Tuesday, April 27, 2010

These boots really are made for walking

So maybe I've lived in Chile too long to know any better, but I've had a lot of luck shopping the past week...so much so that I'd say I really like the clothes that are out right now. In fact, I LOVE what I bought. Granted, one thing was a ridiculously cheap dress originally from J. Crew but my other purchase was a pair of Chilean boots I just adore. I might even go as far as to say that Chile has a better boot selection than the US. WOW, yup. I said it.

I think I can rationalize this by saying that I prefer one Chilean style (the shorter, wide boots with no heels). The U.S. is teeming with sexy, tall boots that I'll never even try on. Why? Because I cannot wear them and if "what not to Wear" and my mother have taught me anything, it's that good fit always trumps what's fashionable. I'm too short and my calves are too big for anything tall to go on them so I adore the tiny Chilean boots that don't come up far enough to turn my ankles into those dreaded cankles. What I also love about my recent purchases is that both were very reasonably priced which is a rarity when shopping in Chile.

What's going on here? Are things "en oferta" actually going to be a deal? Are we going to see a Target and an H&M pop up so we can look both stylish and afford our apartments? Is Chile finally realizing its clothes are ridiculously overpriced??

HAH, NO! I know it was just luck. I don't think Chile's quite there yet on the affordable, well-made, fashionable clothing. But I'm happy with my two good deals.

Here's a picture of my beloved footwear (I originally took that picture to show my mom/get her approval which is why you can see newly-mohawked Italo in the background):

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Show me the [Meyer] lemons

Saying that I love to cook is an understatement. When a student or two cancels a class and I have some extra time, I browse my favorite food blogs, make a list, run to la Vega to get ingredients, then come home and put on my favorite music and start cooking--this is when I'm happiest.

I've always fought female stereotypes and anyone who knows me knows that in my relationship, Italo and I tend to swap positions and I do a lot of the "husband" things and he does a lot of the "wife" things. With that said, if I could stay at home and cook all day for my friends and family I would live a wonderful life. Ask me to clean the place afterwards and I'm not so thrilled.

Now, this obsession with cooking and food combined with my living in Chile often poses problems because it's simply too expensive or downright impossible to buy certain ingredients. I like to cook according to the seasons so I get the best deal which makes it hard to run out and cook whatever's all the rage among the U.S. foodies. This makes it almost unbearable to read posts and see pictures of certain things.

Today and for the past several months it has been Meyer lemons. I am absolutely DYING to try these things. People are writing about them like they're the cat's pajamas and I want one! I want one so badly. I want to make ginger lemonade, and these unbelievable sounding puddings and I just want to bite into one to see what the fuss is all about.

Meyer lemons are supposed to taste like a mix between a lemon and a mandarin or sweet orange. Some people eat them like apples which gets me really excited because I have always loved eating the insides of orange and lemon peels. This is what they look like and they are taunting me everyday:

If anyone finds them in the Santiago area (I WILL travel for them), PLEASE let me know and I will invite you over for whatever I make with them if they are all they're cracked up to be (if you're not a creeper, that is).

Monday, April 19, 2010

Vengo de la Cordillera al Mar

Well over a year ago my sister got the idea of hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu and started planning a trip with her boyfriend. My first thoughts were, "hey! you're going to fly all the way to South America and NOT visit your little sister in Chile?" But on Christmas morning 2009 I opened up my gift from my sister and guess what it was: a trip to Machu Picchu!

Fast forward four months and my sister, her boyfriend, two friends, Italo and I meet up in Cusco (Italo and I had just taken the 24-hour bus ride from hell but the second we got to Cusco almost all was forgotten). We had a few days to tool around before our trek and got to know the city which is gorgeous. Then, it was time to meet our guide and pack our packs.

I was particularly nervous about the hike because I had vowed to quit smoking 1 month before the trip, but after the earthquake I gave myself an extra week, you know, because I thought I was going to die then and didn't so may as well ruin my lungs. Then, I quit for about a week and then, all bets were off. During this time, I was also running to get in shape (I live in Santiago Centro so that's almost equally bad for your lungs) and that plus altitude got me really nervous.

Meanwhile, my boyfriend who refuses to exercise and will not quit smoking could probably run a marathon in record time tomorrow because he's just annoying like that.

Anyhow, back to the hike. Our first day we met the 2 other people in our group (we made up 6 of the 8) and immediately hit it off with Frank and Andre. This was a relatively easy day until the last 2 hours that were straight up. I hadn't slept the entire night before so I'm pretty sure I shed a tear halfway up because I was so tired and dreading the next day because everyone says day 2 is the hardest.
This is me before the rain and before it got rough

Luckily, a lot of coca tea and a good night's sleep pumped me up for the next day and we all had a blast despite walking 4 hours up the steepest stairs/rocks/dirt I've ever seen and then straight down only to eat lunch and do the same thing again. The views we saw were absolutely incredible and made it ok that I'm now missing two toenails because of the downhill parts (duct tape is god-sent on hiking trips when your body starts falling apart).

We were all smiles from here on out

From night 2 on out everything was a piece of cake (not really, but in hindsight it was) and so much fun. The company we used provided us with some of the best food we had in Peru and really high quality service so I was sad to say goodbye to our crew at 4am on the last day until I realized it was only a few hours to our final destination. It was kind of a race from the entrance to the Sun Gate, but since it was overcast that was a big letdown and we just pushed on to Machu Picchu.

Our wonderful group

Let me just say that it REALLY is all it's cracked up to be. I'm the kind of person who is usually let down when something is hyped up, but this was incredible. We were all like little kids taking pictures and marveling at the views while our tour guide got angrier and angrier because we just couldn't sit still and listen to him. Unfortunately, our camera died on our 2nd picture there so I don't have pictures on my computer, but Italo was clever enough to film some videos with our Flip Camera set to, of course, Los Jaivas--a Chilean band that was invited to play on Machu Picchu, which explains the title of this post. That song, Pregón para Iluminarse (not one of the songs they played on Machu Picchu, but it's my favorite), was stuck in my head the whole hike, but I couldn't get the tune right and it became a running joke. I still can't do it!!

The rest of the trip was great, but nothing compared to Machu Picchu. I was really disappointed in my Lima experience but I'll blog about that and the really stressful parts of our trip (it ended with an email from my suegra saying our entire apartment had flooded and we would be coming home to a floorless, empty apartment) next time. Before; however, I'll leave you with my favorite picture from the trip because I love getting dipped :)