Published: February 6th 2008February 4th 2008
This is Chile...
This was the funniest thing I've ever seen. These police officers are driving by on the beach in Bahia Inglesa, Chile and out of nowhere, this little naked kid jets by us screaming something like "Can I go around naked? Can I go around naked?" Ha.
Well, I guess that this blog is long overdue, I was intending to write it before I left for Chile, but I guess I'll have to combine them into a "Superblog." Now that I look at the photo selection, I'm going to name it a "Monsterblog." Man...I hope you guys enjoy all those photos I put up. Took me like 4 hours...though a 4 hours well spent. Internet here is sooooo slow. You guys had better read this and enjoy it...don't be fooled by the multiple pages of photos. Make sure you check them all out. They're all pretty cool.
Christmas in Ecuador was a bit strange. But, I didn't find it to be the most depressing time of the year as my program had told us. Thanksgiving was the worst, I actually felt pretty good during Christmas. The trick to feeling good was to make some friends on my block. I've now become the most recognizable figure on my street. I can't step out of the door without being greeted by someone on the street and stopping to talk for a few minutes. Before I really knew anyone I just tried to be polite and say
Where I hang out
This is about where I hang out every day. The brother of Erika and Alex, Armando (also "El Gordo"), Erika, and "chupadedo" who's name eludes me at the moment.
"hi" as I walked by. Somehow they all seemed to know my name or some variation of it. "Nataniel," or "Daniel," were the most common ones I can remember. But, word seems to spread everywhere in a very short time, so everyone was corrected and it's now a solid "Nataniel" which is my official name in Ecuador. I was alone at my house one day and I just went out into the street to go get something to eat and started talking to two guys that I'd been saying "hi" to and shaking hands with. I ended up staying out in the street for quite a while talking to Alex and Jamil and eventually my friend Alex's sister Erika and her friend Erika (Erika 1 and 2) walked by and I also got to know them. I think I ended up staying out in the street until about 3 talking with Jamil. His parents were having a party in their house so I got to know his parents, got to eat, and got to hang out there talking. So, that all went very well. After that I was just out in the street talking with my friends every day. There's
Christian y Armando
Two panas of my barrio.
other kids that live on my block and in the surrounding neighborhood that all hang out on my street every day and I eventually got to know them all. Then there's the grease monkeys that are to the right of my house, I have to shake all of their hands every day, talk with them. Yeah. It's better that way though. I feel more comfortable in my house (out of it I mean) and I'd been having quite a good time. I discovered the Ecuadorian way of life. Finally. Doing absolutely nothing all day. My friends hang out in the street all day, everyday, doing nothing, riding motorcycles and fourwheelers, talking, and having a good time. Ha.
Christmas celebrations consisted of waiting until 12, then at 12 everyone opened presents, and then we ate. That's about all. Up to that point everyone was socializing, the kids were out in the street talking with friends, stuff like that. I think we ended up going to Anna's grandparents house later in the night, probably at around 2 or 3. Ha. Her really cool uncle was there. The man was some sort of narc in the northern Ecuadorian jungle, bordering Colombia. Had
Benjy and I in front of Alex's house.
to deal with FARC, and was trying to bust some drug dealers. Pretty cool story. He also has a Quito accent, which is my favorite.
New Year's celebration was a bit crazier. Same deal again about waiting until 12, but this time we had gasoline...."Old year" is the doll that represents everything bad that happened the past year and you burn it to get rid of all problems. That way you start out fresh for the new year. It was kind of the same actually, just a lot of hanging around in the street, there was some dancing because Anna's grandparents always hire a DJ for the block. There weren't that many people this year they told me. Don't know what was up with that. The younger kids all ran around like kids at a candystore, lighting firecrackers, looking at it like "Oh man, whudaido, whudaido George," and then finally just throwing them off in a random direction, not even really looking where they threw them. Or their were the flying firecrackers, which just kind of ended up blasting off into any random direction. Had to duck a few of those. I actually ended up pretty peeved and went
My uncle Santiago and my Grandma.
back inside to talk with Katrin. Too dangerous out in the street. Umm, the older men are pretty boring during these times. Their pastime is to sit around drinking cheap whiskey with ice or cola. It's the Ecuadorian norm. What else. At 5 minutes to midnight everything went to hell. People started burning their old years, dumping gasoline on them, there were fireworks going off, firecrackers, lots of noise. Hope you enjoy the video. I left the next day for Chile, so...into the next segment. Ya.
Getting all the way to Ian's house is about a day of travel. I had to leave Portoviejo in the morning, got to Guayaquil in the afternoon, and had to wait until my redeye flight. A very long, boring wait at the airport. It's better to go traveling with another person because they can watch over your bags and that way you don't have to always be worried about them. Plus, it doesn't make you feel so alone and out of place. Luckily I discovered some internet, ate, read, and finally got to check in so that I could dump off my baggage and get through security. LAN airlines are really, really nice.
