Saturday, December 29, 2012

In motion, getting further south

In transit!

My cousin Kris asked me how in the world I decided what NOT to pack as she surveyed the two suitcases (a 25 incher and a carry-on), a big purse and a backpack sitting in the entry way.

To be fair, I DID get everything into one suitcase, got it zipped then tried to lift it.  Suffice it to say, it's morphed into 2.  But I've justified the situation by saying that I'll have a weekender for those short trips around Chile.  Luckily, I came in under the international weight restriction, so its all good, or will be till I have to get all the stuff through customs and immigration in Santiago.

What makes packing tough is that it's hot in the inland lowlands, cool at the coast and a combo of both in the mountains.  Then, it's hot in the north, temperate in the middel and not unlike British Columbia or the Norwegian fjords in the south.  So, I packed some layers and, of course, they take up room!

There are also the gadgets required by an ex-techie.  A smallish laptop, a tablet with keyboard, and the-last-a-month b/w Nook.  Oh, plus the phone and all the darned cords and gizmos it takes to charge all of them. Wait, there are also the adapters to get them to plug in.   Not to forget the emergency batteries to keep them charged if I'm not near a plug.  

They're about to start boarding for Santiago.  I'm almost outta here!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas Eve, everyone!

In our family that means a quiet dinner with Mom's stroganoff, some good red wine and a lot of good conversation.  If there are kids around, it also means reading the gospel about the birth of Jesus, then "The Night Before Christmas", followed by Christmas carols.  It's all about family and appreciating the joy and completeness they bring into our lives.  Of course, as the old saying goes, it's the place where people have to take you in when you show up. 

Seriously, may all of you have a wonderful evening and Christmas Day tomorrow and be fortunate enough to keep the spirit alive in your hearts through the year.  I'm lucky to have many of you as family and even luckier to have you as friends.  Feliz Navidad!

(And thanks to Janice for finding this pic.  Merry merry!)

Sunday, December 23, 2012

And so it begins, retirement's first big step out into the world to find out what happens when a uni-lingual person of a certain age decides to become bilingual.  

In this case, to learn Spanish, specifically in Chile at a school called Ecela (

I leave for Santiago on Saturday, December 29, and am currently scheduled to return on April 9th.  My first week is vacation, since it's New Year's week, and then I begin school in Viña del Mar, which is about 75 miles northwest of Santiago.

The advantage to starting here is that it's a big beach and vacation community and it's going to be Summer in the Southern Hemisphere, which means back to flip flops and shorts!  The apartment where I'm staying is six blocks from the school, which in turn is 6 blocks from the ocean. The guidebooks say that the weather in Viña's much like SF, but not foggy in the early summer. Apparently the mountains don't suck in the marine layer as well as California's Central Valley.

Viña is just north of Valparaiso, once one of the biggest port cities on the Pacific Ocean.  Today it's a World Heritage Site, and the home of a whole bunch of funicular railways.  But more about Valpo later.

I'll be living with a family of 3, Papa, Mama, and their 22 year old daughter.  I have my own room with a queen sized bed and WiFi, so I'm good to go.

After the first 4 weeks I have the option to change cities.  Right now, I'm planning on going to Santiago, but who knows?  Just found out that February has a big music festival in Viña, but there's also the Argentian wine country (Mendoza), Buenos Aires and Lima, Peru to choose from.  It's wonderful to have the flexibility to choose.

So this blog is mostly for everyone who's asked that I stay in touch, and for those backward folks who don't have Facebook.  <wink>

More later, for now, I need to figure out what to pack for this 3 month jaunt.  Oh, and spend Christmas Eve/Christmas with my sister Melissa, her hubby Terry and the dogs.  Besides the usual fun time, we're having the traditional Christmas eve meal of Mom's stroganoff, and a big old prime rib to celebrate Christmas.  

Merry, merry to all of you.