Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Book club, anyone?

Today was literary in a way that only the days of the unemployed can be. After meandering in and out of consciousness as my roommates hit their snooze buttons and eventually got up to shower, I sat up in bed and read the final pages of Carlos Ruiz Zafon's The Shadow of the Wind (La Sombra del Viento, in the original Spanish). The novel, essentially a love letter to books and Barcelona, is an engrossing mystery that, like The Da Vinci Code, left me certain that it's only a matter of time before someone makes a movie out of it. However, masterful bits of figurative language in unexpected places make The Shadow of the Wind much better, in my view, than The Da Vinci Code, as does Ruiz Zafon's absorbing depiction of Barcelona, a character in its own right.

Lovers of realism will find the coincidences that hold the plot together preposterous and charge that some supporting characters approach caricatures. But The Shadow of the Wind, like the radio soaps that captivate so many of its barceloneses, isn't trying to be realistic. On the other hand, if it is trying to entertain, it more than succeeds.

Toward the end of the book, one of the characters laments that "great readers are becoming more scarce by the day." The line was like a condemnatory index finger pointing up from the page. Because I haven't been a great reader of late. Before, I could point to my long work days as an excuse. No longer. Practically the only thing keeping me from reading now is the multitude of Intervention episodes available on YouTube.

I vowed that I would set off for the library immediately after turning the last page of The Shadow of the Wind. Or after just one episode of Intervention.

When I arrived at the Biblioteca de Santiago, I learned that I would have to provide proof of address -- which I didn't have -- before being allowed to check out a book, presumably so that the library staff would know which window to throw a brick through if I were ever late making a return.

After arriving home, I scanned my bookshelf for books I hadn't yet read. Dejected after my failed mission to the library, I chose the skinniest one, Un asunto de honor (A Matter of Honor) by Arturo Perez-Reverte. My Spanish former roommate had told me it could be read in one sitting, which I figured translated to a week for me.

As it turns out, he was right. By the time I returned Un asunto de honor (thumbs up) to the shelf, I was still unemployed and there was still a good hour and a half of daylight left. So I went to the nearest Bibliometro and jumped on the Bolaño bandwagon. By the second page, Llamadas telefonicas had convinced me that 1) I'm ignorant and 2) not all books can be read in one sitting.

Leaving my last job has meant making sacrifices. For example, I now replace pop and real fruit juice with the Chilean version of Tang on a fairly regular basis. But I've gained a lot more than a fluorescent orange tongue. Like time to read. And write. And (try to) cook. And visit friends without falling asleep mid-conversation out of exhaustion. Sure, it's about time I got serious about the job search. But not for a second have I regretted my decision to take a breather from the working world -- or forgotten how fortunate I am to be able to do so.

If everything goes according to plan, there will soon come a time when I will have to make time to read. I know from experience how hard it can be to motivate yourself to pick up a book at night when all you want to do is fall asleep watching Intervention. Which is why it occurred to me that it might help to have a book club. The books could be about Chile, living abroad or none of the above. We would have at least a month to read each book and then could talk about it in person or group blog about it (or both). What do you think?

Friday, March 27, 2009

Expat Pride

The other day V. and I went to lunch at a restaurant we like to think we discovered. Actually, there was a bit of discovery involved, given that the restaurant is in a small old house tucked away in one of Santiago Centro's many narrow residential passageways. And this -- in addition to cheap but delicious homemade meals -- is why we like it.

Every time we stop by, certain things are the same. Platoons of lettuce-and-tomato salads and Jell-O stand at the ready in the refrigerator by the door. The TV in the back is tuned to an "extreme home video" program in which people miraculously survive animal attacks and botched motorcycle stunts. This time, however, was different. I heard something I'd never heard at the restaurant before: English.

A large group of what appeared to be exchange students had just walked in. Apparently, I was not the only gringa to have discovered this place.

And I was upset about it.

I immediately felt like a horrible person. If I liked this restaurant so much, why wouldn't I want it to do good business? And why wouldn't I want others to enjoy it? I wouldn't hesitate to bring my own gringo friends to eat there, so why was I irked that a handful of strangers from my home country were choosing their salads from the fridge?

I eventually realized that I had just received a blow to my Expat Pride. Expat Pride is grounded in the belief that living in a foreign country for a significant period of time places one on a different plane than tourists. Expats know local slang and -- to the degree that it's possible -- local customs. Expats have waited in bank lines, squeezed themselves onto crowded buses and learned to deal with other everyday frustrations peculiar to their adoptive countries. Most pride-swelling of all, expats have created their own maps by frequenting establishments -- like hole-in-the-wall restaurants -- that can't be found in any guidebook.

