Sunday, March 31, 2013

Easter Weekend Adventures: Cerro San Cristobal and Jesus Christ Superstar

This Easter weekend has actually turned out to be a bit of an adventure.

On Friday I met up with a friend named Phoenix, and we decided to hike up to the top of Cerro San Cristobal.  As I waited for him to arrive at Plaza Italia, I realized that I had only been up to the top twice before this: once with Donny, Erin, and Walker when we first arrived in March 2010, and with my dad when he visited in February 2011.

When Phoenix walked up to me, I asked if he got a haircut.  His response? "Yeah, just a few."  For those of you that know my personality and sense of humor, he and I get along well.

Phoenix is a very interesting person.  He is a fellow blogger and traveler.  We met back in November when I responded to his Internations post looking to meet Santiago locals to practice his Spanish.  I noticed that we lived nearby, so we met up for some Mexican food.  We spoke Spanish for about the first hour or so before switching over to English.  I don´t know exactly how to call it, but he´s on an adventure/quest/experiment to live outside of the states for 5 years.  In that time he´s working with international companies, networking, traveling, and finding places he enjoys living.  Oh yeah, and he´s also keeping a blog of his adventures for every day for 5 years.  He´s a little over 6 months into his experience.  If you´re interested in following his adventures, you can do so at

Origianlly one of Phoenix´s friends was going to join us, but in the end he wasn´t able to.  As we made our way towards the hill, a black dog joined us.  We decided to name him after the friend who wasn´t able to make it, and he followed us up about one quarter of the way before taking off.

The weather was a bit cool at first, but I knew that it would warm up quickly.  The sun was shining, and it got up to about 80 degrees.  The walk up wasn´t that strenuous, but it was still good exercise.  We had amazing views as we wound around the hill on our way up, and at our relaxed pace we made it up to the top in about 2 hours.  There were a good amount of others walking, jogging, or biking their way up too, but it was still very peaceful.  And about three quarters of the way up we saw the dog from earlier in the day, but now he was coming down from the top of the hill!

Our reward for the climb up to the top? An amazing (albeit hazy) view of the city, and some empanadas!  

We took the furincular down.  There was a great view, but with the staggered compartments it was difficult to get pictures with our cameras.

As we walked back, we passed by a Taco Bell.  We talked about getting lunch there, but we decided on empanadas instead.  By curiosity was tugging at me, so after going inside I saw they had a value menu with items for 500, 600, and 800 pesos.  And there were cinnamon twists on the menu too, so that was a good sign for going back another time.

On our bus ride home we chatted about the public transportation system in Santiago before parting ways.

The second adventure was going to see Jesus Christ Superstar on Saturday.  Ann and Rodrigo (jokingly my aunt and uncle) invited me to join them with some other friends.  We met up at a bar beforehand, and it turns out it was actually an important part of Chilean history.  It´s called El Rincon de las canallas, meaning roughly The corner of the scoundrels.  It was popular during the dictatorship.  During that time there was a curfew that people could not gather in public places after 8 PM, but people could knock on the bar´s door and say the password of "Cannalla llamando a Canalla" (scoundrel calling scoundrel) in order to get in.  People would then meet secretly to talk about what was one their minds or about what was happening with the government at the time.  The place is decorated with papers that people have pinned to the wall with their own personal messages.  Next time I´ll have to bring my camera to take pictures of what it looks like.

We ordered some red wine with strawberries and a combination plate of meat with sides of salad, tomatoes, rice, and potatoes.  Here´s what the meat portion looked like (Thanks to Ann for taking pictures!):

After finishing our meal we were brought 4 shot glasses with amaretto and mint liqueur as an after dinner drink.  

After that, we made our way to the theater.  The theater was pretty old and a bit run down, and there was no reserved seating.  Luckily we found seating for 5 without a problem.  I snacked on kettle corn while we waited for the show to start.

I didn´t really know what to expect from the show, as I had only read a Wikipedia summary of it before attending.  I really liked the music and dancing, although it was so loud that I wasn´t able to understand much of what they were singing (It was all in Spanish).  Afterward we got some pictures with some of the actors.  I was tired, so I headed home after that.

