Harrison Farm

for now, the only thing we're growing on this farm is kids - not the goat variety

Author: Carman (page 1 of 7)

My Spanish is Really Good!

Today I was in ‘San Diego’ (that’s a neighborhood/street in Santiago) getting bike parts. At one store I bought a set of pedals, and had the following conversation with the 60-something clerk.

Clerk: Where are you from?

Me: Where do you think I’m from?

Clerk: Talk a bit.

Me: I moved to Santiago four years ago with my family. I started…

Clerk: Venezuela?

Me: Nope.

Clerk: Colombia?

Me: United States.

Wow! I pass for a Latin American foreigner!


100 Miles + Haunted Tunnel

Last Sunday I rode my first “century” (100 miles).

It was an out-and-back ride up the Maipo canyon (there were flatter, less scenic routes I could have taken instead).

I made myself take it easy, knowing that that was the only way I could make it back under my own power. The whole ride took nearly ten hours (including about 40 mins of breaks).


I made it to within about 15 miles of Argentina!

At the farthest point of the ride, I was in a “Volcano danger zone”. This is roughly where I turned around… this is the kind of scenery that makes it worth riding this far:

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Now for the “Haunted Tunnel” part you’ve all been waiting for.

On my way up the canyon I came upon this:

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See that tunnel going into the mountainside?

I rode my bike up to the mouth and walked in a ways.  It disappeared into complete darkness.

My curiosity sparked, but a little disappointed that I didn’t know what was in there or where it went, I rode back down to the pavement and continued up the canyon.

A little further up I found the other side of the tunnel:

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On my way back home, I stopped at this end of the tunnel.

Knowing that it couldn’t be much more than a quarter mile long, I wanted to see if I could walk all the way through.

There was a man sitting next to the mouth of the tunnel. He seemed to be working on some metal device.

Normally, I wouldn’t ask permission or approval from a Chilean before doing something dangerous or “unofficial”, because they’re usually risk-averse and prone to blind obedience.

But in this case, I was doubtful enough that I was willing to do what this man recommended.

He told me that it was safe, and to go ahead.

I pulled off my sunglasses and started to put them on my helmet, but he told me to leave them on until I couldn’t see anything, then remove them. It would help my eyes adjust.

I started off riding, but the road was dangerously uneven so I dismounted and walked. It was getting really dark… I took off my sunglasses and got temporary relief. The tunnel got darker and darker until I could barely see anything.

I was about to turn around when I saw the light at the other side. The tunnel has a slight bend in it that keeps you from being able to see one side from the other.

I walked straight towards the light. I was now completely blind to what was around me, because I was facing the primary light source, instead of it being behind me. I almost bumped into one of the tunnel walls at one point.

It was a bit creepy, but I’m glad I did it. I want to go back there and do it again sometime.

I did a bit of research on the tunnel when I got home.

It’s called the Tinoco tunnel.

It was built in 1903 as a railroad tunnel and was used up until the 80’s.

Since then it’s been used by tourists and locals who want to take a shortcut.

It’s a little over 600 meters long.

In the 90’s a teenager committed suicide in the tunnel, and since then there’s been a rumor that his ghost is in the tunnel.

Here’s a picture of the inside:

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Rosebud’s Chess

About two months ago, we added “Chess” to Rosebud’s school list.

Every day, she would play against the computer on dad’s phone.

She wasn’t very good when she started out… about as good as any eight-year-old girl would be. But she improved quickly. After she was winning more than half the time on one level, she would begin playing the next level.

Recently, she began playing level five. I have never beaten level five before. I’ve beaten level four many times, but so has she.

One afternoon, Rosebud came running into the room to inform us that she had drawn with level five…. the game had ended with just a king on each side. So I challenged Rosebud to a chess game.

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Bike ride to “Farellones”

Farellones (pronounced “far-ey-yone-eys”) is a ski town in the Andes near Santiago. It’s elevation is just under 8,000 feet.

A year and a half ago, I tried to ride there. I didn’t make it, turning back at about 70%. Not long after that, the bike I rode was stolen. I rode less for the next year and fell out of shape.

