Quick update

We have left Valdivia. Our friends (the owners and the exchange students renting rooms at the hostel) made four homemade veggie pizzas for a goodbye dinner. We left the kitten in the care of two german students who fell in love with her while babysitting her during jameson and my vacation in argentina. They changed her name to tharpitas, which means "little claws", because she looks like a tiny gray tiger. They say they want to fly her to germany where she'll live on a farm outside of the city. It sounds like a better life than jameson and I can give her right now.
I can't say I didn't cry when saying goodbye.

We have more photos posted in flickr if anyone is interested. The link is below.

We are in santiago at the moment, staying with our dear friend Ben who was just accepted into a Harvard. Masters program. We are going to a micro-brewery to celebrate. Tomorrow we catch our bus to mendoza, argentina, where we will be working on a farm called "madre tierra". Its nice to have a couple days to catch up on sleep before getting back to work.


Our "Vacation" in Argentina (searching for hippies)

So, as Jameson stated in out last entry a week ago, we took a road trip to Argentina with Mathi and Jana. Our goal was to get to El Bolson, a small "hippy" town in a valley right below the lake region in patagonia. Alot of the trip ended up being us trying desperatly to reach this place.

It all began in Pucon, three hours north of Valdivia, a tourist town famed for its volcano and hot springs. That´s the place Jameson posted about our tent and sent the pictures of the beautiful campsite where we stayed. We ran into some trouble when we reached Pucon, finding that forest fires had closed the boarder crossing into Argentina for a week. The only other option was to go hours out of our way to the north or pass through the only other nearby crossing that was according to the tourism office "a very bad road which can be dangerous". (Mom, don´t read this part)... Rebels that we are, we chose the dangerous option. Jana said that people in Chile like to exagerate about the roads where they live to make themselves feel special. She said it happens all the time. Person after person when asked about the passage would say "Cuidado", and move thier finger in the air like a serpent to demonstrate how it was the curves in the road that made it difficult. Curves I can do, but through the years from bad experiences on Mexican, Guatemalan, and Indian mountians, the combination of cliffs and curves I have absolutly no tolernace for. The day of our departure i downed a couple anti-anxiety meds that i had saved up for turbulance on overnight flights. It took us about 6 hours to cross the boarder. The chilean boarder partol almost didn´t let us pass because we didnt have a peice of paper that we needed to go through this specific boarder crossing (it ended up that this pass was only for comercial and state vehicles, not for typical civilians like ourselves). Jana and Mathi argued their way through telling him how we called and called but no one answered the phone. He said " oh! but I´m here all day sitting right by the phone, I would have picked it up.". When they recited from memory the number they had called and it was in fact his line exactly, he gave up the fight and let us pass. It´s amazing what a help the internet would be for the chilean boarder patrol.

This was part of the crossing through the national park.
These are two monkey puzzle trees.
They can live to be
1,000 years old

Once we got to Argentina our pace slowed considerably. We drove down the Ruta de los siete lagos (the Route of the Seven Lakes). It´s funny how quickly you can become desensitized to beauty. The first lake we saw the whole car was in awe. By the tenth lake we were just comparing which we thought were the most spectacular. At one lake there was a campsite and a beach where we stopped to rest and swim. Some other travelers were there playing frisbee. Jameson jumped in the throwing circle, made some American friends, and organized a game of ultimate frisbee. We played USA vs. Europe. There were 8 of us playing and it was a very unfairly-matched game, since none of the Europeans knew how to play. USA won 5-1. The tall dutch guy got a rock stuck in his foot, and Jameson skinned his knees.

After four days of travel, we finally found EL BOLSON!

Where it seemed that all the hippies had abandoned the city in the eighties. Some of thier art was still scattered around in the streets, but as far as any type of thriving culture, that had seemed to have moved to the towns outside of El Bolson. The town does have some of the best beer I have ever tasted, including one made with South Americas famous hot peppers. Jameson and I spent most of our time in the mountians and nearby valleys. We found one amazing vegetarian resturant where we ate a Seitan filled chop suey and pumpkin ravioli. The meal came with warm homemade bread, babaganoush, and sunflower seeds. The owners of the place even offered us a job next season.

Another wonderful place we found near El Bolson was a beach called puerto patriada, and a lake that had the most clean, clear water I had ever seen. Mathi and Jana had brought thier air mattress and we all took a float and looked at the fish and sea plants growing below us.

We also found a forest full of sculpted tree trunks, which I will write more about in my next entry. All and all it was a good trip. A tad annerving at times with driving and boarder partol, but really, i don´t think that the world can be much more beautiful than the lake region and patagonia. Whatever hippy spirit remians in El Bolson, we found it.
- Laney



On our way to Argentina we stopped to camp in a small tourist town called Pucon. This is our tent.
Impressive I know. You see tent prices here in Chile vary from really expensive to "that's an awful tent" cheap. We went for the "that's an awful tent" option.
Our tent, although vastly cheaper than all other options, lacked a very important feature to it. It is not waterproof.
Thanks to my years of training in the "ghetto rigging" department I came up with an ingenious plan. Instead of buying a water proof tent which was twice or triple the cost of ours. We would just buy a shower curtain and drape it over the tent. Because hey, shower curtains are indeed water proof.
So there it is in all of its glory, our tent!
As for the water proofing, so far so good. Although it hasn't rained yet.


