The road to Banos Morales

October 4, 2010

My friend Eric and I were determined to get out of Santiago this weekend.  Neither one of us like the big city, and Chile has so much to offer.  We debated taking a bus somewhere, but our mismatched shift prevents us from taking too long of a trip (I have Wednesday to Monday off, he has Saturday to Thursday off).  In the end, we decided to rent a car for one day and explore the mountains south of Santiago.

The rental car was actually kinda cheap, less than $50 for one day.  Of course it was a little tiny economy car, but it proved itself worthy of our adventure.  We picked the car up in Santiago, discovered how frustrating it is driving in a city where no left turns or U-Turns are allowed.  After many right hand turns made our way to La Florida Avenue and out of the city.

The road slowly climbed up hill and eventually shrunk down from 4 lanes to 2 lanes and the building became farther and farther apart.  We snaked our way through a few little villages, over a couple interesting bridges, the whole time following a river canyon up into the Andes.  The road eventually turned to gravel and we questioned our choice of car.  We wanted to stop at various places along the way, but figured we would just hit them on the way back.  The road kept on getting worse, but the views started to become amazing.

The little car that could

Being Sunday, there were a number of other people on the road going for a hike or just sightseeing.  Most of them were in a truck or SUV, but whenever we felt like we were special and the only car on the road a taxi cab(!) would show up

Eventually we reached the end of the road.  There was a road block of sorts, I was hoping it was Argentina border, but it was just some guys charging to see the local hot springs.  They wanted about $10 from each of us for us to continue on, but we weren’t biting.  I’m sure we could have negotiated the gringo tax down to something reasonable and not much more than what a local would pay, but we didn’t really care and so we just turned around.

We stopped at pair of old decaying buildings on the way back.

Old army post or mining shack?

There are 2 buildings just like this, one was the dormitory and the other was the kitchen and office.  We really weren’t sure what they were used for, but looked like it was built to survive a direct nuclear bomb.  All the walls were built out of super thick steel reinforced concrete and brick, at least 12-18 inches thick.  I’d like to think that this was an old army outpost and try to imagine the life the soldiers had there.  It must have been extremely solitary, lonely and boring.  Just passing the time, watching the beautiful scenery while keeping an alert eye out for the enemy.  However, it was most likely a miserable mining camp filled with underpaid and overworked lower class slaving away in some local mine shaft…but I like the idea of a army outpost better.  The building obviously haven’t been used in many years and some parts were flooded and filled up with river silt (up to 6-7 feet deep!)

Our next stop was just  a little more down the road where a bunch of cars where parked.  There were signs advertising what we think said “goats” and another saying “cheese”.  We where guessing it was some sort of goat cheese restaurant (we were pretty hungry at this point), but it turned out that there was nothing there but a bunch of parked cars.  Thinking there must be some sort of fantastic sight, we hiked down an old snowbound road.  A hour or so later we stopped, only running into a few people who had hiked in ski’s attempting some late season downhill on the cheap.  The view was of course amazing.

The 'Alive' incident happened somewhere in these mountains...

We hiked, glissaded, and slipped our way back to our economy car and took off for home.  We were disappointed that we never did find our original goal of Banos Morales as this national monument was supposed to posses nice hiking trails, hot springs and restaurants that served delicious ‘healthy portions’ of the finest Chilean food.  At one point we stopped to take a picture and noticed 4 GIGANTIC signs that pointed to the turn off for Banos Morales; I have no idea how we missed that.  Even though it was too late to hike and enjoy a nice lunch, we took the turn off just to see what we missed.

What signs?

There was a neat little town, most remarkable to me for its lack of high brick walls that permeate the rest of chile, and a closing ranger station.  The guy working there encouraged us to come back some other time.  We agreed and reluctantly left.

