Thursday, December 11, 2008
We've been home now for several months and everyone has adjusted to stationary life again. Getting back into home and school schedules was difficult but the transition is over. One of the biggest things we experienced when we returned to our house was how overwhelming all our stuff was. This prompted me to write an article for our local parenting magazine (Mountain Parent) called "Too Much Stuff". The essence of my piece is that stuff makes our lives harder not easier, and that our travels taught us how little we really need to be happy. You can check out the article at this link:
Here is a photo of the kids in the shadow of Mount Sopris after a 3 mile uphill hike soon after we returned.
Sunday, May 18, 2008
Wednesday, May 7, 2008
employees and 2 to 4 gauchos (cowboys) and a collection of dogs, chickens, cats, horses and aboug 600 cows and unnumerable goats! The headquarters area is perched on a hillside covered with some of the only trees in the area, overlooking a gorgeous clear cold river (see photo). There is the Big House where Ashley and guests stay and then a smattering of other crazy houses for relatives then the gaucho and volunteer quarters further up the hill in what used to be the historic ranch headquarters. We moved into the 2 bedroom volunteer house which had previously housed the other young volunteers and had the only kitchen and hot water bathroom (more on that later). The other folks were mostly heading out in about a week so they moved into other rooms throughout the place and we all shared the kitchen (a bit crazy for a control freak like me!). We had a fireplace, woodcookstove and wood fired hot water heater for the shower! No electricity because the water powered turbine broke last year.
We were given the job of salvaging a one acre garden which had been sadly neglected for several seasons. It was the perfect task for us because the garden was right next to our house and totally enclosed by a rock wall so that the kids wereunbothered by the roaming dogs and help us or play as they wished. We essentially dug it over and made paths and brought in fertilizer for the entire month. It was amazing to look at the progress and know that our work would provide the ranch folks with fresh veggies next year. Everyone was very grateful for our work which was very nice too.
The rythms of living on the ranch were so simple and fulfilling. We would wake up with the sun (8:30), work in the garden when it got warm enough and stop when it got hot, take a long lunch time then work more or hike or play or ride horses as the mood suited us in the afternoon. Making bread was a half day affair of making the dough, collecting firewood, heating up the huge woodfired oven and then baking it. Taking a shower meant planning for an extra hour of firewood and stoking it until it was warm enough for everyone to get clean, and thus only happened a couple times a week. The volunteers and gauchos were provided with an endless supply of goat meat, flour, rice, pasta, potatoes, onions and not much else. We were had some extra supplies brought in and never felt lacking but it sure was a change from the rich chocolate lifestyle of Bariloche! The kids adapted to the food really well though never became huge fans of goat meat. A few times we had fresh trout from the river and chickens from the ranch (Cassidy watched their necks get rung quite calmly!). The kids absolutely adored it and would have stayed for months if we could have.
Saturday, March 29, 2008
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
They dont do easter baskets here so the kids and I made baskets out of wine boxes (appropriately!) and filled them with real grass. They also dont dye easter eggs so we spent the week leading up to easter experimenting with various natural dyes. Eventually crayons ended up working the best. Fortunately we are in the hub of fine chocolate and the easter bunny had lots of treats to choose from. The Pascuas Conejo obliged us with full baskets and eggs hidden in the house (safe from Punky). Then in the Meyer tradition we had to re-hide them over and over again outside after breakfast!
Saturday, March 15, 2008
Monday, March 10, 2008
Saturday we had our second day of rain in a month and enjoyed hanging out at home being mellow. We baked chocolate chip cookies which is always an adventure in a new country with different ingredients. We determined that they were better than our Costa Rica chocolate chippers but not as good as Nicky´s Chilean chocolate chip surprise cookies she made with the kids!
