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This week in Chile

I just got Eldest Daughter reading The Hobbit.

The food store turned out to have a separate fancier cheese section, like US supermarkets, with imported brie and camembert. The Danish brie wasn't good at all, at least by brie standards, more like a block than runny. The native goat camembert is decent.

Yesterday I was going to go for a walk, but G hauled out some bicycles, so the two of us went on a ride instead. 11 km total by his odometer, up the hill and through back streets and down a long road full of schools, including the Deutschule (now recognized by the German government!) that the elder kids go to. That was fun, and I experienced staying in low left gear for a while; lots of uphills.

Biggest other Out thing was going to an art walk Saturday. La Serena has a bunch of statues along an avenue downtown, and an expatriate with a PhD in art forgery and reproduction gave a walking lecture about the statues. Lined up in the 1940s IIRC, in a manner reminiscent of Greek temples, where you step up through a marble gateway into an outdoors sacred space, with statues of the gods and the nature of the gods. Almost all the statues were apparently copies of copies -- like, someone in 19th century Europe making a neo-classical statue inspired by ancient ones, and various students making copies of *that* which eventually ended up here. Or were made here. Or made for use by students here. It also had some modern Chilean sculpture, in local basalt. Photos up on Flickr, though still not organized much.

Otherwise, it's been sleep in, play with kids, read online, go shopping with S, play games wit G&S or just S if G's up at the observatory. I've played tag and hide-n-seek, chalked with the kids (I think that was basking incident day), listened to meltdowns, gotten good night hugs and given rides. I realized that the Alphabet Song is to the tune of Twinkle Twinkle, and told the kids. I've gotten at-length exposure to an 18 month old for the first time, so when people say chimps are as smart as a 2 year old, I have some other calibration point other than 2 year olds to compare that to.

Also gotten a local SIM card, mostly for emergencies at this point, and a new hat, in the same utility space as the one I'd gotten last time at the airport, but which is kind of grody two years later. S picked me up so fast that I'd forgotten to look for a replacement; now I have a white floppy hat with a wider brim and more adjustable strap. Entel seems to offer unlimited mobile data for $70/month. Gurk! I also found dried meat, 'charqui', in the store -- not jerky with flavorings, just dried meat. One's goat, one's horse. Also got a Brita water filter, since the water here is very hard and tastes like LA water; G&S are used to that, and the kids even more so: G' said "what's wrong with this water?" when I poured her some filtered stuff.

Empanadas are a standard food here. Pastry of sorts with meat, cheese, onion, hard boiled egg, raisins, and one olive. Always one olive. I think it's manually placed, not scooped in. I still don't like the olives but the empanadas the maid makes are great. Haven't had store ones.

We watched a couple episodes of MacGuyver, made in the 1980s when torture was still bad, something done not by Bulgarian Communists but by particularly corrupt Bulgarian Communists. "Uncle, surely you don't mean torture!"

Stray dogs are everywhere. Some mix of released dogs, maybe feral dogs, and pet dogs who just go for walks on their own.

Whee! Fun 2 hour conversation with S, like back in college. You can't see it but I'm smiling.

Oh right, also spent half a day doing retroactive budget balancing of my trip. Find delta net worth, add up recorded expenditures, see if they match. Not entirely, and it's a larger gap than I feel can be reliably attributed to the food purchases that I didn't bother recording. I'd like to think I messed up my delta net worth calculation, what with the shuffling money between accounts and credit cards, but it's hard to see.

Still, I can say that average lodgings were $90/day, not counting the free ones, but counting 4 hostel days at $22/day, and 5 Mallaig B&B days at $40/day. Conversely, Paris apartment had $125, and 3 Amsterdam days seem to have been $200. I either messed up very badly there or didn't get the Internet deal pricing I thought I was.

Total intercity travel was $1040: trains London-Edinburgh, Edin-Glasgow, Glasgow-Mallaig-Edin, Edin-Leeds, Leeds-London, Lndon-Paris, Paris-Amsterdam; flight Amst-Madrid. Actually, hmm, I think Edin-Glasgow (twice) isn't there, but that's like $16 per trip.

$146 in credit card foreign currency fees, $92 in ATM card currency and ATM fees.

Accounted-for food purchases average $22/day, which feels quite low, but I'm bad at gut average feel. Many days of eating out expensively, spending nearly that much on a meal, but OTOH I ate in for almost all of Paris.

It all comes out to a bit under $4000 a month, not counting the flights to and from Europe; 2/3 of that is rent, even with expensive foods (though hardly any drinking.) Stay in hostels and buy groceries and you might spend 1/3 of that, though I don't know how cheap hostels in London or Paris are. Glasgow was $22/day but that's Glasgow, and I don't think I could have lived in hostel dormitories for 3 months.

And while pricey, most of my rent money went to Airbnb apartments in London and Paris, at cheaper rates plus more room + kitchen than most hotels would give. I wasn't cheapest, and certainly not planned, but it wasn't most expensive either.

S spent a lot less on 5.5 months in South America, but that was hostels + camping -- I haven't asked how much camping -- plus South America, plus 1990s dollar exchange rate. A fair bit of my trip would be cheaper just with a lower euro, though the dollar/pound relation was pretty much standard; both currencies are weak. Lucky me.


Damien Sullivan

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June 2019


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