Chile

What’s In Your Candy Bowl?

Mike and I grew up in the United States, and we both participated in walking younger children around on Halloween. When we began to travel, we were in foreign countries for this day.

One of the years we were in Chile. Because we were in a cabin in the small town of Bahia Inglesa, and I knew that there were children around, I went shopping to find Halloween candy. There wasn’t a chocolate bar in sight. The only thing they were selling were bags of hard candy, mints or gumballs. I finally asked the sales clerk and she said they didn’t traditionally give their children chocolate for Halloween. Also, the costumes they had for sale were not as flashy or as costly as they are here in the United States, so even buying a costume or dressing up isn’t as big a deal.

Mike and I had never heard of such a thing, and because chocolate was so cheap in Chile by our standards, we proceeded to buy chocolate bars for Halloween.

On that night our doorbell rang and it was a single lone child. He lived in the complex where we were staying, and I had seen him around before. He always looked sad and lonely. The little guy broke my heart every time I saw him. He most likely expected to find the same hard candy in our candy dish that everyone else had so when we produced a pretty good sized chocolate bar his face lit up, and he smiled like I had never seen him smile before.

Within half an hour he was back with three friends and they each got a candy bar. Smiles and choruses of ‘gracias’ brightened the night air. We were making friends. Thirty minutes after that he brought back another group of friends and they too got chocolate bars. More smiles and more thanks. This continued until we had exhausted the fifty bars of chocolate we had to give, many of them to the same kids because they came to the door over and over again.

I remember crying that night because a simple bar of chocolate made a difference to those children that night. They were smiling and happy and sharing a memory with each other. So many of the children here in the United States take what gets put into their Halloween sack for granted. It was nice to be someplace where what we gave away on Halloween was so special.

The next day when we were out walking around, the same children saw us and pointed and smiled and said hello and we heard them say to their parents, ‘They are the ones! They are from the United States!’ And even their parents smiled and said hello and waved at us.

Building relationships has to start somewhere. You just never know as a traveler how or when that relationship will begin. Every act we do while traveling speaks volumes to people about us as Americans. I try to remember when I travel I’m not just sightseeing; I’m an ambassador for my country.

May everyone have a safe and happy Halloween.

Florence Lince

About.me/florencelince

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How Old Is the Ice in Your Drink

We have had some amazing travel adventures thus far as The 6 Monthers.  We have been to four continents, over a dozen countries, we have met some special people and seen things of such beauty that it is hard to imagine that we could find anything to rival it and yet, as we have kept traveling we have seen more beauty in different places and wondered at what we will see next.

Glacier Grey

Glacier Grey © Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

One of these experiences came long before either of us was blogging.   On a cold and dreary winter morning we took a magical trip to visit Glacier Grey in Torres del Paine National park in Chile.  Getting to visit this region of Patagonia was one of Mike’s long time dreams and the vistas of the mountain peaks and the glaciers did not disappoint.  However it wasn’t the park that holds the memory or the attraction that still resonates with us both these many years after our visit.

Our tour guide that day told us that something magical awaited us down by the beach.  He said it would be something that we would have a hard time explaining to others who were not with us and if I had known how true this statement was I would have had a video camera running so that I could have recorded the sound.  Our group this day was composed of all adults so we trudged down to the beach front and wondered if looking at the smaller icebergs which had broken off from the main iceberg was the attraction our guide had told us about.

The fact that this ice could be almost a million years old really does give one pause.

The fact that this ice could be almost a million years old really does give one pause. © Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

As we stood at the water’s edge our guide told us to stand silently for a moment or two and to take it all in.  It was then, while standing silently, that we heard what sounded like wind chimes; thousands and thousands of wind chimes.  We began to look around.  We were told to look down, into the water, and there it was, ice, tons and tons of ice lapping itself onto the beach sounding like the tinkling of ice in a giant glass. We were in awe.

Our guide told us that many people come here with whiskey glasses in hand to scoop up some of the glacier ice and then they open a bottle of some brew and they drink their drink with ice that might be a million years old.  Think about that for a second.  The ice we were looking at and hearing was broken from Glacier Grey; one of the largest and oldest glaciers on earth.  Gives you pause doesn’t it?

Patagonia was the first item on Mike's bucket list.  Coming here was a childhood dream. © Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

Patagonia was the first item on Mike’s bucket list. Coming here was a childhood dream. © Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

Since our visit to the park I had seen an article in the news where thieves actually drove to the beach site and tried to make off with tons and tons of the ice to sell in fancy drinks someplace.  That didn’t go over well with the Chilean government and the culprits were apprehended.

This is one of Mike's favorite photos.  He made it to Patagonia.  © Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

This is one of Mike’s favorite photos. He made it to Patagonia. © Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

What triggered my walk down memory lane about the experience of the ice tinkling at Glacier Grey?   Perhaps it was that winter is upon us here in Spain and at times the weather is cold; perhaps it is because the other day I passed a store that sold cheesy wind chimes; or better yet, it’s most likely because I walked the sand on the beach here in Torrevieja and as I listened to the sound of the waves hitting the beach I thought back to another amazing travel adventure we’ve had where we heard the ice from a million year old glacier hitting the beach, and I smiled.

