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December 21, 2006

It's been a while...

...since I blogged, and I have something quite important to post about later, so here's a quick update since I've been in the US for 2 months now!

Santiago was great; I didn't make it too far out into non-urban Chile, but the city is rather nice. The view of the Andes behind downtown is absolutely breathtaking since they completely dominate the skyline. Brushed up on my Spanish a bit again, but the Chilean dialect is extremely odd with tons of slang and such. Apparently native Spanish speakers even have a good bit of trouble in Chile. I climbed up Cerro San Cristóbal, a 860 meter hill that dominates the local area with great views all around, and then took the gondola down! Toured the Unduragga vineyard as well, which was quite interesting since they took us all around the wine-making facilities. They had working equipment from 100 - 200 years ago preserved which was quite cool to look at compared to the modern facilities they use now. Definitely worth doing a vineyard tour if you've never done one. I thought about going to Easter Island, which is actually part of Chile, but 5 days wasn't enough to do that. I will go back at some point though, both to do some climbing in the Andes and to go to Easter Island! After paying my $100 "reciprocity fee" (we charge Chileans the same for a visa, so it's only fair they do likewise; they even happily took my Amex and charged it in US dollars), I can now return to Chile for the life of my passport without paying that again.

Back to the US after that, where I've been since. Made it out to Toledo to see Jason and Heather (er, I mean, to go to Cedar Point of course; it must've been coincidence that they were there!) on the last day of the season; it was fairly chilly, which was good since it made it even less crowded! (I'm still not quite as cold-resistant since I was in India all of last winter. I need to start back up on my regular 4.2mi runs in shorts and a t-shirt in 30°F snowy weather and I'll be immune to cold again!)

After that it was off to Kokomo, IN for Nikki's birthday party. Kokomo is basically an hour from Indianapolis and pretty much the middle of nowhere. (And apparently one of the worst meth areas in the country; they caught a high school kid with most of a portable meth lab in his backpack recently!) I always like visiting out-of-the-way suburban areas since I spend most of my time in more urban surroundings. And Nikki's kids are absolutely adorable.

I headed out of town again for Thanksgiving; we had it at Chip's place in Seattle this year. Amber, Jason, and Heather flew out as well so we had most of the usual suspects. The last couple days I was there, it was actually snowing! (Very rare in Seattle.) There was like 1-2" of snow total, but the city was practically shut down because they don't really have snow removal equipment. I had a 1AM flight back and took a cab; good thing I called well in advance since they told me that some people had been waiting up to 2 hours for one to show up!

Other than that, I've been whiling my time away at home and unwinding from having been gone so long. Right now I'm down in Plano, TX (in the Dallas area) visiting my parents for Christmas, the fun commercial holiday that it is! (I actually rather like Christmas.) Sadly, there's a new Walmart going up a mile or two away; as if they didn't have enough of the horrid things all over the place already! The park system in Plano is decent at least, and I can borrow my dad's bike and ride around. (They actually have a couple "bike routes" connecting through different parks and such.) Anyways, I'll be back on the 28th and generally in Boston for the foreseeable future. I've barely seen my friends since I got back between domestic travel and being lazy, so sticking around Boston will be good.

Anyways, this technically concludes my year-long international trip! Not that I'll stop traveling anytime soon...