Sunday, December 30, 2018

Catch-up roundup

Yes, I know, I've been terrible. Here's an attempt to catch up. Still missing a bunch of good stuff in the New Yorker.

A thread on the war on women

See also
(Pair that with this, which is lighter but still).

On popular anti-semitism.

This is the amazing parody thinkpiece we need.

Finally, happy holidays

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Patagonia: epilogue

On Friday morning, Alex and I left Jason with a day on his own in Santiago, during which he got caught up in some protests (we'd been reading there about unrest surrounding the murder of a Mapuche man). I was equal parts ready and not ready to go. I was ready to quit living out of a backpack, as wonderful as my backpack was. I was ready to cook for myself (although I was ready for a break when I left for the trip). I wasn't ready to leave the beauty, or the feeling of being in South America.

Our long-haul back (Santiago to Toronto) was glorious. We were able to choose exit-row seats for free, and there was no one in the middle seat between us. A far cry from the flight to Buenos Aires that had me scrunched and furious, this was the best-case coach scenario. I drank wine, watched five movies over ten hours, and hardly thought 'are we there yet.' 

I came home very late to a rainy weekend (after three weeks of nearly perfect, albeit occasionally windy weather). I processed my more than 3,000 photos--most from the camera, some from the phone, which was handy especially when my camera battery crapped out near Fitz Roy (I thought I had a spare but it didn't charge) and I my memory card filled up on the first leg of the W (I went through and deleted accidental videos, which freed up plenty of space). I never did use the travel tripod I bought for the trip (I would have had it been dark and clear enough for stars), but I sure did use the shoulder strap. It was very handy to not carry the camera or use up a pocket for it.

It was a rough week at work; my head was still in South America. But I also maintained my post-vacation chill. 

I want to go back. To see Bariloche and Chiloe and the lakes. I want glaciers and turquoise lakes and I want them everywhere.

Some disjointed thoughts:

I expected this trip to be a food nightmare, but it wasn't; I was able to have a lot of good vegan food, although I had to eat the occasional non-vegan pizza. The food I had was overwhelmingly wonderful. It's the inverse of last year's winter vacation: I had high hopes for Malaysia, but most of food was disappointing. 

Also unlike Malaysia, we were actually able to get away from Xmas decorations and music (they ticked up a bit in Santiago but weren't overwhelming). 

The days were very long, which I loved (even though I was ready for it to get dark already!), and although it wasn't freezing cold, it was cool enough that I felt like I was coming back to winter from a tropical paradise.

Costs: Chile's not cheap, and Argentinian Patagonia isn't either. Both countries also charge a lot for ATM fees ($10 is standard in Argentina, $5 in Chile), and make it difficult for you to use a local SIM. 

Gear and supplies: Apart from a few long-sleeved shirts, I used pretty much everything I'd brought. I didn't use the headlamp, but it wasn't a mistake to bring it just in case. In addition to the pack, sleeping bag, trekking poles, and hiking boots, I had a knee brace, ankle wrap, nyquil, sunblock, and a hat. I still got mildly burned (hole in the ozone layer) but without the sunblock and hat I would've been tomato-red. What else: hand sanitizer, toilet paper/tissues/wipes, bubble wrap to secure wine, ziploc and other plastic bags to keep things dry, including a trash bag to line the backpack, a meshy bag to hold the various charges (this was awesome: instead of constantly checking for each charger, I always made sure to return them to the one bag after using them), adapters, and lots of granola bars. New Yorkers, Atlantics, and crosswords. Noise-cancelling headphones, of course. Raingear. 

A closing thought: it was awesome. I tried to temper my expectations, but there was no need. Patagonia is breathtaking. 

Maipo (the Canyon and the valley)

An outing to the Cajon del Maipo is difficult to plan. There's not a ton of information available online (most of the Trip Advisor stuff tries to sell you group trips). We settled on a hike to Monumento el Morado. The other hikes—the rumoredly stunning Embalso al Yeso—would’ve required a 4x4. The Monumento was beautiful, not for the glacier and lake combo I’d grown accustomed to but for the rockier mountains facing us on the way back. One looked positively rainbow-ish. It was just good to be back in the mountains after days in the city.

It was a gorgeous day. At one point, Alex said he thought it was windy. Jason and I looked at each other and almost simultaneously said, this is what we who've been to Torres del Paine call a light breeze. We hadn't noticed it at all.

After that, not-so-hot hot springs (mineral springs, though).

The next day, we intended to vineyard-hop but without reservations we basically only hit one (and had lunch at another that offered samples with lunch). We learned more about the different conditions that inform the grapes, about how those conditions are different even just across the Andes in Argentina. Our guide told us about the time an earthquake destroyed a lot of wine that was in the process of fermenting, and the ill-smelling contents of the breached barrels flooded the streets. We loved everything we tried, and the guide was super informed and passionate.

It wasn't a bad way to enjoy our last day in Chile.

Santiago de Chile

The afternoon before we headed to the coast, and the day after we returned, we explored Santiago. That first afternoon, in addition to going to La Chascona,
 we hiked up Cerro San Cristobal and observed a religious service in the working church atop the hill.
The city was lit up on our walk home from dinner.

We started out a couple of days later, after getting back from the coast, by hiking the more manageable but equally beautiful Cerro Santa Lucia, which Charles Darwin also enjoyed back in the day.

From there, we walked around town

And came to the Museo de Bellas Artes.

 We had a winy lunch at BocaNariz,
 And headed off by metro to the powerful human rights museum across town.

A representation of the victims of the junta

Truth and Reconciliation commissions around the world
I have so much more to say about this museum but I don't know where to start. It succeeds in providing historical perspective and showing the scale of the effects of the junta, but also honoring and humanizing individual victims.

After a somber few hours, we headed back to our end of town. It's not Valparaiso, but Santiago has its own murals and other works of art, and it's certainly hopping.

Our last night together in Chile, after our day of wine tourism in Maipo, we had dinner at Vegan Bunker and admired the moon on our way home.