Saturday, May 31, 2008

Holy Crap!

The most number of viewers I have had on this private little blog in one day since I started it is about 23. On May 27 I had 91!!! What is that about?

Anyway, I am back home in my US home. I landed early this morning. I'm not sure how I'm feeling honestly. I am very very tired. I am happy to be home and to be with my dear cats. I am happy to be in warm weather again. I am happy that I can pay attention to my house after literally 8 months of mostly neglect. Old houses need regular care.

But. BUT. I miss Chile already and the friends I made there. This experience was very much unlike Japan. My Japanese colleagues were friendly to a certain point but were never friends. My Chilean colleagues, especially Eduardo and his family, became true friends. And I have to stop talking about this now or I will cry. Need to get more distance before I can write about it.

Until I pull myself together I have a funny story and I hope it ends up not being a "guess you had to be there" story. When I was back home in early April I bought a mouse. A wireless mouse with a bunch of neat features to allow me to navigate spreadsheets faster and more efficiently and most important without wires. Great mouse. As soon as I got back to Chile Lazo started making comments about it and I thought about getting one for his birthday but got something else instead. He kept making comments and by the end of April I was pretty sure I would not leave Chile with my mouse.

Wednesday (and I am not sure how this started) Lazo decided he wanted to go through the contents of my purse. He and Sam consider me one of the boys and I think he wanted to see how much of a girl I am by what I carried with me. He got lots of laughs out of the nail file and the cuticle clipper and howled at my passport photo (the worst in history) and then he found my little tiny purse where I keep my US currency. I had $41 plus some change in it and he took it out and pocketed it and I let him have it for a while and then told him to give it back. He finally turned it over. Then he asked me how much I paid for the mouse. I pulled up my Best Buy account and told him $84 including tax. I had every intention of coming back and buying one and sending it back to him but didn't tell him this. He told me that he wanted to buy mine and since it was used I really should not expect more than 50%, or $42 and since he had just given me $41 he owed me a dollar. So we traded mice. Or mouses. And now I am stuck with his crappy little wireless mouse until I can get back to Best Buy. I might wait a while. Every time I use it I giggle about the Lazo logic behind his "purchase" of my used equipment.

Also I would like to point out that he still owes me $1.


Sunday, May 25, 2008

Completos and Girlie Stuff

Friday night I took Eduardo and Carol out. They have done so much for me and Sam too - bringing me into their family, including me, welcoming me into their home. I wanted to take them out and treat them and Carol chose the place and she is so good at finding a good place. It was a great night. Before we even got to the restaurant Eduardo told me I would come to their apartment Saturday for "completos" which is Chilean for hot dogs with the works. It was the weirdest thing I have ever seen. I can't even describe what is put on hot dogs here. Tomatoes, guacamole, mayonnaise . . . I had to document this. I couldn't help myself.

You start with a hot dog on a large bun and fill it with fresh chopped tomatoes:
Next slather it with guacamole:
Add some spicy mayonnaise:
On top of that add ketchup:
and of course don't forget the mustard:
And VOILA! You have an authentic Chilean Completo!
It takes a big mouth to eat one of these things and Eduardo is well equipped:
When you've gorged on completos the only thing natural is to doze in front of a soccer game on TV:
While the guys were being guys in front of the TV Carol and her good friend Alejandra (Ally) got out the nail supplies at the big dining table and even though I was called a traitor for doing it I was intrigued and went to sit with the girls. Ally wanted to do my nails which was really embarrassing for me because I don't ever do my nails and when under stress I chew my cuticles and I am just a mess. But she told me to trust her and she would make them look good. She worked and worked and lord help me if she wasn't right! My hands almost look normal now:
See the pretty little flower on my ring finger? I have a flower on my thumbs too!
I love these people. I want to live here. I want to drive home from work every night and see the Andes. I want to hang out with great people on the weekends and watch Top Gun with my boys and do beauty shop with my girls. I want to buy a house here and have these people over and treat them as well as they have treated me.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

I Have Lazo's Baby and A Fun Euphemism

After months of wishing I now have Lazo's baby. Eduardo has THE BEST iPod I have ever heard and he plays it - a lot - in the office. And for months I have wanted it inside my itunes. I've wanted it bad and I've been a whore about it. I've caressed his iPod and run my fingers over the navigation wheel until I tingled all over but he has been a music-tease and he lets me touch it but has never given it to me. Tuesday he gave it to me. He gave it ALL to me! He put his stuff on my iPod and I downloaded a program that let me sync all of that with my itunes and now I have his baby. I am drowning in Simply Red right now.

