Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Who's Your Dachshund: Stung by a Bee

Dulcinea's story of getting stung by a bee told here.

Inspirational Quote

"All things are possible until they are proved impossible--
and even the impossible may be only so as of now."
~Pearl S. Buck

Tuesday, March 30, 2010


I think part of the reason I have been so exhausted lately is not only thanks to the earthquake which has increased my stress levels by infinite amounts, but also because I have just been overstimulated in general. Besides work being busy with many new contracts and projects coming my way, I've been working on a few of the goals on my 26 by 26 list and had started reading while walking to work. Plans for the new apartment so that someday we can show it off to friends are among the day-to-day to-do list. Then you have the google reader which has over 600 unread items plus emails from family and friends, etc. etc. etc.

Overstimulation = lack of rest = being exhausted + having work pile up = feeling overwhelmed = more stress...and the circle begins again.

So, as part of trying to simplify life until things get back to normal, I have tried to strip as many of the factors contributing to this stimulation as I can. I can't do much for work because well, its work and they pay me to be there. But I have started leaving behind the muli-tasking that I normally do to just focus on one thing at a time. In these times of non-existing concentration, this helps me accomplish tasks much more than changing screens from one thing to the next.

I stopped reading on my walk to and from work. While I love the books I am currently reading, I find I need to just be able to not think while walking to work and let my mind rest. Reading these awesome business books that get me all hyped up about working on my side business do not aid in relaxing at all. I come up with all sorts of ideas and projects for which I just do not have the time right now. Period. I still try to read a bit each evening before bed, but not with the same voraciousness that keeps me going until the book is finished and I have a new to-do list a mile long. I have come to the realization that even if I don't get around to implementing the great ideas presented in these books right now, there will be a place and time when I can implement them.

I follow several business blogs on google reader and they are a big culprit in having over 600 unread posts. But, along with the same logic that it just might not be the time for these ideas, I let them pile up for when I have some downtime and can really read them and extract the important ideas. The one posts I can't pass up are the foodie blogs I follow because I love me some recipes. Finding new recipes to cook is fun for me and definitely helps me forget about everything else when I am focusing on the food. Granted I haven't had much time for cooking...but I still like those food blogs!

While I love to hang out with my friends, many times it is hard to match up our schedules. For a while I would stress over this because I really wanted to hang out with them, but now I am just going to take things bit by bit. If I can't get together with someone for lunch, that is that. No fuss, there is always next week or the week after. And when I do go out, maybe it will just be for a while, not for hours on end. We had a birthday party this weekend and instead of not going at all because we were tired, we went from 10pm-1am. It was tranquilo and when we felt it was time, we left.

I am sure there is more I can do to simplify, but this is a start. I am hoping to start meditating or doing yoga a few times a week to help clear out my mind as well. At least Friday is a holiday in Chile so that means a 3 day weekend. I wish it were 4 days like in Argentina--they get Thursday off too...but I'll take 3 days over the normal 2 any time. We will be heading to Viña to visit with family and friends. It'll be our first time back since the earthquake, kind of crazy. I am hoping to just chill out and not do too much. Long naps and sleeping in sounds perfect to me right now!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Happy 2nd Anniversary to Us!

Today is Christian and my 2nd anniversary!!!

Feliz Aniversario mi amorcito!!!! Te amo con todo mi corazón y ser. Estoy tan feliz de que seas mi esposo. Te mando infinitos besos.

I can't believe it has already been 2 years.....2 wonderful years of marriage!!!

In honor of it, I am re-posting the wedding video that Christian made of our civil ceremony.

The video can be seen here if it doesn't appear above. More picture are also posted here.

Tonight we will be celebrating at Astrid y Gastón....YUM!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

A Wide Array of Emotions

Ever since Feb. 27, 2010, I have been feeling a wide array of very intense emotions. From fear to security, happiness to sadness & anguish, extreme frustration, illogical/irrational thoughts, anger, paranoia, stress, forgetfulness, pure exhaustion, adrenaline...the list could go on. I realize most of these emotions are negative or not all that healthy, but the fact is that is how I have been feeling the past 26 days since the earthquake.

The first two weeks or so I felt like I was walking on pins and needles 24/7. I was lucky to fall asleep at night. I woke up with the slightest movement of the bed. I slept with the lamp on beside my bed, my shoes ready to be slipped on and an emergency bag ready to go. I couldn't concentrate on work. The last thing I wanted to do was be in the office. I could see no point in working when so many people were in need. I was still jumpy with the movement felt at work and longed to be at home with my husband and puppy. After the big aftershocks on the 11th, the panic got stirred up again, but after being able to spend that day home with my family and rest a bit, thing started to look up. Life started to settle down again heading towards normalcy. The aftershocks have lessened, even though they say the biggest one has yet to come.

And although things "feel" and appear normal for the most part, the extreme emotions and stress that I underwent for weeks has had an affect on me. For one, I am exhausted. Every day wipes me out, I get home and want nothing more than to sleep. Even if I do go to bed early, waking up is the hardest part. I think part of it is because it is now pitch black outside at 7am since we didn't change our clocks. I am hoping that when we do change them on April 3rd, waking up will be a bit easier. I am still having problems staying focused. I did some research and apparently that is a side effect of being over stressed. Not only do you lose your focus, but your motivation and patience disappear too. Last week was the perfect example of that. I was thisclose to walking out on my job. I seriously couldn't handle another email from Corp sending some bs request for information that they already had. Completely irrational. I know that. But I couldn't help it and it took all the sanity I had left in me to finish out the week.

Luckily I was able to talk to Christian about feeling so overwhelmed and stressed. He took good care of me this weekend and let me sleep and rest because that is what I needed. I have not been sleeping well at all and I think both my body and mind were at a breaking point last week. There is only so much we can take and running on zero rest for several weeks is just not good. This week has started out much better and I hope it continues on the same path. I have decided that since I really need to focus on relaxing and getting a sufficient amount of rest, I need to try and simplify my life for the time being. No trying to work on the side business I have been wanting to launch. No pressuring myself to finish the books I have on my to-read list or stressing myself out over unnecessary details.

