Saturday, March 31, 2007

Random Photos More

Central Cafe, Londres, Snatiago, Chile. It only just occured to me now that you could interpret this to mean the empanadas are made out of dog. Anyway, in Chile it was like a law or something dictating that empanadas were always 450pesos. Don't ask me, ask God.

Buenos Aires, Argentina. Neo-colonial shopping centre. It was beautiful inside and out. And, what was best, it was called "Galerias..." because it had a gallery in a big room up top. The exhibition was sixteen or so paintings doen from photographs of Venice at Carnivale time.

Santiago. None of the verticals in this building are actually vertical.



Santiago. Window of the tower of the church of St Francisco. The blogger who took the photo of the window of the tower of the church of St Francisco of Central Santiago was just passing by.

Santiago. Faded glory. Neo-colonial foreign-owned ("Dresden") building now boarded up with corrugated iron.

Ancud, Isla de Chiloe, Chile. These holy dog kennels are all over Chile. They are stone roadside memorials for road accident victims. There is a metal commemorative plaque and lots of room inside for flowers and candles etc.

Black September. Everyone has one. Santiago

Ancud, Isla de Chiloe.

STGO, Chile Riot pics

Short, young, hot female riot police. Oooooooooooooh baby.

The snatch squad getting organised. You can see how un-chaotic the whole thing was by the people just wandering around. Of course, at night they had rubber bullets.

The press wore bike helmets and gas masks.
A: What did you think of the film he shot?
The Critic: It stinks.

One of the twin water cannon trucks looking very Warhammer 40K esque.

In action destroying protestor cohesion and traffic lights.

Spectators: "What's going on over there?!"

Protestors: "ARGH! Our eyes!"

38 Londres memorial.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Santiago Street Clashes: Take note Sydney

It´s time to move on from writing angry letters to the editor.

When I came in to Santiago by bus this morning and wandered the main strip for a bit I thought it was a bit quiet. And a number of businesses still had their roller shutters down. Maybe I´d set my watch an hour fast again?
No, I hadn´t: I got to the noon showing of "300" just fine.

Blood, slaughter, cool effects, David Wenham with a random accent, Homer-eroticism - it had it all.
Afterwards I recrossed the main Avenida to eat lunch at a restuarant. They were open and had custom but also had their wire rollershutters down.
Hmm, must be something to do with the skirmishes with police i´d seen on TV yesterday when I was in Ancud.

That would explain the lack of traffic, the people standing around gawping down the street and the stream of people who´d just been tear gassed.
I was offered a table nearest the street, non-smoking of course. Excellent! I was first in the line of fire if the fury of the mob descended on La Piccola Italia.
But I´d just seen "300". I knew that a few can stand against many.
I looked around at my fellow diners whom I was about to lead into combat.
Not much chop.
Then I decided to assess the enemy.
Not much chop either. By the looks of it almost all of them were secondary school kids.
This was going to be a great victory for King Harry and the eight legal secretaries!!

I ordered and watched proceedings. This was the first time I´d been offered lemon peices as an accompanyment to a meal to counter the effects of tear gas.
I shit you not.
Judging by the streams of streaming-eyed people passing my window and sheltering in the shuttered building next door a fair bit of gassing was going on out of my line of sight to the left. Some people were quite badly affected: having to stop and put a hand against their eyes to encourage more tears. By now a bit of tear gas was making it´s way into the restuarant and was starting to probe my nasal passages. How inconvenient.

I asked about the protest "Socialistas? Estudentes?" Yes, they were students protesting about something on the street I didn´t have the Spanish to understand.

I finished my meal and as I passed the attractive greeting chica I murmurred "Viva la Revolution". She laughted and we made love for hours. Then I returned to the hotel and transformed into... Your Reporter At The Scene!

Camera in hand, I initially followed the principle of going to where people were coming from, often at the dash. Then I started to study what the police were doing: random movements of wired-up windows 4x4s and wired-up windowed buses. Some cops were directing a small amount of traffic.
Then I spotted a bunch of riot police with clear shields, and went to investigate. there were eight of them and they were all young women about five foot two setting up at an intersection. If I had my armour I could have taken them apart in about five seconds. This is Sparta? No, THIS IS SPARTA!!