Sunday I ran from our village up to the ski area, Cerro Catedral, on the back dirt road which is about 8 miles, all up then all down. Then we went out for a training hike with the kids. We´d like to all hike into a Refugio to spend a night but wanted to make sure they were up for it. So we hiked to Playa Munoz, an isolated lake at the far end of our lake that you hike past our normal beaches, up through the forest, over a pretty big hill then down to the lake. From our house it is 9 km. The kids did the whole way there and back without complaint and were still running around pretending to be horses on the way home! That is almost 10 miles, so we were very impressed. We didnt head out until 1:30 so we got to the lake around 4 and only hung out for an hour before turning around. The push up from the lake was steep but we started playing games and they plugged right on to the top. We had the carrot in front of them of a stop at our beloved Tea House for delicious cake so they cruised on. The tea house arrived just as Cassidy was fading but the chocolate cake and hot chocolate revived them enough for the last 2 km to our house. Dinner didnt happen until 9pm and they were crashed out by 10. Unfortunately I think it was too much for my foot which now has a very painful muscle pull. But it was very exciting to realize we can now take them on more adventurous hikes.
Wednesday, March 5, 2008
Toby at the bus station in Pucon and us playing Uno waiting at customs between Argentina and Chile.
Monday, February 18, 2008
We are back in Pucon for the night then headed by bus to Argentina tomorrow morning.
Friday, February 15, 2008
We are certainly scoring with the friends connections so far in Chile. After a wonderful four days at Brett and Nicki's, Carolyn and Greg's friend Todd, aka Toodles, invited us and our Santiago pals on a rafting trip down the Teno river. We headed south with 6 in the Peugot early Tuesday morning and met up with Todd and a guide of his, Jonathan King, in the small mountain town of Los Quenes. Of course, the C and G connection wasnt enough, turns out Jonathan's brother is a student of Dave's at CRMS! They were wonderful, fun and attentive guides as they took us down the very boney (ie dry season lots of rocks to bump into) class III river. The rapids were big fun and the kids LOVED it. As Toby said on our break, this is like Disney World, Busch Gardens and a Waterpark, all together, only better!!!! I loved the vision of Cass in a grown up lifejacket that covered her bottom and Toby in Todd's styly kayak jacket. The trip was awesome and we decided to part ways with our friends in Los Quenes and stay at a hotel there rather than head back into the valley. Todd hooked us up with a great Hostal with a pool that looks up into the Andes and we eat out at what he terms the best pizza restaraunt in Chile! This is saying alot since Los Quenes is one dusty street long. It is the local vacation spot for Chileans who come there to camp and swim in the river and escape the heat. Cass and Toby had a great time playing with some locals in the downtown park. It cracks me up that they say we speak Castiliian and wonder why we dont speak the language of Chile. Chilean is pretty much unintelligible to me spoken at it normal speed. Hope Argentina is easier!
Monday, February 11, 2008
We had the softest of all possible landings in Santiago. After an 8 hour overnight flight we were picked up by our friend Brett. For the next five days we were treated to five star hospitality at Brett and Nicky's apartment. We rode the funicular and telepherique up to the top of the Parque Metropolitano. We swam in the swanky pool at the top of the hill overlooking the city and the Andes. Brett chauffered us to an incredible beach. We watched penquins, played in the sand, and basked in the super strong rays of the Southern sun. There was an incredible path along the beach that we hiked to another beach where Shannon and I actually swam. A bird sanctuary just offshore was home to penguins and pelicans. We could see them very clearly hopping around. Brett certainly knows how to pick a fantastic beach. The ozone hole is serious here. The sun also means that fruits and vegetables here are fantastic. We got more fruit than we could eat at a little roadside stand>grapes, apples, peaches, nectarines. Santiago is an amazingly clean and modern city. A marked contrast to San Jose and Panama City. The kids coped beautifully with their first real encounter with a big city. It helped that Brett and Nicky were such patient hosts and were fantastic with the kids. The new schedule worked okay/ dinner at 830 or 9, asleep by 10 for the kids. The sun goes down late here and families are still hanging out on their towels at the beach at 730. It was nice to hear Brett and Shannon make a little music together in the evenings. It made us realize how much the Hellroaring String Band is missed in our lives. Maybe the band can meet up in Chile for a world tour/penguin watching safari/ outdoor adventure sometime. The initial part of the tour was busy but relaxed/ it is hard to imagine a better way to spend the first five days inside a new country. Our sincere thanks to some of the world's best hosts. I hope that someday we can repay the favor.