25 December, 2008

Happy Holidays 2008 Card

Dear family and friends, 

For those of you who don’t already know, the two of us are spending the year abroad in South America. This has completely changed the feeling of this holiday season. Even though we’re taking full advantage of the bike-riding, lake-swimming, sun-tanning weather, we’re missing the snow and luminarios back home, and most of all, missing each and every one of you! So we thought we’d write a letter to let you know we’re missing you and update you on our adventures abroad thus far.
The first two months of our trip we spent in San Alfonso, Chile, a town of smaller than, well, smaller than small. San Alfonso is located 60 kilometers (about 36 miles) Southeast of Santiago, the capital city, in a beautiful canyon called Cajón de Maipo. Living in San Alfonso was always an adventure. Getting groceries each week consisted of two hour long rides on the rather unpredictable (but always entertaining) bus, and doing laundry meant tracking down one of the three or four people in the town who owned washing machines (and paying them an outrageous amount per load).
While in San Alfonso we met an incredible number of amazing people who made our time there, well, AMAZING! We met the Andrade family who rented us our casita, took us rafting, and gave us free range to explore the 3,600 hectares of mountains they owned. We became friends with the family who owned the market where we bought fresh bread daily, and with a wonderful taxi driver named Tito who took us to try our first Mote con Huesillo, a traditional Chilean drink. At the school where she volunteered as an English and dance teacher, Victoria made a number of small friends who called her tía and didn’t seem to notice how slowly and carefully she spoke Spanish. We were even befriended by a number of stray animals, the two most memorable being a pregnant, one-eyed cat (Pirate), and a dog that, if she were human, would be an Olympic runner (Dingbat).
We also mountain bike raced in Chile. Macky raced in four of the Copa Chile races and placed 9th, 7th, 12th, and 9th, respectively, in the Pro category. Victoria raced in the Copa Chile series finals and topped the podium in the Novicio Damas category. It was at these races that we met the “Giant Bicycles Chile” Team. They ended up becoming our adopted Chilean bike team, and the team manager Antonio, his girlfriend Paula, and her daughter Anastasia became our adopted Chilean family! During our last week in Chile we lived with them at their beautiful house in Santiago. 
San Martín de Los Andes, Argentina, where we are currently living, is turning out to be just as wonderful as San Alfonso. In addition to it being stunningly beautiful here, situated on a 15-mile-long lake in the Andes, we have met another group of (you guessed it) amazing people! During our first few days here, a number of people we barely knew helped us find a place to live and introduced us to the town. We quickly became friends with Flavio Bonilauri, the owner of a local bike shop, and his crew. Victoria even found an all girls cycling group that rides together twice a week. 
Argentina has also sharpened our culinary skills. Being used to the diversity of our moms’ delicious home-cooked meals, the shock of cooking for ourselves was just that, shocking! Unable to come up with a different meal for every night, we resorted to alternating between pasta and…pasta. Mind you, we did switch it up a bit; sometimes we ate our pasta with cheese and sometimes with tomato sauce. And sometimes, we even ate it with BOTH! But once we hit San Martín, we decided we had had enough pasta to last a lifetime. With the help of our parents and the Internet we have mastered a whole new smorgasbord of recipes. Among other things, we can now make our own tortillas, refried beans, salsa, breaded chicken, and energy bars!
We hope that this holiday season finds everyone as healthy, happy, and excited about life as we are (if someone less tan)! We are missing everyone back home, and send all of our love and wishes for an awesome 2009! 

Tear up the powder for us! 

With Love,
Macky and Victoria

P.S. We made a “Happy Holidays” slideshow for everyone using some of our favorite pictures from the trip! You can view it here.

Other links:

To see an interactive map of our trip so far, click here.

To see our complete collection of photos, visit our flickr albums.

If you want to read more about our trip from Macky’s point of view, visit his blog (okay, you've clearly already done that). 

…and if you want to read Victoria’s account of the trip, ask if you can borrow her journal or read her poetry when she gets home. 

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