After ten minutes as I found the action I worked it out. Ot was the ultimate pupil free day. You take the day off school to play cat and mouse with teargas spewing 4x4s and water cannon trucks.

1) Groups of students carry out random acts of vandalism (eg uprooting street signs and smashing advertising panels) to prompt a police response. Or more commonly simply hurl rocks at the nearest riot vehicle.

2) Pelt the responding vehicle with rocks, bits of wood and stuff you´ve broken.

3) When the teargas 4x4s turn up, run.

4) Taunt the water cannons to "bring it on" so to speak, and similarly run.

5) Try to stay out of the clutches of the snatch squad.

6) Repeat until home time.

I decided to follow the snatch squad because they would obviously head for a hot spot. They changed position a few times. (I later found out the main body of kids were using the metro to rapidly redeploy at the next station or two - thus keeping the street-bound police moving from intersection to intersection.) Teargas was deployed a few times and the water cannons swept over some of the crowd.
It looked like they were trying to contain the protestors in certain blocks and then snatch the ring leaders. Fair enough. (I later found out the students were trying to block traffic on the avenida, so the police were clearing the avenida and the kids happened to be mostly on one side of the avenida, hence my mistake.)

The teargas is deployed out a nozzle in the street-side toprear panel of the 4x4. The 4x4 then screams along near the footpath, forcing pedestrians ahead of the cloud like a bow wave, and sending them scrurrying down side streets. there are two trucks with two water cannon, and one with one. They have a range of about 30metres and do sufficient damage to break apart traffic lights. The kids fall back til just out of range and peg rocks again. when the teargas clears or the cannon truck moves off the kids simply reoccupy the ground. (Check out the above link for some pretty cool photos)
The kids played fair and only threw stuff at the vehicles, not the cops on the ground.
The snatch squad lumbered up the main street like a bunch of badly organised heavies (sword and shield SCA fighters). they were following up an action up a pedestrian precinct spearheaded by a twin cannon truck supported by two teargas 4x4s.
It was great fun.

Note that while this was going on there were hundreds, if not, thousands of spectators (including me) simply wandering around and moving interestedly towards the action. people were strolling in amongst the police vehicles, getting in the way, taking photos - simply where ever they (I) wanted.
I couldn´t help but think how easy it would be to immobilise every riot vehicle with a very small group of organised people. And if you had a counter-snatch-squad, you could truss up a large number of cops very quickly with duct tape. When the reinforcements pour in you all scarper like terrified rabbits, of course, but it would be a wonderful lark!
I´ve got a bunch of exciting shots that I´ll post at a later date from a more reliable machine.

Back at the hotel I heard Aussie accents discussing what was happening, so I joined them. One of them, Andrew from Sydney here teaching conversational English, got gassed rather badly.
Anyway, the reason for this protest was the recent changes to the public transport system and general educational policy malaise. i don´t pretend for a second that this wasn´t just a pretext for kids to act up, but the loss of 3000 buses and the new "blip" cards (chargable cards for the trains and buses that replace conventional tickets) being corruptly managed are the genesis of this demonstration.
Everyone knew it was going to happen beforehand, which is why so many businesses were shut and why the usual fruit stalls and similar were absent.

Andrew and I went to survey the damage just now. There are a few knots of riot police around, but since almost everything is shut including the metro stations there are very few people in the normally bustling city centre.
Missing street grates, uprooted signs, destroyed advertising signage and smashed public phone booths are all obvious. I couldn´t spot any damage to shops or private cars. (Although one of the TranSantiago bendy buses (the ones at the heart of the public transport woes) was torched on San Fransisco street. Elsewhere the cops on the ground were pelted with debris and a number treated for minor injury.) The pavements are littered with lemon and lime rinds. the citrus trick is obviously well known. And, funniest of all, there are a number of enterprising souls selling only lemons and limes. Evidently gassing is regular enough to foster a commercial spirit of it´s own. The smell of the tear gas lingers.

It was the largest number of arrests from one riot in ten years. And was apparently whipped to a frenzy by far leftists wanting to commemorate The Day of Young Combatants to commemorate the day two fifteen year old protestprs were shot by police in the Pinochet era. Still, it was quite fun responding with the gas-masked cameramen to the outbursts of whistling and jeering that heralded another foray by a water truck.

