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Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Quinta Normal and the Train Museum (Museo Ferroviario)

On Sunday we went to a park called Quinta Normal in another part of the city.  It is similar to Golden Gate Park (San Francisco) or Parque Retiro (Madrid) with grassy areas, wide promenades, a small manmade lake with paddle boats, and several museums within its gates.  It also had this guy with a real Llama!  (Anything to make money, right?)  We tried putting the boys on it for a picture, but they weren't into it. 

We came to the park mainly for an open-air train museum that Matt and Jessica told us about.  It has sixteen retired steam engines, among other trains, some of which you could climb on or inside of. 

This train had a pit you could go into to see the underside of the steam engine.  Not something you get to do every day!
Pulling the handle that rings the train's bell...

 I thought it was pretty cool that they have the same kind of old passenger cars as the ones in the Polar Express movie.  Of course Caleb loved that!

Inside the old passenger cars

Landon pressing his nose against the window and Caleb the thinker...

Hands-on learning

Landon looks very focused on trying to turn the wheel in this picture, but he was actually smiling and very excited to play with it, though the picture snapped and just the wrong time to capture that.

Grabbed a choripan after the museum
(instead of a hot dog it is a chorizo sausage - yummy!)

On our way home we were walking past the fire station in our neighborhood and were so excited and lucky to see that they had the engine and the hoses out for cleaning!  This was a treat, and rather rare, as people don't just go visit a fire station and get to sit inside of a fire truck like we sometimes do at home.  I don't think the idea would even occur to a Chilean to do such a thing.  Interesting fact: Being a firefighter in Chile - small city or large metropolis like Santiago - is 100% volunteer work.  That's right, they don't get paid a dime, yet they do it as full time jobs.  Pretty amazing. 

This engine is a brand new one that they just recently got - from the United States.  Not sure why they put British and Commonwealth Fire and Rescue Co....

Our friends, Matt, Jessica, and Evan.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Maitencillo - A second visit

We had Guillermo's car for a second weekend and decided to make another trip to Maitencillo for some beach time, this time without any friends - just us and the boys.

There is a section of the drive where there are a bunch of fruit and veggie stands along the side of the freeway.  I love how all the different colored fruits and vegetables look in the bags.  And I didn't notice until looking through pictures to do this post because I didn't know what it was ten days ago, but there is a sign that says "Charqui"... Jimmy learned at lunch with Chilean co-workers last week that it is a type of jerky made from horse meat (an extremely dry version of jerky, similar to Mexican jerky texture).  Yes, he tried some, and said it reminded him of the Mexican jerky.  They served it as a salad with chopped onions and olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice, and herbs.

I'm sure there is a name for this in the weather world, but it looked really cool... clouds flowing over the mountain like lava...

We packed pbj sandwiches and snacks and were able to have a bit more time on the beach than last time, though with two young kids that are still getting used to the ocean, and the strong Chilean sun, we could only be out there for about an hour and a half before needing some shade.  We headed over to a little restaurant along the beach promenade and had some snacks.

Spent more time playing on beach with boys and less time snapping pictures this trip, so we only have a few cute ones from the restaurant...

Landon and Caleb being silly back and forth with the place mats:

Caleb's widow's peak of sand (happened this way on its own)

People in this country like to order juices, and many restaurants serve several flavors.  We had no idea that they would serve one this big, especially for a kid!!  

Though he could barely reach without tipping the glass, you can guess that he certainly did enjoy it!

Out and about last week

Wearing mommy's tall wedge shoes

Wild hairs, pre-haircut

Drying bed sheets make great forts!

On Friday I thought it would be fun to walk to a little bakery nearby and get a special treat.  There is one that I have been wanting to try that is only a block away, so we went out exploring the neighborhood in some of the streets we haven't yet seen just to extend the outing a bit.  Well it turned out the bakery I wanted to go to was closed - perhaps for vacation I'm guessing, since it is still February and many people here go on vacation then.  As we were walking to a Plan B bakery, Landon fell asleep in the stroller in what looked like a very uncomfortable position...

