Wednesday, October 2, 2013

The Driest Place on Earth

Laguna Blanca in Bolivia
   Hey, everybody.  Matt here.  It's been a while, so I'll skip all the pleasantries and get right into talking about me (and Sara).
Meat on a stick and beer.  Dieciocho!
   So the national independence holidays came and went far too quickly, much like last year.  As we had a wild & crazy time last year in Pichilemu, we decided to clear right out of the damn country this year with a trip to Bolivia.  While in Santiago before heading north to the Atacama Desert, we did make sure to attend the requisite non-stop BBQs that everyone seemed to be having.  Our count this year was 4 in 3 days.
A real horse's ass.
   We started our vacation in San Pedro de Atacama, a town near the border with Bolivia.  While a pleasant enough town, it was rather expensive - especially food.  The experience was not dis-similar to staying at a ski resort (except no skiing or bread-bowls).  We had our first experience riding horses here, which was nice.  Our guide's horse, unfortunately, butted him in the head, which cut our tour short.  Sara & I were both relieved our horses, while stubborn, were not violent.
Hot spring = Hot.  Altiplano = Cold.
   We then began a 4 day Land-Cruiser tour of the Bolivian portion of the Atacama Desert (the driest in the world!).  We saw lots of interesting, unique landforms, flora, and fauna while there.  It was a quiet, contemplative time during the days.  At nights backpacking European kids serenaded everyone, without any request, with their tales of sex, drugs, and rock & roll.
Stupid flamingos; read the sign!
   One of the neatest days, by far, was when we were in the salar [salt flat] de Uyuni (the largest in the world, 10,000km2).  We saw the full moon set and the sun rise over a sea of salt.  While here, Sara made friends with a dog.   It was a nice vacation from life in the capital and work.
Exactly what it looks like.
   The only trouble we had was at the border.  As the US is a real stickler for charging people to enter the US, many other countries respond in kind.  If you're looking to take a trip to Bolivia, bring a bunch of US cash.  We almost encountered a lovely $10,000 fine re-entering Chile as an apple was mistakenly left undeclared.  After gutting our bags in front of the customs man and kowtowing to the powers that be, we were able to continue.  Chile loves their borders!
A new friend for sunrise.
   OK.  I'm gonna sign off now.  I hope you are well.  Please send Sara & I an email, skype, gchat, or something to let us know how you are.

Sara's view of our relationship
Boots so big you can almost see the stink lines

We like this picture.


Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Too long...

Friends and Family!  Sara here...
It's been WAY TOO LONG since our last blog post.  Blame it on....well, us.
Let's catch you up on some things:

1) We had an amazing trip to the States.  We visited NY, RI, CT, ME and gas stations in MA and NH. The trip was wonderful- overwhelming, tiring, hilarious, heart-warming.  We are so happy we got to spend time with friends and family after a LONG two years.  The best part of visiting is realizing how relationships can pick up exactly where you left them (now, with a little Wiedemann).  We had an especially special time in Narragansett celebrating the marriage of our good pals, Dan and Gabby.  It was a beautiful wedding.  We BBQ'd quite a bit throughout the Northeast.  Thank you to everyone who hosted us, fed us, filled us with delicious drinks and made us laugh and smile.  (For more comments and pics on our trip, check out my Facebook profile for a photo album.)

2) Matt has started a new position at Santiago College (my school) as the technology teacher for middle and high school.  That translates to grades 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10.  Yes, he has 340 students.  Yes, that's a lot.  It's nice for us to commute and have lunch together. So far, we aren't too sick of each other.

3) I celebrated my birthday the weekend we got back from the States.  I had a great time with all my friends.  My dear friend Lauren organized an amazing "Mad Men" themed dinner complete with goodie bags and cupcakes.  Matt gifted me tickets to the Opera which we will go to next weekend (Billy Budd).  I'm very excited to dress up and see the inside of the Municipal Theater.

4) Along with the rest of Chile, we are gearing up for dieciocho, the independence celebration.  We are heading up to San Pedro de Atacama for a week.  We'll let you know how it goes.

5) Lastly (but not least-ly), we are super excited for a new addition to the Upham family!  Matt's brother , Dan, and his wife, Virginia, have given birth to a baby girl, Violet.  We were really hoping for an early birth so we could meet her while we were visiting, but she stubbornly held out for 3 extra weeks.  We are sending all our love and congratulations to the whole Upham/Sole-Smith family!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Been a While, Eh?

