Life Surrounded by Mountains in Central Chile

What to do:

Yes, Joanne,  I have seen the pine nuts that look just like what you show in your link sold at the grocery store.  I asked how people cook them, and they simply said that they boil them and eat them.  I have to try one. I like the idea of learning to cook what is native to the land.  I am going to try roasting them next time I go to my cousin's country home.

Yesterday I was walking with the dogs looking for a garden shop, and I landed in a pine forest where I took the picture above.  There is a forest, but I too scared to go in there by myself.  The vegetation is fascinating.  It looks like nothing that you see in New Jersey.

My kitchen is disgusting; it's not even closet sized.  My machines will probably blow out the fuses once I get the proper transformers in place.  We'll see what happens to the electrical panel when my container gets here.  

I can send you our recipes for bunya nuts, then, and you can work your local recipes! Deal! oh oh

That would be wonderful.

Copihue said:

Thank you, PeggyC, and you are most welcome to come to visit.  Tonight it is my first cold night though, 50 degrees. 

 Hah. I'm game for 50 degrees. Heck, high on my list of things to do down there is a trip to Patagonia!

On my list too, but this is not the time to go down there; way too cold.  PM me if interested in December when the weather is nicer but the tourists haven't attacked yet.

Oh, I know this isn't the right time of year for it. But it's on my "bucket list" for sure.

I have received several inquiries about my hand.  I don't wear the brace, I haven't seen a doctor, I can type with both hands, but I still favor it, and I do my flexibility exercises whenever I think of it -- on a bus, waiting on line, drinking a beer. The swelling is 90% gone, so I can do more flexibility exercises now.  I would say that I have 80% of the movement back on the hand, but I don't ever use it for carrying weights of any sort or use it to exercise force.  For example, I don't open jars. 

My schedule is very tight, but just as soon as I can, I will see a hand therapist again.

Thanks for asking, and if you have thoughts on the subject, please chime in.

It would be wise to follow up with a doctor down there, to be sure you are on track. But it sounds like you're doing well in that regard!

This week was full of burocratic silliness and scary political protests. It started with being made to personally go to the Servicio Nacional de Salud, to get a certificate that certified that a certificate was not required to bring my mom's ashes back to Chile.

Yesterday I had to have the contents of my container inspected by the Servicio Agricola y Ganadero (SAG) to make sure that I wasn't bringing any seeds, bugs or pests in the container. It was interesting being in the port where I watched nine containers of fruits being screened for the same offenders. When mine was done, I had to pay for the inspection, and I discovered that the paperwork had not been done although two requests were made at two separate times.

The reason that is was not done is a walk out of customs officials who want the government to take action on their promises to update the Customs Department infrastructure. Wow, you would think that this would be something management would be working on, but it is the rank and file who are demanding it. Chile is a country which depends on exports and imports, so they are cutting their own throat when they block commerce. SAG officials were very good to me, they devised a means to go around the fact that they could not document my case, once they became aware that I had done all that I was supposed to do. They even made tea for me while I worked through the issues until late in the night last night.

In Valparaiso as well as throughout this country fishermen protested this week the fact that commercial fishing companies are trolling the seas with their nets and ending the way of life for small operators. They want the legislature to outlaw the commercial fishing of certain types of fish. I am all for this; some fish is hard to find in this fish exporting country. The Chilean legislature is housed in Valparaíso, and Reñaca is in the bay of Valparaíso where President Bachelet was making a major policy statement after a restructuring of her cabinet, so fishermen blocked the main road for forty minutes, threw rocks at police and police special forces responded with water canons.

The next day was a national holiday which is celebrated with a parade. I was really upset that nobody reminded me of this beautiful event that takes place throughout the historical streets of Valparaiso, until I realized why they didn't want me to go: violent protests by students who want the government to grant them a free university education. Two students were seriously injured when special force police officers clubbed the students over the head; this has provoked more protests and government review of the incident. I understand and respect the plight of students. Everyone realizes that you need a good education in order to have a promising future. But education is expensive, and there needs to be a dialog and negotiations to find a workable solution, and I don't see it happening. I hope that I just don't see it, but that it is happening in the background.

Bureaucracy and protest is a way of life in Chile, and I will need to get used to it. In my little perch in Reñaca, I don't have to deal with it much, and I hope it remains that way.

Reminds me of the old Chinese saying, "May you live in interesting times." From the contents of your above post it seems that these are indeed interesting times in Chile. Stay safe and please keep us up to date on what is happening there.