A really cool house I want to live in, near Banos Morales

We climbed back into the car and made our way back into Santiago, vowing to rent a better car and explore more of the area.  I am still thinking of buying a 4 wheel drive truck, but getting stuck in the trap of Santiago has me questioning that decision.  I don’t know though, the endless switchbacking sideroads of just this one canyon really tempts me to buy a truck and just explore as much of Chile and South America as I can.  We will see…

Eric pondering the endless side roads.

Don’t step on the flaming bag!

May 20, 2010

Today at work I had my first trip up to the ‘high site”.  This is the final installation site of all the telescopes we are working at.  Elevation is 5,000 meters, or around 16,400 feet!  Mt. Whitney, the highest point in the continental United States, is 14,500 feet.  Plus, we get to drive up to the site.

The views were beautiful, we even saw some wild donkeys on the way up.  We got out of our truck, and I was worried about having enough air to breathe, but it really wasn’t too bad.  I don’t think I could run up there, or even go for a brisk walk, but for what we had to do I was fine.  Regulations require us to carry oxygen and check our O2 levels, but we weren’t up there long enough to be affected.  I could see how being up there all day would really affect you though.

There is a building that houses equipment and has some small offices.  It is heated and has oxygen pumped into, so it made for a nice place to take a break.  And thats when I saw a most fascinating device:

Fire Toilet

Yes folks, due to the lack of a proper sewage system at high altitudes, they installed an Incinerating Toilet.  Just how does it work?  Well, you put a paper bag into the toilet looking thing, sit down and poop in the bag, and then press a button and the toilet destroys your poop in a fiery blaze!  I have never before desired a bowel movement so much….but sadly it just wasn’t my time.   I actually looked up Incinerating Toilets on Wikipedia, one of the companies advertises their toilets as “The toilet that works like a self cleaning oven!”  Hmmmm….kind of turned me off to self cleaning ovens.

It was hard for the rest of the high site to live up to the flaming poop machine, but I still liked it.  We soon finished our task and made our way down (a 41 km drive, I think)  I was expecting to be full of energy when I came back down to the “low site” (only 10,000 feet) due to a rush of oxygen, but I just felt mildly better.  Oh well.  Next trip up I’m going to devour a sack of prunes and put that machine to work!

(I sincerely apoligize for all the poop talk, it most likely won’t happen again.)

Old cars and grievances.

May 15, 2010

So this post will be part adventures in car shopping and part whine about how much I’m hating Santiago right now.

First, the car.

Get on the bus!

I’ve always had a soft spot for old VW busses.  Back in my younger days at Michigan Tech I even dragged a few rusted relics out of the woods with ideas of restoration, but it never got far.  Flash forward to South America, where VW still sells their old bus, albiet now with a water cooled modern engine.  Still, there is a good supply of busses around.  Plus, if I buy one that is older than 25 years, I can legally bring it back to the USA.  So the plan was to get an old bus, work on getting it completely reliable, then drive it back through South and Central America when my time here is done.

The adventure begins with me finding a bus online and Alina and I taking the metro to meet the seller at a Sodimac (Chile’s answer to Home Depot).  I liked this example because its a double cab (half truck, half bus) and it looked in pretty good shape.

1988 VW Kombi Double Cab

And everything checked out pretty good.  It had very little rust and everything looked repairable.  Then I took it for a drive.  Not good.  Granted, it was cold and raining, but the bus wouldn’t idle at all.  I drove it around the parking lot for some time hoping to warm it up, but every time I took my foot off the gas it died.  I tried clutching, braking, and stabbing the gas all at the same time (I’ve only got two feet!), but it worked about 1/3 the time.  I decided to chance going out into traffic.  My first mistake was trying to use the exit where there where some Cabinero’s (police) camped out.  Nope..vehicle isn’t registered, use the other exit.  OK.  I found a secret exit and ventured out into Friday night rush hour traffic…awesome.  It actually wasnt that bad though.  I mean, the truck was horrible, but the people that got stuck behind me didn’t honk an obnoxious amount.  The worst part was of course the continuous stalling.  Stalling between 2nd and 3rd gear was worst, the transmission would make the most horrible grinding noise.  I would have to find neutral (not easy), restart the car, and shift it back into second.  The whole time the seller is sitting next to me extolling the virtues of the car (in spanish, which i don’t yet comprehend), yelling over the stereo he felt compelled to blast.  I thought it was kind of fun actually, I hope Alina didn’t mind so much though.  Eventually we reached a gas station and I pulled in.  Alina didn’t live too far and there was a subway station I could take home.  I thanked the owner and went home to think about it.