And I swear I heard the faint chant of "Hell no! We won´t go! Robert Pullar says Hello!!"

Post Script.

Walking to find an open net cafe, I saw cops at the interesection of Paris and Londres. They had blocked the top end of Paris to traffic so that a memorial wouldn´t be disturbed.

This was where I saw a larger commemorative concert on the 8th of March.
Tonight, twenty people had gathered with lighted candles, a banner and photos of victims stuck on the relevant wall. 38 Londres St was a "former house of torture and assassination". There were 119 victims.

The bells of the nearby St Fransisco church tolled for the 7:15 service, coinciding with the group´s minute silence.
Then the name of each victim wwas read out to a reply of "Presente" from the group.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Isla de Chiloe, Chile

This is Ancud.
It is the first big town you arrive at when you take the ferry from the mainland. You will notice the countryside looks like it could come from any country.
Ancud has the same latitude as Launceston. Santiago is Newcastleish.
The Island of Chiloe has been the last hold-out for a number of people. Firstly it was the last refuge of the people who predated the Mapuche Indians. Then it was the last holdout of the Mapuche in the face of the Spaniards. And then it was the last holdout of the Spaniards.
It is usually misty and drizzly, but I had almost perfectly clear skies. It was already getting noticably nippy in the evenings. The bed had four blankets on it.

Turrets of the Artesans. Ancud Mesuem. The skeleton is of a blue whale. No, I didn't kill it. In each of the turrets was a single old man selling woolen ponchos, beanies with earflaps, dolls and other seaside town type trinkets.

The reverse angle of the first photo. I walked along the coastline and well, who cares really.
Ancud has a distinctly medieval feel to it, with it's layout, size, distinct poor areas and because it is a fishing port surrounded by farmland. They just made it out of more modern materials to more modern designs.

I went through a poorer part of town where people kept pigs, chickens and sheep in their backyards. This backyard (on a bluff) seems to be some sort of slaughterhouse and meat smoking setup. There are about 30 hawks circling or sitting on the fence waiting for giblets I guess. then they'd fly across to the right like the dutiful, yet twisted servants, of an evil magician.
Below this cliff harvested seaweed was drying on the sand. I passed three couples collecting it from the waves.

Wallof Cnut. There were a number of shorebird species along the beach including plovers, oyster catchers, sand pipers and three types of gull. Humminbirds buzzed up the slope.

The regional food specialty of Chiloe is called curanto. It is a big plate of mostly meat and stodge. Mine had 7 cockles (first time I've had them), 18 mussels, a chicken thigh, a chorizo-like sausage, a smoked pork rib, a potato and two lumps of polenta-like stodge.
No, it has not been added to my dinnerparty reportior.

That night I perused the apertif list and saw Sol y Sombra. Being a fan of The Cat Empire, I had one. It was a big shot of mostly white aniseed liquor. The sombra (shade) component was floating on top. I dunno what it was but it looked like amaretto, but had no discernable flavour mostly due to the aniseed flavour of the rest. It is a stupid drink.
I had a conger eel soup, which was delicious. Coriander and a bit of chili. I wouldn't mind doing that one.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Volcan Villarica, Pucon, Chile.

So, Harry, you´ve climbed an active volcano in Chile. How do you feel?


Planet Blundstone.

This is my homage to the US space program in this appropriately lunar landscape. The yellow colouring on some of the stones is, of course, sulfur.

The peak is snow free, but back from the crater one of the walls is ice. This scalloped ice looks identical to the ice tunnel at the base of one of the glaciers from Baños Morales. Yes, Pip, I will post photos of that soon.

By walking to the right you can hear the gush of steam being vented. Back at the tour office for a celebratory beer, Rodrigo the guide showed us video he´d taken of lava eruptions he´d filmed in February.

The latest in (a) kevlar defense for paratroopers, (b) anti-chaps to be worn to protest the gay mardi gras. This (and instructions on how to use the ice axe buttspike as a brake) is our preparation for getting down the volcano: Bumslide!

The girl in blue is Melissa from Adelaide. Her camera ran out of batteries on her first photo, so I offered to take photos for her and make copies. I´m sure she´ll be thrilled with this one.

