So I’ve now been in Chile for a little over two weeks now and have just now gathered the correct combination of free time and patience needed to sit down and do some writing.  Since I’m not working, free time during the days has been plentiful but has been taken up by learning AutoCAD, working out, time at the pool, watching soccer games with Andrés and eating tasty lunches with the family.

Since two weeks have passed since I’ve been here, I think it’s best to give a bit of a summary of what has happened during that time, using pictures as my chronological guide.   And since I am covering so much time with this post, it may very well end up turning into an “uber” post – we shall see how it goes!  (Update: I’m going to turn this into a two-parter after all)

So my flights here were actually the quickest I had ever had, for two reasons – one is that the layover in Atlanta was less than two hours, compared to the 12 hour Miami layover I had become accustomed to from prior trips.  The second is that the route through Atlanta is much more efficient than going west out towards Dallas from MSP.  It always feels odd to travel so much distance (over 5,000 miles) in far less than a full day’s worth of time.  I must say, that the southern hemisphere is a great place to be right now and the weather is immaculate – it’s between 70-85 F every day for highs and every day is pure sunshine.  I could really get used to spending my winters down here 🙂

Camila greeted me at the airport after a bit of a delay fighting crosstown traffic (it took her about half an hour just to get 10 blocks from her house – that’s how bad Santiago traffic gets).  A quick note on cars here, I have been very surprised to see only ONE hybrid car and ZERO full electric cars since arriving here.  I thought that in a country with a booming economy, a huge urban pollution problem and $6.00+/gal gas prices, consumers would put two and two together and embrace lower emissions, hybrid vehicles.  That’s been an eye opener for me, I guess the government incentives are in place like there are in the States, but still I’d think hybrids would make economic sense with such high gas prices and almost all urban driving under 100 km/h.  Anyways, moving on….

So after arriving back to Camila’s family’s house out in La Reina (the east side of Santiago nearing the foothills of the Andes) where I was shown to me and Camila’s new room.  She turned an extra room into our room and borrowed a queen size bed from a neighbor to use while I’m here.  It’s a very nice setup and it almost like having a little apartment inside the house.

Shortly after I arrived, we took a trip out to a coastal town called Maitencillo which was about a 2 hour drive northeast from the city.  We stayed in an amazing log cabin perched on the hillside rising up from the beachfront.  We had a wonderful view of the sea, looking directly west out into the sunsets – couldn’t have asked for anything better.  In addition to the view outside, the interior of the cabin was quite remarkable – all of the ornate woodworking details appeared to be hand made and basically “one of a kind” since each piece of wood was unique, with it’s originals twists and knots often left in tact.

I got to test out my bike here for the first time on an afternoon bike outing with Camila’s brother Andrés – we went out to the highway about a km inland that ran north south with a generous should large enough to safely bike.  The curving route brought us through a lush valley, with hills ascending on either side with succulents and cacti towering above.  Unfortunately we didn’t bring a camera along on that journey so you’ll just have to take my word about how beautiful it was.

Another highlight of the trip was my first time surfing, which I did with Andrés as part of a group lesson.  It was more challenging than I had expected and after about 60 minutes in the water I was both beaten physically and mentally; there were waves between one and two meters that were fun when you were riding, but not so fun when you were falling or fighting against while trying to get back out into deeper water.  It was fun, but I don’t really see myself buying a board anytime soon.  Apparently the long boards we were using are mainly for doing the basic learning the timings of surfing, and then later you graduate onto the shorter boards which are more agile.

Another event from the trip to Maitencillo was that it was Camila’s 25th birthday – we had a tasty chocolate cake that she had baked and brought from Santiago and also had a rasberry cake that we bought at a local cake shop.  Both were tasty and added slightly to my waistline.

After returning home from Maitencillo I returned to a more normal routine which I’ll right about more in the next post.

Here are some pictures from that trip as well as a link to the Facebook Albums – Part 1, Part 2.  Click on the picture to open up a