Totally asleep, with his head hanging forward
We ended up going to the same bakery where we got Jimmy's birthday cake, Dulceria Las Bezanilla, for our treats...

Remember the cuchufli, the sweets that look like cigars?  Well they also make chocolate covered versions at some places (including Starbucks, which I noticed when I went there for the first time on Sunday)

If you know Caleb and Landon, you know that they love watching all the heavy machinery involved in any sort of construction.  Normally when we are in Lodi we will go sit and watch construction projects and bring lunch or a snack with us - Grape Bowl, Hutchins Street, etc.  When we were walking home from the fruit and veggie stand we saw a big truck backing in to deliver pallets of cement tiles, and the truck had a big crane lift on the back of it.  We slipped into the gate to watch as they unloaded the pallets.   The two delivery guys got a kick out of it when I told them we were just hanging out for the kids to watch the truck.  I think we made their day.

On street near our apartment they close down several blocks to cars every Sunday from 9-2pm to encourage people to get exercise (something that Chile is making a big effort all around the city for, since weight is a problem here).  People run, ride bikes, walk, skateboard and skate.  We decided to take a walk and bring a ball to play with to enjoy it too.

You might recognize this from the skyline views from our apartment.  It is still under construction, but will be the tallest building in South America, at least for a few years... word has it Brazil is trying to one-up them...
Kind of unusual to see cowboys riding horses down the sidewalk in the city... The one on the left has a traditional huaso hat on.  Huasos are the Chilean cowboys.
Jimmy drove us by the office that he works in while we had a car last weekend.  He works on the sixth floor of the taller building.

Some facts about Chile...

I got to wondering one day about how long Chile is, so I Googled it, and found some other info as well and thought some might be curious to know more about Chile and its history.  Here are some interesting factoids...

On a map, some nations are easily recognized by their shape, but probably none as easily as Chile. This icicle-shaped country in South America stretches about 2,800 miles along the Pacific Ocean.

Its average width is just 110 miles, and nowhere is Chile more than 250 miles wide! Though only about the size of Texas and South Carolina combined, Chile would stretch from the Canadian-American border all the way to the southern end of Mexico!

The Andes Mountains are the main feature of Chile, and these mountains can be seen from almost everywhere in the country. The Andes form the border between Chile and Argentina, and here can be found the highest peaks in the Americas.

The Andes, taken last night from our balcony...

There are desert regions in northern Chile, and cold, rainy forests in the southern part of the country. Most of Chile’s 11 million people live in the central region, and almost 80 percent live in cities.

Once the land of the Inca and Araucanian* Indians, Chile was colonized by Spain during the sixteenth century. In 1818, Jose de San Martin led an army from Argentina into Chile and defeated Spanish forces there, leading to independence for Chile.

*Mapuche Indians, which were called Araucanian Indians by the Spaniards

...And some facts I grabbed from Wikipedia (link for full article at bottom):
Chile produces more than a third of the world's copper, mainly in the Atacama Desert in the northernmost part of the country, making it the largest copper producing country in the world. They mine approximately five times what the U.S. produces each year.  Impressive!  (Remember the 33 trapped miners that we heard so much in 2010??  Copper mines.)

Part of Chile's diverse climate includes the world's driest desert in the north - the Atacama - and a Mediterranean climate in the center, including Santiago - very similar valley weather to Lodi and California's Central Valley!

Chile is the world's fifth largest exporter of wine, and eighth largest producer.  (Wish we could find a way to go check out some of the great wineries that Chile has to offer...!  Tough with little ones...)