This is the bottom of Bumslide 3 of 4. This one was the longest and fastest. I worked out that by lifting my legs I could go faster, and also to leave a large gap after the person before me. On the previous bumslide I came very close to impailing myself on the buttspike of one of the French guys. Bumslide was totally worth the money on it´s own.

Back at the hostel a thrio of Americans have turned up. They are pretty cool guys. One of them lived in Costa Rica for two years and we discussed volcanos. He climbed one you´re not meant to go near. How dangerous can it be, right?! When he was two thirds of the way up "The whole thing shook and bus sized rocks were blown out. And they were really hot."

Yes, that´s how dangerous.

Rob Pullar says "Hello" Part3

Cloud covered rim of the crater of Volcan Villarica, near Pucon, Chile.

Pucon ooh, pretty.

I´m staking out the free internet place from a streetside table in a cafe. This coincides with Elevenses, so I have a Roayl Guard beer. Interestingly afternoon tea is called "onces" here. Which, if you know your Spanish, is interesting because "once" (on-say) is eleven. Thus afternoon tea is elevenses.
At the same time yesterday I had some special bread from a bakery called "Galadriel´s" where the smallest piece filled me like a meal. It was Elvenses.

I hope that person finishes their session soon, otherwise I´ll have to order another beer and then I´ll start posting whilst drunk. ooh, the waiter just brought out some stale popcorn to accompany my beer.

Ahah! Someone´s walking out: it´s D, one of the 1st generation Macedonian girls from Melbourne I´m cooking dinner for tonight. Macedonia: the Next Generation. They are travelling companions.
Geddit: Macedonian companions? Hilarious.

Anyway, here are some photos:

Volcan Villarica taken from the backyard of the Donde German hostel. It is 37kms away and a lot taller than the mountains to the left of shot. The hostel really is at the edge of town. Beyond the wall in the very bottom of shot is cow pasture.

The view from my room. Bummer, eh? Mind you, I am paying for it.

This was the morning of the climb. In an act of breathtaking amazingness I accidentally set my alarm an hour early. I only worked this out when I was finishing my breakfast and wonering where everyone else was because it was time to leave. The answer was that they were all in bed since it was 6am not 7am as I thought. So I watched a doco on Pirates. Have I already told you this? I think so.
This radio station has the best playlist I´ve ever heard. Good solid melodic mellower tracks.
I think I´ve worked out tonight´s dinner: Chirozo with lemon; chicken with rice, tomatoe and as many different chilis as I can find garnished with corriander; blackberry and raspberry compote with vanilla icecream.
The rest of the 1997 Cab Franc. I had to test it to make sure it was alright. Followed by a 2005 Carmenere.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Pucon. Musing on underwear.

I may have left my heart in San Francisco, but this morning I discovered that I´d left my thermal underwear in Halifax.

Here is a mystery: why is it that Canada, of all places, manages to design a pair of thermal undies that are only comfortable when you wear them BACKWARDS!?
Yes, Canada. Land of horrendously cold winters ever year and populated by Europeans for four hundred years. Why, in all of this time and with all that practice haven´t you made thermal undies that are comfy the RIGHT WAY ROUND?!?!

They even fit better when I put them on back to front.
And that´s when I had one of those too-many-drinks moments of revelation or existential dread.
Maybe they fit so well because that is the way you´re meant to wear them.
And that means I´ve been wearing undies the wrong way round for MY ENTIRE LIFE!
And nobody´s told me, because it´s something you just work out.

And that way lies madness.



I caught on overnight bus to Angol, south of Santiago (or STGO, as the marketing people say), to go to a national park nearby.

I arrived before dawn and had a wander, eventually getting into the tourist office at 8:45 to find out that the one bus to the NP left town at 4pm each day. So, I said "Screw that" and went back to the bus station to go early to Pucon.
Pucon has a lake, a volcano and assorted forests etc. It´s a major tourist place.

Anyway, I´m sitting out on the lawn of the hostelly thing in a very comfy chair watching clouds on the volcano and a bee licking the rim of my tea mug.
I think it´s about time I got a girlfriend.
Someone to tap on the shoulder and say "Hey, look. There´s a bee licking my cup."
And then we´d watch the bee for a while, happy that we were making each other´s life richer minute by minute. (Earlier she had pointed out blackberries growning amongst the dog roses. We ate some of them.)
Then we´d, like, totally make out.