And in the spirit of the above I have a funny euphemism for you. There are two people in the office who are quite obviously having a fling and unfortunately one of them is not me. It's kind of disgusting really but makes for great laughs since everyone is aware of it. Anyway, a few days ago they left the office in the morning to go to our warehouse (called Panamericana) which is about a 15 minute drive. They were having concerns about one of our suppliers (Andina - the South American distributor of Coke products) and wanted to check out the situation. They returned FIVE HOURS LATER looking flushed and relaxed so now the euphemism for having sex is "going out to Panamericana to check out the Andina products." As in "Last night I went out to Panamericana and checked out the Andina products. Twice." As in "All day today I have thought about going to Panamericana and if I don't go tonight to check out the Andina products I am going to implode." I personally think this is far superior to "Playing hide the sausage" or anything else. I only hope no one asks me to actually go out to Panamericana in the coming week because I might just pee my pants laughing.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

All I'm Sayin' Is

This made me laugh so hard I cried. You will know at which point I broke into hysteria.

Holiday tomorrow. Will make up for missing Memorial Day next week but only kind of since this holiday is on a Wednesday which makes for one day off and Memorial Day makes for a 3-day weekend. But whatever.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

The Countdown

It's official. Or at least it's as official as things can get with this company. I will be leaving Chile May 30th. My part in this project is at an end and it's time to go home. This is a good thing. I've been mostly on the road since September 30 when I first left for Mexico City. That's 8 months. 8 months is enough for now. There is more travel coming up but it won't be for such extended periods of time until we get more new business. I need time at home.

So I'm feeling really emotional. Uncharacteristic for me, right? I find myself tearing up at very awkward times. This has been such a good experience overall - despite the BS and headaches I have learned so much and I've been so very challenged and that is what I live for.

Wednesday I went out for dinner with Sam, Eduardo and Carol (Eduardo's gorgeous wife). It was the last night we were all going to be together for a while at least. We went for Peruvian food which is probably the best food I have ever eaten and we stayed out far far too late. Thursday after work I drove Sam to the airport and put him on a plane for the Middle East. By the time he gets back to Santiago I'll be gone and then he's off to Sydney and when we hugged goodbye at the airport all of this finally hit me and I cried although I managed to hold it off until I was walking back to the car. I can't begin to imagine the ugly cry ahead when I have to say goodbye to Eduardo.

It has been a very grey grey overcast autumn weekend in Santiago. Today I worked a bit in the morning and spent most of the afternoon sitting in bed watching US TV shows. Tonight it is blustery. The fallen leaves are blowing around in the whipping wind. Someone in an adjacent building has windchimes and I can hear them and it makes me happy. I love windchimes. I have them all over my house at home and when the wind blows my house positively sings. I am sitting here listening to them and feeling a bit of home.

Saturday, May 10, 2008


It has been such a good week at home. So good that I really really don't want to go back. The weather has been perfect and I've gotten so much done - mostly outside where the most work was needed.

And now it's time to go. Errands are run, my suitcase is all packed except for a couple of last-minute things. It's just after 5:30 and in another 45 minutes I will call for a cab to pick me up about 7. This is always the strangest time. No time to do anything and yet I will spend the next 90 minutes walking around doing things that really don't need to be done because I need to fill my time. I'll do things like vacuum cat toys. Detail a trash can. Stupid stuff. The best thing about the last 90 minutes is finally getting on the plane and realizing there is truly nothing more I can do.