If you decide to visit Chile you don’t want to miss the thrilling sport of busing. As a beginner you will start with the tour bus which winds its way through the streets of Valparaiso, streets meant for horse and buggies that are centuries old. Valparaiso was founded in 1534. It is a bay where the water is 200 feet deep, and it is surrounded by hills. Visualize a napkin which is hanging from its center; it makes multiple folds as it hangs; that’s Valparaiso upside down. Where one hill meets the other the street makes sharp 4 o’clock turns in a span of 20 feet. Houses have been built in these crevasses which look like small one-story buildings at street level, but in fact they are three, four or five stories homes encrusted onto the steep terrain below. The modern touring buses make these turns slowly, and it is a thrill feeling gravity tilt the bus toward the crevasse as the bus changes its direction on a road that has no protective barriers. There is no room for barriers, and I doubt it if there were, that they would prevent a single deck touring bus from rolling down the hill.

Once you master the thrill of sitting on the touring bus without emptying the contents of your lunch, you can progress to the public bus system. These buses are much lighter and smaller, and the drivers are controlled by time keepers who let the drivers know their position in relationship to other buses. These drivers always need to catch up, and they are keenly aware of just how much speed they can handle on the winding road without falling into 200 feet deep and very cold Pacific Ocean. The novice will mistakenly choose to ride on the ocean side of the bus to enjoy the view. I want to advise you not to do that. Sit on the hill side of the bus until you are desensitized.

My sister lives on the south side of the bay, at the base of a valley adjacent to Valparaiso. The road to her house used to be gravel, but now it’s paved, she says. There are no guard rails to prevent vehicles from flying into the Pacific from a height of what my stomach says is a kilometer. Needless to say I am not visiting her.

It's so good to hear from you. Thank you for sharing your adventure as it unfolds.

Copihue, this is the first time I have noticed the tone of a real writer in your posts... forgive me if it's been there before and I missed it! But what wonderful prose.

Now I want to try both of those buses. smile

We were supposed to visit Valparaiso when I was in Santiago years ago, but the weather was so unforgiving that day the tour organizers decided it wasn't safe. Now that I've read your description, I realize why.

Chilean amendments to the Ten Commandments:

1. No fats, fats will make you fat like North Americans (they’re talking about us). All fish, beef, eggs must be pan fried with only enough fat to prevent the food to stick to the pan or grilled over an open pit fire. The only exceptions are bread and empanadas which are baked with lard; bread is consumed with every meal, and empanadas are a symbol of nationalistic pride, so you can’t mess with patria. Deserts are made with whatever fat is in the religiously guarded recipe, so you are never going to know what’s in it, you should never ask, so just eat it; you get a pass.

2. When asked, never say you are an American. You will be met with reproach, as you will be reminded that all Chileans are Americans as well. You must say that you are a North American, and then you are advised to add your location. For example, you can say: I lived in the metropolitan area of New York City, that works, or if you lived in Iowa, I lived three-and-a-half hours west of Chicago. Whatever you do, don’t make mention that Canadians and Mexicans are also North Americans, because you risk p*****g them off.

3. No returns without a receipt. That means no store credit, no even exchanges and no cash refund.

You may want to conclude from this that they don’t like us, but they do. That’s why you must follow these rules.

Not all of them like us... when I was there about 10 years ago, I took a long walk near the Plaza des Armas (have I got that right?) and ran across a few men who hissed and said some nasty things about "Americans" because they could tell I was from the U.S. Somewhat intimidating.

I am sorry that that happened to you, PeggyC, what were they saying? I have not experienced any hostility though I am told I am easily identified as an American. I am not denying what you say implying that dislike of Americans doesn't exist. I am sure that many folks envy Americans, and that the ultra left who eats propaganda probably hates all that the US represents, but I have not seen it yet in the places where I live.

The Plaza de Armas is in Santiago, which I do not know well at all, I don't know what kind of neighborhood it is. There are parts of Manhattan or even parts of Jersey that are not friendly to outsiders. My experience has been that Chileans like Americans. People tell me all the time of the uncle, the sister, the cousin they have who live in the US.

In the past I have heard people who have said to me that they dislike US government and US policies, and not the people. My nephew and my sister belong to the ultra left, and my nephew loves Manhattan and my sister knows more about jazz than I do. The relationship is complicated. The angry comments are directed to the Chilean right just as harshly, if not more so, than they are to the US.

Chile has an open trade agreement with the US, it is one of the twelve Trans Pacific Partnerships countries with whom Obama is expected to close a trade agreement with tomorrow, Chile votes with the US in the UN and the OAS consistently, and they engage in joint military operations with US military. Chile is a friend to the US.

It was nothing specific, as far as I could tell, since I don't speak much Spanish. But they were clearly jeering at me as I passed, and the one word I did recognize for sure was "American." I believe you when you say most are not like that there... I just happened to run into a few who felt otherwise. It rattled me, since I was alone, but I pushed on and had a good time.