Hmm. I haven´t put much thought into this girlfriend idea.

Wanted: Girlfriend. Must like insects and, um, berries. Oh, and totally making out. Preferrably not obscured by cloud. Bilateral symmetry desirable, but not essential.

The 7am volcano climb didn´t happen this morning due to inauspicious weather. So I watched a doco on pirates while waiting for the bik ehire place to open at 8:30. The suggested bike routes total 42km. It was tempting to return, having ridden all of them, cry "We rejoice!" and then collapse. Sadly that requires me having stamina.

I did 17k in four hours. I rode back the hire place, ready to cry "I´m knackered" and collapse, but they were shut for lunch.
I bought a selection of empanadas instead.

Athenian Dignatory: I wonder how Marathon is going?
(enter runner)

Runner: Sorry I´m late. I had a hotdog.

AD (prompting): So....?

R: We rejoice!
(runner collapses and dies)

AD: Remind me not to eat those hotdogs.

Bike riding is infinitly preferrable to horse riding. Sure, you hurt at the end of it, but that´s because you´re making Calves of a God!, and the Thighs of a Titan!, and unfortunately the Crotch Sweat of de Devil!

A hawk just flew overhead and landed on the roof. I saw quite a few hawks on my ride. Also plovers, ibis and egrets - all doing quite well from the paddocks (cows, sheep, goats) that abutt the steep forested mountains. The large lake is fed by a number of swift rivers that run over pebbles and fine volcanic grit.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Adventurerering at the Movies

I felt like watching a movie for some pure escapism.
So, I toddled off to Hoyts and grabbed a run sheet. I asked the woman which ones were in English and, after smiling at my "I only speak a little Spanish", she kindly asterisked the ones that were in English.

Hmm. I´d read some good stuff about "Babel".
So, I watched a movie that started in Morrocan subtitled in Spanish. Then it became spoken Spanish and English; then sign language; then Japanese subtitled in Spanish; the written Japanese; then back to Morrocan Arabic.
I had made an excellent choice.

Oh, and that was after finally working out that reason the young lass was refusing to accept my ticket was because my watch was an hour fast. I´m not quite sure how many days it´s been fast, but that would explain some of the cultural differences I´d taken in my stride such as when luchtime starts, and how late shops stay open.

Still, the movies are, like, only A$6.
Totally. I know!
Then I went to the mall and hung out.

My next brave foray into movie land was "Diamante de Sangue" with LEO and thingie from Labrynth who´s extremely easy to watch. I just felt like guns and shit blowing up. And Africa.
I quite liked it. I thought it was good. Solid and I appreciated the ruthlessness of it: moving down both rebels and diamond slaves with helicopter gunships, and LEO taking out brainwashedchild soldiers to rescue a particular one. And of course, everything would be fine in the world if you goddamned chicks didn´t like pretty shiny things. Conflict diamonds!
I tell you, when I propose to my girl I´ll give her a ring with something white on it.
"Is it white gold?"
"No, white man´s burden."
(Partyman gives Whiteman´s Burden to Partywhitegirl.)

Then, today I tried to see a different movie.
"It´s in French" said the guy after giving up on whatever weird language they speak here.
How dare he make the completely accurate assessment that my French would be worse than my Spanish! But that´s what happens when you give education to the third world, I guess. Mea Culpa.

So, I saw "Borat". Sacha Cohen should change his last name to Cahones. My giddy aunt! Awesome breathtaking stuff.

And now the good news, that you already no doubt know.

1) Chow Yun Fat is in Pirates of The Carribean 3. I almost exploded into a cloud of candyfloss, belly button rings, helium balloons and childhood dreams fullfilled when I saw that poster.
If bobble-head had been replaced by Eliza Dushku I would invade Russia in winter to see that film.

2) "300" looks like a music video collided with a PS2 game or, more likely, (as Fyodor has just informed me) it looks like the graphic Novel on which it was based. I think I saw one of the Persian hordes riding a rhinocerous into battle. I ran nude around Centro Santiago afterwards, was arrested, congratulated, and high fived because the entire judicial system here is totally excited about the movie too.

3) "Tirador", which in English means "Sniper" or "Shooter" or something like that. Mark Wahlberg (who I quite like), Snipers, guns, lots of kit and a twisted plot to kill the president and provide the patsy all in one fell swoop. Snipers in a snow field. Yeah. (nods head) (Update: Saw it on the first of May. It got very stupid quite quickly. Then it got positively moronic.)