To clarify, having a hefty reserve of Expat Pride doesn't mean denying one's foreignness. Heck, I just wrote two blog entries about how much I love Dr. Pepper. Expat Pride simply involves being convinced that one's been around long enough to know a thing or two.

To be fair, the gringos at the restaurant weren't tourists. They'll be in Chile long enough to make discoveries and create maps of their own. Which is why my Expat Pride wouldn't have been nearly as wounded if the exchange students hadn't shown up during one of the first weeks of the semester. If a group of gringos had found this tiny hidden restaurant during a phase in which they were probably still relying on Lonely Planet to get around Santiago, maybe I don't go as far off the beaten path as I like to think.

Or maybe I should just learn to share.

Monday, March 23, 2009

36 full ounces of bliss

Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU to everyone who offered suggestions about where to find Dr. Pepper in Santiago! Just as Lydia said, the Jumbo at the intersection of Grecia and Macul (Jose Pedro Alessandri) had a stash. As you can see below, they also had A&W root beer.

Unfortunately, I have very little self control when it comes to things that are delicious, so all this was gone within 24 hours of me purchasing it.

This just goes to show how useful our little gringas-in-Chile blogging community can be when it comes to information exchange!

Oh, and I haven't forgotten about Part 2 of my "Why I Came to Chile" story. It's on it's way!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Underground saviors

I'm not a fan of Santiago's Metro in the summer. It's sweltering and -- especially now that school is back in session and the city's workforce has returned to the daily grind -- packed. It's gotten to the point that merely glimpsing the trios of illuminated red diamonds that mark the entrances to Metro stations nudges my pulse up a bit.

The Metro, however, has one redeeming feature: babies. Or guaguas, as they're onomatopoeiatically called in Chile. If you stay on board for a few stops, you're bound to see at least one of them dangling from a baby sling or bouncing on a lap.

Guaguas have a spectacular time on the Metro. They marvel at their own reflections in the windows and stare in awe when another train speeds by outside. They are also unabashed peoplewatchers. Whenever I catch one eyeing me, I wave and make a series of ridiculous faces in the hope of provoking a reaction I rarely get.

Tonight, a Metro baby came to my rescue. I hadn't gotten a seat and was dreading the long, steamy ride home when the guagua in question started playing with my bracelets. She didn't stop fiddling with them for 10 minutes, during which time I completely forgot how peeved I was about having to stand. When a seat finally did open up, I hesitated before taking it, sad at the prospect of leaving my new friend.

I decided then and there that I was going to start riding the Metro like a baby. No, I don't plan to play with people's jewelry or suck on the handrails. I simply will make my best effort not to forget that, as hot and uncomfortable as I may be, speeding through an underground tunnel with dozens of strangers is pretty damn neat.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Group post: Why I came to Chile

I've met very few Chileans who haven't asked me why I chose to come to Chile. The funny thing is that after years of having to answer this question practically every time I make a new acquaintance, I still haven't come up with an articulate answer. I'm afraid I'll offend Chileans if I tell them that the decision had a lot to do with process of elimination and with the fact that we outsiders find some things about their country just plain strange.

I had been dreaming about study abroad since I was about seven years old. As a kid, I had a flag collection, a bevy of "international" dolls, and Christmas lists that included atlases and globes. While researching colleges in high school, I immediately discarded those without a wide range of study abroad options. So I think it would be safe to say that when my sophomore year in college finally rolled around, there were a few months when study abroad plans took priority over classes, social life and pretty much everything else.

As a Spanish major, I had a number of options. I had reservations about a few of them. I feared that Spain, the most traditional destination for students in my major, would be overrun with exchange students and therefore would not be an ideal place in which to submerge myself in 24-7 Spanish. Additionally, I thought I wanted to study immigration law at the time, so my interests lay mostly on this side of the Atlantic.

But Mexico seemed too close to home (if only geographically), and I pictured Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic as being too touristy -- not to mention sweltering. I wanted to go somewhere where I could integrate myself into a daily routine, where I could get to know the country by experiencing the ordinary. Not that the ordinary doesn't exist for people in the tropics; I just felt it would be easier for me to become a part of it in a place where I would be less likely to be dismissed as merely another foreigner on a beach vacation.