I basically spent all of Christmas Eve hanging out with my friends in front of my house. Erika, Benjy, Alex, and Armando.
We got served dinner, not too bad, pretty good. They also served as many drinks of whatever you wanted whenever you wanted. I got two cokes, and two coffees, good stuff. Really nice people. Arrived in Santiago at 5 in the morning, passed through customs and all that, and mistakenly took a cab to the bus station. I guess cabs are a lot more expensive in Chile. At first I thought I was being kidnapped because it was just a regular car driven by this old guy, but then we finally got to the bus station and all was good. Ha. The only problem was I had like 8 bucks worth of pesos, and he wanted 30. Well, at least he didn't do anything crazy. Sucker. Needless to say on my return trip I took a transfer through tour bus which was only 4 dollars. Anyway, Chile has an amazing bus company called Turbus. You can go just about anywhere in pretty good time because the roads are so amazing. The only problem is that it's way more expensive than in Ecuador. What would cost me 10 bucks in Ecuador is like 30 in Chile. Though, probably more safe and
Dogs on the roof.
A common sight in Ecuador.
comfortable in Chile. Got to Vallenar at night, Ian and his mom, aunt, and cousin picked me up at the station. It was good to finally get there after a whole day of traveling. We still stayed up until 1ish watching a crazy movie about a guy who can't make new memories. Good movie.
Bummed around in Vallenar for a day or two, then headed out to Bahia Inglesa. Bahia Inglesa is a cool place. A really small town an hour away from Copiapo. Close to Caldera, another small town. Really beautiful places though. We had quite a few relaxing days there. The only problem was at night, there were mosquitos. Mosquitos that one night kept us up until about 5. We didn't sleep at all. We were all laying in bed and at about 4ish we all said, yeah, that's enough. We then proceeded to kill about 10 mosquitos that were in our room. Lots of bloodstains on the walls. Felipe said "They're going to think we killed someone...." Ha. From then on we had our nightly mosquito sweeps before we went to bed. Lots of bloodstains on the walls and ceilings. Slept better though. Among our exploits
there, Ian and I decided to go walking out into the desert to a large sandy mountain in the distance "Big Sandy." It began as a joke "Hey, let's walk to that serro over there." But then one day after lunch we were sitting around and we decided that it was time to conquer Big Sandy. So, we got about a gallon of water, our cameras, sunglasses, and headed out walking towards Big Sandy. Things in the desert always look closer than they appear. Tricky thing the desert. We thought that the mountain would be about 15 kilometers away because Caldera was 5 kilometers away and Big Sandy looked to be near Caldera. But, it turned out that Big Sandy was about 25 Kilometers away. Needless to say, we walked through the desert, found a large strip of dunes, crossed that, and scaled Big Sandy, which turned out to be difficult because it was pretty big, and just sand. Ever tried to climb up a sandy hill? That's what it was, only a very, very large hill. The sand had these shells in it too, and I was wearing sandals.... Going down was just as bad because I'd get the
shells in my sandals every second and couldn't really do anything about it. We made it to highway before nightfall though. Ian's mom came and picked us up in a cab. It was a pretty fun day. The Bahia Ingesa beach was cool, except for the jellyfish. Chile has a problem with jellyfish. Makes swimming a little tense sometimes when you see a jellyfish right next to you. The waters are really, really cold, but once you get in and used to it, it's really refeshing. We went to another beach nearby, though I fail to remember it's name. That was pretty fun too. Ah, we watched some really good movies including: Bridge on the River Kwai, Panic Room, and Insomnia. Ian's mom's aunt came to cook amazing meals for us just about every day and that was quite the experience.
We left for Vallenar and I spent most of the rest of my time in Chile there. What did Ian and I do, let's see, we took up running every day, which was amazing. I never get to run in Ecuador, it's much more fun to run with someone else. I'll have to find someone I guess. What
Ian and Felipe his cousin, a cool kid that stayed with us for the time we were there.
else, ah, Ian and I got our fill of videogames from a local xbox 360 store where we played the latest 360 games that we'd missed out on. That was cool. We made a group of friends that we hung out with almost every night. The Eli, who is the girlfriend of Ian's host brother who is in New York. We had a day trip to Huasco, a cool beach town about 40 minutes from Vallenar. The only problem was that we didn't have anyone to watch our stuff while we swam, so we had to take turns while the other person swam which is no fun. We ended up talking to a crazy guy from Argentina who had some very strong opinions. We took a trip to La Serena to visit Ian's friend Laura. Her family was pretty cool, her brother Pito and her mom were really cool. La Serena is like the Viña del Mar of the northern part of Chile. The main beach was incredibly crowded with tourists from Argentina, but we went to another beach 30 minutes away that was a little better until later in the day. The water was much clearer too. Laura's cousins
The "sand" is a bunch of smashed shells, not too comfortable, but it works. Cold, refreshing water.