4) Ok, we saved the Earth by blowing up an asteriod; then we started the molten core again with a nuclear warhead; then we fought off unstoppable aliens. Now it´s time to RESTART THE SUN!
Yes, in the latest "We´re removing Science from the syllabus" production, a superdooper crew are flying a superdooper spaceship to turn the sun back on because it´s stopping for some reason. The movie is called "Sunshine" which in English means "Out of My arse!"
There is only one thing we can do. Dinner party. Get pissed, and then troop off to see it. Just like me and my friends did for "Scorpion King". That movie was AWESOME! This movie is going to make me rip my own arm off and beat myself to death with it. I will become a Grendel and Beowulf gestalt literary being because of "Sunshine": the last story written in the English language.

5) What the fack are you talking about?!


7) One of the best trailers for getting the audience pumped that I´ve seen in years. It was the epitome of trailers. You see something shooting in from space to earth. It crashes, but not like an asteroid. It´s a great big metal lump. faces of people looking confused and scared. Flames. Talking heads on TV bringing up to date reports. A military base gets wiped out in the middle east. Tanks go hurtling through the air. More scared faces. A big robot unfolding in a sandstorm. Soldiers running. A Steve Speilberg film. Strangely familiar cars driving fast. Another gun metal giant robot thing. A chopper lands and the controller tells the crew to exit or be fired upon. The pilot´s face digitally updates. the controller says "Oh my god". Then there's a shot on a street where a blue and red thing starts unfolding.
Harry bursts into a formless demonic bubblegum beast ala Akira.

010101000100100010 110001 111000101 10010 1!!!!111!

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Santiago, crying

Why am I crying?

Because of the reply to this email I sent LMH:

I did the Persian decision making process but with a twist

a) straight
b) drunk
c) with diaorreah

Alexander would have been proud.

Lord Mattress Hammer replies:

(scene)Harry, sitting on gold toilet, surrounded by dusky maidens. His loyal Generals relax nearby on cushions.(/scene)

Harry - Well, I think I have a plan.

Ptolemy - Yes, oh great King.

Seleucus - Tell us, General.

Matt - While you're thinking, here's the wine dude.

H - (explosive farting noise) I think we should go home.

Matt - Sounds sensible to me.

P - But King, we have almost conquered India.

S - And the Persians are still in open rebellion.

H - No, I've pondered this long and hard. (plopping noises)

P - Our armies trample all in their path!

S - The treasures of the world are in our grasp!

H - (finishes sculling wine bottle, stares blearily into the distance, explosive wind eruption) No. Fuck that. Even when I'm pissed it seems like a good idea.

M - (nods sagely, hands Harry large key)

H - What's this?

M - The key to the library. You're going to need it. Don't worry, I'll just tell everyone you burnt it down.

H - (strange sound - like a chainsaw starting underwater) Thanks dude.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Devil Drink Update

Quilmes. "The flavour of Argentina" Brewed in Brazil. Quite a good general purpose beer. Not heavy, but fulfilling.

Cristal. Chilean. Weak as piss. Flavourless and structureless. Avoid.

Escudo. Chilean. A nice darkish lager. Complex flavours. A good dinner lager.

Cenuña. Bolivian. Crisp as, and flavoured like a Japanese beer eg Sapporo. Very refreshing.

Schop. Chilean. An average beer. Not much to write about, but not bad.

Schop Kunstmann Pale Ale. Chilean. A very nice drink. A very good example of a pale ale. (Kunstmann is of course a brewery set up by Germans in Valdivia, about eight hours south of Santiago. A whole bunch of Germans were imported to develop that part of the world in the early 20th century. Schop is another such brewery.)

A random Chilean Sauv Blanc, that I can´t remember the name of, was better than a random New Zealand Sauv blanc. But, then again, I find the NZ ones too strongly flavoured.

Santa Digna, Miguel Torres, Cab Sauv2004 reserva. A beautiful dry cab sauv. A great example of the excellent reds Chile is producing.

