Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Things a doin'!

Photoshop in stink-lines

First day of interviews
Andes!  Cerro El Plomo (5425M) is leftmost
As the post's title indicates: things are a doing!  Matt got into the mountains ("That kicked my ass.") and Sara has been finding work ("I think I've been on more interviews in the past two weeks than in my whole life.").  It's like we're actually doing some of the stuff that we said we were going to do.

Matt spent 2 days in the Precordillera peaks of Cerro Provincia, Cerro Tambor, and Cerro San Ramon.  The Precordillera are the mountains that dominate the Santiago skyline (visible from our balcony); they are large (Cerro San Ramon is 3253M/10673Ft), beautiful, and close.  The access to Cerro Provincia was only an 1.5 hour subway & bus trip (closer & cheaper than Harlem to Coney Island).  There are a few things that are important to know about hiking in this area:
  • The trails are very steep (few/no switchbacks)
  • There is no/little easily accessible running water
  • The way is not very well-marked
  • Bomber refugio on Cerro Provincia
  • You will see a gross, thick, brown smog-haze covering the city you're living in [Santiago]
After baking in the sun for several hours climbing up to Cerro Provincia, Matt had run out of water.  Luckily, at this point in la primavera [spring] there was still snow up high near the summit, so snow was able to be melted for water.  Matt spent a night in a killer refuge at the summit (2750M/9022Ft).  One alarming fact was that there was a large amount of toilet paper littered about the high camp from winter ascents.  Matt boiled the water before drinking [one recipe for poop soup], so he should be fine (Brush your teeth!).
No Electric Kool-Aid necessary
 After dinner he went to see the stars of the Southern Hemisphere (1st time, AWESOME!), and noticed a bright light to the west.  As it was about 10pm, it couldn't be sunset, it was Santiago!  The city is insanely bright from on high; Matt could read his watch by the lights of the city from the mountaintop.
My route followed the ridgeline
 The next day revealed a view unlike any Matt had seen: huge, deep Andes for as far as the eye could see.  This view is not available from Santiago even though it is so close.  That view accompanied him all the way to the summit of Cerro San Ramon, which he had all to himself.  That is when the sh*t hit the fan.  In a brilliant stroke of outdoorsmanship, Matty-boy had traveled into a new, huge range without a map.  He had written his directions in his trusty notebook, but that proved fairly worthless in the end.  He chose a route off of the summit that descended quite steeply into a vast canyon system leading in a general Santiago-ly direction.  After working over steep, loose rock, waterfalls, rivers, and generally poor-quality terrain for several hours, he emerged into a park as dusk fell.
Scrambling down wasn't fun!
 Unfortunately, said park was quite extensive (a great park in retrospect) and allowed for Matt to have several more hours of descent in the dark before emerging at a road.  After 13 hours of continuous travel (approx. 6/13 filled w/ uncertainty) Charlie (THANK YOU!) picked up a stinky, hungry, and thirsty Matt in La Reina.  Judging by the stench Matt was emitting when he arrived at the apartment to kill a few beers and empanadas (more on that in a minute), he was a lil' bit scared.  All in all, it was a great trip!
 Matt soon hopes to make a journey to Cerro El Plomo for further adventurin' & stinkin', maybe with some company.  It should take about 3-4 days and is about 17K feet; what could go wrong?

As Matt was living on the wild side, Sara has been working hard to secure job interviews and yes, jobs!! Here in Chile (as you have probably figured out by now), the seasons are opposite yours in the States.  As it is Spring working it's way into Summer, so is the scheduled school year here.  Students generally have a bunch of December, January and February off for summer vacation.  Which doesn't make it easy to get a job.  Sara's hope coming down here was to find a full-time position teaching little estudiantes to read, speak and understand Ingles.  Unfortunately, no schools are really looking for a teacher to start in the last two months of the school year.  Alas, she has persevered and gone on cinco (yeah, five!) interviews to date.

The first interview was for an elementary classroom teaching position at Santiago College, one of the most prestigious English private schools in the city.  The interview went well, they asked her to sub the very next day, and she will return for a demonstration lesson and psych evaluation later on.  She's pretty sure she'll do fine with the demo lesson, but is a little worried about the psych evaluation.  She was a teacher in the Bronx for five years- that will loosen a few screws.  This job would not start (if bagged) until March, so she has had to continue to search for employment.  Check out the Santiago College website and see if you can find Harry Potter on the campus: www.scollege.cl

"Will I find work?" -Sara of the past
"You will!!" - Sara of the future
Many expats here in Chile rely on teaching English to earn them a little cash while in town.  Fortunately for Sara, she has a Master's and Teaching Certificate in ESL.  So, this means she really has been hitting out of the park for the interviews she's had for part-time English teaching/tutoring.  She already has 4 classes lined up starting this Thursday.  She will be teaching basic English and business English (that one semester of Economics at Fordham is really coming in handy).  Also, she is on hand for two other companies that provide English services for new clients/clients that fit into her schedule.  It has been hard for Sara to not have concrete things to do each day.  It allows for a lot of time to worry (about money, mostly - but who doesn't?).  It will be great for her to have scheduled classes and appointments each day (which leads to money, which leads to being able to stay in Chile longer).  Right now, she has 17 hours of work a week, but is hoping for more.