The earthquake has kind of caused an earthquake within myself.....making me take a closer look at my life and question where I am at and where I am going. I am hoping that after having simplifying things, I will be able to get a clearer picture of where I want to go...or rather where Christian and I want to go in life. I just feel like I need to get back to the basics in life--being with those who you love and doing something you love. I have the first part covered, but I need to figure out the second part. And in order to do so, I've got to clear my head and plate. That and hopefully take up some yoga to help relax.

We may not have lost anything important in the earthquake and I am so thankful for that. But it sure has affected me quite a bit and this past month has been anything but easy.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Donations to Red Cross Chile & Un Techo Para Chile

As you all know, our picture sales campaign to raise money for the earthquake relief efforts in Chile ended on Wednesday March 17th at midnight. We have tallied up the results and in total, including our first donation to the Teletón, we raised $655!!!! Thus far surpassing our goal of $500. That means that since the first donation of US $303, we raised another $352. Pretty amazing! Thanks to everyone who bought pictures. All orders have been shipped and we hope you are happy with the pictures.

Christian filmed me making the donations online (thanks to Kyle for the great idea). We split the US $352 (approx. $175,745 CLP) between the Red Cross Chile and Un Techo Para Chile--thus each one received CLP $87,873 (or about $176 USD). Here are the videos (sorry the quality isn't all that great):

If you can't see the Red Cross Chile video, click here.

If you can't see the Un Techo Para Chile video, click here.

And the receipts for the donations:

Red Cross Chile

Un Techo Para Chile

Thanks again everyone!!!!!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

26 by 26

I have had this in the works for a few weeks now as I was waiting for inspiration to finish the list: 26 things I hope to do before turning 26. Since I turn 26 in 8 months, I have included a few things that I have accomplished since turning 25 that way the scope of this list is a full year. Plus they truly are things I have been wanting to do and just never go around to making this list. Things that have been accomplished are in bold and colored pink. So here it goes, items are in no particular order:

1. Raise $500 for the Chile earthquake relief efforts. {Completed March 17, 2010--see more details here}

2. Create an ongoing scholarship for college students at my alma mater.

3. Start exercising at least 30 mintues, 2-3 times per week.

4. Launch side business (including website, business plan and paying clients).

5. Start & finish our wedding photo album/scrapbook.

6. Invite my parents to Chile. {Completed Dec. 21, 2009 when my parents arrived to Santiago}

7. Work on being better at accepting constructive criticism (I have a tendency to think I am always right).

8. Have a weekend get-a-way with Christian, not Dulcinea, at least once.

9. Write LinkedIn recommendations for 5 people.

10. Decide if I will go back to school, for what and when.

11. Make our apartment feel more like our home (& keep it tidier).

12. Train Dulcinea to not pull when walking outside (this means implementing the Gentle Leader my parents sent us).

13. Reformat my computer.

14. Read the following books:
  • I Will Teach You To Be Rich by Ramit Sethi {Completed in January 2010}
  • The E-Myth Revisited by Michael E. Gerber {Completed in February 2010}
  • Escape from Cubicle Nation by Pamela Slim
  • Zen And the Art of Happiness by Chris Prentiss {Completed in January 2010}
  • How to Be, Do, or Have Anything by Laurence Boldt
15. Beef up our emergency savings fund to 3 months of our living expenses.

16. Speak to Christian in English at home so he can practice.

17. Participate in Earth Hour on March 27, 2010. {Completed in March 27, 2010}

18. Work on my fulfilling NSEP requirement at least 1 per week.

19. Watch our wedding video & make a dvd of it (with the help of Christian).

20. Start to do freelance translations. {Completed in January 2010}

21. Cook/bake 1 new recipe per month.

22. Organize all my paperwork in our home office/computer room.

23. Visit the Bellas Artes museum in Santiago.

24. Write and send at least one letter via snail mail to each of my grandparents and Aunt Frieda.

25. Factor contributions to charity into my monthly budget & find a worthy cause to support.

26. Have date night with Christian at least 2 times per month.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Help Chile Before Midnight!

So tonight at midnight our earthquake relief fundraiser ends. That means that you need you buy your picture today if you haven't already!!!

Today also marks the end of the earthquake-only related posts. That is not to say I won't continue to write about the earthquake and aftershocks because these events have affected me and continue to be a part of my life. But it means that I will also start blogging about other things outside of this crazy experience.

I am happy to report that we still have picture sales coming in! We are just shy of the $500 mark and I think we can hit it if those of you who know you want to get a picture do so today! This is very exciting and Christian and I are thrilled that you have all joined to help us help Chile. So thank you to those who have purchased a picture through us or donated in any other way possible. For those of you who are on the end of purchasing--all it takes if $4. The prices of a Starbucks coffee or a Nº. 1 at McDonalds (which might even be more than that). Even with that small of a purchase you help out in a BIG way!

I have added more links the interesting articles about the earthquake in case you feel like reading. I also listed a few other organizations at the end of my post yesterday that are accepting donations to Chile in case you prefer to donate through them.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Links to Interesting Articles about the Earthquake in Chile

I have put together a list of interesting articles that I have come across since the earthquake in Chile on Feb. 27, 2010. I will keep updating this post and leave a link to it in the side bar to the right.

Email: More earthquakes (or as they call them, aftershocks)

Hi Everyone,

Here we are 18 days after the massive 8.8 earthquake that rocked our Chilean world.  Things have calmed down, but almost in an eerie way.  I say eerie because last week things were starting to feel normal and then BOOM, on Thursday we had 3 huge aftershocks....that each qualify for earthquakes in themselves.  It happened right as the Presidents were changing from Michelle Bachelet to Sebastián Piñera, around 11:40am--first a 6.9 grade quake in the Rancagua region of Chile (just an hour or so outside of Santiago).  Did I mention it lasted for 40 seconds?  I was at work, on the 3rd floor of our building.  Normally we don't feel tremors unless they are strong and let me tell you...we sure felt it!  The windows and walls were sounding and honestly it made me flash back to that terrible morning of Feb. 27th. Then just 15 minutes later another one struck--this time 6.7 grade in the same epicenter.  By this time I was already outside of my building with a few coworkers.  We had left as soon as the first quake was over.  Then 10 minutes later, a THIRD quake....this time "only" a grade 6.  Let me tell you how unnerving it is to be outside and feel the ground beneath you move.  The ground which you have been taught and experienced to be solid for all of your life, which suddenly turns into a liquid-like state.  Needless to say, I was not very calm on Thursday.  We all left work for our homes and I tried to relax as much as I could once I knew Christian didn't have to go back to work.  