I thought acquiring the Argentines' very unique accent would mark me for life (oh, how little I knew about Chilean Spanish), so it all came down to a battle between Ecuador and Chile. Both appealed to me because I knew very little about them. My ignorance was far from on par with that of those who can't find these countries on a map, but the fact remained that my specific knowledge about Chile and Ecuador was relatively minimal. So was that of most people I knew, for that matter. I began to relish the idea of striking out into uncharted territory and making it my home.

I would eventually live in both Chile in Ecuador. For study abroad, however, I chose Chile. One of the available exchange programs in Santiago promised both direct enrollment in top-notch Chilean universities -- yes, I actually did go abroad to study -- and a service-learning component. I figured getting involved in a local community would be a wonderful way to get to know -- and give back to -- the country that was going to be kind enough to adopt me for a year. The universities themselves, one of which was public, were right inside Santiago itself. In Ecuador, on the other hand, I would have been studying at an exclusive private university based on a U.S. model and located in an equally exclusive area outside of Quito proper. I suspected I would be forced into a bubble.

It wasn't all about process of elimination, though. I was intrigued, like most gringo exchange students are, by Chile's charged social and political history. I was drawn to Chile's strangeness: its fancifully absurd shape, its isolation. The place was a renegade candy cane hooked onto the end of the world. The country's varied, stunning landscapes also played a role, although not a central one: I was going abroad to immerse myself in another everyday reality, not to spend every weekend on a bus.

So it was that I packed my bags and, as cliche as it sounds, boarded a flight that would change the course of my life.

I realize now that this is kind of a boring story. Maybe that's why I haven't come up with a succinct way to tell it to people I meet. I'm short on time today, so I'll have to save what I think is the much more interesting sequel -- why I didn't and then did come back to Chile after college -- for this weekend or early next week. Meanwhile, check out what other Chile bloggers posted on this topic. The list is on Kyle's blog.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The great pronoun dilemma

Something I've noticed about native Spanish speakers is that many of them tend to confuse pronouns when learning English. For example, they'll say "she" when they mean "he" or replace "their" with "they." My theory is that this has something to do with the fact that Spanish verbs are more inflected than English ones and therefore don't always require pronouns to clarify who's doing what. "Tengo" means "I have"; "tuvimos" means "we had." Maybe my students mix up their pronouns because they're not used to having to focus on them. This difference influences English speakers' Spanish as well: A Chilean once told me she'd noticed that we gringos, recurring to the rules of our own pronoun-peppered language, have the tendency to use the possible but repetitive "yo tengo" and "nosotros tuvimos."

As it turns out, I have pronoun troubles in English too. Of these little words, the one that complicates my life most is "we."

While talking to my mom on Skype last night, I mentioned that we here in Chile had gone off daylight saving time over the weekend. My use of "we" got me thinking about a time when I'd chosen a different pronoun: when I was home in Minnesota visiting from Ecuador and asked her, "Where do you keep the pots now?"

You. Not we. Through a simple inquiry about kitchenware, I had implied that I was no longer a full member of the household.

Which is true, in a sense. Ever since I went off to college, I've only spent a handful of weeks per year at home. However, for me, the phrase "at home" has never ceased to mean my family's house in Minneapolis. When I'm in the States, I don't talk about going "home" to Chile. Perhaps I would if I had a family here or had definite plans to stay here permanently. But I don't, at least not for now.

Still, the pronoun dilemma remains. If a foot of snow falls on Minneapolis while I'm frying under Santiago's summer sun, did we just have a blizzard or did they? Do we start partying late at night here in Santiago, or do they?

I have to admit that using "we" to refer to Santiaguinos makes me feel kinda warm and fuzzy. Like using "we" to refer to myself and a significant other. To me, "we" means that even though I'm far from home -- and from most of the people who know me best -- I belong to a community and to my surroundings. That I'm not a visitor in this city but a resident in it. A member rather than an observer.

Of course, there are certain contexts in which I would never presume to use "we." For example, "We suffered under Pinochet." And not just because I wasn't here during his regime. I don't know how Chileans who lived in Chile during the dictatorship would react to Chileans who didn't -- either because they were living abroad or hadn't been born yet -- saying the same thing, but I have the feeling they would find it more acceptable than if a foreigner had said it. There are certain aspects of this country that will be forever off-limits to me, certain things I will never be able to fully understand. I first encountered Chile by stepping off a plane when I was 20, not by growing up immersed in its history, culture or reality. For me, Chile is like a second language: I started learning too late to never have an accent.