Unfortunately, I think I will pass on this one.  If I where back home, I would buy it without further thought.  But here in Santiago…no.  Part of the problem is there are no parts stores to buy spare parts at.  I wouldn’t even know where to buy hand degreaser, let alone a car jack or specialized aircooled VW parts.  I have been thinking of bringing parts back from the US in my airline luggage (an entire engine is easily do-able), but this bus just needs too much.  Of course, I am fond of impossibly stupid projects, so there is hope yet.

And on to the whine…I hate my apartment.  I pay a ridiculous amount of rent for this place, my reasons for getting it were that it is safe and a nice place to relax on my time off.  Unfortunately, my douche-bag neighbors (and everyone in my building fits into this category) see fit to smoke, drink, party, scream, and test their stereos max sound capability until all hours of the morning.  Usually this is left for the weekends, but not always.  The front desk guys are supposed to keep things civilized, but they half ass that job just like everything else.  I guess I can half ass their salary too, its not like my credit ratings extend to down here.  Screw you too, Chile!!!

OK, its time I added another post. I get it.

April 19, 2010

Sorry for my belated posting, it seems like nothing has happened in the past couple weeks yet at the same time too much to write about at one time.  I think I’ll just write a simple summary to start with.

-Finally settling into the grove at work.  I’m on a pretty normal schedule now and slowly learning things.  I’m a mechanical engineer by schooling, but a lot of what I am dealing with is electrical and computer in nature.  So it’s been a little rough learning everything, but thankfully there are a lot of cool people to help me a long the way.  The work site itself is quite an extreme environment, although my two biggest obstacles thus far are the dryness and the food.  The dryness I will get used to, but the food is just abysmal.  My comment last time I was up at the site was something along the lines of how I could cook much better food while backpacking over 2000 miles on the Appalachian Trail.  At least they have trucks here to carry stuff, and the miracle of refrigeration should open new worlds of culinary delight.  Instead, the meat makes us wonder why the local wild donkey herds are mysteriously thinning out, the menus are translated horrendously (tri-colored gun’s and attacked vegtables both in one night!), and the food generally resembles something that a camel vomited after drowning in a cess pit.  The worst part is they ask for suggestions and then ignore anything we throw out there.  If I sound overly bitter, its just because they are getting paid multiple times what it costs me to make food in the States.  Someone somewhere is getting rich off our misery.  Everything else is pretty cool though!

-I finally got settled into an apartment.  This makes me very very happy.  I planned on spending my first week getting everything settled, but instead I got some sort of stomach bug instead.  I’m mostly better now, but I’m amazed I can function despite only having one meal in the past three days. I should develop a ravenous appetite just as I arrive at the work site…at which point I won’t want to eat (…see above).  Oh yeah, the apartment is wonderful.  I got a second floor place so I could jump out the window in case of another earthquake, even though I feel I am mostly over that now.  Still, its got a nice view of the apartment gardens and the next door Austrian consulate is mostly jungle, feels very private.  The metro station is right outside the gate, the office is across the street, and its a relatively quiet neighborhood.  Mostly it’s just nice to get out of a hotel.  As much as I like it here, it’s a little too expensive and I will most likely move when my lease is up in one year.  I figure it would be cool to live in another part of chile, but figuring out transportation to work could be challenging.