From Friday on, things were looking up though.  The whole weekend I didn't feel any aftershocks.  One of my good friends got married and life was again starting to feel normal.  Then Sunday night at 8:43pm the whole country experienced a blackout that lasted from 1 hour 15 minutes in some areas, to over 3 hours in other places.  The blackout wasn't product of seismic activity, but is most likely a result of damages to the transmission system thanks to the first earthquake.  We were safe and thankfully there weren't any aftershocks during the time our power was out.  That was what I was most worried about.  Again, normality seems to creep back and then be thrown out of the window.  Which is why it is eerie again....I am waiting for the next big aftershock (read: another earthquake) they have predicted--it will be over a grade 7, most likely a grade 7.5 according to the experts.  They find it not normal that we haven't had one this big since the original quake because due to the 8.8 magnitude, we are due for something in the 7-grade range.  That worries me a bit (or a lot maybe).  Grade 7 is strong.  Since the Richter scale is exponential, a jump from one number to the next is a lot.  According to this site (and others I have seen), each order of magnitude release around 31.6 times more energy than the previous magnitude.  If you the recent example of comparing the Haiti (grade 7) and Chile quakes (grade 8.8), the Chile quake had 63 times as much ground movement and released 500 times more energy.  So going from our 6 grade aftershocks (or less, most have been in the 4s and 5s) to something in the 7 range is a lot of movement.

So here we are, two days into the work week.  Business in Santiago is back to normal.  Sometimes I even feel like people have forgotten there was a massive earthquake and people are still without homes.  But then I see Red Cross collection sites for food, blankets and other items or hear about another benefit being put on to raise money to help those in need.  Our municipality is also collecting items to send down south.  It makes me happy to know Christian and I aren't the only ones still worrying about those people.  It is kind of a catch-22 the whole thing: we have to continue to work and make sure the economy stays strong so that the country can help those people rebuild and recover.  But there is also a great need to get housing rebuilt before winter hits.  In fact, the government decided not to change our clocks this past weekend to allow for more hours of sunlight.  They delayed the change to April 3rd.  

I would like to take a moment to remind you that our picture sales fundraiser is still going on through Wednesday March 17th at midnight.  All profits are going to the Red Cross Chile and Un Techo Para Chile ("A Roof for Chile", which is similar to Habitat for Humanity).  We will be sending out the receipts of the donations made to these organizations after March 17th.  If you don't want a picture but still want to help out, there are several other organizations raising money:
Also, a BIG thanks to everyone who has donated either through sending funds to an organization or buying pictures from us!  We appreciate the support you have shown to Chile!

Tyffanie & Christian (& Dulcinea)

Monday, March 15, 2010

Time (did not) Change in Chile

Just as in the U.S., Chile was scheduled to change its clock this weekend--although in the opposite direction.  The Northern Hemisphere is entering into its summer schedule while we were supposed to be entering into our winter schedule.  However, thanks to the earthquake the time change was delayed until April 3rd.  Be careful with your electronic devices that update the time automatically (computers and some cell phones).  See article in Spanish here or basic information in English here.


Nationwide Blackout

Don't forget to buy one (or more) of Christian's pictures and donate to Chile through that purchase!!! See this post for more information!!! All funds raised through March 17th will be donated to Red Cross Chile and Un Techo Para Chile!!!

Last night, at 8:43pm in Chile, while we were skyping with my parents, the electricity went out. At first, I thought it was just parts of Santiago, but we soon realized that it was a nationwide blackout where 90% of the population in Chile lost power (thanks to the radio I listened to on Christian's mp4 player). Luckily we bought a flashlight after the earthquake and had that to find out way around the apartment. Our building has an emergency generator so the light in the hallway was on. We opened up the door and hung out close to it as to not waste the batteries in the flashlight. Turns out the whole Central Interconnected System (Sistema Interconectado Central, or SIC, as we know it in Chile) was down. This is the principal transmission system in Chile and the outage reached from the 2nd region in the north all the way to Chiloe island. All I can say is thank goodness I work at an energy generation company (we do not have distribution services) because I understood all the technical jargon being said over the radio by the head of the ONEMI, CEO of Chilectra and other high-up energy executives.

At first, I--plus probably a large majority of the population--though the outage was product of another aftershock. It wasn't thankfully. Although I was worried we would have one during the time the power was out. The outage was due to a 500 kV transformer in the Charrua Substation in the 8th region overheating. Although the authorities have not confirmed this, it was most likely a result of damage produced by the earthquake. The transmission system in Chile was damaged during the earthquake, and although there are high security standards to be maintained on the system, getting energy to the most affected zones in the South has been the priority over fixing the t-systems which are working, even though not up to standards. I agree with that decision. It was absolutely necessary to get energy back to Concepción and the Maule Region before trying to fix the transmission system so that it meets the high standards. The repairs could take months and obviously these areas needed energy ASAP.

We unplugged everything, as per typical procedure. This must be done with blackouts because when the energy turns back on, it could have a higher voltage which could fry your electronic devices. The cell phones had died as well--typically in any crisis situation in Chile (cell phone service sucks). But the house phones, or líneas fijas, were working. I called my parents with a phone card to let them know we were ok and the power was out. Didn't want them thinking there was another earthquake or something. Christian then decided it was time to be a photographer and took this awesome picture (inserted below). I stayed with Dulcinea, listening to the radio by the door. Luckily, power came back to Providencia around 10pm so it wasn't terribly long for us. But others in Chile had to wait until past midnight or later for the power to return. Article in Spanish can be found here.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

12 Days After the Earthquake

Don't forget to buy one (or more) of Christian's pictures and donate to Chile through that purchase!!! See this post for more information!!! All funds raised through March 17th will be donated to Red Cross Chile and Un Techo Para Chile!!! We only need a bit more to reach our $500 goal, but of course, we want to far surpass that goal!
It has been 12 days since the 8.8 grade earthquake that literally rocked our world. My nerves have begun to calm down and although I am not as stressed out as before, I sure am exhausted as all heck. I tried to relax during the weekend, but still didn't get much sleep as we had an awesome wedding to go to on Saturday night. One of my good friends was getting married and no earthquake was gonna stop her! Both her and groom looked smokin' hot (as you can see in the pictures) and we had a great time celebrating with them.

