Thursday, September 23, 2010

Another Earthquake

So there was another earthquake here today.

I was sitting in English class teaching a one on one class.  The ground started to shake, and my student smiled at me and said in English, "It's an earthquake".  I gave him a serious look and was a bit nervous and he said to me in English, "The ground is shaking."

After about 20 seconds or so everything stopped shaking.

In my next class we talked about the earthquake, and I leared it happened at 12:36 PM and was a 5.3 on the Richter scale.  The epicenter was Curico, which is about 100 km (I think) from Santiago.  It ended up being the perfect way to introduce the past progressive:

What were you doing when the earthquake happened?

I was teaching a class and speaking English.

Facebook is down and so I can't post an update there.  I called home to let my dad know I am fine.  Now I'm off to teach another class.  :-)

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

No more pictures for a while.....

So my camera was stolen.

I was at a work party on Thursday afternoon and used it to record some teachers dancing.  Then I went out with Dana, and we explored a good amount of Santiago together.  When I got home around 7:00 that night I realized my camera wasn't in my messenger bag I was carrying it around in.

I sent an email into work, and they said they didn't know anything about it.  When I came in this morning no one knew anything about it.

So what I feared happened actually did: I got pickpocketed by someone when I was out during the day.  I usually have my hand over my messenger bag and it has zippers, but now that I think about it the metro was very full and people were pushing and up against each other the entire time.

It wouldn't bother me that much, but this was already my second camera here.  I also love taking pictures of my travels and everyday life here, and so now I am trying to decide if I want to shell out more money for another camera again or if I will wait until I am back home in the States for the holidays to buy one.

I'm really hoping that somoene at work decided to take it home with them for the long weekend so it wouldn't be in the office over the long weekend, but it looks like that is not very likely.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Happy Birthday Chile!

So Chile is now officially 200 years old!

The past three days have been a whirlwind of a time.  Dana arrived in Santiago without any problems, and it's so great having another visitor here.  In the first 24 hours of her visit, we went grocery shopping, she explored Plaza de Armas and museums while I taught a class, we stumbled upon an all you can eat lunch buffet at Pizza Hut, she explored Mall Parque Arauco while I taught another class, and then we went out for drinks with some friends that night.

Yesterday she got to sleep in while I taught my last class before the holidays.  Then we were off to a party with my coworkers, and then we met up with a friend of mine and got some drinks while we caught up.  Then it was off to a fonda (which is like a barbeque) where they were giving cueca lessons.  It turns out we got there too late for the lessons but it was still fun to watch the dance and hear some live musicians.

Then on Friday Dana took a tour of Valpo and Viña for the day, and I was lazy and stayed in and did laundry and other semi-productive things.  When she got back we went to the light show at La Moneda, which is the national government palace.  I had heard that the light show was well-attended the night before, and so I was looking forward to seeing it.

We got there about an hour before it was scheduled to start, and there were already big crowds of people.  Despite that, we got a pretty good spot.  The special effects were pretty amazing, as they created illusions that the building was crumbling to the ground, having static like a TV set, or rippling like a pond as if a stone was thrown into the middle of it.  There was great music, lights and lasers shooting out of the palace, fog, and fireworks.  They had references to Chile´s history over time as well as a reference to the miners that are still stuck in Copiapó.  It was an amazing show, and I found clips of it online:

After it was over, we followed the crowd leaving.  On the way there were street vendors selling all types of bicentennial things like flags, hats, photos, and pins.  There were also a lot of other things being sold, and I picked up some photos and pins.  The photos were actually so nice that I want to go back and buy more tomorrow, as they showed La Moneda lit up during the show and has the title "Bicentenario Chile 2010".

By the time we got home it was 10:30 and I wasn´t in the mood to try and figure out what to do that night, so we decided to stay in so we can make the most of tomorrow.  It turns out some travel friends from my trip to Pucón are up in Santiago, so maybe I will get to meet up with them.  I might also get to meet up with some other friends also, and no matter what I feel like I will have a great time.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Back in Santiago

So I arrived back in Santiago about 3 or 4 hours ago.

My last few days on Easter Island were pretty uneventful.  The weather was overcast and rainy, so I skipped the beach and just hung out around downtown for most of the time.

My flight back was delayed by an hour, but other than that it was fine.

Pictures are uploaded.  My room is clean.  Laundry is done.  I am ready for when Dana arrives bright and early at 6:50 AM tomorrow to help me celebrate the Chilean bicentennial.

Life is good.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Biking the Island

I woke up this morning to the sound of light rain and roosters crowing in the distance.  And it reminded me of how I love the tranquility of Easter Island.  The sounds you hear are natural sounds: the wind passing by, animals barking and crowing, and the occasional wind chime.

Before I talk about my biking adventure, I shouldn´t forget to mention the "adventure" part of it.  No one rides with helmets here, not even on motorcycles it seems.  I asked about a phone number to call if I get a flat or had an accident or something, and the woman told me that I wouldn´t get cell phone reception on any part of the island where I would likely break down or have an accident, and that I would have to flag down a motorist passing by to get any type of assistance.  And then she handed me an air pump, repair kit, and camera.

After getting some breakfast I packed my bag, doused myself in sunblock, and mounted my bike to start the day´s adventure. 

And of course the first thing I did was get lost.

I got the sense that I wasn´t taking the right path, but the people at the hostel told me I would take three lefts to get out to the main street.  It turns out that they didn´t tell me that the first left wasn´t the first street I came to, but rather one a 5 minute ride further down the road.  This was a blessing in disguise, as I realized I missed one minor detail when I put on sunblock a bit earlier: my legs.  After putting it on I then continued.