Concha y Toro, Casillero del Diablo, Carmenere 2005. I hadn´t even heard of this grape before. It is awesome. It´s like a Cab Franc Merlot, but more rich and complex. It just goes on and on with soft and dry thingies. No, not tissues. I was after that specific grape and didn´t realise that I´d bought a bottle of their Cab Sauv for my Canadian farewell, which was very nice too. The Carmenere was US$12 from a restuarant. I hope we start growing it in Oz.

Walking back from Barrio Bellavista with a bottle of 35 Sur 2001 Cab Sauv for A$7, a young local woman behind me started singing ¨You´re the Voice¨by John Farmham. The wine was really very nice. I drank it, alone in my hotel room whilst reading "Prince of Tides" by Pat Conroy. And do you know why? Because I am a man of culture and breeding. Oh, and because Maho had flown back home.

Bron: What´s your favourite day of the week?
H: I dunno. I´m trying to lose track of which is which. I´ll tell you which one I miss most.

Friday, March 9, 2007

Random Santiago shots

You are uncivilised and uncouth. You are disrespectful towards your elders and are embarrassing to be seen with in public.

Fine. Go then. See if I care. That´s right, back to your boyfriend. Your pololo or novio.

This is one of four stones in a wall on Cerro Saint Lucia (Mount Saint Lucia) that have obviously been painted by the same revolutionaries.

This one says:

"We have the rfiles in our rooms, (something) to me, we write the story of the future."

Number four in the series and the most enigmatic.

No Christianity. Fair enough, true socialists have no religion yadda yadda.

No Nazis. Well,no one likes them, particualrly not socialists.

No whatevers. Some sort of pagan?

None of that, or the rest of them.

No Jews. Well, no one likes THEM.

No capitalism. Obviously.

No Communism. Fair enough.

No TV. I would agree that they should be against game shows, but not TV per se.


Satiago metro, which incidently is an extremely cool bit of publis transport. There are four and a half independant lines that meet at a number of stations. there is a train every three minutes or so. It´s clean, fast and efficient. Oh, and cheap. They have chargable cards that you top up and use about 300pesos per journey.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Glaciers part 2

(Puts on big sunglasses)

Laughing like children
Living like llamas
Rolling like thunder
Under the covers.
(Although, after opening the window and vigorously fanning with my towel Maho came to and I was able to apologise profusely for my indiscretion.)

Today we _walked_ to a glacier. No horses involved except to be seen at long range.
I still threw rocks at them though.

Well, actually Maho was still feeling poorly from some random bug, so she didn´t quite make it to the glacier. This allowed me to explore it in an overtly manly fashion.

This was a different glacier to the horsey one. There was buttloads more vegetation for a start. We started off climbing fairly briskly up onto the ridge. When the ridge levelled off after an hour we were on a high level valley. Birds, birds, bees, wasps, butteflies, many flowers. Also an icecold bog that Maho found all by herself.
There were countless lizards.
"I´ve seen 37 lizards!" exclaimed Maho.
She´s allergic to bees, you know..

We got to the lake which had a free campsite and two dead mice. The lake was a fair size and refreshingly cool when I dunked my head into it. I disturbed a bunch of waterboatmen and a shrimplike bug thingy.
Maho found a frog. A short while later we saw another two.
They simply have to be remnant fauna from before the mountains were fully raised. There is no way that waterboatmen, let along frogs, could have crossed the intervening dessert landscape, climbed the scree slopes and then jumped into the lake. The streams are also very swift and steep.

I soldiered on intrepidly, having divy-ed up the water so Maho wouldn´t die on the way back.
The path became less firm, and soil gave way to sharply broken rock. On my left I saw a bridgelike rock carve by wind or water. Then I arrived at the glacier.
It sat there like a fractured plug between two peaks. There was a sloping icefield below it and then a scree slop all the way down to where I was.
I had a second look and discovered the scree slope sat ontop of ice!
There were two tunnels into the ice, one with a small stream flowing from it, the other the main river. I didn´t have a torch but I gamely went into the one that wouldn´t sweep me to my death. I only had to stoop a little.
But then again, I am Batman.

On the way back I was buzzed by black and white humming birds. And then saw a few more species of birds I didn´t encounter on the way up.
I checked out that rock bridge. It was ice too.

