So this is our greenhouse. In it we have cherry tomatoes, zucchini, cucumbers, cilantro, basil, parsley, and swiss chard. There’s a garden on the left with fava beans, peas, and more herbs. There’s a lot of greenhouses down here, probably at least 10 or so (it’s a lot in a town of 500), not counting the greenhouses owned by Don Fito, the amazing mostly-organic farmer who supplies us with most of our produce. The weather is pretty similar to Michigan from what I’ve seen so far (we’re on nearly the same latitude here). They’re far from fancy, either, since there’s not too much extra money down here. Mostly wood and some plastic tarp, and it gets the job done. Makes me think putting up a small greenhouse isn’t really that hard after all…
So, from what I gathered, at the rodeo, two caballeros chase around a small cow and then try to ram it into the wall, or get to run in the other direction. I couldn’t really understand the details, but it didn’t seem like that much fun the the cow. In answer to this, my Chilean co-workers said, “Yes, but in Spain it’s way worse.” Touché?
Yesterday I woke up on my day off at 7am so I could get on a bus to Lago Verde, which is a town about two hours from here, a few miles from the Argentine border. Lillian invited me along, and said a bunch of folks were going to play some soccer and hang out. Someone asked me if I wanted to play and I asked if it was like a town against town kind of thing, whether La Junta would be playing against Lago Verde, because although I don’t mind me some soccer, I’m pretty bad so I didn’t want to get into that. I was assured that it wasn’t like that. So I said sure, I’ll play some soccer and come along.
A few hours later, after some tea and sandwiches at the (no joke) sheriff’s house, I was invited to see the lake and visit one of my coworker’s family’s farm. As we walked by, they said, oh, why don’t you just ride the horses down there? Then a broken dialogue ensued, wherein I tried to explain that I had never ridden a horse and had no idea how to do that, I didn’t even know how to get on. So they laughed at me (people laugh at me a lot) and then told me to get on the horse. I discovered that riding a horse is not that hard, although if I made him go more than approximately 2 miles per hour, it kind of hurt the ‘undercarriage’ pretty bad (and for some reason in my subconscious I kept thinking that I should be wearing a seatbelt).
Right, so then we got back to the gym and it was soccer time. I was kind of nervous after I saw the younger kids play, because they could have smoked me and were wearing fancy La Junta jerseys. I was not exactly prepared to challenge the next town over on behalf of La Junta. But there was no getting out of it, and so they gave me the uniform and I ran around and I only hit the ball with my hand twice, which I think was two more times than everyone else combined. I could hear the whole crowd laugh every time I did something wrong (I think I may have told them that we don’t have soccer in the US to make up for my total lack of talent in that department). Later, I tried to challenge everyone there to table tennis (which I’m way better at than soccer).
To wrap up the day, we went to a hostel-type place and had a huge feast–tomato and onion salad, cucumbers, potatoes, then a true Chilean asado. They came around with a tray of beef, hot dogs, and sausage. Then they came around with the lamb. One of the guys there was pouring himself a glass of orange soda and beer, so in the spirit of trying new things, I gave that a shot too (it was not good at all). Quite a day.
Well, I finally made it to La Junta lodge, where I’ll be for the next five months. All the wine for both lodges was dropped off here, so we had to split it evenly and then pack half of it away here, and move the other half into a trailer to go back to Puerto Cardenas lodge, and I am exhausted.
This lodge is one of the most spectacularly beautiful places I’ve ever been, and I’m excited to live here. It’s right on the river, of course, and there are all sorts of birds around (there’s a pair of binoculars and a bird guide to the area in the lodge that I hope to use if I have time). Right behind the lodge are some rolling hills where cows are grazing, and a few miles behind those hills are more snow-capped mountains.
A few nights ago at the other lodge, the meat and fish order showed up, at around 6PM. So we had to put all the meat away, and filet the fish and split it into nice little portions. I had never filleted a whole fish before and I think I did pretty good considering.
Tomorrow we’re going to spend stocking up the kitchen here. There’s still a week or so before the guests arrive here, but I’ll try to post some pictures of anything good we make and the area around La Junta. The internet connection here is only dialup, but I shall do my best.
I haven’t had much time to write or do anything. We’re making all sorts of pastry doughs, stocking up for when the guests arrive. So far we’ve made croissants, danish, puff pastry, whole wheat bread, white bread, challah, and some pie dough. Later today we’ll make some cookies. I don’t have any pictures of food, but here are some pictures of the area around Chaiten.
Not a bad view from the back porch…
So, I made it Santiago. Of course, the hard part actually begins tomorrow, when I get on two more planes to get to Chaiten, and (in theory) start working.
Today I tried to do some exploring and walking that I thought would get rid of the jetlag. I´ve never flown directly south before, and even though the plane ride was about 9 hours long, it´s only two hours later here. I think the weird feeling you get after being on a plane for that long is just from being stuck on the plane for that long instead of the change in time zones. For me, what´s weirder than the fact that it´s summer here is that all of a sudden it´s light out until 9PM again.
Well, I went out to get some lunch and email and then realized I was totally exhausted and took a long nap. When I woke up, I was hungry again (no surprise there) and in dire need of coffee. So I decided to make things really complicated and get on a subway to explore a different neighborhood (Bellavista for those of you into details). My guidebook said it was ¨hip¨and ¨bohemian¨so I figured there would be some good coffee there. However, what I found instead was about a mile of outdoor cafes with Chilean hipsters of all sorts drinking beer. I did finally find the most touristy place and spent about 4$ on a couple of coffees. Ordering coffee in a foreign country, you never know what you´re going to get, but I asked for ¨mas fuerte¨and I was rewarded for my persistence.
The hostel where I´m staying for the night is located in the Historic District and I did some walking around there afterwards. I will describe what you see in the image below:
This man was singing to a large crowd as people got their hair cut in front of them. I´m not sure what the connection was, but I do know that I´ve never seen anyone get their hair cut in public before. It definitely made me want to try it though, at least once.
However, little did he know that this small group of teenage carnies was about to steal the show:
Here´s a picture of the ensuing mayhem:
I pretty much took off after that, and I have spent the last forty minutes uploading and formatting these pictures, and guess what, I am hungry again.