parks.  The weather was beautiful and the scenery, even more so.  We live in the Los Rios region and as the name states, there are many of rivers that loop in and around the city.  The university where Pablo works is actually located on an island in the middle of one of the rivers.  So, to get out of town, we cross over first one bridge from our house, then another bridge onto the island, and then another bridge off the island onto the other shore.  Here are just a few snapshots of scenes from the car.  

15 October 2014

We aren't in Saudi anymore Totto.  It gets cold in southern Chile.  But luckily we have a nice little wood burning stove to heat things up.  Our house, like almost all others here, doesn't have central heat.  As they say, heat your house with wood and you will warm twice.  Once when you chop it, once when you burn it.  Which is no joke.  It will be 40F/10C outside and Pablo will be in a t-shirt, tossing that axe.  I have to say though, when I first heard that our house didn't have heat, and then I checked the average weather in Valdivia, I was worried.  Not because I have never experienced the cold, no, winter in Indiana is cold enough to freeze the balls off a pool table.  But not inside our houses!  With the thermostat set to 75, its summer all year round.  But now, after over a month in Chile I see that the wood stove is great.  Not only does it heat the house extremely fast (though maybe this wouldn't be so with more than 700sq/ft and good German insulation techniques), its romantic, and it produces dry heat.  With living in the rainiest spot on the planet, this last one is pretty important.  If you heat your house, but it is still humid, good luck trying to stay warm.  

So, I, and the cats, are hooked.  We sit by the fire (or in some cases under the fire) and listen to the wood crackle and pop while the rain pours down outside.  Couldn't be cozier :)

Loco laying on top of the wood under the stove!

11 October 2014

Our other neighbors.  Aren't they sooo ka-yoot!!  
... Except for when they get big.  Like the big daddy below.  Seriously, he must be as big as a mid-sized elephant.  Luckily, though, these beasts don't know how dangerous they could be.  They flee every time I try to say hello or offer them a bit of fresh grass.  

and look at this one, he's like a rhinoceros!! 

and while they don't seem very interested in being petted, they sure do give me some serious looks

I like them cows.