Thursday, December 22, 2011

Glaciar Grey- Patagonia Part III

"We went up to see a glacier one day,
And it was called, Glaciar Grey".

That was our song that we sung through the whole hike. We added lots of verses along the way and even got Dad to sing one or two verses, such as...

"Mommy got up and wanted to go,
but Daddy got up and first wanted his jo".

Anyways, on day #2, after a catamarán ride across a lake, we hiked about 5 hours up to the "Refugio Grey". This was a lot easier than our first day's hike, but I was still sore. A refugio is like a hostel. We all had hot showers and a very tasty dinner. We splurged and got orange fanta and wine for my parents.

That night we met a U.S. person who had been going to Patagonia for the last 8 years to do trail maintenance.

In the morning, we got up and went to a "mirador" (a scenic lookout), where there was a huge iceberg and you could see "Glaciar Grey" (glacier in Spanish). It's 100 sq. miles in area and 28 km long (17 mi.). In other words, GIGANTIC!

There was a lot of chunks that had fallen off of the iceberg, so we threw rocks at them and picked them up. It was really fun. Then we started the hike back...still singing our song. We got back to the Refugio Grand Paine and had a yummy buffet dinner and kept reading Harry Potter #6.

It was spectacular to see a glacier up close (especially before they all melt).


Monday, December 19, 2011

Torres del Paine

Taking a break from packing to continue sharing the story of our trip to Patagonia...

On our third day in Patagonia (last Monday), we made it to the Torres del Paine National Park.

We proceeded to hike for the next three days. Our first day was the toughest hike. We hiked 18 kilometers or 11 miles round trip to the Torres. See up above.

We didn't get to the trail head until 12:30pm and it took us around 9.5 hours (good thing the sun didn't go down until 10pm). The last part of the ascent was pretty tough (see Gracie in the video), but what an amazing view when you come around the last boulder and see the Torres (or towers) and the lagoon below! Spectacular.

Everyone was pretty sore and tired upon arrival, but we were pretty impressed the kids were able to do it. We also lucked out with the weather - warm and sunny and not too much wind.

We saw some foxes walking the riverbed as we came into our campsite that night! It was magical. We had also seen a condor soaring over head and the guanaco herds (see the llama-like animal) woke us at daybreak the next with their mooing sounds.

Other than that we heard....silence! It was beautiful. After being in a very urban environment all year, it was such a treat to find ourselves in the wilderness.

I better catch some sleep now. Theo would like to write about our hike to the glacier tomorrow.
Buenas noches,

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Penguins of Patagonia!

Last week we had a very nice trip to Patagonia Chile. This was our first stop, Monumento de los Pinguinos, just outside of Punta Arenas. We took a two hour boat ride to the Isla Magdalena, where there were tons of penguins everywhere and some would even come up to you and stare at you with curiosity!

If you ever go down to Patagonia I definitely recommend it!


Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Southest

Greetings from Puerto Natales, gateway to Torres de Paine National park in Chilean Patagonia.  We had a wonderful visit to a small island in the windy Strait of Magellan that is home to thousands of nesting Magellanic Penguins.  Then a long bus ride here, followed by tasty pizza and Natales microbrew.  The sun was just setting at 10:15 when we finished packing for our hike tomorrow and crawled into bed.  And no, we did not check out the Southest Mall in the World.

Friday, December 9, 2011

One last the end of the continent

Well, it looks like we somehow are all packed and ready to go for tomorrow. Since the end of school on Wednesday, we've spent the last two days on all-day outings with Gracie's and then Theo's class. It is such a wonderful tradition to go out to a recreational park or campground with some kind of pool; swim, play soccer, and have a huge bbq. It was a nice way to end the year for both kids and a great chance to say goodbye to all their friends.

Now, somewhat short on sleep and in Theo's case a bit sunburned - we're off to just about the end of the continent - southern Patagonia. We fly from Santiago to Punta Arenas tomorrow (a 3 hour flight south!). Then we take another day to travel to Puerto Natales, and finally we'll go into the Torres del Paine National Park on Monday and come out on Thursday. As you can see from these internet photos it looks like a rugged landscape with snow covered peaks and glacier lakes. Lots of folks have said its the most beautiful spot in Chile and one of the best trekking spots in the world.

We look forward to updating you all upon our return. Then its 6 short days to pack up and finish with goodbyes. :-)

Cross your fingers for fair weather,

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

End of school!

Today, being the last day of school, was a sad day and a happy day. First when I got to school, almost everyone came dressed up, some as boxers, soccer players, pirates etc. After that, we did what is called a "desayuno compartido'' (shared breakfast) where we walk around and serve ourselves what we want from a buffet-like setting. For example, yogurt, honey, fruit and more.

Then, we started the end-of-school year/costume program. Different groups got up and performed for the rest of the school. For example, first, "prekinder" went on the stage and played instruments and sang. Then, the "taller de clown" came up and acted like bumper cars. After that came the costume parade by grade, in which students went up on the stage and showed their costumes. I'm dressed as a tourist in sunglasses.

Then one of the teachers made a speech about how some students and families will leaving, not only from the school but from this country too. And then he invited Gracie and me up to the stage! He asked us if we had anything to say. Grace said "gracias" and then he asked my mom to come up and say a few more words. I was really nervous.

After that we exchanged some gifts with mom that we had worked really hard to make. I made a basket out of painted woven paper. Mom made chocolate chip cookies and she helped finish my mosaic box and then gave them to me.

Mom took us out to lunch after that to celebrate.

Here's a list of some stuff I learned this year:
  1. 1. I learned how to speak, read and write in Spanish.
2. I learned a lot of different ways of how to do multiplication and division.

3. I learned how to dance the "Costillar" folkloric dance.

4. I learned how to deal with all kinds of people and lots of different situations.

5. I learned how to play ping pong and I got a lot better at soccer.

6. I learned how to write in cursive.

7. I learned to sing some Chilean songs.

- Teo or as I'm known in Minnesota - Theo.

p.s. Here's some photos of some of my favorite memories of tercero básico (3rd grade) at Monte Alegre.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Marathon and more...

Our good friends Jenny, Jon, Solana and Frances, who are from Minneapolis and living in Mendoza, Argentina this year, were back for a visit and so Jenny could run her first marathon this weekend. She was inspiring. She finished 3rd place in her age category and in under 4 hours!

It's a beautiful run along the ocean. I joined Jenny for a quick 5 km at km 32 in case she was hitting a wall. Far from it, she was cruising and ran ahead for the last 5km (42 km in all). Check out her exciting finish here in the video!!!

Other weekend highlights included "onces" at David and Cecilia's home where we saw Nury and Mario and kids as well, time at Reñaca beach, where the marathon finished up, and then later at the hotel pool. Jon took the kids to some puppet shows, we caught our friend's live outdoor music concert on the pier, and some of our party visited nearby Pablo Neruda's house, now museum, la Sebastiana.

We won't see the Dicus Breen family again until July 2012, when they return from their year abroad. We're so fortunate that we all ended up "neighbors" (Mendoza is an 8 hour bus ride away). Our families are sharing many similar experiences and its been wonderful to mark our progress and support each other. This was true with our friends from NYC, Keith, Becky, Stefan and Jules, who lived for a year in Valparaiso as well. Its so helpful to find other families that are wanting an immersion experience, not a very common breed of travelers. We've helped each other navigate packing lists, visa requirements, choosing a school for the kids, how to find corn tortillas, etc. And of coures, it's always good to know that you aren't the only one with this crazy idea of living abroad with the kids.

Hope you all had a great weekend too.