River by our campsite

The movment of the water both soothed us to sleep and made us have to pee.

Veiw from our tent



This is Lagrimas.
She is a sick kitten we found at the fish market. When we first found her she looked. "muy enferma". Her eyes were swollen to almost shut, she was cover with fleas and couldn't stop sneezing.
So Laney and I got a box and took her to the vet. She got her eyes cleaned, a flea dip, vaccinatted, a bag of kitten food and perscribed medicine for her cold. All under $15 US dollars.

She now looks and acts much better. She is staying in our room at the hostel, last night she slept between Laney and I. In the morning she follows us around the house while we clean and change beds. She is even becoming litter box trained, or box filled with dirt trained.

We don't know what we are going to do with her. We would like to leave her at the hostel, but the owners have two annoying duchsands. The kind that remind me how awesome Bruno, my childhood dog, was.
So now we have a cat. Can we travel with it?
I'm not sure I've never traveled with an animal before.
I wonder how much it cost to ship to the states?
Hey Michael Otley or mom, want another cat?


Meet your maker.

Yesterday Laney and I hung out with an instrument maker at his shop. Hanging off the walls were open corpses of violin and guitar bodies. The room smelled of wood and sealant.

In the middle of the floor laid a harp he was working on. The carved wood swirled around the harps frame. In between the bodies of unfinished stringed instruments lay hand made marionettes.

Once and awhile you find yourself in spaces that resemble your childhood imaginations. This was my fort.
I played a lute for the first time and Laney played a 75 year old accordion.
Before we left I drifted back into the work studio and ran my fingers down the line of carving tools.
I'll never wash this hand again.


Want to see more pictures?

We just opened a flickr account under the name lbsullivan1. Here is the link


Our big day!

Today Laney and I left Valdivia with our hosts for a small beach spot outside the town called Chaiuin. We took some pictures along the way to give you a feel for the landscape.

Here is the town of Valdivia. If you zoom in on the floating dock you will see a group of sleeping seals and a couple of sealions.

As soon as we left the town the roads converted from smooth pavement to gravel dirt roads. It was a very bouncy trip. But as we drove we saw huge cliffs beside small farm houses hanging out over the ocean, as if to get a better veiw of what was below.

We passed a neighborhood graveyard full of chatholosism and stucco.

We arrived to our first stop, the bay. We got out and walked the still waters boundaries.
Across the water lays an island, which appeared to contain lounging people. But as I looked closer the people were really farm animals. The adult cows and horses lay on the beach soaking the sun, as the calfs, foals, and colts played in the water. I couldn´t help but imagine the barnyard family vacation. It looked as if they had all piled into a stationwagon and took to the open road.

After being at the bay for awhile we all craved ocean waves. So we hopped back into the truck and headed to the national park. Where our hosts, Mati and Hana, said they had heard of an awesome beach spot on the other side. As we drove we started to encounter water puddles on the road. We drove through the first one ¨Yay!¨, we all exclaimed. Then we drove through a second one, this one creek sized ¨Yay!¨ again. Then we drove through a third one, more small lake sized. The truck scraped bottom and we barely fish tailed out. ¨ughm¨, was close to what we said to that. The water just grew from there, so we had to turn back before getting to the otherside. As we turned around the truck suddenly stopped. Great.
We popped the hood to examine the damage. Here we were 100´s of kilometers into the park stranded! Ok it was more like a couple of miles, but still my survival mode started to kick in. I looked at our hosts dogs, who came with us, and imagined them as large veggie dogs!

Luckily for them the battery had just come unplugged and the iron strip that held it in place lost it´s screws. So we plugged it back in and tied it down with rope.
We were off again this time in search of a beach in a small neighborhood next to the park. After asking for directions we found the road to the beach. We parked and started to walk up. Just as we saw the ocean we crossed into a gate and were promptly approached by two miniature pony sized dogs. Seeing as we were carrying two bite sized dachshunds we decided to turn back before one of the dogs busted out the toothpicks and turned them into those little sausage orderves.
Still no ocean.

We headed back to the bay where we started because there is a path there that leads to the ocean. As you walk the path turns into giant sand dunes. Mountains of sand with seashell cobblestone valleys. We knew we were close, we began to hear the ocean. The head on collision of waves meeting sand. The wind blew across us as we aproached.
We made it.

The water was freezing, and I loved it.
- Jameson


Sealions at the Fish Market

If you visit the fish market by the port and you lean your head behind the vendors and thier skinny scaling knives and bloodstained stone tables, your see giant roaring sea mammals begging like dogs on thier stone perches. They are massive creatures, the size of an overstuffed horse with no legs. When they are not fighting eachother or growling they look rather meditative basking in the sun, silently waiting. We watched them reject fish heads and spine, they wait for the few boneless peices to be tossed. Jameson said ¨Look, its natural for beggers to be chosers."
The ugly green eyed birds on the other hand, they would eat the leftovers.
I hear at night the sealions sleep in the middle of the street by the port.

We tried to take a trip to the beach but it began to rain

The Hostel, Albergue Latino, Valdivia

This is the hostel, a "casa patramonial".
One of the oldest buildings in Valdivia,
constructed by German immigrants.