This touches briefly on our observations about the style of houses in our neighborhood here, that seem to us like they would be found in England or Germany... (From the wiki article link below): 
Descendants of different European ethnic groups often intermarried in Chile, diluting the cultures and separate identities of the home countries and fusing them together with the descendants of the original Basque-Castilian aristocracy of the colonial period, while at the same time preserving some separate aspects. This intermarriage and mixture of cultures and races has help shape the present society and culture of the Chilean middle and upper classes, who now enjoy varied elements of their original European cultures, such as British afternoon tea, German cakes, and Italian pasta. The fusion is also visible in the architecture of Chilean cities.

Two blocks over from us

Indigenous Communities:
According to the 2002 census, only indigenous people that still practiced a native culture or spoke a native language were surveyed, and 4.6 percent of the population (692,192 people) fit that description.  Of that, 87.3 percent declared themselves Mapuche.

Pablo Neruda (Nobel Prize winning poet) and Isabel Allende (Chile's best selling author, most recognized for her book Casa de Los Espíritus, or House of Spirits) are both from Chile.

Chile's national sport is rodeo, and the riders are required to wear traditional huaso (Chilean cowboy) garb, as seen in the picture below.   

(The full version, for curious minds: )

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Landon's first haircut!

Another first for Landon here in Chile.... his haircut!  In the past month it has really started getting long on top and tangled after his baths - time for a trim.  We put him in his high-chair with a toy and a comb and he did a pretty good job sitting still.  He seemed to be more interested in playing with the comb (something he hasn't really played with before) than worrying about the fact that there was a snipping noise going on near his ears, like Caleb did with his first haircut.

Video of his haircut:

Not bad, huh!  My haircutting skills have improved a bit since Caleb's first one a year and a half ago! :)

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The Adventures of Gio and Bella

For probably six months now the endless adventures of Gio and Bella have been a fun thing for Caleb and Jimmy at bedtime.  Jimmy comes up with stories from the top of his head, and the adventures almost always involve Gio and Bella (my parents' Golden Retriever dogs), some other thing that has happened recently, plus the always popular inclusions of fire stations, garbage trucks, kids gyms (like the one I wrote about the other day), and many different family members.

Tonights included such stories as Gio and Bella... the frutería and farmacia with the lotion (two errands we ran today, including returning lotion).
...and the lollipop (Caleb ate one yesterday).
...and the balloons and the garbage trucks.
...and the backloader tractor.
...and the ride in the double stroller to the park to play.
...and several more short ones that I can't remember...

Two that are popular and get requested often...
Gio and Bella at the pancake breakfast at Lodi Lake with the ducks (a popular, repeatedly requested story).
Gio and Bella at the fire station in Lodi.

The stories are simple, and sometimes change a bit from one telling to the next, but Caleb loves listening to what Jimmy comes up with, and loves coming up with titles of new stories for Jimmy to tell (at which point Jimmy starts talking and thinking of things as he goes).  A fun, memorable thing for Jimmy and Caleb, and great practice for his imagination as he comes up with new story ideas, too!

Our Double is back!

Our double is back and working again!  We have been six weeks without it after one of the wheels burst while Jimmy was disassembling it to pack for the flight, only days before we left Lodi.  The brand is from New Zealand, and for replacement parts you have to order them from the manufacturer, so we ordered the new wheel, which would have to come to CA, then be shipped on to us in Santiago.  No time to get it before leaving town.  Well when it arrived in Santiago we realized that it didn't have the axle needed to connect it to the stroller - not sure if that was our mistake or theirs, but we had to order that piece too.  It arrived on Monday, and Tuesday morning we were finally able to use the double stroller!