Out for dinner to celebrate 4 years as a couple, I had the turkey.
   Hey, people.  Matt here.  I'll try to keep the writing inversely proportional to how long we've gone w/o an update.
   Summer is ending here, but we've been making the best of it.  We've been going to parties, getting outside, seeing music, hanging with friends, making new friends, getting older, and generally improving.  To the evidence!

At an asado at Charlie's.  Ostra has a funny smile.
Out for my 29th birthday.  The restaurant is shaped
like a submarine!

After my first trad lead in Cajon del Maipo.
I've never seen such a high concentration of
women as at a women's race.  I wish I had
thought of that as a younger man.
   We've been fairly active of late.  Sara competed in her first race with a bunch of her girlfriends a few weeks ago.  We've also joined an ultimate frisbee league.  Sara also got us tickets to the Chile v. Uruguay World Cup qualifier, which was really fun.  I even got a jersey from the cat!  Activity requires rest, so we went up to Will's house in La Serena, a beach town about 5 hours north of Santiago.  It was great.  We ate a ton of food and had a lot of laughs.  It lived up to all the stories that Will used to tell in college.
Sara, Harvey, and a champagne post-run.
Ina, Sara, Will, Mashini, and Kendal.
We ate so much good food off this table.

Buddha looking to score asado scraps from Will.

This really sums up the La Serena experience.  Mashini at the casino.

Beachtown = obligatory beach shot

Sad to leave.

Lauren, Jess, Sara, and Pao.
 For my birthday, Sara got us tickets to Lollapalooza.  It was great.  We saw a ton of good music over the 2 days of the festival and spent a lot of fun times with friends.  Personal favorite shows were Alabama Shakes and Nas.  I unfortunately saw MANY of my students from the school at the festival.  Luckily I did not see, nor was seen doing, anything irresponsible.  Going to work was pretty rough on Monday, the kids looked worse.  
I'm such a good photographer; thanks, Good Doctor.

Sara and Pao at Of Monsters and Men

Lauren, Chris, Sara, Vale, and Pao.  I forget which show.
Must be all that Coca Cola we were drinking.
   That about does it for me.  I'm sure Sara has something that she would want to say, but she's at a conference right now.  Many congratulations to our friends, Beth & Alan, on the birth of their first child!  We're buying plane tickets home soon, so we'll be able to let people know exactly when we'll be in the US.  You're missed, please do a better job than us in letting us know how you are and what you've been up to.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Family Time

On Lago Todos Los Santos, we make the lake look good.
Beers, Juices, and Sammies @ Ciudad Vieja NOM!
   Hey; Matt here.  Howzya doin'?  It's been a while since we've talked and Sara and me have been up to a whole bunch.  My family was visiting for the past few weeks, which gave us opportunities for great food, good drink, and new adventures.  It was very fun to have them here and sad to watch them leave.
The stairs outside our place in Valpo.  Fun and tiring.
Dad looks ready for adventure.
   We had most of my family down (except my sister, bro-in-law, and niece & nephew - all sorely missed) for 2 weeks.  Sara organized a killer itinerary for our trip that was just the right amount of stuffed.  After a day or two in Santiago, we all went down the the Lakes Region to stay on Lago Todos Los Santos.  We had a great cabaña with excellent views of Volcan Osorno.  While there my dad, Sara, my brother (Dan), and I went on a rafting trip and then a canyoneering trip.  I thought both were super fun, Sara likes canyoneering more as we get farther from it.
Check out my side-boob
   The family then drove out to wine country in Casablanca (home to many excellent white wines).  Everyone had an ordinate to slightly inordinate amount of great wine and food.  The pool at our hotel that night was, to quote Sara, "AWESOME!"  We then had two days at an apartment overlooking the port in Valparaiso y Viña del Mar.  It was very relaxing.
3rd winery, feeling/looking good.
   We wrapped up with a trip to Pablo Neruda's home in Isla Negra, which was interesting, followed by lunch in Pomaire, a clay-ware town.  It was sad to see my parents and sister-in-law leave shortly thereafter, but there were more adventures ahead.
Dan's smile did not improve post-rope break.
   After their departure, Dan and I headed up the Cajón del Maipo for some Andean Adventures.  We wanted to climb Cerro Morado and Cerro Cortaderas, but Morado was too time-consuming and dangerous.  It sure is exciting when your rope breaks at 4000ish meters!  Through perseverance, calm, care, and plenty of fear-sweat, we were able to descend safely and look back on a successful adventure.  Dan also got to see some condors.  
Terremotos effect people in crazy ways
@ La Piojera
   With all that, the summer is almost over for me.  I have to go back to work on Valentine's Day.  Sara still has another 2 weeks of summer vacation.  She's planning on taking some Spanish classes (¿Cómo se mejora la que es perfecta?).  Many thanks to Natalya (frisbee buddy & FU alum) for coming down and bringing coffee, to my family for resupplying me with pants and shoes (no Matt sizes here), and Megan for watching the cat while we were away.  
   We're really looking forward to seeing folks when we visit stateside in July.  If you have something that you want to do with us in particular, let us know ASAP; we're not that cool, just in the US for a limited time.  You are missed, let us know how you are.