-I’m looking out for a car or other means of mechanical transportation.  Of course, nothing normal will do.  Candidates so far include: Citroen 2CV, Volkswagen Bus (still made in Brazil!), Land Rover series III 109, and other various bad ideas.  To top it off, I would like to buy something made in 1987 or older.  This gives me the insane option of driving it back to the States when I am through here and keeping it (must be 25 years old).  Road trip, anyone?

-Best of all, my girlfriend Rebecca came for a visit!  Although it was only one week, it was great to see her again.  I tried as best as I could to play tour guide, but there is only so much I know about this place.  Highlights include: touring downtown Santiago, going on a guided tour of Vailpraiso and Vina del mar (recomended!), hiking up San Cristobal and running into a super nice random Chilean couple, and finally on the last day signing on my apartment!  Hmm…it was a great week, too much to write about here.  Come back soon, Boo!

I think that is about all for now.  Maybe I went overboard on the food, but they could really do better without much more effort.  Adjusting to Santiago is still really rough, it’s incredibly hard to meet people here to hang out with.  I’m hoping things will get better soon.  And I’m taking spanish lessons online, maybe someday I will actually get to take lessons with a real live person!

Stressing Out

March 3, 2010

Hanging out in Plaza El Bosque Lobby

Santiago is feeling odd lately.  Every part I have seen is largely undamaged, and yet things have changed so much.  Probably the most noticeable difference is the number of people out on the street.  Last week the streets where deserted after six or seven, now they are packed.  Some of this is due to the fact that I am in the financial district of town, another part is due to summer vacation ending and everyone has returned to town, but I think the earthquake is responsible for a lot of this too.

From my own perspective, I hate to spend time in my hotel room.  It’s hard to return to the place where the most traumatic event of your life happened and just hang out.  I can hardly let a minute pass without thinking I am feeling another aftershock coming on.  This is all in my head of course, we’ve only had one good aftershock since Sunday morning, but every time someone walks down the hall or a truck passes by in the street I start to freak out.  I’ve been drinking pisco sours and beers before bed with other survivors, but a lot of people have escaped to home now.  So my new distraction is walking around the neighborhood, which is now full of other like minded people.  The parks are full, the restuarants are packed, and people just seem to be everywhere. Well, everywhere except their homes.

Written from the lobby of my hotel…

(OK, sorry this was so bleak.  But that was one seriously freaky event and I think it will be awhile before I feel normal again!)

Plaza El Bosque Lobby. They say its only superficial damage...

Earthquake

February 28, 2010

As you are probably already aware, we suffered a pretty bad earthquake here in chile early saturday morning.  i am very shooken up and still jittery 1.5 days later, but i am totally fine.  the hotel i am in suffered only cosmetic damage and still has power, water, food and helpful invaluable staff.  I´ll try and relate my story.

Friday i decided to rent a car and see some of Chile while my friend Kevins was still in town.  we ended up with a truck and set off to explore the coast some.  we left santiago for San Antonio and then followed the coast up to Valpraiso.  We inched our way to Vina del Mar through heavy holiday traffic and then had some delicious food.  we decided to look for a place since it was getting late.  it turned out that every place was fully booked, and after a few hours of looking we headed back to santiago.  i made it to my hotel about 1 am and fell asleep by 2.  I thank God I am here and not some old hostel in a city i don´t know anyone in.

