A long time coming...

0 degrees fahrenheit. No heat, no lights, solid block of drinking water, exploded beer, frozen ketchup and it's only 8pm. After all that, we still had each other and we still had our determination to realize our vision. Despite the circulating perceptions that this maniacal way of life would inevitably lead to a divorce, we are pleased to say that you were wrong! We are as happy as ever and every frozen bone was well worth it! After 4 years of living together in our 21ft RV, we managed to pay off our debts, Kirsten complete graduate school, Seth become a certified arborist, both work multiple jobs and manage to save up enough money to travel. So here we go. We hope that you can come along for the ride.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Sweet Home Santiago

Greetings!  This will be the final post for the next month or so as we have taken to the sedentary life of city dwellers and are learning the ways of the Santiago warriors.  How quickly things change.  For the past 8 months, our lives have been defined by the strokes of our pedals and our minds have been shaped by the worlds those pedals took us through, our days beginning and ending dictated by the rising and setting of the sun.  Gone are the days (for the moment) of peaceful hours of riding, lost in our thoughts, engrossed in the wonder of wherever we might be, imagining what might lie around the next bend in road.  That tranquility has been replaced by the raucous madness that is downtown Santiago. Riding a bike here is something of a game of chicken, a sort of russian roulette on wheels, never knowing when a car will turn, or when a pedestrian will pop out of a roadside store.  This isn't a land where pedestrians rule, where crosswalks offer some semblance of security. No, city life is all about survival.  Hard as it is for us to believe, this is home now and we have begun our adjustments. 

Our welcome to the city was about as warm as one could hope for.  We pulled into the Plaza de Armas midday on a Saturday, filled with emotions as we laid to rest a life we had become so accustomed to.  Never more (for now) to wake with the rising sun, to pack a tent still damp with morning dew to begin another days project on wheels.  Still, so much unknown and adventure lay before us as we opened ourselves to a life completely foreign to us.  We got off our bikes, soaking in the sights, the smells, the incredible quantity of people.  We stopped at a nearby cafe for a much needed moment of rest and an even more urgent giant plate of food. Moments later, an overflowing, overwhelming mass of food arrived, only to disappear within minutes.  As we sat, contemplating what we had just accomplished and where we were going from there, two men sitting behind us invited us to their table for coffee and conversation. A retired police chief and volunteer firefighters both, our conversation soon expanded to include their familes and before long, they were insisting we join them for lunch (never mind the huge plates of food we just ate) and we began pushing our overloaded bikes down the pedestrian mall, trying to keep up with Luis and his family as they led us to the delectable plates of Chilean ceviche and wine they had just finished describing (the real thing is better...you'll see, they told us).  We arrived at the crowded indoor market and as we sat outside pondering exactly what we might do with our massive machines, there was Luis (a teddy-bear of a man reminiscent of "Da Bearss" guy on Saturday Night Live) already well inside the market shrugging off our concerns about our bikes and motioning frantically for us to follow him.  Still a little skeptical, we struggled to keep up, weaving our awkward loads down the skinny aisles among stalls of raw fish and the hundreds of people milling about, most of whom were offering us curious glances and the occasional snyde remark.  No worries though...we are with the former chief of police and he knows everyone.  Before long, he has negotiated a secure storage locker among frozen fish for our bikes and has bypassed the long lines to find us a prime table while ordering a mass of food, wine and pisco sours that arrives like a desert oasis in front of us.  Our small group has now expanded to include a good portion of the Octava Company fire department and Luis' wife.  We were welcomed warmly into their world, treated to a lunch we might only have dreamed about and we parted ways feeling like old friends and veterans of a city we had just hours ago pedaled into for the first time.
We have just returned from a brief yet joyous reunion with our families in the states and are settling in to life in the city.  Stay tuned for more tales from the road as Seth embarks solo sometime in mid March for the epic wonders of Patagonian Chile and Argentina to the south (penguins!!).
Keep in touch all of you!!