Mom and her baby bunny.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Doings and Transpirings

Our place in Valpo, delicious food & drink.  Join us.
"The colors, children!"
   Hey, folks.  Matt here.  We hope you're well and that everything is going great for you.  Summer vacation has been proceeding nicely here in Chile.  I'm keeping up the family tradition of being a sweaty-bastard; Sara continues to flourish in the warmth.
Pan de Azucar.  Big country out here.
   So Valparaiso lived up to its reputation as the place to be for New Year's Eve.  After a nice pre-party of machas a la parmesan (razor clams with parm) and Michael Jackson videos, we went to the port to see the BIG show.  That was the best fireworks display I've ever seen, well worth the trip out.
Sara & Miguel having pool time
   Sara had to go back to work the next week and I made my way outdoors for an adventure.  I tried to make a bid for Volcán Tupungato, a big honking 6570M peak on the border w/ Argentina.  I had to get a new 0f bag and permission/maps from the Chilean Army in order to go.  I really wanted it, but unfortunately mis-navigated and cost myself 2 days I needed for acclimatization.  Therefore, I had to bail from the trip about 6 days early.  Total bummer.  However, I saw a bunch of beautiful scenery that not many (including Chileans) get to see.
Obligatory cat nap picture
   When I got back, Sara had finished working and was out in Quilpue with her friend, Elspeth, and her family.  I went out to meet them for a few days and ended up staying about a week.  It was great to be out of the city (super HOT) and spend time with Sara.  Elspeth and her family were very kind to have us out there.
I am great.
   Right now we're prepping for my parents, brother, and sister-in-law to arrive this weekend.  We're looking forward to good times in Santiago, down south, and in wine country.  After, my brother and I are also going to have some Andean adventures, which should be fun.
Eyeing a rocoto.  Not our cat.
   That's about it for us.  The kitty is growing very quickly.  We just put up a balcony garden in order to keep her from getting too close to the edge.  It also looks nice and has some good food/spices in it (ají, rocoto, basil, green onion, rudo).  Well, gotta run as we're having people over for poker in a little bit.  We hope all is well with you and yours.  Please send us pictures, write an email, gchat, whatever and let us know how you are.  Smooches.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Merry Holidays Everyone!
Christmas morning kitten!
Kneading homemade dough for monkey bread!
Keeping the tradition alive!
We hope you are enjoying some refreshing eggnog and fruit cake during this festive time.  After watching some classic Christmas movies on Christmas Eve (Charlie Brown Christmas and National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation), we went to bed to wake up early Christmas morning to celebrate.  I attempted to make homemade monkey bread to eat during gift opening.  I give the monkey bread a 7/10.  Matt made a delicious American breakfast complete with bacon, eggs, home fries and mimosas!  Later on, we went to our friends Jessica and Greg's for Christmas dinner with their family. They have two small kids so we played with a lot of cool toys.  Matt, Trocita and I opened gifts from family and each other.  Trocita received many jingly balls and feathered toys.  
 Thank you so much Kathy, Steve, Yasmin and Paul for such lovely presents.
Baby Trocita!
Speaking of Trocita: we got a cat!  She is the cutest little thing you every laid eyes on.  Our friends Canuto and Dominque's cat, Boo, gave birth to four little gatitos on October 13th.  We picked up our little fur ball a few days before her 2 month birthday.  For clarity on the name: trozo in Spanish means "nugget" or "chunk."  When adding an -ito onto a word, you put a "little" in front of it.  Lastly, you can change the 'o' to an 'a' to make it feminine....meaning, "little (lady) chunk/nugget."  Well, after all this we learned that you cannot change trozo to the feminine.  But, we're still going with it.  It's a name after all.  Trocita is very kitten-like; she is into attacking everything, especially our toes, sleeping a lot, pouncing and making us go "awwwww."
Thursday night concert: Ariel's Pink Haunted Graffiti 
Matt finished up school last Friday meaning his 7-weeks of hard work have earned him 7 weeks vacation.  What a lucky guy!  I finished with my kids on December 14th, but am still at school cleaning, planning and wrapping up the year.  I will officially be done on January 4th.  Both sets of our kids did really well throughout the school year.
For New Year's Eve, we are heading to Valparaiso where there will be an estimated 12 million fireworks set off.  NYE in Valpo is said to be a must-do while here in Chile.  Matt is planning to do a big multi-week hike by himself.  I am SO excited about that (note the sarcasm).  After that Matt's parents, brother and sister-in-law will be visiting for almost 2 weeks.  We will be traveling down south to Petrohue, then to the Casablanca Valley to drink wine and then back to Valapraiso and Viña del Mar.  There will surely be another blog post documenting all of our adventures.  I`m not sure if Matt`s dad will take any pictures though...
For the first week in February, Matt`s brother will stay here and go climbing.  I`m sure they have some fun, Andean adventures planned.  I have no definite plans for the month of February.  I may take an intensive Spanish course to keep chugging away at my goal of learning this language.  Or, I may find a little cabin somewhere, pack up the cat and get out of the city!  We shall see!  Matt returns back to school the 3rd week of February to start his second semester at Nido.  He was hired back to finish the school year which means the pay checks keep coming!  Yes!
Sandwich Festival "Doble Queso"
We will continue to keep you updated on our South American adventures.  We apologize for slacking a bit.  We also hope to hear from all of your adventures, wherever you may be in this world!  
PS  So all of you know, we will be traveling back to the East Coast next (your) summer for most of July.  We will both be in the NY/RI/CT/ME area for the last three weeks of the month, with Matt possibly being there the entire month.  Any of you west coast folks should definitely plan your vacations around US!  