were really cool too. We got to go "saliring" with them to Barrio Inglesa to a discotech. Ha. There was a Spaniard that accompanied us and I spent quite a lot of time talking with him. I actually ended up dancing some and it was pretty fun. We got back to the house at about 4:30 or something, ended up getting to bed at 5. There's some major differences between Chileans and Ecuadorians. In Ecuador, that would be unheard of. Everyone goes out at about 8 and gets back at least by 2 or 3. Maybe in Quito or Guayaquil there might be an exception. Ha. In Chile we waited until 12 to go out. What else. Chile is more loose, more like America. In Ecuador it's all really weird. No sleep overs, no people in the house, adults don't hang out with friends, just family. In Chile all of that would go. They're cool. I miss that about Chile. More layed back. Ian and Laura and I walked along the beach, got some sushi, had a pretty good time. I'll admit I was pretty antisocial though. I just kind of walked along at my own pace in front of
Asado in Bahia
The first of a few, good stuff. I wish it was the norm in Ecuador like it is in Chile...
them, looking at the nightlife. Yeah. Well, she wasn't my friend, she was Ian's, so I figured it was ok. He knew her, I didn't. What else. Ah, got a Maná CD in the mall in La Serena. The mall was like Quito's mall, maybe a bit smaller. Pretty cool. Let's see, I'd been reading The Alienist in Spanish a lot. I like reading books in Spanish. It's my new hobby. Ha. We went back to Vallenar to immediately go to another beach with Eli and Rodrigo. Los Tollos. A really nice place. She has a little cabin on the beach there. Ian and I went swimming in the morning and did some amazing body surfing, the beach was really nice, and then we found out that Eli's brother wasn't able to pick us up and take us home, so we ended up attempting to walk and try to hitchhike, but no one would pick us up. So we walked about an hour or two until a nice guy with a truck gave us a lift to lower Huasco. Good man. Ian and I still got back too late though. It was the day I was going to leave and
This little dog was cool, we weren't sure if he was stray or not. Clean though.
we wanted to get back in time for tea with his mom, but she had work. So, I finished all my packing, we made an Irish breakfast, or something that resembled it. Bacon, eggs, toast, Irish breakfast tea, amazing raspberry juice. It was great. Ha. Ian killed 15 spiders in the period of 10 minutes. 15 killer spiders in one room. It was crazy. We saw one spider above the door in the kitchen, then we went into a room that was being remodeled and there were spiders everywhere. It really freaked out his dad. We even found baby spiders behind a picture frame in the dining room. There was one monster spider that was really big for a recluse spider. It was weird. I'd only seen about 3 before that. Ian said that he'd never seen that many spiders. Needless to say, I had to catch my bus at 2:15am the next day, though we thought it was 2:30 or something, but due to the reliability of Chilean lateness, it didn't arrive until about 3. In the airport I had to stand in line with a whole bunch of Brazilian people, and I realized that Portuguese is the most
Makings of a pisco sour
That's Ian's mom, his aunt, and the aunt of his mom. You have to squeeze a lot of limes to get enough juice. Then the rest of it is just pisco, sugar, and ice. Maybe an egg white if you're feeling saucy.
beautiful language ever. I had some fun listening to them. I got some rare treats in the airport: Starbucks and Dunkin' Doughnuts. Ha. Not that special some of you might say, but it was the first time I'd been able to smell and taste the Starbuck's cappuchino, something that triggers memories, and then Dunkin' Doughnuts got me thinking about LeRoy's.
I'm so happy I finally wrote all of that. It feels good. I've gotten on here to write that stuff like 10 times and hadn't finished. It's Carnaval here in Ecuador, or was. That means that everyone goes to the beach, and everyone gets you wet. I've been to Puerto Cayo, my favorite beach I've been to so far, with the grandparents of Anna, and we also went to Crucita yesterday where everyone was dumping water on us. There were some crazy waves at Crucita. Ha. Good bodysurfing. I spent a lot of time swimming, that was fun. What else. Yeah. Crucita. Cool stuff. On the way back I knew that EVERYONE had gone because the 30 minute stretch of road back to Portoviejo was a traffic jam. It took us an hour to get back. It was just
Guillermo and Cecilia
The first two people on the right are Cecilia and Guillermo, they bought me an amazing ceviche, had some cool friends, and I had a good time talking with them. The guy near me was a cool guy that had lived in Brazil and spoke Portuguese. Funny too.
a long line of cars and they were trying to get through. Cake anyone? Ah, I've been on this weird crusade to get someone in Rice Lake to read The Terror. Dan Simmons. I told Gus about it because I thought him a potential candidate, but if he hasn't jumped on it I'd recommend it. Public library. Check it out. Nick. That's my homework for you. You'll enjoy it. It's really good, really long. Whoever gets it needs to tell me. Well, that's about all for now. It's getting harder to write these blogs. I don't have the patience to type in English anymore. I
There are more photos below