Other than grinding for work, Sara has been honing her Chilean cooking skills.  As a welcome home (why do you stink so much?) surprise for Matt, Sara made the most well-known Chilean empanada, empanada de pino!  Provided below is an abridged, "Sara" recipe for the Chilean treat.  (*Note: Sara has had trouble finding measuring cups and spoons.):
          Empanadas de Pino (a la Sara)
      For the filling, you will need:

Before the oven

  • Meat (ground beef was used)
  • Diced Onion
  • Garlic (not traditional, but good)
  • Oregano
  • Salt and Pepper (lots of salt here, not so much pepper)
  • Chili powder
  • Cumin
  • 2 boiled eggs
  • Raisins
  • Black Olives (with or without the pit, depends on how dangerous you are)
  • Steps:
  • Post-oven, pre-eating!
    • Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
    • For the filling, cook up the onion and garlic in some oil in a pan.  After the onion is translucent, add the meat (about 1/2 - 3/4 cup).  Cook this up real nice while adding the spices (Sara just guessed according to taste on how much to add).  After the meat is cooked, take off the heat and into a bowl. 
    • In another bowl you should have the chopped hard-boiled egg.  In another bowl, some raisins.  In the last, the olives.
    • Now, for the crust of the empanadas, Sara cheated and bought the store-made ones.  If you are inspired to make your own crusts, look up a recipe on the internet.  Good luck!
    • To fill the empanadas, take a round crust and wet the edges with some warm water.  Add a little bit of meat filling, some chopped egg, some raisins and one olive.  Don't over-stuff your empanadas or you won't be able to get them closed.
    • Roll one side of your empanada crust so it shuts onto the other edge.  Use a fork to seal the edges together.  
    • Take a bit of raw egg and brush it on top (or use your fingers, that's what she did).  Use your fork to put a couple holes in the top of your empanada so it won't explode.
    • Let the empanadas cook for about 35 minutes.  They will be golden brown on the top when done.  Let cool and enjoy with some red wine (preferably from Chile).
'Mejillones y Almejas a la Escudo'
with Escudo to drink!
Lastly, Sara and Matt both had a hand in making Mussels & Clams a la Escudo.  They ventured to the Mercado Central, where fish/shellfish/seafood is both sold and prepared in numerous restaurants.  They bought a half kilo of mussels and a half kilo of clams (about $3US), steamed them up with some onions, garlic, oil and Escudo-the unrecognized 'King of Beers' here in Chile.  Why Escudo you ask?  The answer is simple: there was no white wine in the house.  It turned out delicious and made the apartment smell just like the market.  Sara hopes to continue trying out different Chilean recipes and really hopes she can find some measuring cups (brown sugar wouldn't hurt either!)


  1. Ooh, so much excitement and third person narration! I like.

    Matt, glad to hear many themes of your American mountain adventures are continuing in Chile (sh*t of various kinds hitting various fans, stinkiness) plus even more amazing views.

    Sara, you are killing it on the job front! 17 hours per week of tutoring is pretty impressive... and fingers are crossed for Hogwarts come March. They would be damn lucky to get you!

    And now I want empanadas for dinner. xoxo

    PS. Can you guys post your photos bigger? I feel like these little sizes don't do the beautifulness of the mountains justice... or the beautifulness of you two, obvs...

  2. This is great!! I like your font! misses and kisses!

  3. Sounds like you guys are having a great time. Your apartment sounds amazing, post more pics!!! We all miss you but are glad you are having a great time!!! - xoxo - Alicia

  4. Hey Guys! What is your address....I may or may not be able to help you with some of your measuring cup/spoon issues : ) Love love loved the recipes and the fact that you guys are starting to really find your Chilean groove...

    I can't wait to try the empanadas. Definitely keep the recipes coming, so cool.

    As for here we miss you, no murder mystery party this year...and the marathon's coming up. I'll send you an email soon - maybe it will turn into a blog "US missing you in NY"

    Love, Gabby

  5. No need to photoshop in stink lines, they're there. Maps are for suckers and the well-prepared!

  6. Makes me remember the time I had to come rescue Matt from Central Park when he again forgot his map. Never saw a grown man cry so much...