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Sometimes It Takes A Year

Massive chicken asado at the Charlie's for his veterinary school graduation.
The irony of the animal doctor having so much meat just dawned on me.
   Hey, everybody.  Matt here.  How've you been?  It's been a while since we posted last and we've definitely been on the receiving end of good news.  Enough chitter-chatter, let's get to talking about me (and a little about Sara too).
A Super Hog from Hogs.
Super delicious & super messy.
   First of all, I finally got myself a good job.  I'm not guiding, modeling (though that was great), or tutoring English anymore.  I'm a full-on teacher at Nido de Aguilas, one of the best schools in Latin America (from what I've heard/read).  A teacher there became quite sick mid-year and they needed an immediate replacement for US and global history; I can do that!  My classroom is at the highest point in the school and has a great view of the mountains.  I also came into the school year in time for their "Week W/o Walls" program, which had me rock-climbing with the kids all this week - very cool.  Many thanks to all those who provided recommendations/support during the application process (especially Phil, Brandon, and Eric).
Palestras del Manzano in Cajon del Maipo
   I've also been working on my own rock climbing skills.  I've been hitting the rock gym nearby at least 1-2 times a week and also got out to the rock with a gringo-friend I'm making.  I led my first 5.8 sport pitch the other day, also very cool.
   I'm still making PB, especially now that I'm working at the heart of the gringo community in Chile.  A lot of the people I've met at the school's first question was "Are you the peanut butter guy?"  Demand is up and I'm now able to afford a bottle of wine a week from PB sales instead of a sip of cheap beer.
Maida, Marita, & Sara on Teacher
Appreciation Day
   Another very nice surprise, one year into our time here in Chile, was receiving a large check from the NYCDOE.  Not going to question that one too closely as it arrived just as my final bits of US money were departing from my bank account.
   Sara has been doing what she does and doing it well.  She whips her 3rd graders into shape and has them producing great stuff.  She also got to take trip to Maitencillo (a beach town) for the long Dia de la Raza weekend.  Dia de la Raza is celebrated the week after Columbus Day in honor of the creation of Latino peoples.  I couldn't go as I had to work my final weekend at La Bicicleta Verde and was sick.  It seemed like she had a great time.
"Cheers in heaven!" - Ina @ Vero's B-Day
   We've also been having good times with friends.  We celebrated Charlie's 30th birthday/graduation from veterinary school, had roof top beer-tasting/asado, learned to make beer (very interesting, possible new hobby), and general shenanigans.
   We have a 3 day week next week for All Saints Day and are likely heading out for day trips to BBQs and Oktoberfest; oh how I love meat and beer.  We hope that all is well with you, wherever you are, and that you let us know how you are and what you're doing soon.  Don't forget to vote!
Maitencillo, Chile