Saturday, December 24, 2011

Rock climbing, Bouldering, A Christmas Concert, and Baking Cookies

So it's Christmas Eve, and it's about 80 degrees and sunny.  There are some decorations in stores and businesses, but it's nothing like things back home.

A few weekends ago I decided to take up a friend on his suggestion to go rock climbing at a gym that I've passed by a few times.  I went rock climbing for the first time as a freshman in high school for a field trip and loved it.  Last year I went in Mendoza, so it was exciting to get to try it again.

To save money and enjoy the weather I decided to ride my bike there.  I was anticipating a 25 minute ride, but due to the incline it was almost 45 minutes.

After getting the harness and shoes I went up for the first time.  It was more difficult than I remember, and I was a bit nervous as I got higher and higher.  After making it up most of the way I dropped and it was Eric's turn.  He gave me a quick refresher on how to belay (hold the ropes tight so the person climbing stays secure in case they fall), and up he went.  He scaled to the top easily and then made his way down.

Once he was safely down, an instructor from the gym came over and warned me that I wasn't securing the rope safely.  I felt pretty embarrassed and really bad that I put someone in danger.  The instructor showed me the correct moves, and then he watched me while I belayed the next time.  I felt much better after that.

After going up a few more times Eric asked me, "So, do you want to try some bouldering?"

"What's that?" I asked.

"You climb on an incline and upside down but with no rope."

"Sure, why not?"

I really wish I had brought my camera to take pictures, because it's not as nearly as dangerous as it sounds.  You climb walls that are maybe 7 or 8 feet tall, but they also protrude from the walls and are connected to parts of the ceiling that have areas for you to hold onto.  The entire area is covered in thick mats to cushion any fall that you might have.

Since I didn't need my harness for bouldering I proceeded to take it off and tripped on it and fell, much to the amusment of 2 11 year olds that were there bouldering too.  Since I'm not in as good shape as I used to be I wasn't able to do too much, but it was cool watching others climbing all over the place, up, and around the gym.  You really need strong upper body strength and a strong core to be able to excel at bouldering, both of which I'm unfortunately lacking right now.

After a few hours we headed out, and I went back home.  The ride back was much easier since it was downhill.  Then it was off to a Christmas concert.

I met up with a coworker, and we hung out for a bit before going to the concert.  It was free and in Plaza de Armas, the main square of Santiago.  I was impressed by how organized it was.  There were barricades up and chairs set up, We walked around the area and settled on some seats.

The concert was divided into two parts.  The first part was excerpts from operas and included Mozart's Overture to Figaro, Verdi's Nabucco, and Rossini's Barber of Seville.  In addition to the music there were dancers in festive costumes doing acrobats and entertaining the crowd.

The second half was Christmas carols.  It was a really nice concert, but I still couldn't get used to hearing Christmas carols in such warm weather.

The concert of course had its own influence of Chilean culture.  There was no mention of not smoking during the concert and it was outdoors, so people around us were lighting up during the actual concert.  There was a family in front of us who had a son who was jumping around, being loud, and playing with a balloon for most of the concert, and the parents didn't make much of an effort to calm him down.  The balloon popped around halfway through the concert, and after that he calmed down.

Even though it hasn't felt like Christmas, I decided to bake chocolate chip cookies to get into the spirit of things.  I never used my oven here much, as it gets expensive pretty quickly.  The thought of going out to buy cookie sheets and figure out all of the ingredients in Spanish almost persuaded me against it. 

Once I realized I could just use the pan that came with the oven and aluminum foil and with the help of some friends figuring out the ingredients, I was ready to go.  I had to go to a special store to get the chocolate chips, and they only sell them in 1 kilo (about 2 pound) bags.  They sell baking powder in much smaller containers here, and baking soda is actually sold in small plastic bags and is with the spices in the grocery store.  Here are the ingredients:

 And here's my substitue for a cookie sheet:

The cookie batter:

And the final product!

I spent the last half of this week bringing cookies to students and secretaries, into the office, and a few for myself as well.  In the end it wasn't as difficult as I thought it would be, and listening to Christmas carols while I baked made it that much more enjoyable.

My Christmas celebration will include a pancake brunch today, meeting up with friends later tonight, calling family and friends tomorrow, and a Christmas dinner tomorrow night.

Since I didn't mail out Christmas cards, I'd like to post this for everyone reading:

No comments:

Post a Comment