17 November 2009

The Real Fun Begins

Something felt safe about Central America. It wasn't necessarily that the countries were safe or that we weren't taking risks and having fun. Rather, it was the innate feeling that we were still under the giant US umbrella. We weren't far from home and could return easily if we had to. The Yankee shadow looms long here.

This week we made the big jump to Santiago, Chile, which will be our base for exploring the continent for the foreseeable future. We've had the pleasure to reunite with an old friend from Davis, Carlos, who has been incredibly gracious, helpful, and welcoming. While he lived in Davis for less than a year, he's treating with a kindness usually reserved for lifelong friends. His family has been most welcoming as well.

Yesterday was K's birthday. Carlos' family gave her a rose from their garden and three bittersweet chocolate bars. K and I slept in, then spent a lazy day shopping, eating the richest chocolate cake we've ever had, and strolling around downtown Santiago. We ended up at a Vegetarian restaurant and shared a salad (still partially full from the cake!). It was a relaxed, fun day.

Tonight, we flight to Punta Arenas, which is in the far south of Patagonia. We'll spend a month there, hiking around Torres del Paine, Tierra del Fuego, Los Glaciares, and possibly Antarctica. Communication won't be consistent, but we'd love to hear everybody's Christmas plans. My mom and K's family will be visiting us here for two weeks. We plan to stay in Mendoza and Upsallata (Argentina) and Valparaiso (Chile).

[It feels like California: dry weather, snow-capped mountain top to the east, golden poppies, and man-altered rivers.]

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