Archive for January, 2010

Getting Settled

January 30, 2010

Maybe getting settled is getting ahead of myself, but I’m slowly getting over the shock of living in Chile.  I still haven’t wandered very far from my hotel, but I’m seeing new things every day.

Yesterday I received a blackberry and laptop from my work and spent the rest of the day trying to figure them out.  I spent a few hours in our local office and was even taken out to lunch by a few of our employees there.  After work I wandered around for a few hours and eventually settled on what was to be a very expensive restaurant.  I started with a salad that I thought would contain artichoke but instead contained asparagus and some other vegetable.  The menu was even in English, so that was all my fault.  It turned out to be delicious though, the first time I’ve been able to stomach asparagus.  Main course was some sort of lamb chops, but the waiter explained that I was supposed eat it with my fingers like spare ribs.  Or at least, thats I what I think he was motioning with his hands.   It was a great meal, but I need to find cheaper places to eat.

17th Floor of Plaza El Bosque

This morning I had breakfast on the roof (17th floor) of my hotel, it was an amazing view!  You can’t see much from the street level here, there are too many tall buildings in the way.  It was a surprise to see mountains and further than just a down the street.  Also, food was great.  I spent the afternoon walking around for a few hours and then sitting and reading outside for a bit.  All the meals are eaten much later than in the US here.  I couldn’t take it and finally sat down for lunch at a cafe at 1:30.  It was just starting to fill up when I left at 2.  Next adventure was the grocery store.  Pretty much the same in the US with just a few differences.  The cashier talked to me as if I was fluent in Spanish, then ignored me once I sputtered out “no hablo espanol”.  I really wish I had learnt at least a little Spanish before moving here; people seem to be really upset that I first didn’t speak fluent Spanish before setting out.  Lo Siento, Chile!

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En Route

January 28, 2010

My flight to Chile was almost over before it even began. Yesterday my dad dropped me off at the airport and I thought my biggest concern would be checking all my extra oversize luggage. That went smoothly. What didn’t was my lack of a work visa. Work set me up with a round trip ticket, with a return trip in December. Unfortunately I needed more paperwork to stay in the country over 90 days, but I wouldn’t get this paperwork until arrival in Chile. But I couldn’t even check in until I had the paperwork. I was stuck in this catch-22 for 30 minutes or so until after several panicked calls we arrived at a solution: change my return date to April. Whether I come home them or switch it to a later date doesn’t matter. I was able to get my boarding pass and get on the plane. And as a special parting gift from the wonderful people at Detroit Metro Airport, I was treated to a slightly uncomfortable full body pat down in security. Oh well, I’d rather be felt up than blown up.

After a uneventful flight I arrived in Santiago (via Dallas). It was snowing and well below freezing in Detroit, but it’s in the middle of summer here and HOT! I was met at the airport by one of NRAO’s finest, Alina. She helped me get checked in to the hotel and later took me out to lunch. Next we walked around town trying to start the mountain of paperwork. We even made it to the NRAO office and I got to meet everyone.

After that I was on my own. I found my way back to the hotel, changed some dollars into pesos, and bought some bottled water. The money is still hard to figure out (all the zero’s confuse me), but I think I have it under control.

Once the weather cools down I will explore the city some more.

Hello world!

January 27, 2010

I really should be nervous.  I’m about to turn my life upside down, yet my biggest concern is stuffing as much Thai food in face as possible.   In about an hour I head off to Detroit Metro Airport and catch a flight to Santiago, Chile.  About 2.5 weeks ago I started working for the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, with the understanding that I would be working on the ALMA project in Chile for at least 2 years.  That’s right, I signed up to live in a country for 24 months, a place I’ve never been before, a place that has a language I have no knowledge of, working on state of the art telescopes I wish I knew a lot more about…and I’m not even slightly nervous.  But I am out of Thai food.  Dang.