There are other cases, though, in which I feel I have every right to use "we." I've lived in Santiago for almost two and a half years and have many of the same experiences as people who were born and raised here. We complain about the Transantiago bus system. We huddle around gas-fueled heaters in the winter.

Sometimes I feel a bit uncomfortable using "we" in this way, as if someone were going to call me out as an impostor. It's a feeling I'm trying to move past, though. Both because my experiences in Santiago completely justify the "we" and because, as certain things about Minnesota slip further into the realm of "they," "we" needs to absorb things about Chile to replace them. Because living in a world of pure "they"s would be downright depressing.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Thank you, Snow White

On Friday night I stayed out late and slept poorly. I woke up Saturday morning restless and angry at the world -- angry at Chile, specifically.

I was angry at Chile because no one seems to respect the sleeping. Because Santiago is so hot in the summer. Because the giant Easter candy displays in supermarkets include little else besides row after row of chocolate eggs that are all virtually the same and aren't even that good.

I realize I really should have been angry at myself for having been too cheap to buy decent rum the night before. At the time, however, I was convinced that Chile was personally and intentionally responsible for all my woes. I doubt there are expats who haven't had days like this.

My foul mood had sweetened very little by the time I set out to run my errand for the day: buying a St. Patrick's Day costume. I headed to Calle Meiggs, just east of the Estacion Central train station. A lot of people say this crowded capillary of discount micro-commerce is the perfect place to get pickpocketed. I say it's the perfect place to pick up all the multi-colored novelty items you never knew you needed.

I stepped into one of the handful of costume and party shops on the block and was greeted enthusiastically by a college-aged woman with pastel stars and hearts painted on her cheeks. Another woman, also with a painted face, emerged from the shadows and welcomed me cheerily as well. I wasn't sure which one of them to address when I asked them, stupidly, if they sold face paint.

They pointed me to a staircase at the back of the store. As I walked past rows of streamers and party hats, I was met with smiles from a Chilean Snow White and a bevy of additional fairytale characters.

As I descended the stairs, which were lined with streamers and Halloween masks, I wondered fleetingly how wise I had been to let a bunch of adults dressed up in party costumes lure me into a basement. The feeling passed when I emerged into what appeared to be the hat, mask and wig room, where a king and a woman with alien antennas helped me pick out green face paint, a green plastic bowler and a pair of sparkly green sunglasses. We talked about St. Patrick's Day, and I asked them if they had fun at their jobs. They said they did when the clients danced.

The costume shop staff made an impression on me that went far beyond their goofy costumes. Not only were they being friendly and helpful in a city that is not necessarily known for chipper customer service, but they seemed to genuinely enjoy selling sparkly wigs in a dank basement next to the train station. Maybe that was why the tiny place was so noticeably overstaffed.

Of course, I know next to nothing about the reality of the costume shop. Maybe the staff are only so perky because they get paid on commission. Maybe their boss is a tyrant. Maybe it's all a drug front. Somehow, though, I doubt it. While I'd been moping around all day, these people had been painting each others' faces and trying to get their customers to dance.

I left the costume shop in such a good mood that I wore my glittery, heart-shaped green sunglasses all the way to V.'s house, where we painted our faces before heading off to a St. Patrick's Day celebration at a bar. Yes, there are things about Chile that bother me. But this country -- and this city, specifically -- is full of spirit-lifting experiences tucked away in the most unlikely places.

If you want to read more about Chile redeeming itself in the eyes of a gringa, check out Kyle's recent post.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

There was just no way

When it comes to bathrooms, I've seen my share of the repulsive. At a gargantuan Carnival party in Brazil, I had no choice but to use a restroom where, by the end of the night, the floor was grimy with materials I was pretty sure belonged inside the toilets. In Italy, I once paid a whole Euro to use a public bathroom that literally ended up being a hole in the ground. But nothing compares to the bathroom I came across this past weekend.

On Friday night, I went to see Banda Conmocion perform at La Fonda Permanente on Calle Serrano. The concert was a trombone-swinging, cymbal-spinning fire trap that left me with my hair doused with beer and my blood pumping to the beat of cumbia. Still, what I'll remember most about that night had nothing to do with the music.

While waiting for the band to come on, I got in line for the bathroom. During the several minutes I waited, I noticed that all the women ahead of me were going in in pairs. I figured they were all just really close friends and didn't think anything of it. When it was almost my turn, the woman next to me -- a stranger -- asked if I minded if she went in with me. "There are two toilets," she explained.

