Harrison Farm

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

Category: Chile (page 1 of 8)

Fiestas Patrias

[Rosebud & Sudoku] Chile’s independence day was Monday, September 18, and Sunday (September 17), was national Cueca day, Chile’s national dance. Each year there are traditional foods and activities at our local parks. In past years, there has been a huge celebration at our closest park, lasting several days with lots of people and LOUD music into the night.

This year, our local event was more quiet and less crowded, which was very nice.

We’ve always enjoyed watching the Cueca, but we hadn’t learned how to do it before this year. Dad helped us get started learning (while teaching himself!) The timing is the trickiest part, but we slowly got the hang of it. Once we had practiced at home, we headed over to the park.

This is a picture , which was posted on Twitter by the Providencia mayor, Evelyn Matthei, of the Cueca area. We think this is her mother dancing the cueca like a pro. Evelyn was the runner-up in the 2014 presidential election here in Chile. If you look closely, Carman and I are in the background. (I’m in red jeans, and Carman is wearing a plaid shirt and a hat.)


The Cueca class we did was very helpful. The teacher started everyone out in a large circle and walked us through the steps. Then we all did the steps in the circle by ourselves (instead of with a dance partner). The teacher counted out the steps and told us when to switch. Here are the steps and count that goes with them:

Saludo (Greeting) – 4
Vuelta inicial (First turn) – 12
Contra circlo (Turn in place) – 8
Media luna (Half circle) – 24
Primera vuelta (Switch places & end with a turn) – 8
Escobillado (Brush ground with feet) – 16
Segunda vuelta (Switch places & end with a turn) – 8
Zapateo (Stamp with heel) – 8
Remate final (Switch places, turn and come together) – 8


After going through the steps a few times in the circle, the teacher told us to split into pairs. I (Sudoku) got to dance with a guy all dressed up in the typical Cueca attire (He saw that I was REALLY inexperienced, and helped me out).

[By Doodle] There were many traditional dieciochera games.

There’s that one where you smash a lever with a big hammer and it throws up a little bobbin that zooms upward on a cable and you try to get it to touch the bell at the top. Dad pointed out that it’s mostly luck. It’s mostly about how much wobble is put on the cable. The less wobble, the more freely the bobbin can zoom up.

We watched some big, buff dudes do it for a little bit, but none of them could get it past 4 and a half. (The bobbin starts at zero, and the bell is at five.)

Then, there’s a game where some glass bottles are put in some holes and you have to throw some wooden rings around the tops of the bottles that are sicking out through the holes.

There’s a smash the kittens game. Three years ago, they had a reward. There are five stuffed kitties and four balls. If you smashed four of the kitties off the shelves with your four balls, you got a sandwich with a piece of laminated cheese, a piece of meat (the really thin kind), and two pieces of “rock bread” as we call it to hold the cheese and the meat together.
I actually won that prize!

The kitties are pretty big and light, but the game is pretty hard, because the balls are so light and you have to throw the balls from pretty far away. I got a kitty with my first and second shot, missed with my third shot, and got two at once on my fourth shot.

Yeah. I’m sure it was complete luck.

Normally they have tug of war and a game of unwinding ropes, but they didn’t have that this year, either.

Both this year and the last year, Sudoku and I went to go do the bowling game. Normally there are park employees there to set up the pins for people, but there wasn’t anybody there at the time. The two people who were supposed to be doing the pin-setting-up were lounging a few yards off to the side and had their faces buried in their phones.

We went up and set up the pins. Before we could bowl any, some people came over, also wanting to bowl.
They were first in line, so we let them go first.

But, before the people were done bowling, and before Sudoku  and I were done setting up the pins for them, even more people got in line.

After a while, we were the ones managing the bowling place. And, for some STRANGE reason, *cough, cough* the bowling place suddenly got a whole lot more popular.

Demographics of Chile

There was a interesting article in the newspaper, and the headline was: “If there were 100 people in Chile.”  Inside the article were percentages of how many people did this, and how many people did that…

So here are the most interesting things about it.

  • 51 are women and 49 are men
  • 19 identify themselves with a political party
  • 76 say they have pardoned those who have done them wrong
  • 68 have access to  mobile internet
  • 6 are unemployed
  • 58 say they are Catholic
  • 18 say they are evangelicals
  • 20 say they are atheists
  • 3 say they have other beliefs
  • 12 run for exercise
  • 20 rent their house
  • 64 own their house
  • 3 say they have bad health
  • 34 voted in the last election
  • 93 don’t trust the political parties
  • 13 live in rural areas
  • 8 work in agriculture
  • 59 consider themselves happy
  • 12 consider themselves sad
  • 20 have some disability
  • 4 consider themselves Mapuche   (but the guy who is in the picture has blue eyes!)
  • 3 are immigrants
  • 41 are in debt
  • 69 think the country is going on a bad path
  • 65 have a pet
  • 54 get most of their news from TV
  • 2 can’t read or write
  • 73 think Chile will get to the 2018 World Cup
  • 51 would say they have read at least one book each year
  • 92 have a phone

That’s all for now.

“Ring of Fire” Solar Eclipse

The skies were cloudy in Santiago this morning, but in the south of Chile, a rare sight occurred in the sky: a “ring of fire” solar eclipse. We watched it online. 🙂  And even on our computer monitors it was breathtaking.

Here it is, seconds before the “ring of fire” eclipse was complete…

And here it is complete…

Here are those images again, lightened so it’s easier to see the red.