Yes, it was in Santiago. Sorry, should have been more specific. And it's true that quite often the people in cities are quite different from those in less populated areas, in any country.

I find people are friendly, but I don't yet feel that I am a part of them unless I am with my family. My cousin tells me that I am always comparing things to the way they are in the US, "so why didn't you stay there?" she said to me today. And I still think in English.

I like it here, so I will try to not make the comparisons. I think that she is being defensive, but I will stop it anyhow. I look forward to stop feeling like a visitor.

The 2015 Copa America is on tv and some of the games are being held in Viña del Mar; Reñaca is a neighborhood of Viña del Mar. I missed watching Lionel Messi play live against Uruguay, because I am not properly wired to my surroundings. It is a very exciting tournament; I am liking soccer.

I'm sure it will take some time before you blend again seamlessly. In the meantime, you will most likely face some interesting questions and assumptions from people there, including family, unfortunately. And some people are going to be defensive no matter how you act or talk or think. That has to do with how they are wired, not you.

Hope you "stop feeling like a visitor" soon. oh oh

Copihue said:
My cousin tells me that I am always comparing things to the way they are in the US, "so why didn't you stay there?"

If they only heard your complaints about SOMA . . .

Steve, maybe you're not aware, but usually a person's blog is an area where people don't pick arguments with them...

Copihue........all of life is a series of adjustments. I guess the ultimate goal we all have is simply to be happy. Sounds easy right. As Peggy says, you will settle in and I am sure you will find your happiness.

But remember you did not burn any bridges. If at some time the spirit moves you, good old Maplewood and South Orange and your many friends will be here to greet you.


Oh, and did I mention that the dogs have adjusted well to being in Reñaca? and how do you rotate the photo on this new website? every software I have has the photo upright. Please help.

Photo deleted, since it appears right side up in the next frame.

Thank you, Oneofthegirls.

Several weeks ago I saw a car on the street with a dog that was running as hard as he could to catch it. I was concerned that he would get run over, because he was running through the middle of the street which goes uphill. But then I realized that the dog had just been dumped. My heart broke. As hard as that moment was for the dog, I knew it would get harder. There are so many strays in Chile; they are everywhere, and most have been hit by cars. There are no animal control officers, so the dogs sleep on the streets without medical care, good nutrition, and they live short lives. People do feed them, and there are rescue organizations, but they are overwhelmed. I tried catching the dog; I didn't know what I would do with him, but he didn't allow me to get close. I never saw him again.

On the first day that we arrived the dogs and I met a very young, healthy, friendly pup who followed us home. He came into the yard, and I wanted to rinse him, because his paws were dirty; I was trying to help him. Once again I didn't know what i was going to do with the dog, but I wanted to help him. He took off when he saw the water, and I never saw him again either.

Then there was the dog that we met on the beach who had been on a fight, and he had open wounds all over his face. He wasn't going to last long.

There are so many sad stories, even in the dogs who have owners. People seem to use them for security, an alarm. The dogs live in the front yard without getting much attention. They are fed, and they are expected to bark when someone comes by. When I walk through those neighborhoods it's a cacophony of barking dogs which follows us down the street.

Some of the dogs are funny. The owners let out their dogs onto the street to do their business, and when they see us, they run behind their home's gate and begin to bark at us. They don't want to be caught slacking off on the job. (Yes, there is dog poop everywhere).

I don't know what's worse: killing or allowing the strays to suffer on the street.

I am concerned about Jake and Rachel, because my dogs are always on a lead, and these dogs approach mine. They are usually very friendly, but they are loose without another human controlling it, and in a fight I have no way to protect mine. I am also concerned about parasites and other deceases that they could catch from these unvaccinated dogs.

I was warned to expect other dogs to be dumped on my street, apparently it is a popular place for people to relieve themselves of their responsibilities. I wish there were laws to punish these folks for being so heartless.

Chile win's America's Cup for the first time. I dared not going onto the street, drivers were driving in circles while honking their horns and one driver was on the sidewalk. The party was still on when I finally got to sleep.

These sand dunes are in the town next to Reñaca, Concon. Unfortunately I am unable to upload all the photos, because they were taken with the iPhone panoramic view. It is a beautiful place which has been almost completely destroyed by developers who have built twenty-stories high rises. Yesterday there was a story in the paper of a proposal for another strip mall and development complex with approximately 35 high rises! The towns are greedy, they say yes, and they don't care that the natural beauty of the place will be gone, and that the schools, roads, and infrastructure will completely alter their community. I don't know if they will even come ahead when it is all done.

Today is the first day of this year's Maplewoodstock. Thinking of you as I walked through the park this am.

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