As for Easter Sunday, I don´t have any plans except relax at home and enjoy the day.  I came across a few entertaining pictures on Facebook that I thought I´d share here. 

Happy Easter everyone!

Saturday, March 23, 2013

New Year, New Housewares, and Easter Approaching

So it´s nearing the end of March now.  Most people would disagree with the idea of it being a new year, but most Chileans here see the year as starting in March since that´s when everyone returns from vacation.

This month I invested in some new housewares.  I brought a Magic Bullet back with me from the States.  It worked well for a bit, but after using it for about 2 weeks the converter I use with it made a loud pop, and then smoke started coming out of the socket.  Luckily I got it out before it got any worse.

After getting some advice from people, I present my new Phillips 700 watt stick blender:

The motor is inside the metal part, and it comes with two containers.  Each one has a blade inside that blends the food.  It cost 80 bucks.  I normally don´t like to spend a lot of money on things, but after seeing how weak the blades on the Magic Bullet were I decided it would be worth it to spend more money and get something that will last.  I´ve been mainly using it to make smoothies like this one:

Today I experimented with making pancake mix using it, and it turned out fine.  A friend was over for a gringo breakfast, and it saved a lot of time and effort on the cleanup as opposed to mixing everything in a bowl like I used to do.

The other new item I´ve purchased is an ironing board:

Up until now I had been using a mini ironing board which was only about one third of the size.  I was shopping at Lider (one of the local grocery stores), and I saw that they had full size ironing boards as well as one that was about 3/4 size.  Seeing that the 3/4 size one was only 12 dollars I thought it would be a good investment.  I managed to carry it the eight block walk home with my groceries, and it makes ironing so much easier.  Looking back, I can´t believe that I had the mini ironing board for close to 3 years.

Beyond that there isn´t much new happening here.  A few weeks ago there was a protest that caused the usual police response of teargas and water cannons, and there´s another one scheduled for April 11th.  Classes have started up again with my private students, and it´s wonderful to see them again and to continue.

I was considering traveling for the Easter weekend (Friday is a holiday here), but I decided against it.  There are so many people traveling, and of course hostels and restaurants raise their prices.  Given that getting back up to a full schedule is taking a bit longer than last year, it also makes financial sense to stay put.

Well that´s all for now.  Have a Happy Easter everyone!

Monday, March 4, 2013

Hello March!

It´s March already?  Where has the time gone?

There have been a few important events since my last update:

1. Earthquake Day
2. My dad´s birthday
3. Joining a gym

February 27th was the 3 year anniversary of the earthquake here in Chile.  I can still remember the event vividly in my mind as if it had happened yesterday.  Since then I have fallen out of contact with most of my roommates that lived there, but one of them messaged me the other day that one of our roommates is moving back to Santiago from Mexico.  We´re going to try to meet up, so we´ll see how it works out.

February 27th was also my dad´s birthday.  The earthquake was a surprise birthday gift 3 years ago, but since then I´ve decided it´s better not to pull surprises like that anymore.  I wish I could have been there to celebrate in person, but with the distance and cost of plane tickets we have a big family celebration for the 4 February birthdays around the time when I am home.  I called home, and my dad had lots of birthday wishes and meals out with family and friends to celebrate.

Then the following day I joined a gym.  Pacific Gym has many branches here in Santiago, but each one has a varying degree of quality, classes, and hours open.  There was a promotion to join one location for about $300 for the year, so I opted for the one about a 20 minute walk from my apartment.  It´s open 24 hours, so  it´s very convenient.  The one that is closest to me is very small and closes at 2 in the afternoon on Saturday and is closed all day Sunday!

I´ve already gotten in a few workouts there, and so hopefully once classes kick in I´ll be able to stick with a routine given the 24 hour availability.

Despite it being March, the weather here hasn´t cooled down.  The weather is still getting to the mid 80s or even hotter each day, so I´m wearing short sleeve shirts and bringing cold water to my classes whenever I can.  Looking at the weather forecast for the next week it will be getting up to almost 90 each day.

That´s all for now.  Have a good day everyone!