That said, I was tired even beginning the week on Monday. Last night I came home and did nothing--drank some wine, ate some Nutella, all while watching episodes of The Big Bang Theory. Then I did something I haven't done in a few weeks: go to bed by 10pm. That definitely helped me recuperate, but then I had a crappy & stressful day at work so whatever I recuperated was once lost again. I will stop complaining now, because I could be way worse off--I could not have a house or a job or food like some of the people who lost everything in the earthquake & tsunami. And with that, here are some other updates regarding life after the terremoto:
  • Our gas got turned back on this past Thursday after a careful revision by the gas company. That meant we could take hot showers and cook again. We hadn't turned in the keys to our old apartment and were going over there to shower since the gas wasn't affected there.
  • The elevator got fixed last Friday....hooray! Not that climbing 11 flights of stairs wasn't good for my legs and my lungs, but let's just face the fact that having an elevator makes life just a bit sweeter.
  • The aftershocks continue. Some days there are a ton and some days barely any. In fact, since about Friday, I hadn't been feeling many at all, which has greatly helped my nerves calm down. But they keep coming. Last night there were two stronger yet shorter ones. Sometimes I wonder if I am not feeling them because I just feel like everything is moving all of the time. Seriously. When I am at work I constantly think there is a tremor, I feel the ground (or rather my desk/building) and see vibrations in things. I think that is why I have missed the real tremors that there have body has converted to making me thing there are tremors all the time!
  • Two of our really good friends moved back to the US. :( We are happy for them, of course...but sad for us! Their original flight got delayed after the earthquake and they got put on another flight on Sunday. I got word from them on Monday that everything went well.
  • I am SO glad today is Wednesday and that this work week is almost over. I have been stressed out at work all week and don't necessarily foresee an end to that. I have been working on the same project all week with a million changes coming from all angles. Ugf! It has been so frustrating. I just want to move on to my other projects.
  • We have another wedding to attend this weekend! This is very exciting. Another one of my good friends is getting married to her Chilean novio so more fiesta fiesta is coming up.
Not much else is new. There is only 1 week left in the picture sales campaign that we have put together so please please please buy your pictures now! Help us help Chile!!!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Buin Community Cheers on Caravan of Aid Trucks Heading South

Don't forget to buy one (or more) of Christian's pictures and donate to Chile through that purchase!!! See this post for more information!!! All funds raised through March 17th will be donated to Red Cross Chile and Un Techo Para Chile!!!

Christian found this video on Youtube of the whole community of Buin cheering on the caravan of aid trucks heading down south last night after the Teletón had doubled the amount of money it intended to raise. It's SO amazing to see how united and excited everyone is that we raised approx. $60 million dollars to aid the relief efforts!!!! It just gives me the chills!!!

Donation to La Teletón

**Updated with more pictures of actually going to make the donation yesterday.**

The Santander Bank teamed up with Banco de Chile for the Teletón. All branches were open, some the full 24 hours, and others just very extended hours. Above is the Santander branch that we went to in Providencia.

Here I am, being Vanna White by the Teletón sign before going in to make our big donation!

As promised, here is the receipt from the donation we made yesterday to La Teletón:

$151,650 Chilean pesos is approximately $303.30 US dollars!!! So awesome!!! Thanks for the support everyone. This includes the funds raised from the picture sales from March 3rd to March 5th.

The fundraiser will keep going until March 17th. Our goal is to raise a total of at least $500 dollars, if not more. The rest of the donations will go to Red Cross Chile and Un Techo Para Chile.

In other news, La Teletón was EXTREMELY successful this year. The program, which lasted 24 hours, was hosted by Don Francisco (of the "Sábado Gigante" show), had a goal of raising $15,000,000,000 Chilean pesos (approx. US $30 million dollars). The actual amount raised was DOUBLE that number......yes, all of Chile, famous people from all over the world (Evo Morales from Bolivia, Juanes, etc.) plus those of you who participated through other programs to donate helped Chile raise $60 million dollars in relief aid!!!!!

Last night we went to the wedding of some friends here and apart from being so happy to celebrate with them, it touched me that the groom made a toast sharing the news of El Teletón to all of us attending and letting us know how much it has touched him. In fact, his parents were in one of the coastal towns completely wiped away, but they were safe and at the wedding. He was very grateful for that, as I am sure you can imagine. It just goes to show, what an amazing couple they are, to be thinking about others on their important day.

Bottom line.....keep up the help!!!! Even the smallest purchase helps in a big way :)

Friday, March 5, 2010

To stay or to leave....that is the question

Don't forget to buy one (or more) of Christian's pictures and donate to Chile through that purchase!!!  See this post for more information!!!  All funds raised through midnight tonight will be donated to El Teletón!!!

Many people are probably wondering why, for those of us who can, we don't get the H.E.double-hockey-sticks-out-of-Chile now that we have survived one of the worst earthquakes in history and to avoid risking another.  I know I have family and friends who have asked me, and even Chileans who ask me what I think about Chile (if I continue to like living here, etc.).  

One one level, I can understand that.  My nerves would probably love for us to move away as long as we didn't move to an earthquake-stricken place in the States.  And the thought has crossed my mind, like as if this were a sign that we should go back.  But a big part of me doesn't want to go, not yet.  In some crazy way, I feel more connected to this country.  Some other foreigners have mentioned they feel more "in love" with Chile than before.  I don't know if I can phrase it that same way, but the emotional connection I have to this country, its people and its culture is so much stronger than ever before.  One of my colleagues even said "Ahora sí puedes considerarte casi chilena después de haber vivido con nosotros el terremoto" ("Now you can consider yourself almost Chilean after having lived through an earthquake with us").  And in some way that is I have permanent residency and so I have all the rights as any citizen, minus voting and being the President.  That is beside the point though.  I don't know what it is about having lived through this natural disaster that makes one feel this way, but perhaps you can relate to how you felt about the US after September 11, 2001.  It is a togetherness that ones feels, because united we can stand up to anything and in the face of natural disasters, we need all the strength we can get.  