I stopped in at the parks office at the start of the trail and had a pretty good conversation in Spanglish with the guide there. He was very enthusiastic and showed me from where the glacier had retreated twenty years before. That explained the isolated ice bridge. We discussed the fauna and compared it to the Australian stuff. It was quite useful knowing some of the Latin names.
All lizards are called íguana´in Chile even if they would be skinks or dragons in Australia.
One looked familiar.
"Varanid." he said.
"Ah! In Australia tengo (we have) muy grande (very big) ones called Goanna."
He knew about goannas. He showed me some other posters when I asked him about the rana we had seen.
"Bufo" he said and pointed at the toad whose name I can´t remember now.

Anyway, it was totally cool, I gave it 9 out of 10.

Back at the Naughty Boys we met a Spanish couple who were doing six months at the University of Santiago. She was hot.
We played cards, spoke Spanglish and drank beer.
I was able to tell Artur to take a torch with him when he went to the glacier the next morning.

Baños Morales is a sleepy town that runs on generators. Even then they only come on for short periods. On the first night Carlo gave us a lighted candle. I eventually got our misshappen door to shut, where upon Maho dropped the candle and extinguished it.

"Carlo! How do you say ´spazmo´in Spanish?"

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Baños Morales - Pictures part2

In the last post I mentioned how green the slopes were on the way to the second glacier.
We walked up a very dry slope to reach a ridge populated by lizards and short shrubs. After walking for another hour we reached a lush high valley.
I turned to Maho "Rohan!"
She didn´t get the reference, but my Viggo impression was flawless.

She then went on to find a freezing cold bog all by herself. She´s grimacing in this shot because melt water has just flowed into her shoes. Continuing with the whole Rohan feel there actually were horses pasturing here.

See? More vegetation.

Baños Morales - Photos. yes, Pip, Glaciers

The pretty little mountain village of Baños Morales. Most of the town had shut for the season, so we relocated to Los Chicos Malos. After season, Carlo and Jeanette run this Cabañas and meal stop for the benefit of the calcium carbonate mine across the river. The mine runs 24hours a day with two shifts of fifty men. The mine shuts for five months in winter, when it gets covered by up to nine metres of snow. It is, after all, at the base of some extremely steep and tall peaks. The village got more than three metres of snow last winter. A friendly explosives engineer called Emilio was petitioned by Jeanette to give us a lift back to STGO. We talked quite a lot about mining and life in general on the way back. He was quite happy to practise his English. He good-heartedly complained about being married for four months, and explained how he still raced trailbikes. He has a good friend from Australia who stayed with him last year. The Aussie, whose name I forget, is a trailbiking commando who lives in Sydney.

The main street of Baños Morales. It has a crystal clear stream burbling beside it that meets the main river outside the town.

Mind you, the main street also has a small stream running down it...

The glacier from the horse ride. The lake is brown due to suspended sediment ground out by the glacier. The slopes for the entire ride were as desolate as in this photo - quite in contrast to the abundant vegetation on the slopes on the way to the second glacier.

Dramatic evidence of tectonic deformation: vertical stratigraphy. Many of the refugios in town have a small collection of fossils on display for interest sakes. I also saw four isolated houses on the road in that were advertising fossils for sale. They were mostly amonites or amnomites, but also some bivalves. Anomites?
The white at the bottom of the slope is most of the calcium calcite mine.

Talking to the guide in the office, twenty years ago all this ground was covered by the glacier. You can see the valley floor is a jumble of dropped rock from the melt, with furrows cut by vast volumes of water and, presumably, morains. I took this photo of what I thought was a water carved stone bridge on the way to the glacier. You can make it out by the shadow.

After seeing the glacier I went back to the "stone bridge" and found it was an ice bridge - the last remnant of the glacier´s former glory. This isolated piece would have been about one kilometre from the foot of the glacier. The span is five metres wide.

The second glacier. You can make out the tall ice plug sitting above the sloping icefield. At the bottom right you can make out the two ice tunnels. I went up the left one (you can only just make it out in this shot). You can see why I was surprised to find that all that rock was sitting on ice.

The ice tunnel under the glacier. The whole inside was scalloped as in the photo of the isolated bridge. The floor is dropped stone. You can make out the small stream. Where I´m standing the tunnel is about five foot six, but I have no idea how long the tunnel is navigable. The Morales of the story (!): bring a torch when you visit glaciers.