Desierto norte de Chile

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Christmas 2008

I celebrated Christmas 2008 with both sides of my parents' families. I celebrated with Dad's side at my brother's wedding (an abbreviated gift exchange because everyone was pretty busy), and my Mom's side came over to our house on the 25th for dinner. On the 24th, my other brother & his wife (and their two large & active lab dogs) came into town for dinner -- collards & ham, mmmm! -- and we headed to the 7:00 church service. After church we made sausage balls & oatmeal cookies, and had a good time rubbing elbows in the kitchen. Christmas morning we exchanged our gifts. I gave my family shoulder bags from Chile (and my brother a dress shirt & athletic shirt), and I got many nice dress shirts & neckties that I'll use for my new job in Annapolis. It was great to be with family and celebrate Jesus's birth.

Here is a selection of photos.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Hello from the USA!

I've been back in the US for 6 days now, and what a full six days they've been! This time last week I was at 35,000 feet heading north along the Chilean coast. I was blessed with four poignant goodbye parties in a row, ending on Monday Dec 15th. I have some great gifts which will enable me to remember Chile for many many years. I'll post some pictures soon.

After arriving in RDU on Wednesday, I visited with my dad and grandmother, then headed over to the campus of NC State to watch them play East Carolina University in basketball. Then Thursday I did some shopping with mom & prepared to head back to Cary for Charles and Kim's wedding. We drove up on Friday, setup the rehearsal dinner, rehearsed, ate some great bar-b-que (and I was able to support U-Chile futbol team and tell Paw Paw's "do nothing for each other" joke!) The wedding went well on Saturday, even though there wasn't a wedding coordinator (I've been in many weddings and now see their value, even if they are sometimes a pain to work with). Sunday morning we went to First UMC in Cary with Gran, and I left after the service and drove up to MD. I-95 in northern Virginia is a beast, but I survived and crossed the Potomac into the much less crowded roads of the Maryland part of the Capital Beltway.

I posted earlier that I've decided to rent a room for my first months in Annapolis, and that I'd been looking for a place on Craigslist. Well, I met him, David, and toured my future apartment. I'll have my own bedroom & bathroom, and of course we share the common areas. The apt is 1400 sq ft, located about 2 miles from campus, and has a nice living area equipped with cable tv and internet. After visiting with David, I ate dinner with my dept chair and his wife, who invited me over to their townhome for home cooking. Monday was filled with meetings at human resources (I think my payroll will be setup in time for my first paycheck to come in early Jan!) and with several other faculty members. I rode over to the AT&T store after the meetings and got me an iPhone (I know, it's quite a purchase, and I don't have a great justification for it other than I want it.)

I'll try to get some photos posted of my last 2 goodbye parties in Chile and of Charles and Kim's wedding. Meanwhile, please have a very Merry Christmas!!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Despedida #2 (goodbye party #2)

Friday, December 12, 2008

Comunidad Cristiana Santiago: cumpleanos otono 2008

The church youth group had their semi-annual birthday celebration last weekend and invited me to join them (since my birthday falls in Sept and is in the 2nd half of the year). We enjoyed a good time of fellowship and then headed outside (remember it's now summer here) to play a rousing game of "red rover". Of ccurse, being located in a neighborhood, we roused the anger of one of the local old ladies, who came out toating her liter of beer in one hand and her dog leash in another, shouting "keep it down" during our fun. We quieted and eventually went inside for some cake. It was a great evening and a good way to end up the semester!


One of the great attractions of San Pedro de Atacama is that it is located at the junction of three countries: the altiplano regions of Chile, Argentina, and Bolivia. I talked with several tour operators when I first arrived in San Pedro about tours to Bolivia, and while they had multiple, all were for 3 or 4 days (and I only had 3 days total in the whole area, counting the time I needed to return to the airport in Calama). But I didn't give up, and on Wed night I found a semi-private (originally private but opened up to more people to keep the costs down) tour to the lagunas of Bolivia.

So, armed with my Chilean identity card, my US passport, and over $100 in US dollars (Bolivia has started charging US citizens a US$135 "reciprocity" fee to receive a tourist visa at its borders), I jumped on the tour and headed north into the Bolivian altiplano.

The Lagunas were spectacular: Laguna Blanca (white lagoon), Laguna Verde (green lagoon), and finally Laguna Colorado (red lagoon). Enjoy these pics!

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