I woke up to a siren going off.  i felt something was amiss but didn´´t  know what was going on.  then my bed starting shaking, and i thought that was a bad sign.  then it stopped shaking and a second later the entire hotel started rumbling and shaking.  it was like an airplane hitting really bad turbulence, but remove the plane and replace it with a 17 story concrete and steel building.  i jumped off the bed and curled up into a ball to reduce my footprint in case the building collapsed.  i was so nervous tho i got up and looked out the window.  i wish i hadn´t.  it was a moonlight night, and i could see pretty good, but all the building around me (15 to 25 stories) where lit up by arcing electrical lines.  in the brief flashes of light i could see all the buildings swaying like crazy, like palm tree´s in a hurricane.  it was the craziest and scariest thing I have ever seen.  I was sure they would start collapsing one by one, but they just continued to sway.  i got back on the floor and rode it out there. 

i seemed to last an eternity, but once it started slowing down i grabbed all my clothes, wallet and passport and ran to the stairs.  no one else was around, and in a few seconds i was in the lobby.  there where a few people there, but i busted ass outside.   I think i was the 5th person out, and probably the most dressed.  people slowly filtered out and soon we had a crowd.  none of us knew what to do, we where all just standing there.  i walked as far from the tall buildings as I could and socialized.  people on the higher floors had it way way worse.  some of their doors jammed shut and they had to pry them open.  the water from their toilets spilled out onto their bathroom floors.  even the rooftop swimming pool leaked into the top floors!  but no one was hurt and the hotel staff did an admiral job of keeping order and comforting everyone. 

after 2 hours or so most people filed back into the lobby where the hotel staff handed out blankets (i was freezing and had only  a tshirt on) and served an impromtu breakfast and coffee.  i can´t say enough about how great this hotel is.  the make sure our needs are met even though they must be concerned about their own family.  Thank you Hotel El Bosque!

Eventually some people went up to their rooms, but i stayed in the lobby with maybe 50 other people.  i didn´t get more than a half hour of sleep, and every aftershock sent me running outside (yes, i know thats the wrong thing to do but its hard to ignore your instincts).  About 7 or 8 I finally went up to my room and relaxed a little bit.  i organized my stuff, used the restroom, and watched TV.  Then the biggest aftershock hit.  It wasn´t bad, but it started out like the big one so its hard to tell how hard it was going to hit.  I booked it down the stairs and out into the street again.

Once daylight hit I took a look around, but it was hard to see any damage.  Some broken windows and minor debris down, but nothing else.  I called Kevin up to see if he was OK.  He was on the 13th floor and very jittery, but otherwise fine. 

I would spend the rest of the day chatting in the hotel lobby and randomly walking around to calm my nerves.  Some traveler´s from the US and I ordered pisco sours, but the waiters nerves where shot and they spilled 2 rounds of drinks!  We eventually got our alchohol and food, and Kevin stopped by.   More time was spent in the lobby trying to laugh off incidents (one guy was in his boxers and nothing else and he wouldn´t go back up!), but we where all still a little freaked out.  We had dinner at the hotel, it was probably one of a few places open in Santiago.  I spent the night again in the lobby, but this time there where only 3 of us.  I just couldn´t fall asleep in my bed.  Every aftershock is amplified by the 5 stories up my room was, but hardly anything was felt in the lobby.  So i slept like a baby.

Sunday was more of the same, but more people are haning out in their rooms.  More shops and restaurants are opening up, and i expect things to return closer to normality tomorrow.  i have some pics, but nothing spectacular.

For the meantime, i am just waiting to see what happens next.

Random Santiago

February 21, 2010

I’ve been back in Santiago for a few days now and I thought I would share some random pics:

Starbucks in Santiago

Now, before anyone gets upset at American business invading Chile, know this: almost all other coffee here is instant.  Yes, thats right, Nescafe rules supreme here.  Starbucks is a much much welcome addition.  Although I didn’t make it to this one today because it was inexplicably closed on a beautiful Sunday afternoon.  Instead I got a delicious Latte at Juan Valdez cafe (?)

Next up is how they wash skyscrapers in town.  Scary:

Window washing, hardcore

Friday I went out looking at apartments.  I went with a real estate agent / expat assistant and looked at about 6 different places.  I kind of knew as soon as I got to the first one that was the place I wanted, but I suffered through all the other places just to assure myself how much nicer the first one was.  It was located in an older part of town, in a neighborhood full of bavarian style houses.  It was fairly spacious and had a nice balcony and a laundry room.  There are two bedrooms in case any guests want to stop by (hint hint) and two bathrooms.  There is also a nice yard for the whole complex and a little swimming pool as well.  Its an older place and needs some painting, but I’m pretty much sold.

