Tag Archives: South America

Aerial View of the Andes

Mountains with Plane Wing

I grew up on the flat plains of Illinois, so living near the mountains in Santiago was a thrill for me. When I was a young girl, I was drawn to life near sandy beaches for their exoticism, the alien texture of fine sand between my toes and the  menacing sound of waves pulling the rocks back into the sea. When I visited family in San Diego, I had aspirations of settling in southern California and becoming a surfer princess on the weekends.

I can now see myself living near mountains, especially ones covered in snow in the winter. For me, they symbolize a more powerful force, like living below the lair of gods.

Here are some photos of our flight from Santiago to Buenos Aires.

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Filed under Argentina, Chile

Return to Buenos Aires | Post 100

Buenos Aires
Photo Credit: Celeste

This is post 100 on Still Life in South America. I started the blog initially as Still Life in Buenos Aires, moved to Chile and changed the name, and now I’m back in Buenos Aires again. I think I’ll keep the “South America,” but it does pose some problems when we move outside of South America.

Being back in Buenos Aires has been enjoyable. I forgot how much I love this city and its energy. Thursday, the day after arriving, I walked around my old barrio of Palermo with smile on my face, remembering all of its characteristics–vendors selling hot candied peanuts on the street, broken sidewalks and wobbly tiles, the myriad of balconies in every direction, the barreling sound of collectivos (buses) streaming down the street, heavily made-up old women draped with furs, humble vendors selling socks on the street with babies in arms, verdularia vendors with precise pyramids of fruits and vegetables, bread and dessert shops on every corner that would make Willy Wonka envious, and dogwalkers wrangling their dog herds past pedestrians, taxis, and buses.

Buenos Aires is a poem just waiting to be realized. It is a city ripe for myth making.


Filed under Argentina

Lima, Peru

Balconies 1

The last two days of our trip were spent in Lima, Peru’s capital. I normally like to find the positive in every city’s character, but I found Lima to be gray and dodgy with a negative energy. There is a very lonely and dangerous element there.


Still, there are some sweeter aspects of the city.

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Filed under Peru, Vegetarian

Cusco, Peru

City View

Cusco is the doorway to see Peru’s Sacred Valley. It’s a lovely town that serves mostly as a tourist base for the pilgrimage to Machu Picchu.

On the way to the Sacred Valley, we zipped through the town, intent on arriving at Ollantaytambo that day. It is suggested to travel to the Sacred Valley upon arrival in order to prevent altitude sickness since the valley is lower than Cusco.

Our trip got a little complicated when we descended Machu Picchu to  the town of Aguas Calientes. Farmers were striking on account of the government’s privitization of water and had decided to block the Perurail train from Aguas Calientes to Ollantaytambo. This was a problem because the only way to get tourists out is by train. Farmers often demonstrate their frustrations to the government by damaging the tourist economy since it makes such an impact in Peru. 

We were able to take a rescheduled train late into the night to Ollantaytambo. The strike was happening in earnest the next day–the day we needed to get to Cusco, so it was tough finding a ride. Protestors were placing rocks in the road, and there was a human block in the road outside of Cusco. No cars or buses could pass.

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Filed under Peru

Machu Picchu

Llama and Huayna Picchu

The trip to Machu Picchu was the focal point of our trip to Peru. It’s a difficult place to visit, as it requires traveling from Cusco to the Sacred Valley, taking a train from the Sacred Valley to the town of Aguas Calientes, and then a bus bright and early in the morning to the UNESCO World Heritage site. Pictures follow the jump.

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Filed under Peru

First Impressions of Chile

Margaret at Cachando Chile wrote a great piece on her first experiences in Chile. She’s been here for 18 years now. Since she invited others to share their impressions, I thought it would be a good opportunity to write a less structured post than I usually write. Perhaps a more open post since I’m typically not a candid writer on the blog. These were my thoughts in the first month in Chile after arriving at the end of December, 2008.


E. and I arrived in Santiago after crossing the Andes by bus. About the moment we crossed into the Chilean side of the mountains, I started experiencing post nasal drip which by the time we arrived in Santiago turned into a full blown sinus infection. I knew to expect more pollution in Santiago, but I wasn’t expecting to get sick so quickly! (I have to admit to inheriting a poor excuse for sinuses.)

The first couple months, my lungs hurt certain days. This has stopped, which is probably a bad sign. My body has succumbed to the pollution.

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Filed under Chile, City Center, New to Town, Santiago

Tonight I Can Write

Photo Credit: Bracani….Antonio

Tonight I can write the saddest lines.

Write for example, ‘The night is shattered
and the blue stars shiver in the distance.’

The night wind revolves in the sky and sings.


A portion of Pablo Neruda’s poem XX, Twenty Love Poems and a
Song of Despair

There are mosquitos the size of bats on the ceiling. I’ve been grading papers for 12 hours now. In the courtyard, the beagle still bays out every day. He’s been joined by a cat that sometimes yowls for hours. I am going to miss this courtyard, especially the mornings heavy with rain, the cool patter on the tiles outside.

I look out into the night and see the lit lives of families. Those that dine at 10 p.m. passing salad around the table. Our mysterious next door neighbors who come by once a week to use the apartment as a party base. The woman who sweeps her balcony as her bull terrier tries to bite the broom.

Do they see me? The room darkly lit by a small table lap. Me at the computer, with white pajama pants, navy slippers, and a glass of wine. This girl who sits at the computer every day and every night. They can see me perfectly, as I can see them.


Filed under Argentina