About two months ago, I bought a good bike, and I’ve been riding a lot. I’m now in better shape than I was the first time I tried, and I have a better bike (and a better lock, too!).

Last Sunday I rode all the way there. The whole ride took me seven hours, and I gained 6,150 feet in elevation.

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The ways Chileans express displeasure

Here are some interesting ways that Chileans protest against various things.

Even though Chileans tend to be very careful to come across as decent, “respectable” people, they don’t mind being a public nuisance as long as a lot of other folks are doing it too.

The Copa America soccer tournament is going on right now, and while the national team was training at a field in Santiago, a bunch of striking teachers appear to have pressured the soccer team to support their cause.

Hence, this photo (the sign says: “to recover the dignity of teaching”).

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Calbuco Popped its Top

A little under a year and a half ago, we were here, on the side of Llanquihue lake. Sudoku took these pictures.



The mountain in those two pictures is the “Calbuco” volcano.  Historically it’s a very active and violent volcano, but as of 2015 it’s been sleeping for an unusually long 43 years.

Calbuco erupted this morning.

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The nearly waste-free society

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but in most of the U.S. it’s normal practice to throw away a product that, if given time and elbow grease, could be worth quite a lot of money.

This is not so here in Santiago. There  is a lower class, who’s time is worth little, and who are motivated to make money any way they can. They are the reason why used things are worth more here than they are up in the U.S. of A.

A great example: Bicycles.

When we were about to leave the states, we sold our bicycles.

One was sold on Craigslist for very cheap.

One was put out on the side of the road for the recycle truck to pick up.

One was  given to a friend.

These were all fully functional (though low-end) bikes, with relatively little wear.

Basically, used bicycles aren’t worth much in America.

Why not? Why doesn’t Bob get a used bike on Craigslist instead of buying a new one?

Because Bob’s time is worth more than to be worth  worrying about the problems that a used bike might have. There’s no one who’s willing  to buy an old bike for $100 just because they know that the parts it’s  made of could be sold individually for $150. It’s not  worth their time.

Here in Santiago I see it working like this:

A high-income busy family impulsively buys a $500 bike for their kid. It gets very little use, and a year or two later, after it’s been collecting dust for a while, they decide to sell the bike.

They list the bike on “Yapo”, the local Craigslist, for $300, and it’s immediately purchased by a middle-class person. They commute on it for a few years, and it puts on several thousand miles and picks up a lot of wear. At this point, it’s fairly problem-ridden.

Then they sell the bike for $150 to a lower-class bike-guru who’s house is full of bike stuff. This guy processes lots of bikes, fixing them and selling  them at bike-markets. He also buys stolen bikes from bike thieves.

At the bike market he sells it for $200 to another lower-class person, who uses it till it’s truly a sorry wreck.

Then he sells it to his neighbour for $60, who harvests all the parts that are still worth something, and throws the rest away.

These parts are sold at a bike-market and bring $80.

This process has been created by motivation. The lower class fills in the gaps and wrings the value out of the hand-me-downs.

Rosebud Said 6.0

Earlier today Sudoku was giving Rosebud her daily spelling lesson.

Sudoku:  Rosebud, spell “Des Moines”.

Rosebud:  Awww, that’s a hard one.

Me:  I think that’s French.

Rosebud:  Aha! Thanks for telling me.  Now I know that it starts with something other than the letter “D”.


“Des Moines” is French. It translates to “of the monks”.

Hiking in the Chilean Countryside part 2

Remember the camping trip that Marathon and I took a while back?

We did roughly the same trip again, with the whole family.


First morning at camp.











Back in civilization: Coastal town, pop. 40,000





That shirt says “Property of Chattanooga Mocs”.

She had no idea what the shirt meant.  Small world.


Yogurt Queen

Not being able to find milk in this country (other than lifeless ultra-processed stuff), we’ve resorted to yogurt.

This is Rosebud sitting on a throne made of some of the yogurt containers we’ve gone through.


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