The biggest drawback is that the apartment is not furnished (meaning no refrigerator or washing machine, but does include an oven and toilet!)  All the other places where furnished (down to the silverwear and bedsheets!), but in the long run its cheaper to go unfurnished.  Plus the other places were  big buildings (30+ stories!), located on busy streets, way more expensive and without any views.  Oh…did I mention the first apartment has a beautiful view of the city and the mountains?  🙂  Also, there are several parks and running paths nearby, not to mention a metro station.  I think I will like it there.

The Derek goes for a hike.

February 21, 2010

Sorry for the title, couldn’t help myself.  Anyways, work progressed pretty good and by late Sunday afternoon (7pm) we decided to go for a short hike.  There aren’t much in the way of hiking trails, but there aren’t much in the way of tree’s to get lost in either; so we just chose a direction and went.

Taking a picture of my shadow in the Atacama Desert.

The big attraction near our work site are the numerous canyons that you can explore and climb through.  Most weren’t too big, but we would follow the canyon up for a few hundred yards and explore.  We wondered when the last time water flowed here.

Kevin taking an alternate route around a canyon.

There were cairns marking the best route across the canyons, although we didn’t always look too hard for them.

Rock Cairn in the Atacama, about 4 feet tall

Although the sun was setting, it is still an extreme climate and the chance of my pasty white skin burning to crisp was at the forefront of my thoughts.  We are at 10,000 feet, there is no shade, little moisture and an extra thin ozone layer.  This is great for astronomical conditions but bad for avoiding skin cancer.  I hadn’t really expected to do any hiking on my first trip to the site, so I had to improvise my clothing.

Hiking in business casual attire

Since this is the desert, you can see for quite a ways.  Its amazing to be able to see forever, but at the same time you never feel like you are far from camp;  it was always within view.  Also in view is the road up to the observation site.  This road is about 48 km long and goes from 3,000 meters to 5,000 meters.  Here is a pic of it winding its way up to the Chajnantor Plain:

Road up to Chajnantor Plain

The mountain to the left is lower than the observation site, but there are dormant volcanoes within view that are over 20,000 feet!  This is one of the chief attractions of the area and there are daily tourist excursions near to the top.  Maybe one day I will have enough time to go up myself.

Art, Kevin (co-workers) and myself finally came to a canyon we couldn’t cross.  We went up and down looking for a way to cross, but it proved elusive.  Finally we found a sketchy way down.  There was a lot of donkey tracks and poop, but no wild burro’s I had heard so much about.  I wondered what they were doing in the canyons in the first place, but then I could see some wet spots were water might have pooled in the morning and I thought that’s where they might get their drinking water from.  Maybe pool is a strong word for it, probably more like dig around in the mud for a murky drink?

Art and Kevin exploring a canyon

We explored the bottom of the canyon a little bit, and then found a cairn that marked a much easier path out of the canyon.  At this point the sun was beginning to set and we decided to head back to camp.  Luckily it was always within view and easy to find our way back to.

The work site from afar

In the picture above, you can see the large building that I work in.  This is actually the subcontractor’s building, but it’s where I spend most of my time.  There are actually 3 different assembly points in the left half of the picture,  one for the American telescopes, one for the European telescopes, and one for the Japanese telescopes (all working on the same overall project).  The Americans were the only ones to build a real building, and its quite huge.  We have some telescopes inside being worked on, and some others outside being tested.  Having a building to work inside is certainly a plus.  Also in the picture to the right are the main offices for the ALMA site operations.  This is where the telescopes have their final assembly and testing done before heading to the high site and where all the facilities are.