Chile needs us to stay here,  to keep providing help to everyone displaced in the earthquake, to keep investing money into the country and quite honestly, natural disaster aside, I do love Chile.  Yes, there are a million little things that irk me, cultural differences that although I am aware of them and understand where they come from, I will never be able to accept.  I know that Christian and I could make more money in the US, we would be closer to my family, we would be probably be able to travel to Chile more often,....but the truth is, I enjoy my life here.  We have a new fantastic apartment (despite having to climb 11 flights of stairs since our elevator is still out of service....although it sure is good exercise!).  We have great friends, good jobs, and a million other little things that make life enjoyable.  I am, and always will be, torn between living in Chile or the US because both have good and bad aspects, and I will always miss the other one, but for now, I like our life in Chile.  

Chile also needs people to keep coming in as tourists, maybe not right at this moment, but in the future, the tourism shouldn't stop.  It is a beautiful country with everything you could ask for--desert, glaciers, mountains, the beach, beauty that can only be understood when looking up, in person, at Los Cuernos ("The Horns") in the Torres del Paine National Park for example.  The wine industry needs you to keep buying Chilean wine.  Matt from El Cochaguino explains the importance of continued tourism in Chile and its effects of helping rebuild the country, which President Michelle Bachelet has estimated will take at least 3 years.

So what is the verdict you might ask?  For now, we will stay here.  My parents and family might not like that answer too much, but this past weekend's events have not pushed us from this country, but rather made us (or at least me) feel closer to it.  Of course we know that life changes unexpectedly and our plans could change.  I guess that is the excitement of life, seeing what it has in store for us.

I want to encourage you to help out Chile in any way you can--if you don't want a one of Christian's pictures, then please donate to one of the other causes:

Anyone wishing to donate to relief aid in Chile can donate to Cruz Roja (Chilean Red Cross), the international bank account information is: 
Checking Account Nº 9941973331
Code ABA:021000089
Address: 153 east 53 Rd. Street 4th floor. New York, Ny 10022

Another gringa friend who is a photographer is also selling her images & donating profits to El Teletón, perhaps you want one of hers, check out this post for more information!

And a BIG thanks to those of you who have already supported a cause with a donation or picture purchase.

El Teletón Starts Tonight--Juanes Confirms his Attendence

Don't forget to buy one (or more) of Christian's pictures and donate to Chile through that purchase!!! See this post for more information!!! All funds raised through midnight tonight will be donated to El Teletón!!!!

Chile ayuda a Chile

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Emotionally Exhausted

Don't forget to buy one (or more) of Christian's pictures and donate to Chile through that purchase!!!  See this post for more information!!!  We'll be adding some more images soon!  

Yesterday was a difficult day.  I spent most of it angry or on the verge of tears and feeling useless.  I had to return to work (ur building was inspected and there is no structural damage), but really it was the last thing I wanted to be doing.  Now don't get me wrong, under normal circumstances I really enjoy my work.  I like the people who I work with and I have been getting some cool projects to work on.  However, in the midst of a natural disaster that has left thousands in my adopted country without homes, food, clean water and in some cases, is the absolute last thing I feel inclined to do.  I find accounting absolutely irrelevant in the face of catastrophe.  Of course, I understand that our power plants and plant employees must continue to work in order to generate energy for the country, but accounting....really?....I is not important right now.  I feel completely silly asking people for information to meet deadlines that our corporate office has placed on us, when god knows this country is suffering.  What is important is helping the relief effort in any way possible.  I don't care if it means going shopping for food and clothes to send to those most affected, it if means volunteering to accept donations, or even going south to help sort through the rubble.  I have been so torn between feeling this strong need to be helping and not being able to because I have to go to work.  Yesterday was a day of distractions....conversations with coworkers, bracing ourselves for the strong aftershocks that we felt, examining the emergency exists, and trying to cross at least one thing off of the to-do list.  Once the idea dawned on me to sell Christian's photography and once we decided that it was a great idea, I felt much better.  I had a plan and a goal to get the website up and running, get out a mass email and get people to buy pictures for the sake of helping Chile.  It helped a little to focus on work, but even today, my concentration levels are practically null.  

It doesn't help that physically and emotionally I am stressed out.  I try to not stress, but it is almost impossible not to.  The small replicas ("aftershocks") don't bother me so much, it is the stronger & longer lasting ones, the ones where the walls start to sound and they seem never-ending, that make my heart race.  I can instantly feel shots of adrenaline in my system as my body prepares for fight or flight mode.  For 2.5 years, with each tremor, I have remained calm and waited for the shaking to stop.  But after Saturday's experience, I don't know if I'll ever be able to not become altered when the shaking begins.  The 8.8 earthquake began just like any other tremor--a slight shaking I expected to end within 20 or 30 seconds.  But it didn't.  It turned into 3 minutes of what seemed like the world turning upside-down, with deafening sounds wiping my mind thoughtless.  And so when the shakes and sounds start body innately reacts in a similar manner.  Yes, I am more aware now.  Yes, I know to take cover.  Yes, I know to not to try and escape while there are movements.  Yes, I know that aftershocks are expected and that they supposedly they be as strong....but instincts just don't work off of assumptions.  

The other problem??  Being away from home and my family--this increases the worry, wondering if they are ok, where they are, if they are acting in the correct manner and are safe.  I know I can't stay at home with my family forever, that isn't realistic, but even just for the week would be helpful.  Poor little Dulcinea is home alone today and I just hope there aren't any aftershocks while we are at the office....the poor thing gets really scared and I can't imagine how she would be alone on the 11th floor.  I really don't want to come home to my puppy having a heart attack.

Last night there was strong (6.1) aftershock off the coast in Valparaíso.  I don't know the exact magnitude that was felt in Santiago, but it was strong and lonnnnnggg.  It was also at like 11pm when most people were trying to go to bed.  Then it was followed by two other aftershocks and my nerves were just rattled.  I couldn't go to bed until like 12:30am which I was finally able to relax a bit.  I still sleep with a lamp on in the room, and maybe you might thing that is exaggerated, but it helps me sleep a bit better.  Needless to say I didn't sleep very well last night....nor have I since the earthquake....and getting up for work this morning was difficult.