The weather was warm and sunny, and there was a slight breeze.  I would say it was about 75 degrees, which was perfect biking weather.  My first stop was Puna Pau, and luckily it was all paved road on the way there.  At one point I came to a fork in the road and didn´t know which way to go.  My sister in law and I are both left handed, and she told me left-handed people are always right, so I didn´t sweat the decision too much.  I went right, and it turns out that both ways looped around to the same path.

Puna Pau is known for the construction of pukao, which were large lava colored rocks that were placed on top of the Moai statues.  They were supposed to represent their hair, but very few pukao actually made it on top of their heads.

After running into some people that were able to snap some pictures of me, I headed to the next stop.  Along the way I realized that I could kiss paved roads goodbye for a while.  The ride was uphill and bumpy, but I made it.  I also met some cows and horses along the way.

The next stop was Ahu Akivi, which is a famous archeological site with 7 well preserved Moai.  Then I locked up my bike and proceeded to hike up to Terevaka, which they say has the best view of the island.  As I locked my bike I noticed a cattle skull hanging on the fence, and I was hoping this wasn´t a sign someone was leaving for me.

The path was worn down due to tour vans, horses, and others that have taken the same path many times before me.  The gates along the way were not too welcoming with their barbed wire along the side, but I decided to continue on anyway.  There were amazing views of pastures with cows and horses, views of the ocean, some trees, and lots of green.

After about an hour of hiking, here is the view that I had:

I didn´t realize that there was a huge crater until I looked down.  It was a pretty amazing view and crazy to think that this place had once been the site of a volcano that erupted and caused this huge crater. 

I continued on, and then I came to another fork in the road.  From the looks of this one, however, they weren´t going to meet down the road.  Luckily I was able to figure out which way to go looking at my map.  Then I came to Ana Te Pahu, which is a cave.  It was a steep path down, and where the sun still shined there were banana trees.  Inside the cave it was cool and damp. This will sound very strange to almost all of you,. but the drops of water that fell in the cave reminded me of those in Mega Man 2 in the last cave before you fight Dr. Wily.

After that, I looped around and was now on the western side of the island.  I came to Ahu Tepeu, which didn´t look like it had much of anything at all.  But I decided to follow the path down and check it out anyway.

The site wasn´t very spectacular and didn´t have any Moai, but the view was breathtaking.  I was right along the ocean, and it was blue as far as you could see.  The only thing you could hear was the light breeze and the water crashing against the coast. 
It was about 3 in the afternoon by this time, and I had a nice downward path along the coast back to town.  Along the way I stopped and got some pictures of the waves crashing against the rocks along the shore.

It was about a 6 hour trip, and I loved every minute of it.  I got a rush from going downhill and biking on an unpaved road, and working up a sweat in the sun was such a good feeling.  This bike ride reminded me of how much I love biking as a way of exploring new places, and it brought me back to past biking adventures in Oaxaca, Germany, Argentina, and San Diego.

So, despite the risk involved evertying turned out fine.  Some time ago if I were told the same thing with the risks of the biking trip I might not have done it.  But every step in life involves some type of risk, and if you never did anything that involved any type of risk you might as well not live life.

It´s experiences like this that make me feel alive, and this is what life is all about.  Tomorrow I will be getting body art done and will bike to the beach.  And this time I will bring my bathing suit and a towel.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Arrival at Easter Island

So I am on Easter Island.

The night before was a frenzy of getting all of my groceries to fit into my bags and also email all of my students to remind them of cancelled classes while I was gone.  I also had to figure out how to get to the airport since my flight was at 8:20 AM and wanted to avoid the rush hour.  Luckily I found a shuttle bus service (even cheaper than Turbus) that got me there in plenty of time.

With the exception of some crying children the flight was pretty uneventful.  It was a 5 hour flight, but with a personal TV type thing in front of each seat you had games to play, movies to watch, and music to listen to.  I got to see Liar Liar and really enjoyed it.

I ended up being on jamón overload, as I got a ham cheese and egg sandwich and Dunkin Donuts before getting on the flight.  For breakfast they served a ham and cheese sandwich, and then as a snack later on it was a small ham and cheese croissant.

It was warm and sunny when I landed, and people were really excited to be there.  A lot of people were taking pictures right after getting off the plane.  My hostel had free pickup at the airport, and I was greeted with a lei too.  After waiting for some other people to get their bags (I brought my bulging bag of groceries on the flight without a problem) we headed to the hostel.

3 middle-aged women from Australia arrived on the same flight, and we chatted on the ride back.  We were greeted with fresh squeezed orange juice before I decided to go out and explore.  The downtown area is pretty small and you can explore it completely on foot.  I checked out some travel agencies to figure out how I was going to spend my time here. 

After getting some info and stopping for some 3 leches ice cream I headed back to the hostel.  It turns out that electricity was out on the island, and besides me and the 3 women only one other person was staying at the hostel.  I laid down for a nap around 6:00 and the next thing I knew it was already 11 that night.  So I turned in and decided to make the rest of my time count.

Here's a few pictures from the outside of my hostel.  Yes, they had banana trees there:

And here was breakfast, with bananas right off the tree and fresh squeezed juice:

I found a good deal for a full day tour, which took me to see a lot of the famed Moai statues as well as to the beautiful beach of Anakena.  The Moai were constructed as gravestones for deceased natives, and so they hold a special significance in that way.  They were constructed and then placed on top of the platforms, but some of them toppled over or never made it to the platforms.  Here are some pictures of what I saw so far:

I rented a bike for the day tomorrow, and for Monday I am also getting body art done.  I am debating between snorkeling and going to the beach with the rest of my time on Monday, as I go back on Tuesday in the late morning.  Now it´s time to go catch the sunset and soak up some more sun.