Trip to the zoo

This was the third attempt to go to the zoo. It all started at Rosebud’s birthday, back in April. We planned on going, but that morning several people were feeling bad, so we just stayed home. Three months later, on my birthday, we tried going again. When we  got there, we found out that it is closed on Mondays! So, we ended up hiking around on Cerro San Cristobal and it was a lot of fun.

Finally, on Milkmaid’s birthday, we went. (Milkmaid is photoshopped in)

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The first animal we saw was a rock. Or at least, it was, until it turned into a hippo.

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Continue reading

Doodle turns 10

Ten years ago on Sunday, I was kicked out of my spot as the baby of the family by this cute little guy 😀


On Saturday we celebrated with Doodle’s 3 special friends here in Santiago; Batman (9), Alex (13) and Max (12) [not their real names].


The boys played Sprouts and Spot it (two of Doodle’s favorite games). We also played the “Family game”.  (We’ll explain in a later post).

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Next Carman showed the boys how to make a few of his favorite paper airplanes, and then they had a competition to see whose could fly furthest. Continue reading

Races at the National Stadium

A couple of months ago, after watching the Santiago Marathon and trying too late to enter a 5k that started a block from our apartment, we started looking for a shortish race that all of us could enter.

We found a race in the National Stadium in Ñuñoa that we could all run in. Rosebud, Doodle and I each did 1k. Carman and Marathon did a mile (1.690k). Milkmaid said she would pass and just cheer from the stands.

The stadium is primarily used for major soccer games and concerts. However there is a  track around the soccer field in the middle which is where the race took place.  Stuck into the grass on the edge of the field were signs that said “Don’t step on the grass!”. 

Lots of people came up wanting to meet us, and asking us how to say various word in English. At least 3 girls asked me if I would be their friend 🙂 One of the adults that came to talk to us was Carlos, a “Monitor Deportivo” (Sports monitor) at Parque O’ Higgins.  His job is to teach kids proper running form, breathing and all that important stuff.  Carman and Marathon had their picture taken with him.

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This is Rosebud on the last lap of her race (two and a half laps!).  Rosebud is the one in the middle with the pink shirt. She and the little girl behind her stayed together for the whole race.

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Carman didn’t start out really fast like some of the other boys, and passed many of them toward the end! (Green shirt.)

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Home stretch!

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Marathon did well in his race also, finishing in about 13th.

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I don’t have any pictures of myself running, and I don’t even know what place I ended up taking.  But most importantly, I didn’t lose. 😀

Later that evening Carman said, “If I could warp time, I could have been standing in the exact same place as Messi!”

Northeastern Santiago from Helicopter

I found this great picture though Google Maps of Northern Las Condes and Vitacura.

I’ve put numbers on various parts of the image, and below you’ll find Street View shots of what’s there, so you can tell what you’re looking at.

Here’s a link to the original.




Continue reading

Chile’s Wal-Mart bicycles

Back in the U.S. we were a bicycle-savvy family. All of us had a bicycle (and sometimes we had one to spare). Marathon and I knew how to adjust brakes, patch tires, etc.

We always laughed at Wal-Mart bikes. “Cheap junker bikes” we said. We always bought from other higher-quality sources.

We hadn’t been to Chile back then. In the U.S. the typical Wal-Mart bike costs about a hundred bucks. Here in Chile the bikes sold at Wal-Mart also average about a hundred bucks. The only difference is that the bikes here make U.S. Wal-Mart bikes look like the kind of bikes you’d want to ride across Siberia.

Have you ever heard of the wheel hubs coming loose? Or the crank arm that holds the pedal coming off? What about the little screw that holds the seat post in place stripping it’s threads out? These things happened within four months of light use to the bikes we bought shortly after we came here. Guess what… they weren’t Wal-Mart bikes. I haven’t seen bikes of their quality in Wal-Mart.

We bought two of them, and they costed us just over $150 each. We bought them at a dedicated bike shop. Today, one of them is serving as spare parts for all the stuff that breaks on the other one. We have had to go out and buy multiple higher-quality components.

Whenever I walk though a Wal-Mart here, I drop by the bike section and observe the horrors. I’ve seen a pedal crank that fell off the bike in the store, a handlebar that had slipped out of the neck, a plastic shifter arm that had snapped off, etc.

These three brands are the most commonly found in Wal-Mart and other similar stores: Opaltech, Sporttech, and Rave. I doubt that you have ever heard of these brands. If you ever see one, don’t buy it. The quality level is absolutely atrocious. These bikes are literally a swindle. The ones we bought came with a one-year warranty. After three months, we turned one of them in with a loose hub. The vendor happily put another $1 hub on the bike. Three months later…..

Tri-Language table conversation

A couple nights ago, I went over to the house of two friends about my age. They speak Spanish, English, and German. Their mom only speaks Spanish and German. There was a German boy who was living with them. He had showed up just the day before and didn’t know any Spanish. He spoke German and English. I speak English and Spanish, but no German. Thus, whether Spanish, English, or German was spoken, there was one person who did not understand. Translating for them was trivial, with everybody at the table able to do so.

The Bad Side of Santiago

Sorry for the lack of fresh posts, we’ve been really busy lately.

Yesterday I checked off my list the last three districts of Santiago to which I hadn’t biked. These three: “San Bernardo”, “El Bosque”, and particularly “La Pintana” are considered by our neighbors to be the most dangerous of the 34 districts.

In La Pintana I saw an open manhole in a bus lane, right where the bus’ left wheel would be. Ouch. Continue reading

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