Work is going a smidgen better today.  I have actually been able to cross some things off of my to-do list, but I think a bit part of this is due to the fact that Christian and I have figured out an additional way to help.  It is helpful to know that while I have to be at work, people can and should be buying pictures for a good cause.  It is really a win-win situation...the buyer gets an awesome picture and Chile gets money to help rebuild what was lost.  And I guess with that I will close....


Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Help Out Chile....and get something for yourself!!!

We are still doing fine after the 8.8 grade earthquake that struck Chile on February 27th at approx. 3:30am. There have been over 170 aftershocks, most small but some quite strong. Thankfully our family and friends are all ok, even though our nerves continue to be tested with the aftershocks. We consider ourselves to be VERY lucky in that we still have an apartment to live in, food to eat and water to drink. Many people further south and on coastal cities lost everything. They were barely able to leave their houses and head for higher ground before the tsunami came and washed everything away. Watching the news and talking to people has been devastating. You see these kinds of thinks on TV, such as the earthquake & tsunami of 2004 or that of Haiti in January, and it seems so surreal. Then it happens to you or someone close to you, and while on some level it is still surreal, the truth is that it shakes you to your core. I cannot believe the state of crisis that exists in Concepción and the other towns. It blows my mind to see the pictures and hear of people displaced from their homes, not to mention then being robbed by theives who are taking advantage of the situation.

Christian and I have been trying to help out in any way we can, despite the fact we still have to work this week. Yesterday we took bags of clothes, personal hygene products and food to a donation site in Vitacura. It was amazing to see what everyone has donated. We are also donating money through my company, which is matching donations, and the money will go directly to the workers of our power plants down south who have lost everything. However, we just don't feel that is enough. So we had another in which you can all participate to not only help out Chile, but to also get something pretty darn cool out of it yourselves.

We have decided to sell prints of some of Christian's photography. Pictures of Argentina, Chile, Colorado, the aftermath of the earthquake here, Dachshund puppies, and more. All profits made from the sales will be donated to the earthquake relief efforts. Whatever is sold between now and this Friday, March 5th will be donated to El Teletón (The Telethon, which is a huge fundraising campaign that is performed annually in Chile for the disabled, however the organization has decided to put on a special telethon just for the earquake and it will be Friday starting at 10pm). The rest of the profits made between March 5th and March 17th will be donated to the Red Cross Chile and to Un Techo Para Chile ("A Roof for Chile"). These organizations are crucial to rebuilding Chile and we know they money will be put to good use.

How does it work? It is simple:
  • Visit the website:
  • View the different galleries available and pick your favorite pictures. You can choose from a variety of print sizes.
  • When you view your Shopping Cart before checking out, make sure the images look ok in the little icon. You can crop and adjust the images to make sure the whole image is included in the print size you want. You can add borders, etc. as well. Please do not forget to review this before checking out. We cannot be responsible for images that get cut off due to the print size ordered but not adjusted properly.
  • Click Checkout and follow the instructions regarding shipping, payment, etc. Payments can be made with Visa, Mastercard and AmericanExpress.
  • Done! Now you too have aided in rebuilding Chile and scored yourself some awesome pictures!
We will be posting the total of funds gathered to donate as well as the receipts of donations after the two week period ends here on the blog.

Please take the opportunity to pass on this information to anyone you know so that we have the chance of donating as much money as possible. This was the 7th largest earthquake in recorded history and it is going to take a lot of help to get Chile back to where it needs to be.

We really appreciate you taking your time and helping us out! Any questions that you may have, feel free to send us an email at christianbphotography[at]gmail[dot]com.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

My tale of the earthquake in Chile on February 27, 2010--part 1

Those were the longest and scariest three minutes of my life. Not that the fear stopped only after 3 minutes, it has continued on for days, albeit not as strong, but just as present.

My husband, dog and I had just moved into a new apartment in Santiago, on the 11th (and top) floor of a building in Providencia the previous weekend. We decided to travel to Viña del Mar, a coastal city approximately 2 hours west of the capital city of Santiago, Chile to visit my in-laws for the weekend. We normally go about once per month and hadn’t had time to travel for a while, plus we had plans to say goodbye to a friend moving back to Europe permanently and see the new baby of another friend. It was to be a busy weekend.

We left Santiago on Friday night after packing and loading the car. When we arrived in Viña around 10pm on Friday February 26th the streets were packed—it was the last weekend of the famous International Song Festival of Viña del Mar and thousands of people were in town to attend the concerts. Plus, it was the last weekend of summer vacation here in Chile and people were squeezing in every last minute before the vuelta to reality.

When we arrived at my in-laws, an apartment on the 2nd floor of a building in the “plan” of Viña (the plan refers to the flat part of Viña). The plan was to watch the Festival on TV for a bit before going to bed. However, I was exhausted from a long weekend and had forgotten my glasses in Santiago. Thus, once I took out my contacts, which were killing my eyes, I could no longer see anything past the length of my arm. So to bed I went. Christian watched Festival a bit and then joined me in bed with our beloved puppy, Dulcinea.

Now, let me give you a bit of background on my experience with Chile’s seismic activity. I felt my first tremor in 2006 about 2 months after my study abroad program started. I was in the 2nd story of our program’s house in Viña and thought it was so cool to feel a tremor. I mean, this was completely new to me as in Colorado we have no tremors. I remember the director of our program telling everyone to calm down and explaining how tremors are versus earthquakes. She said that if it is going to be an earthquake, the tremor starts out small and starts to build strength. She also said that most tremors only last a short time (maybe 30 seconds) so if the shaking lasts longer than that, one should prepare for the worst. At the time she explained all of this, I didn’t quite care. I enjoyed the little shake and never thought that I would be part of an earthquake in a million years. It wasn’t until many months later, when I was serious with Christian, that I began to worry that these little shakes every once in a while could turn into something more. I think it was the fear of losing this person I love so much or not being with him when a disaster struck. So pretty much ever since then, I worry a bit when there are tremors. At night, I wake up Christian when I feel them and once they pass we go back to sleep.