Caleb has gotten used to walking much more this past month, and we can get our basic errands and outings done with minimal protesting, but now that we have the double, we can hopefully venture further, and at the very least get places like the grocery store and back faster.  Today we went to the store and were able to get there in 9 minutes, compared to 15-20 minutes each way (depending on Caleb's mood and willingness to keep pace).  A world of a difference, and better exercise for mom since I'm walking at a speed that will give me more of a workout!  Its nice to let Caleb have a chance to relax while we are out, too.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Southward bound: To Curicó

Thursday morning we left Santiago with the kids and headed about two hours south to the town of Curicó.  Guillermo loaned us his car again for this weekend, which we are so thankful for, and it also made for a much quicker drive to Curicó than in a tiny little rental car.  We had Caleb in our carseat, and Landon was riding rear-facing in an infant seat that we had borrowed from Matt and Jessica because we didn't have another option available.  Well the morning turned out to be a rough one despite having a comfortable SUV to travel in.  About 30 minutes into the drive Landon had been whining for what we assumed was just because he didn't like being rear-facing.  We soon realized that it may have been complaints of motion sickness because he threw up all over himself and the borrowed carseat.
So gross, so unpleasant, and so terribly timed since we were in a hurry to get to Curico in time for a meeting Jimmy had at 11am.  Plus we had no towels or things in the car to clean with other than one pack of baby wipes.  We thankfully found a nice guy who worked at a gas station who gave us a roll of paper towels, spray cleaner, and helped us clean out as much of it as we could as quickly as we could, and back on the road we went.  The road down to Curicó was full of factories and packing plants, many of which were for fruit and vegetable companies, including Del Monte and Dole.

A few more of those long and unusual city names with plenty of syllables.  (Jimmy had a good comparison though - words at home like Mokelumne and Tuolomne would probably seem strange to people from other places too...) 

I can't believe there is a place with this name.  "Peor es Nada", which means 'Nothing is Worse.'
Can you imagine being from there??
During Jimmy's first meeting we stayed in the area since it was outside of town and let the kids run around in a soccer field and old run down park that was next to the packing shed where his meeting was.

This park was far from in decent condition, but the kids had fun just the same
Some good 'ole fashioned fun, kicking around in the leaves

Random detail:  In Chile, they generally use Olive Oil and Lemon Juice on their salads, not vinegar.
Curicó was very different from Santiago, or at least from the area where we live in Santiago.  The buildings are much older and not kept up as well, and there isn't as much money available for upkeep of the streets and neighborhoods.  Nonetheless, I enjoyed getting to see a different part of the country, as well as the drive seeing the countryside.  It is amazing that there hasn't been a single place we've gone in Chile yet where you aren't surrounded by some part of the Andes mountains on all sides.  They are always visible - its pretty incredible to think how far they stretch.  

Didn't get many pictures of Curicó, but this was near our little apartment/hotel
All the buses were from the 1960s and '70s - very different from city buses in Santiago
The Andes on the drive home.  Looks like snow, but I think this was rock.  Still very beautiful.

Jimmy had four meetings in the two days we were there, and after the first meeting on Thursday we were able to stop at a packing shed where he has some contacts and got to buy some squeeze pouches from them!  This was a treat for the kids and a convenience for me to look forward to keeping in my diaper bag again.  The kids love them - they're fun to eat, and easy to take with us.  We bought a few extra boxes so we can share them with some Chilean friends who haven't seen them before.  As far as we know they aren't sold here yet.

Thursday night was Valentine's Day, which I almost didn't even realize because it has not been commercialized and become so wide-spread here like it has at home, so you don't hear everyone making a big thing about February 14th.   However, some businesses are starting to take advantage and promote special V-Day dinners, so we weren't able to get into any of the nicer restaurants without reservations, so we spent the evening having dinner with two of Jimmy's Chilean business friends, Rodrigo and Mario, and ended up barbecuing at Mario's home.  It turned out to be the best option anyway because the kids were able to just run around and play with Mario's 3-yr-old son's toys (who was out of town with Mario's wife that day).   We had a great evening hanging out with them.

I have to say this is the coolest boy ride-on toy I've seen yet!  Caleb and Landon loved it!  
Jimmy, Rodrigo, Mario,
and Caleb (hanging out by the food...wonder where he gets that from...!)
Jimmy and I - Valentine's Day 2013 :)