Back to the hike, we still were exploring on our way back.  We kept on running into these deep holes located randomly in the canyons we came across.

more canyon stuff

Some of them looked like lava tubes, but I think they are more likely formed by old waterfalls. Hmmm?

We finally made it back to our work site just as the sun was setting.  Question: how many buildings here are made out of old shipping containers?

Housing quarters

Answer: pretty much all of them.  Okay, so my dorm room I will usually stay in is an actual building, I did stay in converted shipping container for a few days. It really wasnt that bad.  Also to the right in the picture are the water storage towers and a water delivery truck.  Water is delivered several times a day every day.

Shipping Contianer House

Our other non work adevntures (limited due to the fact we work most of the time) included going into San Pedro de Atacama, a tourist town about 45 minutes away.  The have nice restaurants there, a neat downtown to walk around, and lots of silly tourists to make fun of.  I still don’t understand the attraction of bringing your whole family from France to a big desert, but I guess you run out of interesting things to do when you have 8 weeks of vacation a year (might be a slight exaggeration?)

Anyways, a few more days of work and then I was released back to the civilized world of Santiago.  Next adventure: finding an apartment!

Working Man

February 11, 2010

I left Santiago Monday afternoon and after a 2 hour flight and a 2 hour bus ride I made it to the ALMA worksite, where I will be working for at least the next 2 years.  I will be working a turno shift: 8 days (including travel) at ALMA followed by 6 days off in Santiago.  My job title is “North American Antenna Engineer”.  I still am processing what that means, but basically I am part of the team that approves Radio telescopes for use.  So I will not be using the telescopes, just making sure they are assembled and working correctly.

I’m a little wore out to describe much more, but suffice to say I made the right decision in taking this position.  The thing that strikes me most here is that the people here are passionate about this project and dedicated to its success.  A little different from other work environments.  Also, the site itself is alien and extreme yet beautiful and amazing too.  We are in the highest driest desert.  The assembly site is at 10,000 feet and no humidity. The final operations site is at 16,000 feet.  I feel like I’m working on Mars.  I work all day, eat all my meals with, and sleep at night within snoring range of my co-workers.  Lucky everyone is really easy to get along with.  I feel lucky to work on such beautiful machinery too.  The radio telescopes (imagine large satellite dishes) are at the cutting edge of all technology involved and I’m in awe the more I learn about them.

I will leave it at that for tonight.  I promise I’ll take some pic’s just as soon as I learn whats safe to take pics of (proprietary technology, can’t let any secrets out.)  I’ll talk more about what its like to work and live at 10,000 feet in the desert (Mars).  Now its time for bed (I have my own little dorm room suite).

It’s true about Chilean Sea Bass

February 8, 2010

There’s a restaurant across the street from my hotel I have avoided.  Strictly based on the fact I thought it would be lame not to venture out and try someplace far way from where I sleep.  Well, tonight I didn’t feel like venturing far, so I gave it a try.  It was quite a fancy place, I was feeling a little out-of-place but not too much.  Everything on the menu looked extremely appetizing, but I’ve always heard Chilean Sea Bass is one of the most delicious fish out there.  I also ordered an avocado and heart of palm salad.  The salad wasn’t really a salad (just yummy avocado and heart of palm) and it came with my meal.  It was good, but the sea bass kind of blew my mind.  Served with some sort of wine sauce and crab, it was easily the best meal I’ve had since arrival.  It’s too bad I’m leaving tomorrow afternoon, I would go back there every night. I would rank it in the top 10 dining experiences of my life.

So, I fly out of Santiago Monday and up to the OSF (operational site facility?).  This is where I will be working for the next two years and it promises to be interesting.  Lance (I hung out with him last week) says the sunsets are amazing, the people are pretty cool, and the food isn’t bad.  I really don’t know what to expect, but I’m excited to be working again.  It’s been almost 20 months since I resigned from my last job and in a weird way I miss it.