That is exactly what happened this past weekend around 3:30am on Saturday February 27th, 2010. I started feeling the apartment shake and woke up Christian. Dulcinea was at our feet and woke up and started barking. Christian started to hug me and wait for the tremor to stop (as it normally would), only it didn’t. Instead, it got really strong. The furniture appeared to be possessed. Dulcinea jumped onto my lap shaking more than the ground beneath us. I thought a whole was opening up in the earth and would swallow us whole. I couldn’t believe what was happening and wondered when it would stop. Christian tried to hold up the shelving unit in the room where we were while also holding on to me and Dulci. In hindsight, we should have put ourselves in the door frame, but we stayed in the bed hoping the nightmare would end. It was already dark, but the electricity went out and that is when Christian knew this was serious business. I honestly don’t remember much of what I was thinking other than "holy shit". Plain and simple.

Once the shaking stopped we got up to see if everyone else was ok. My sister-in-law was crying and my in-laws were in bed scared as well. However they were alive and without injuries, just as the three of us and that was the most important thing. I couldn’t see anything thanks to not having my glasses. It was almost a full moon out and thus some light entered through the windows. Christian immediately ordered everyone to get dressed. We had to get out of the apartment and get to higher ground asap. We had no idea where the epicenter of the earthquake was and didn’t want to run any risks of possible tsunamis hitting us. I managed to put in my contacts in the dark, find my clothes and necessary items and get Dulcinea bundled up with two sweaters. My body was shaking even though adrenaline was running high. I could barely stand, but had to in order to get our stuff and go. We took some blankets, toilet paper and bottled water with us and headed towards the car. There are designated escape routes in the event of tsunamis in Viña which were developed after the tsunami in 2004. We followed the route which took us up to the hills of Viña, and were joined by many other cars. Instead of stopping we decided to head towards Santiago, hoping to find some place along the highway with no poles, trees and more open space. We ended up at the police station right outside of Curauma which had an open parking lot. It was a smart place to go. Not only did we not have to worry about poles falling on the car, the police station had a generator and therefore lights and bathrooms in addition to the information that the police themselves could give us.

We stayed in the car far from the city until daylight struck, around 7:15am, when we decided to head back to the apartment. It was almost 4 hours after the earthquake had hit, we knew the epicenter was near Concepción some 200 miles south and that there was no danger of a tsunami according to the confirmations by the Chilean army. We had felt several aftershocks while in the car, but they felt like a big truck had driven close by the car. We heard on the radio that there had been some strong ones, I guess the car absorbed most of the movement.

As we got back to Viña, we could see roads that had large cracks in them, roof tiles or other parts of houses that had fallen off and right by my MIL’s apartment, the streets were flooded as the water pipes below ground had broken. The electricity was out and the phones were dead. The water that came out of the pipes was now brown. The majority of things had been thrown to the floor in the apartment. Vases broken, a sliding glass window on the balcony fallen over but not shattered thankfully, lamps on the floor and all the plants on the balcony dumped over (see pictures below). Only material things lost. Nothing compared to the lives that could have been lost.

Photo by me

We tried to call our family members who were dispersed in various cities that had been hit—Rancagua, Linares and Temuco. I also tried to call my parents despite the fact it was 4am in Colorado. We found out our family in Rancagua was ok. We had no word from Temuco or Linares and it was a joke trying to call internationally. Duclinea stayed in my arms for the rest of the day. We were both on edge, as was everyone else, especially when an aftershock rippled through the apartment, causing us to jump to our feet and our hearts to race. By 10am, it felt like 8pm at night....we were exhausted. We hadn’t slept since 3:30am, we hadn’t eaten and we had no idea what to do with ourselves at that point...

Monday, March 1, 2010

Email: March 1, 2010 10:49am (Chile time)

Subject: The Start of day 3

Hi everyone,

Just wanted to send another update to let you all know we are doing well. Night #2 went much smoother and thankfully we were able to sleep better.

Yesterday when I sent the email, we were heading to the supermarket. Luckily it was early meaning that it wasn't yet packed, although it was already busy, and that there was food left. We got food that doesn't need to be cooked or necesarrily heated up. Yogurt, lunch meats, canned tuna, cereal, things of that sort. By the time we were in line waiting, the store was packed and no bagged bread was even on the shelves. Luckily Chile is known for its homemade bread and the store, plus many other small bakeries, kept on baking bread. We then went to a small market to get some bottled watter and a different store for some veggies. I can't say enough just how lucky we are to even have a place to sleep, electricity and water working and be able to have money to even buy things from the grocery store. Credit cards aren't working much, although Christian was able to put gas in the car with the visa. My mother-in-law luckily had a stash of cash at home and lent us money since we don't know when the ATMs and bank services will be up and running again. We shouldn't need money for anything else now that we have food, but since you never know it is better to have money with you.

After the grocery store, we had lunch. My mother-in-law's kitchen has an electric oven so we were able to bake some chicken. We baked extra so that we could bring it to Santiago with us. Pretty much after lunch we made our way home. Two of our friends were also in Viña saying goodbye to their family there because they had a flight to the USA tonight to move there permanently. They won't be flying out today since the airport is closed and my friend told me they got tickets for next Sunday. But they were trying to get back to Santiago via bus and luckily we were able to get ahold of them before we left Viña to give them a ride. It sure made the 2 hour drive back to Santiago feel much shorter.

The highway from VIña to Santiago is fine. We had no problems or obstacles along the way. Once we took the Costanera Norte highway entering Santiago, to get to Providencia, that is where there were some issues, but nothing that stopped us from getting home. See, that highway has a lot of bridges and overpasses, and the first bridge we crossed, there was a guy telling us to practically stop and go suppppper slow over the bridge. Why? Well because on each end it has separated a bit and the cracks were covered with large sheets of metal. The rest of the bridges mostly had new bumps in the road over which we had to drive slowly as well. Once we got into Providencia it was almost like nothing had happened. You couldn't see much damage to the buildings at all. Some of the old houses, which are few, did have visable damage like roof tiles broken, windows broken etc. There is a church in Providencia which was pretty damaged, but we didn't see it. We did see some other churches with the stained glass broken and some of the decorative structure broken.