We saw a lot of glacier's on this trip and I will admit this was one of the most beautiful spots we explored while in Torres del Paine National Park.  © Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

We saw a lot of glacier’s on this trip and I will admit this was one of the most beautiful spots we explored while in Torres del Paine National Park. © Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

Perhaps we’ll have to return to Glacier Grey bay someday to record the sound.  Yes, a picture is worth a thousand words, but in this instance a recording might be worth a thousand pictures.

Florence Lince

http://www.about.me/florencelince

And The Poop Wins!

I think what might surprise people is what tourists remember of their city.  Yes, we see the pretty vistas and the beautiful buildings and the nice museums.  Then we see the real city and that is what we remember the most about your country.

Nicaragua has to be one of the dirtiest countries I have ever visited.  The trash was everywhere.  I also never once felt safe while in the country as a whole and Nicaragua is not on our list of countries we would return too.

In Panama you can walk the streets and have the person in front of you toss their trash right at your feet; to them the whole country is a trash can and someone else will clean it up.  Sadly, no one does.  Panama is a beautiful country and has things to see but cleaning the country will be a big undertaking.

Sarajaveo will long be remembered by me for its beggars and how much of a turn off it was to try to walk the streets.  I would have loved to have walked any street without being confronted by some pretty aggressive families begging for money, but that was not the case and Sarajaveo comes off my list of places I would return too.

Iquique, Chile will long be remembered by me for its charm along its waterfront and its attention to keeping families together along its beaches.  They have done an excellent job in creating a great family environment for everyone along its waterfront.  The rest of the city however is another story and the further you get from the waterfront the less safe the city streets become until you are in some neighborhoods that some gangsters might be afraid to go to.

Santiago, Chile was a real surprise.  Loved this city.  Loved its vibe, its great attractions and the streets were pretty clean as well.  Yep, this city stays on my list and I could see myself going here permanently.

Rome will always be the place where Mike got pick pocketed.  It will also be the place where we remember that we tried to tell the police more than once what happened and no one cared enough to take a crime report.  It is a shameful and disgusting way to treat tourists and we heard from residents it is pretty much the same for them so why would I ever want to return to this city.  I don’t’ and I won’t.

Torrevieja, Spain is turning into the dog poop capital of the world.  So many expats walk their dogs here and many more dog owners do not pick up the poop that their dogs leave behind.  It is a mine field out there on any given street on any given day.  You can’t look up and enjoy the scenery because you run the risk of stepping in dog poop almost immediately.  There is no block that is not covered in dog poop somewhere.  Frankly, it’s revolting.  There are campaigns and laws on the books now about dog owners being fined for allowing their dogs to poop on the streets and then not picking up that poop.  Not sure what good that does.

So while you think that your city tops the list of one of the most beautiful places on earth to live; next time look at your city as if for the first time and see what tourists might be saying about your city.  It’s not too late to fix those things that might be wrong with it; we haven’t been everywhere yet.  And when we visit we’ll be sure to let you know what we think of your city.  I mean, if I need a pooper scooper to visit your city; I don’t think I’m coming to visit.

Florence Lince

http://www.about.me/florencelince

Look, up in the Sky It’s a Bird, It’s a Plane

Or Where Did That Hang Glider Come From…

During our six week exploration of Chile we went as far south as Ushuaia (the last inhabited city on the continent) and as far north as Iquique.  Iquique is a city that lies past the Atacama Desert in the northern region of the country.  As we drove through the desert trying to make Iquique before nightfall I honestly thought we were driving through the Planet Hoth from the Star Wars trilogy, it was such a desolate and sand filled place and the workers working in the mines were dressed in outfits to deal with the blowing sand that look like they came right out of the movies.

As Mike got closer to the turn off for Iquique I saw a hang glider flying above us.   One had to wonder where he came from when all around us was nothing but sand.  As Mike crested the hill leading into Iquique suddenly the coast line of Chile was before us and we were looking at palm trees and beaches; a real oasis in the middle of the desert.

Iquique looks like the state of Hawaii.  There is a long beach that goes on forever.  There are palm trees and cool ocean breezes which are a constant temperature.  It truly was a paradise.

Iquique, as is most of Chile, is family centric. This beach front goes on for over a mile.

Iquique, as is most of Chile, is family centric. This beach front goes on for over a mile.

Exercise equipment is available on the beach for everyone to use.

Exercise equipment is available on the beach for everyone to use

They have a water park for the kids - free to run and play in

They have a water park for the kids – free to run and play in

They have a petting zoo on the beach filled with all the indigenous animals of the region.

They have a petting zoo on the beach filled with all the indigenous animals of the region

They had a wild animal section filled with koi and turtles and crocodiles

They had a wild animal section filled with koi and turtles and crocodiles

People are always asking Mike and me if we have a favorite city that we would return too to live.  We already know what the other is thinking.  For Mike it would be Pucon (located in southern Chile in the Lakes District), and for me it would be Iquique.  At least we picked the same country…

Florence Lince

http://www.6monthers.com