"No problem," I replied, wondering why she'd even asked.

Oh, but it was a problem. When we entered the restroom, we were confronted with two side-by-side toilets without any division whatsoever between them.

This apparently posed no problem for my bathroom buddy, who asked if I was feeling OK while blithely going about her business. I silently prayed to be momentarily relieved of my inhibitions, all the while knowing deep down that there was no way it was going to happen.

Who the hell designs a bathroom like this? The only remotely similar thing I've seen was the communal women's restroom at the camp my high school subjected us to at the beginning of freshman year. The stalls had divisions but no doors, which we were told was intended to "take us out of our comfort zones" to prepare us for five days of hauling canoes through mosquito-infested woods. At the time, we could barely imagine anything more scandalous. Little did I know that an even more traumatizing bathroom awaited me a decade down the line.

It strikes me that the process of designing the women's bathroom at La Fonda Permanente could not have included any actual women. If it had, I very much doubt that the final product would have involved two side-by-side toilets with no partition between them.

Then again, the other women in line seemed to have been perfectly content to pee in pairs. Is it a Chilean thing? Or is it just me? Maybe I'm just exceedingly self-conscious when it comes to this type of thing. As an exchange student here in Santiago, I would frequently make the hour-long commute home from judo class without rinsing off first in order to avoid using the showers in the university locker room, which not only were communal but also opened directly into the changing room. My classmates didn't seem to mind much.

Which is why I'm curious. Women, would you use the Fonda Permanente bathroom?

And Sara, how would this W.C. rank in your guide?

Some women consider the bathroom a place of solace, a sanctuary in which to escape a bad date, chat privately with a friend or simply absorb a few moments of calm and quiet. Chilean bathrooms, however, seem to conspire to make this impossible. They are frequently devoid of toilet paper, soap and basic standards of hygiene. It's not just the facilities themselves that can make using the ladies' room harrowing: Women waiting in Chilean bathroom lines can be downright belligerent. If they think someone's been inside for even seconds too long, they have been known to pound on the door and shout an insistent chorus of "Yaaaa po!"s. This is probably because Chilean women's bathrooms -- significantly more so than in the U.S. -- tend to be much too small to meet demand.

So Chile, I ask you: Why can't we just pee in peace?

Monday, March 9, 2009

Lucky dog

How damn lucky is this dog? From what I can tell, his job is to guard the llamas, ostriches, chickens and pigs wandering around outside the Espantapajaros restaurant on the highway between Frutillar and Puerto Octay in southern Chile's Region X. This basically means that he gets to lie around all day next to the beautiful Lago Llanquihue.

I wonder how good my family's cockapoo, Riley, would be at this job.

I think the ostriches would eat her.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Medium popcorn or CEO?

Some decisions are just too tough for a girl to wrap her pretty little head around.

Oh, silly me. I've gone and gotten ahead of myself.

This story begins about four years ago, when I made a pledge to visit all of Santiago's 30-odd comunas, or municipalities, before my study abroad year came to a close. Not just drive through them -- actually set foot in them and get to know them a little.

I didn't do it. I came pretty close, but to this day, there are comunas I've never been to. Until this evening, Cerrillos -- located in the southwestern quadrant of the city -- was one of them. I've always been curious about Cerrillos, in part because I rarely ever hear anything about it. From a logistical standpoint, it's relatively isolated, and an airport sprawls over a thick slice of its territory.

Since I didn't fulfill my mission the first time around, I figure the challenge is still on. This means I sometimes make an effort to do ordinary things -- like buying essentials or going for bike rides -- in places I've never been before.

Today, the ordinary thing of choice was going to a movie. The place: Mall Plaza Oeste in Cerrillos.

Now, I realize sitting in a movie theater in a mall does not qualify as getting to know a comuna. For that reason, I'm not crossing Cerrillos off my list just yet. In any case, I digress.

The bus dropped me off at a section of the mall called Las Terrazas, an outdoor patio ringed by restaurants and bars. As I walked inside, I passed a poster promoting Las Terrazas as a prime spot for summer fun. "Summer nights are open to all," the sign read. To illustrate, it featured two of the groups summer nights are open to: the "summer bachelors" and the "executive hunters."

The former were represented by two men in business attire rejoicing as they broke the chains that shackled their wrists together. In Chile, the term "summer bachelors" refers to married men whose wives have left town on vacation, frequently taking the kids along with them. Apparently, the first thing these fellows do after kissing their families goodbye is flock to Mall Plaza Oeste for a celebratory cold one.