We got to our apartment and you couldn't tell anything had happened from outside. The elevators weren't working and still aren't so let me tell you how fun it was to climb 12 flights of stairs to the 11th floor (our parking in underground). I can't complain much as I did it only twice whereas Christian has done it about 6 times. When we opened the door we found pretty much everything on the floor. The wine glasses I had put on the new shelving unit in the living room were shattered, all but 4 which somehow made it through. The other small shelving unit with the phone and misc. items was on its face. All our clothes had fallen from the closet and the closet doors are a bit broken. Neither of the lamps broken in our room even though they were on the floor. In our computer room, the standing closet had one of its doors on the ground. Our LCD TV which was connected to a computer and used as both a TV and computer, was hanging by its cables from the desk. Somehow, it is also working perfectly, which is helpful in writing you this email. The guest room suffered the drawers falling over and marking the wall a bit and the windows opened by themselves. The bed moved a good foot from the wall but nothing more than that. The kitchen suffered the worst. The computer we used as a server to connect the webcams to see Dulcinea during the day, crashed to the ground (it was above the cubboards). The microwave which was on top of the fridge, fell behind it. The light on the ceiling fell off, although the light bulbs are still there. Some small plates from inside of the cabinet fell out and shattered. Our little laundry room was almost impossible to open thanks to the ironing board which had jarred it shut. But christian finally got it open and we were able to get the broom and other items to clean up the floors. During the time we were cleaning I had to lock DUlcinea in her travel home as it was too dangerous for her to be walking around with glass on the floor. You can see pictures of all of this on Christian's album. I will be getting pictures of the highway bridge incidents up later. You will also see how our building was built in the pictures--in 3 separate partes with space in between as to allow for movement. They have been like that forever, they were just covered up with metal pieces or sheet rock, which fell off after the quake. So now we can see the building in front of us from the crack or the floor below us where the separation exists. But it is to accomodate the movement and no structural damage has happened to the building because of it.

I got word that I don't have to go to work until Wednesday which was a big relief because it gives me time to finish cleaning and organizing the mess. Plus I am just not ready to be separated from Christian and Duclinea. I know we are lucky and that what we experienced is nothing in comparison to those in Concepción or other cities further south, but each aftershock makes my heart race and Dulcinea is definitely altered. She knows something is wrong. Last night she felt an aftershock while she was alone in the bedroom and she went running all over the house and into her travel crate. She was frightened. Christian may have to go to work later today or tomorrow, but I will try to keep him home as long as I can! We all slept well last night, which was much needed. I only woke up once or twice and was able to go back to sleep quickly. During the night I don't think I felt any aftershocks. Before we went to bed there was one and this morning around 9:30am there was another. Thankfully they feel pretty smooth and not very strong in the apartment. I am not sure if that is because they are less intense than some of the other ones we have had or because of our building, but either way it is helpful. In fact, when Dulcinea felt one last night, I had no idea it happened. I was texting my boss back confirming I had received her message and was pacing the floor. At one point I almost lost my balance but I thought it was cuz i was going in circles, however it could have been thanks to the aftershock. Christian only told me after that there was one, as to not freak me out.

The plan for today is to make some breakfast--bread with avocado and lunch meat. Then I think we will continue to straighten up the house and look for clothes that we don't need. I want to gather as much stuff as I can to send down South to the places where people lost everything but the clothes on their backs. I have WAY too much clothes as it is and I know we will have stuff to send. I am not sure which organization will be collecting clothes but I prefer to have it ready to go. For those of you who are interested in helping out, I looked online and found the following links with information about organizations who are helping:

Anything will help. Even $5, that is just a Venti Starbucks Frap that you would be giving up. I am going to investigate if groups will be travelling down to help rebuild, I think that would be cool to take part in. We'll have to see though. I just want to help as much as I can. The pictures and news are devastating. Concepción doesn't have much left and it was the 2nd largest city in Chile. Granted, I think the construction was not as anti-sismic as in Santiago plus the strength of the earthquake just flattened and destroyed many things. The tsunami wave that hit within 15 minutes of the quake obliterated what was left as well.

A fellow foreigner who is a scientist of some sort, sent out some cool links to map the different aftershocks and quake. This link shows an actual map with points of where epicenters have been and when it took place. This link has a list, starting with the 8.8 grade quake, listing all of the aftershocks, their stregnthen, epicenter and time. As you can see there have been a ton!

Well I think that is enough for now. I am so glad my friends and family, both immediate and extended, are all ok.

Thanks for thinking of us. We really appreciate it!

Email: February 28, 2010 9:15am (Chile time)

Subject: We made it through the night

Hi everyone,
Just wanted to let you know we made it though the night. There were several aftershocks and I was awake about every two hours, but I still managed to sleep. We aren't sure if we are going back today or not. We talked to the people in our building and there isn't any gas, so we won't be able to cook or have hot water. There is electricity and water according to them, but I wonder how much water b/c not a lot got to our shower anyway hahaha. I prefer to stay here, but I feel like we need to go home to see what damage is there and throw away the rotting food in the fridge/freezer. We asked the conserje to turn off the electricity just to be safe this morning when we talked to him. Right now we are eating breakfast and are going to go to the supermarket to stock up on food. There isn't any gas at bernarda's house either because they are worried there might be leaks in the building, but at least the water has better pressure and we are more together. With every aftershock Bernarda freaks out and tries to leave. Most aftershocks don't bother me, just the longer ones. There was a long one this morning that was scary.

Last night I made them shut off the TV because the news make things so much scarier. I know it is bad down south and in other areas but watching it repeatedly makes me nervious. I prefer to live in a bit more ignorace than leave the TV on.

I still can't believe we were in one of the worst earthquakes in the world. One news article, in WSJ or BBC, said it was tied for the 5th largest earthquake of the century. The no. 1 was in Valdivia (Chile) and was a grade 9.5 and actually change the axis that the earth rotates. So crazy! Those were serioulsy the longest and scariest 3 minutes of my life when the earthquake was happening. I am just so glad we were able to react in a timely manner to get dressed, get in the car and head for higher ground. This was all because Christian stays so calm in emergencies. Once the sun came up and we had confirmed with the police there was no tsunami warning for Viña or other parts of Chile, we came home to see the damage. Christian photographed everything and posted some of the pictures here. I took pictures too but haven't got them up yet.

Well I better go, we need to go the supermarket to try and buy whatever is left that doesn't need to be cooked on the stove since we don't have gas. We are seriously lucky. Please keep Chile in your thoughts as many many people are left without homes and everything else.....they left with the clothes on their back.

Lots of love,

Disclaimer—La Chilengüita is a blog created upon my personal experiences and which expresses my personal opinion that in no way represents the views my employer, family or friends.