I had lunch with a friend yesterday and she mentioned that I don't talk about Santiago as much as I did about Tokyo. This is because it isn't as totally different as Tokyo. In Santiago I can read the letters on signs even if I am not sure what the words mean but usually I am sure. In Santiago lots of people look like me, mainly because of the German factor. I've been lucky enough to get out of the city and see some smaller towns briefly and I assure you it is different in those places but Santiago is a big cosmopolitan, international city and while there are things distinctly Santiago they are not so completely different that they take my breath away. There is a different concept of time (they don't care). There is a different class structure (people truly are judged by what university they attended and what their name is). They do that damned kiss cheek thing although it could be worse. In Chile it's a kiss on the left cheek. But in Europe it's a kiss on both cheeks and god forbid the freaking Swiss kiss left, right then left again. Save me from Zurich.

OK. Time to get on with the leaving thing.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Time Passing Too Fast

I try to give you all an idea of what it's like to live in another country but what's on my mind tonight is trying to describe what it's like to live in another country and yet still have a house here in the US that I visit for a brief week every now and then.

Since I left January 4 I have been back 4 times - and one of those times doesn't count since it was only a few days and I worked the whole time. Work work. Then twice I was back with bad weather - once it was downright cold and the other time it was rainy the entire week. This week it is warm (hot) and sunny and not only do I have a house to do basic cleaning in I also have a yard in desperate need of attention.

We kind of officially get comp time for flying outside of business hours and I've missed several holidays and I need to take at least 4 weeks of vacation or I will lose them so I should not feel guilty for taking care of my home but I do. I know I have a mountain of work to do while I am here but I've so far spent most of my time working on my home and yard and y'all, I feel like a million bucks! I am exhausted and sore but so satisfied.

Today I spread fresh pine needle mulch in the front and on the sides of the house. I cleaned and refilled two birdfeeders. I cleared off the front porch, scrubbed it down, and put it back together. No more green dust! I also cleaned and dusted two of my four rooms including doing windows which evidently the cats sit at and sneeze the whole time I am gone since they were covered with cat snot. Two more rooms to go. And about 23 days of yardwork.

So yes it is so good to travel but there are drawbacks. Like coming home and having to accomplish 4 months worth of stuff in one week.

Monday, May 05, 2008

I am dying here

I landed Saturday morning about 6:15. Got a few things done Saturday but mostly I slept. Took two naps for a total of about 6 hours and then went to bed early.

Yesterday I was up early and out at the carwash place where I had my oil changed since I could not remember the last time. They washed and vacuumed and I sprung for a wax since the truck has been sitting for so long under a tree. It needed it and it looks better than it has in 2 years.

I went to Lowe's and got 9 bales of pine straw mulch and came home and got the machete out and started hacking away at the ivy in the backyard. When the blister on my right index finger became too painful I got out my FAVORITE POWER TOOL IN THE WORLD. My pressure washer. I love my pressure washer. I started washing the house. I got the back and part of the side and the patio concrete finished before I collapsed.

This morning I woke up and did some work work and then got back at it. I removed the old pine straw from last year and pressure washed the sidewalk and driveway and the other part of the side of the house. So the house is 1/2 finished now. And everything looks so good.

And I am dying. I am so sore and tired I can't hardly keep my head up.

I needed this. I needed to be home for a while and get out and kill myself in the yard. I needed it.

I feel better already. Except for the dying part.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Chilean Labor Day tomorrow! Holiday!

I missed MLK holiday in the US. I missed the Easter day off. I think I missed one more holiday working - all the holidays have been spent working here. That's OK - in the end it will even out. But tomorrow is my first official holiday here - Chilean Labor Day - and I had looked forward to packing and doing laundry and some work. And now Sam and I have an invite to Lazo's family's place for a barbeque. It won't be the same place as a few weeks ago alas but the place here in Santiago. That's OK. Still time with a family!

Tonight is festive. It is very chilly here but I will keep my windows open until it gets down to official freezing temps - cold is much better sleeping weather! So my windows are open a bit and there are huge parties in the neighboring buildings - lots of Latin music and people singing along and the mood is so incredibly festive! I love having my windows open and listening. On Sunday mornings there is someone in another building who plays opera for about an hour. Normally I don't much care for opera but when I am in my apartment on a Sunday morning drinking coffee and hearing it waft in from another building I find it very moving and it opens my heart. Much as I find the music and festivities tonight. I am tired and happy to be here and happy to be going to bed in another few minutes but to hear the music and laughter from another building makes my night! Happy people bring so much joy!

Happy Chilean Labor Day!