The "executive hunters" on the poster were three young women clad in tight jeans and T-shirts and brandishing a lasso, a bow and arrow and a metal bear trap.

Well, goodness. Had I known the mall was the best place to bag a rich husband, I would have made myself up more and brought my tranquilizer gun.

I began to wonder if I shouldn't just skip the movie and bat my eyelashes around Las Terrazas until a CEO with a chiseled jaw and broken chains dangling from his wrists bought me a drink.

What do ads like this say about women -- and about men, for that matter? What assumptions underlie the choice to juxtapose men dressed for the board room with women dressed for bar hopping? Or men for whom marriage is tantamount to slavery with women desperate to walk down the aisle in very expensive pumps?

There was some measure of equality in the poster: Both genders appeared hell bent on misbehaving. But while the men's misbehavior was portrayed as liberating, innocent and even endearing, the women's was ensnaring and downright sinister.

Apparently, men leap at the chance to abandon responsibility and women at the chance to fill their jewelry boxes. With images like these posing as humorous publicity, can we really expect substantial advances in gender relations and equality?

Sure, sexist imagery and stereotypes abound in the United States. I think one would be a bit more hard pressed to find an ad like this there, though. I feel that in many cases, the sexism we're exposed to up north is more subtle, more camouflaged. Does that make it even more dangerous?

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Dr. Pepper therapy

I could really go for a Dr. Pepper right now.

Were I still living in Quito, satisfaction would have been just a bus ride away at a store called El Griego, where gringos can satisfy their hunger for a taste of home with products ranging from grape soda to 3 Musketeers. The likelihood of my patronizing this establishment was directly proportional to my stress level, workload or number of relationship problems. There was never a day too frustrating for a Dr. Pepper or a Mounds Bar to brighten up; something about consuming such familiar junk food brought me a surprising amount of comfort. Not everything could be wrong with the world if my favorite pop was still in it.

The problem is that I have no idea where to get it in Santiago. I don't know how this city's foreign population compares to that of Ecuador's capital, but gringos seem to be much more catered to in Quito, where hostels, English-language books and overpriced gringo goodies abound. I'm sure this has to do with the importance of foreign tourism as a source of revenue in Ecuador.

Whatever the reason, the concrete implication for me is that I became accustomed to a luxury -- Dr. Pepper therapy -- that is no longer available to me. I suppose the best thing to do would be to find a way of dealing with problems that doesn't involve high-fructose corn syrup. In the absence of the necessary will power, however, I've turned to a few substitutes for those days when expat life gets me down:

1. Peanut butter. This is expensive therapy indeed, so I only give in to temptation once every several weeks.
2. Commercial movie theaters. There's nothing like popcorn and plush stadium seats to take you back to the days when your most pressing concern was what time to tell your mom to pick you up.
3. Books in English. There was a time when I thought living in Chile meant I had the duty to read almost exclusively in Spanish -- not the most effective relaxation technique for a non-native speaker.
4. Watching pirated U.S. T.V. episodes online. This deserves an entry in itself.

Obviously, there's nothing like spending time with friends or receiving an e-mail from home to raise my spirits. But these little things help.

So if anyone knows where I can buy Dr. Pepper in Santiago (or anywhere in Regions Metropolitana, V or VI), please let me know.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Back in action

Wherein Leigh Learns how to Post Videos on her Blog

As you may have noticed, this is my first entry in a few weeks. That's because, like so many other Santiaguinos, I fled the city for a few weeks in February. My backpacking trip through southern Chile -- which I promise to post about over the next few days -- included stops at the Altos de Lircay National Reserve near Talca, Lagos Llanquihue and Todos los Santos, and the Chiloe Archipelago (I have a gringo keyboard, so just imagine the accent on the "e" in "Chiloe"

I didn't announce my trip on my blog because I've seen enough T.V. news magazine programs to make me fear the internet. And 16 hours on a bus left me too wiped out to write about my travels today. So, for the time being, I've posted a preview for your viewing pleasure.

I took this video during a boat ride across Lago Todos los Santos in Region X. Learning to post videos on Blogger more than fulfilled my technological quota for the day, so I decided to put off learning to use my video editing software. I hope to have a prettier version of this clip -- a.k.a. one with fewer random people and cargo crates -- ready soon. Until then, enjoy: