All you’ve Ever Wanted to Know about Dinosaurs in Chile

If you come to my house at 8pm each night, you will see three heads huddled over a hard-backed book with several ripped and sellotaped pages thanks to overeager small fingers.  You will likely hear my youngest son babble with excitement at certain pages, while the turning of (the majority of) others prompts my oldest to recite something like the following with perfect diction:

¨That’s Micropachycephalosaurus,¨  He will say (and I’m checking closely – he’s right!), ¨He’s really small and he eats plants and his name is the longest!¨

Sometimes I cannot believe how wondrous children are, the way their brains soak up information like ever-expanding sponges, and the remarkable ability they have to remember intricately the things that interest them (and seemingly not hear other things, like when its time to brush their teeth, tidy their toys away or leave me alone because I’m on the toilet!).  Children have that beautiful ability to find something amazing in the smallest things, like in a pile of freshly-fallen autumn leaves or a great big muddy puddle, and with so many of us in a constant battle against the dreaded clock, we could all take a leaf or two from their book.

But I digress because while this post could easily be about the wisdom of children (!), it is actually about the focus of my kids’ obsessions, specifically dinosaurs in Chile. Did you know Chile is some kind of palaeontological paradise?!  Honestly, it’s amazing so keep reading.

I encourage E’s love of dinosaurs. I think it’s wonderful that he can name 45 species, and it opens up a great discussion around geography, life/death, the circle of life, and the place humans – and all creatures – occupy in the grand scheme of things. I also love that it is his interest that is making me learn so much more about this amazing country, as well as the history of Earth itself, and I am incredibly excited to see where this goes.

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Let’s Begin! The Incredible Truth about Dinosaurs in Chile

(Paraphrased from this article in the Scientific American)

What once walked these lands? Mapusaurus was a carnivorous predator over 10 metres long that likely hunted in packs, and was named in honour of the Mapuche people. Two types of sauropods in the same family of Diplodocus have been discovered in Chile, as well as the footprints of the predator Giganotosaurus, bigger than T-Rex and the 2nd largest meat-eating dinosaur discovered anywhere in the world (beat only by Spinosaurus).  Carnotaurus (you may remember him from the Dinosaur movie and the soon-to-be-released, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom) once lived in Calama, while Coelurosaur remains have been found at the site at Pichasca (Limari Valley).

It's Take Your Dogto Work Day

Right at the bottom of South America is one of the most important sites in South America for fossils. Here you can find the El Puesto excavation site, a place where the dirt crumbles underfoot beside hundreds of fossils. You might find a piece of rib cage here, a femur tip there, while further down whole skeletons have been uncovered.  This zone famously contains a 7km field of hadrosaur (duck-billed herbivore) remains that indicate they were partially burned in a bizarre wildfire. This site, along with others in the area such as Las Chinas and Cerro Guido, provides an unprecedented view into the world of 72-66 million years ago, a time which previously little was known.  What has been discovered in this area is gobsmacking. Titanosaurid sauropods, unique flowers (some perfectly preserved and 72 million years old – a feat considering the fragile nature of the petals), the oldest fossilized leaves in South America (including oak, lenga, and coihue), 40 types of plants, marine creatures, pollen, wood … A few steps to the left and you may come across marine reptiles, a few spots over you may uncover land mammals of the Cenozoic period.  Did you know that the forests of the Cretaceous period that once flourished in Antarctica were almost the same as the forests you can see today in modern day, Valdivia? 

Here scientists have also been able to study the effects of climate change during the end of the Cretacious period, including the 25m fall of the sea level over under a million years which allowed a bridge to form between South America and Antarctica.  Experts have noted that these bridges were important areas of evolution, giving rise to the new notion that climate change is the unique catalyst of new species.

Sites such as these are being studied by international teams funded mostly by Chile’s National Commission for Scientific and Technological Research (CONICYT).

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Introducing the Amazing, Chilesaurus, also known as the Missing Link

Chilesaurus diegosuarezi is its official name, but most of us will probably remember this unusual dinosaur because of the fact it was discovered in Chile – and the fact that this herbivore is so bizarre that it has been named the missing link between the evolution between herbivores and carnivores.

It’s a befuddling creature from the Jurassic period, the size of a small horse which once populated Patagonia 145 million years ago. It is also one of the most important paleontological finds in history, believe it or not, with four almost complete and 8 partially complete skeletons discovered. In 2004 seven-year-old Diego Suarezi discovered the bones while out with his geologist parents near General Carerra Lake, close to the site of breathtaking Marble Caves.  What is interesting about Chilesaurus is that it is a theropod, part of the same family as Carnetaurus and Tyrannosaurus Rex, but bizarrely vegetarian.  It had a beak, for starters, and flat teeth for plant-eating – curioser still it had fingers rather than claws, while still bearing the famous short arms of carnivores.

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Where to Get your Dino Fix in Chile

Until E fell in love with those Cretaceous critters, I had no idea there were so many dino-related excursions in Santiago.  There really is something universal about dinosaurs that kids love, isn’t there?

If you are happy to make a day of it, you can drive/bus/train out to Buin Zoo, a wonderfully-kept zoo about 45minutes from the city centre.  Unlike the widely criticized National Zoo over on Cerro San Cristobal, Buin Zoo has large enclosures, well-maintained grounds and excellent facilities for the whole family.  We love a trip here, although on our most recent trip we didn’t see a whole lot as we barely left the Dino Zoo.  Yes, fellow parents of the dino-obsessed, there really are a place where you can take your child to see life-sized models, and although it’s small, your child will absolutely love it.  Expect to see all the classics AND a giant sandpit to hunt for fossils in!

Closer to home and Santiago has two events on a limited run. The Santiago Planetarium has a showing of Dinosaurios al Atardecer, which explores the history of dinosaurs around the world (Spanish only) followed by a fun group activity.  I was pleasantly surprised by the Planetarium – it isn’t London or New York but it’s fun and E loved it (M did not so sit near the door if you go with small children in case you need to make a swift exit) and the activity was enjoyable for the whole family (we had a hard time getting Luis to leave).  There is a small toy shop with dinosaur/space related trinkets and it wasn’t expensive.  The Planetarium is just a short work from Estacion Central metro station right beside the Universidad de Santiago (USACH) but it has its own entrance.  This film runs until July 1st. NOTE: Do take care of your belongings around this metro station as it is extremely busy and be aware that this metro stop does not have a lift or escalator.

At the other end of town within the gorgeous Parque Araucano park (beside Parque Arauco Mall) you can find Big Bang Park + Chilesaurus, an indoor dinosaur extravaganza that is set to stay until September.  This is the perfect place to take your child to see huge replicas of their favourite dinosaur, including a dino dig and other fun activities. Star of the show is the moving, lifelike Chilesaurus, who your child will love.  Well worth it!

Further afield, in the 6th region to be exact, is the Route of Dinosaur Footprints (Ruta de las Huellas de Dinosaurios). At around 100km from Santiago and 70km from its nearest city (San Fernando), this is an endeavour for the obsessed or the adventurous but no matter who you are you will be left amazed by the visible footprints left by dinosaurs some 150 million years ago. Standing here, it is hard to imagine that the mountains you see before you used to be sea and that the 500 or so footprints dotted about are visible only due to the ash left by volcanic eruptions all those millions of years before.  The 2010 earthquake, one of the largest in world history, actually unearthed even more footprints, and the result is a spectacular journey back in time to a Chile that was very, very different. Promaucaes Outdoor leads guided tours around the area, lasting about three hours (around CLP$10,000), and the trip can be easily combined with a visit to the Termas del Flaco hot springs.  NOTE: both the tour and the hot springs operate only between October and May as the area is inaccessible in winter; you also will need to bring cash.

The Monumento Natural La Pichasca is the culmination of a gorgeous drive over azure reservoirs and past miles of grape-laden hills in the Limari Valley, just on the outskirts of the mining town, Ovalle (45 min from La Serena).  Here the fossils of ginormous Titanosaurus’ have been unearthed (not displayed in the park), as well as petrified forest, pre-Colombian cave paintings  NOTE: Pichasca is a long way from anything, so check opening times before you leave.  It also gets hot and sunny so pack plenty of water – enjoy!

So you Want a Dinosaur Birthday?

Eventosaurio, a small outfit inspired by their own kids’ love of dinosaurs, is all you need to make an original birthday party children will remember.  What child doesn’t want to meet a real, walking baby t-rex?  If you book Eventosaurio to your event, Rexy (and his handlers) will come for a visit – there’s no need to be scared because Rexy is fed beforehand and is only keen to play! You will learn all about dinosaurs during some fun activities before Rexy is unleashed on the partygoers (cue screams!) for some fun and games. Eventosaurio is not a cheap birthday rental and Rexy has some big dimensions, therefore needs quite a bit of space to move around, but if your child is dino-crazy like mine, their ecstatic faces make it all worth it.

Follow them on Facebook here and Instagram here.

Hope you enjoyed this dino-tastic article! If you are new to my blog, please feel free to have a nosey through – I may get a bit honest at times but hopefully you find something that strikes a chord. If you want to read about some other fun facts about Chile, have a read of this article, or for ideas about what to do with kids in Santiago take a look here. As always, if you liked what you read please give it a ´like´ and don’t forget to subscribe to my feed to keep up to date with new posts. I am always looking for new content, so if you have an idea for a story please send me an email to helen@queridarecoleta.com

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Meet Ñirre Bebe: Kids Clothes with Style

Seeing as though I am trying to always support small Chilean businesses, it makes sense that this applies to my family, too. I have two boys that drive me crazy I love more than carrot cake, Obolo chocolate and Indian spices combined, something which is all consuming but also strangely isolating.  Pretty much all of my sons´ clothes have been loved before (and will be loved again – just not by me!) which is a good thing because, as any parent in any country will know, if you listen to all the magazines and help books you apparently need a truckload of expensive stuff just to survive year 1.

It goes without saying that sometimes I want my kids to look stylish but since the buggers grow so fast and get so dirty, I also have to find gear that is economical but that doesn´t skimp on quality.

Enter Ñirre Bebe.

I have been coveting one of their fox emblazoned tshirts for E ever since it first popped up in my Instagram feed. The fox, or ñirre in Mapundungun (and zorro in Spanish), is an animal that I am quite fond of because it always reminds me of the south of Chile, where I´ve  often seen them scavenging by the road.

We have two hats, a pair of pants (for M) and E´s tshirt. The material of the clothes is quite thick with a bit of stretch and actually feels incredibly luxurious. To say I am impressed with everything would be an understatement – I am already preparing to buy more!

Ñirre Bebe is fronted by Johanna Fuentes and I recommend following her on Instagram because the photos are just gorgeous.  I am so excited to reveal a little bit more about this #smallchileanbusiness so let´s get reading!

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So cute! Photo: Ñirre Bebe

Ten Questions with Ñirre Bebe

Who is Ñirre Bebe and what is the story behind the store/Quien es Ñirre Bebe y como empezo la tienda?

Ñirre is a venture from the 9th region that is headed by Johanna Fuentes (me); I am an artist.  The objective of the brand is to create modern clothes at the forefront of trends for infants and children up to 4 years. Priority is given to monocromatic tones to create an urban look for modern children.

Ñirre es un emprendimiento de la novena región el cual es llevado a cabo por la Artista Visual Johanna Fuentes (yo).  El objetivo de esta marca es crear ropa moderna, a la vanguardia de tendencias internacionales, para bebés y niños de hasta 4 años, privilegiando los tonos monocromomáticos en sus confecciones, es un estilo inspirado en lo urbano para chicos modernos. Ñirre empezó en Junio del año 2015 en la ciudad de Villarrica (antes teníamos otro nombre). 

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Photo: Ñirre Bebe

What does ñirre mean and why did you choose this name/Que significa ñirre y por que tiene ese nombre?

 Ñirre is a Mapundungun word for ´fox´, which is the language of my people, the Mapuches. This name was proposed by my mother, who is a dressmaker and a big influence on my work. We grew up beneath her sewing machine, which she in turn learnt from her mother, and I remember watching one grandmother using her old Singer machine while the other would be weaving on the loom (telar) while we watched, intruding or as we say, ¨echando a perder¨.  Later I studied Visual Arts which really helped me, such as with shades, materials, and above all, creation.

Ñirre proviene del Mapudungun, el pueblo originario del cual pertenezco y significa   “Zorro”  y el nombre lo propuso mi madre, ella es modista, y gran influencia en mi    trabajo, nosotros crecimos bajo una máquina de coser, ella aprendió de mi abuela,  en mi caso ellas son la gran influencia una de mis abuelas cosía en su antigua Singer, la otra tejía a telar, y aprendimos mirando, intruseando como decimos… “echando a perder”. Luego estudie Artes visuales, lo cual me ayudo sin duda a complementar, tanto en la utilización de tonalidades y materialidad, pero sobre todo la creación.  

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Photo: Ñirre Bebe

Which are your favorite products/Cuales son tus productos favoritos?

I don´t have a favorite, but I do really like to make products for newborns due to their details and small size.

No tengo un producto fijo, pero sin duda lo que mas me gusta confeccionar es la talla RN (recien nacido), ya sea por las detalles, y por el tamaño de la prenda que es minima.

Where are you based/Donde vives?

In Villarica, in the 9th region.

En Villarica, novena region.

Where is your favorite place in Chile/Donde esta tu lugar favorito en Chile?

The commune of San Juan de la Costa, in the province of Osorno, where I lived and worked for more than a year for the Fundacion Superacion de la Pobreza (Overoming Poverty Foundation).  This was one of the best experiences I have ever had because of the people, the landscape, the permanent contact with nature, the fact that you can cross the street and reach the sea … I now return every summer with my partner.

Provincia de Osorno, comuna San Juan de la Costa, vivi y trabje ahi durante mas de un año, para la Fundacion Superacion de la Pobreza y fue sin duda una de las mejores experienciias que he tenido.  Su gente, los paisajes, estar en contacto permanente con la naturaleza, cruzar la calle y llegar al mar es lejos, lo mejor … vuelvo todos los veranos ahora con mi compañero.

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Photo: Ñirre Bebe

Do you have a favorite place to eat in Chile/Donde esta tu lugar favorito para comer en Chile?

The truth is that I don´t have a favorite place as I prefer homecooked food, but if we are on holiday in San Juan then I like to visit Glorimar, which is in Bahia Mansa.

La verdad no tengo uno fijo favorito, me gusta la comida hecha en casa, pero si cuando vamos de vacaciones al sur, San Juan esta Glorimar (la señora Gloria cocina con mano de monja) queda en Bahia Mansa.

What is next for Ñirre Bebe/Que es proximo para la empresa?

Next we will register our brand, mainly to stop plagiarism, and we hope that this summer we will have an online platform where we sell online. And of course we will have new designs coming out!

Estamos proximos a registar nuestra marca, para evitar plagios principalmente, y esperamos para este verano contar una plataforma online, en donde vendamos en linea y no a pedido. Los nuevos diseños estan saliendo siempre.

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Photo: Ñirre Bebe

 

The Nitty Gritty

Instagram here

Facebook here

Whatsapp: +569-65540276

How to buy: Send Johanna a message through Facebook or Whatsapp to organize your order. You can see the many (amazing) items via the Facebook store.

10 Fun Things to do with Kids in Santiago

Having two children, we spend a lot of time going to places with their happiness in mind.  What follows is our list of the best places for youngsters in the city of Santiago, with top accolades going to the Museo Interactivo Mirador, a science and technology museum that will honestly blow your mind and take up most of your day. Chile is also very family friendly, and restaurants will not blink an eye if you pop by with children or babies (and some even have play areas, especially in areas like Ñuñoa and Las Condes).  Further afield, you could stop by:

The Alpaca Farm in Quintessence;

Aguas San Ramon for family-friendly hikes:

Santuario de la Naturaleza to immerse yourself in nature;

Snow fun at Farrellones;

river swimming at Rio Clarillo;

the beaches of Viña del Mar;

the animal farm at Lonquen;

or one of the various Mampato theme parks for little ones.

Selva Viva

There is no better introduction to the jungles of the world then Selva Viva. This is an indoor, living museum where you can hold parrots, snakes, even hermit crabs, whilst learning all about the world´s ecosystem.

Price:   Adults – CLP$9.950 per person / Children (3 – 17 years) and Senior Citizens – CLP$8.950 per person
Address: Av. Presidente Riesco 5330, (Metro Manquehue, inside Parque Araucano), Las Condes

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Museo Interactivo Mirador (MIM)

This interactive museum takes the fun side of science very seriously. It takes it so seriously,        in fact, that the whole family will be amused and entertained for hours – if not the whole    day!  Visit the website here.

Price:   Adults – CLP$3,900 per person / Children (3 – 17 years) and Senior Citizens – CLP$2,700 per person
Address: Av. Punta Arenas 6711, (Metro Estacion Mirador), La Granja

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Museo Aeronautico y del Espacio

Put simply, this is a stunning museum curated with love and maintained with care. This two-storey building is filled with replicas and models of aircraft in all their forms, and there is an outdoors area to explore where you can step inside a real plane.

Price: Free
Address: Avenida Pedro Aguirre Cerda Nº 5.000 (Ex camino Melipilla), Los Cerrillos

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Parque Bicentenario del Infancia

There´s toboggans, a caged maze, sandpit, swings, water fountains and tree huts to entertain your child, plus an amphitheatre for events.

Price: Free
Address: Avenida Peru 1001, Recoleta. Metro Cerro Blanco

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Fantasilandia 

The best theme park in Santiago, Fantasilandia provides entertainment for all ages. Also in Parque O´Higgins you can find a dinosaur museum and an aquarium.

Price: Adults CLP$11.990; Children and Senior Citizens CLP$5.990; Kids less than 90 cm in height enter for free
Address: Beaucheff, corner Tupper (Parque O’Higgins)

fun places to go with kids

Parque Quinta Normal

Choose from one of the museums or just wander this colossal, and historic, park. Museums on offer include the Museum of Natural History, the Science Museum, a railway museum (Ferroviario), and the Artequin children´s art museum.

Price: Free
Address: Metro Quinta Normal

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Buin Zoo

A zoo to rival the world´s best, Buin Zoo packs a huge punch that everyone will enjoy. There´s also a marine show (additional price) and a dinosaur park.

Price: Adults CLP$7.500; Children CLP$5.000; Senior Citizens CLP$4.000; Kids less than 90 cm in height enter for free
Address: Panamericana Sur KM 32, Buin.

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Santiago Planetarium

Chile is world famous for the quality of its night sky and its observatories rank as some of the best in the world. Learn as much as you can at this city planetarium located within University of Santiago (weekends only)

Price: Adults CLP$3.800; Children, Students and Senior Citizens CLP$3.000
Address: Av. L. Bernardo O’Higgins 3349, Estacion Central.  Metro Universidad de Santiago

 

Granjaventura

Give your kids a break from touring and instead take them to meet all manner of cute and furry critter at this farm located in the pre-cordillera.  There are also adventure activities to enjoy in the extensive grounds.

Price: Weekday CLP$4.500; Weekend and holidays CLP$4.900
Address: Av. Larrain 11.095, La Reina

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Cerro San Cristobal

From summer swimming pools, a hillside furnicular train, a zoo, Japanese Botanic Gardens, a dazzling-high cablecar (teleforico) and a city lookout, this gigantic hill dominating the Santiago skyline will provide for the whole family.

Price: Various entrance prices
Address: Pio Nono 450, Recoleta. Metro Baquedano

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I´d love to hear your recommendations and feedback!

Other blogs you might enjoy:

Parque Fluvial Renato Poblete

Museo Artquin & Ferroviario

Family Fun Day

Mummy Diaries: Guilt

Some days …

Some days I look at that door and imagine leaving. Some days I try and picture what my life would be if i’d not had children. Some days all i want to do is go back in time. Then I feel guilty. All the time I feel such overwhelming guilt for thinking things contrary to the ´motherhood is perfect´ideal that so many people perpetuate, or wanting something that I – as a mother of two beautiful children – shouldn’t want.

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Getting dressed would be a great start!

The guilt started when I was pregnant. My first pregnancy was an accident that happened with a man I hadn´t known long and who I wasn´t formally committed to. I felt the first lashings of guilt as I wondered how we could get this to work – was I being too selfish? –  and how the flying heck was I going to be able to care for a newborn when I was terrified of the things and had the uncanny ability to make them cry. I obsessed over everything during that first pregnancy –  I only ate certain foods, omitted everything else that could bring some kind of risk to my growing fetus, exercised, read up on the benefits of Mozart for babies, sang to my stomach, played my flute and regular recordings of Chilean music (I went back to NZ), planned my natural homebirth (best start for baby, right?), stocked up on organic and all-natural everything, made my own babywipes (no chemicals for my son!) and tanned my nipples in the hope they´d harden up in time for breastfeeding, although I wasn´t too committed as I knew I´d just be a natural because I wanted it (LOL – read about my breastfeeding horrors here).

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The truth is that having a family can light up your life, but just like a light there comes a time when they turn off and darkness sets in. It isn´t always rainbows and happiness with children, even though you love them like crazy and can´t bear the thought of not being with them forever, sometimes all that love and need can feel overwhelming.

I also worried excessively. According to all the baby books, my diet had been less than perfect when I fell pregnant. I also had smoked cigarettes and drank alcohol because I found out at 7 weeks). And surely – somewhere along the line – I´m sure I´d eaten ceviche (I was in Chile). And every now and then I´d give in to temptation and whirlwind emotions and binge eat my way through a bag containing Twisties and Whittakers Peanut Slabs (I would sell a kidney for either of those Antipodean treats right now!).  I ended up putting the baby books at the back of the wardrobe because they made me feel so scared and guilty, and they only ever saw the light of day when I´d dig them out to see what kind of fruit my baby was that month (I still have no idea what size a kumquot is).

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E and I

Skip forward to pregnancy number two, and guilt struck again. This time it happened when we were in the sh*t financially and were living on a weekly food shop valuing CLP$20,000.  Getting pregnant was happening easily for us, which must have been hard to deal with for my sister in law who was in a ´perfect´ relationship and was going through endless fertility exams and treatments to fall pregnant (and yet my brother in law was never tested – go figure). And then I went into labour at 26 weeks.  I´ve never been so scared in my life. Had I eaten something bad? Was it my body? Was I not eating enough nutrients? Worse – was I rejecting my own baby?  I was terrified for baby M – whom I loved before even meeting – but I was also terrified of all the needles, drugs and exam results.  It was also bloody humiliating to have to call over a lady with a potty every time I needed the toilet, and relieve myself lying down in the bed. I also started to feel upset at the thought I wouldn´t likely have the perfect birth experience I´d been dreaming of.  Back at home, being on strict bed rest drove me out of my mind and, even though I loved my unborn child, I had to fight the urge to get up and do anything. I felt sad I didn´t get to take E to his first day of jardin, and check it over to give it the Helen seal of approval. During this time I had to give my trust completely to my partner and an endless stream of doctors, nurses and midwives because I literally couldn´t protect my child in any other way.

(Perhaps now would be a good time to give you a brief overview of my time in San Jose Public Hospital in Independencia. The Urgencia was absolutely horrendous. I waited a long time to be seen (I´b been to Clinica Davila first and there was a marked difference). It was really dark, hardly anyone around, and there was a heavily pregnant woman screaming in pain for HOURS who was left unattended and I heard her being treated nastily by the nurses. I went over to her and rubbed her back, because even though I was in early labour, this poor thing really needed help. After this, I was transferred to the labour ward, with ten other women who were in the midst of full labour beside me (let me tell you, nothing is as scary as being in labour beside ten other screaming women who are forbidden to sit up in their bed, and forbidden to have visitors). I was here for a day and night. After this the risk of popping out M early was lessened, so I was transferred to the regular maternity ward. This was really nice!! The staff were helpful, came right after I called them, I was given food whenever I wanted it (really sugary but at least I got food), and all the doctors kept me updated and answered all my questions (unlike when E was hospitalized at Roberto del Rio). After my week´s stay, I had to return to San Jose for all my checkups.  This was awful. They don´t take appointments, you just have an allotted time when you have to go join the queue … beside at least 100 others. Despite being on bed rest, I would have to stand for around 6 hours to wait for my turn.  The doctors and midwives I saw were always friendly, but they were crazy overworked.  Despite everything, I got my perfect birth with M, with my regular holistic midwife as after so many weeks it wasn´t dangerous for M to be born. I gave birth (with Fonasa) in Talagante Public Hospital.  My midwife was beyond amazing and I stayed just one night afterwards but it was really pleasant  -I can´t fault the place).

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Photo taken at Museo a Cielo Abierto, San Miguel

When you have more than one child, everything becomes different. In a way you segment, because you have to give so much more of yourself to your family, and what you give has to be equal.  It gets really hard to think of yourself as anything other than a motherand when they all start crying at the same time it gets really hard to just take a breath and deal with it, and the crying rings in your ears long after they stop.  As I work from home and my partner is almost never here as he works during the day and studies at night, it can seem like a lonely life.  Let´s get real, babies and toddlers do not make the best conversation partners and in all honesty playing Thomas the Tank or knock down the blocks expires in funness pretty darn quick. Sometimes it almost feels as though my brain is rotting away up there, or at least drowning in nursery rhymes and tears, many of which are my own.

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As an expat, you have the additional pressure of being without the support network you would likely have in your home country, as well dealing with both a new language culture. Making friends with Chileans can be difficult as they aren´t stereotypically very open or trusting, and while you can make easy friendships with other expats who are in a similar boat, the truth is the time will come when they – or you – will move on.   Throw in a cross-cultural relationship and boom – you find yourself in a multi faceted pickle sometimes!!

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Reaching out – such a small action but so important. Reach up and up you will go!

I was recently given some advice from a fellow expat who describes herself as a ¨trailing spouse¨, one who follows the work commitments of her partner around the globe.  Her advice is golden, and here it is in a nutshell:

  1. Make time for yourself and check in on your own thoughts.  Maybe this means waking up before your family, doing a guided meditation, twerking like Beyonce when they fall asleep (I do!), learn a new hobby, WHATEVER, as long as it is for you.
  2. Start networking. Doing things you enjoy will introduce you to like-minded people, or use Facebook groups like Discover Chile: English Speaking Moms to set up playdates, or connect with a global network of expats with Facebook groups like Two Fat Expats or I Am A Triangle.  You won´t click with everyone and friendships take time, but putting this effort in is a great way to meet people and get things off your chest.
  3. Have a think about what you are interested in, or what you liked before you had children, and find a way to bring that back into your life. Whether that is charity work, cooking, yoga, dance, reading – it all counts!  Many suburbs offer classes at their local municipal library or you can find free online courses all over the internet.
  4. Nutrition. Food is what fuels you so make sure you are getting enough of the good stuff. A great tip is to hard what might be unappetizing to you inside a smoothie, and there are heaps of ways you can get food delivered direct to your door. Try La Paloma Saludables  or if you are in Santiago/Viña del Mar area, you can sign up for organic meat from the Cow Share initiative.
  5. Finally, talk. Let it out. I have been told I am too honest, that I overshare and make people feel uncomfortable, but also that my honesty has helped people to recognize the truth about their own feelings and speak with their partner or even a professional. I believe talking can be cathartic and is a great way to find out what is really bothering you.

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    My absolutely non-negotiable time for me every day is the shower. I am obsessed with Lush and my must-have products include Ro´s Argan Body Conditioner, Full of Grace facial serum, Godiva 2 in 1 shampoo (great for hard water) and Sympathy for the Skin body moisturizer (Dream Cream, which is above, is great for sensitive skin so I use it on Emilio sometimes).

What other advice would you give? Please give this a ´like´ if it resonated with you and remember to follow me on Facebook or WordPress to keep updated about new blogs! I am also on Instagram, where you can see photos from my daily life in Santiago. Have a great day and SMILE please!! Smiling – even if you force it – is a great way to boost the good vibes inside 🙂

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Some more Mummy Diaries you might enjoy:

Mummy Diaries: Control

Mummy Diaries: Love

Day in the Life Of

The Truth

25 Things Every Mama in Chile Should Do

 

Meet Emily & Her Shine A Life

I am really happy to share this Spotlight On interview with Emily because, not only is she one of the first friends I made in Chile, but she is also someone who I really admire.  I admire Emily because she knows her dreams and has worked hard to make them become a reality, the result of which is her visually stunning blog, Shine A Life.  Shine A Life chronicles her travels around the globe as a single mother with her gorgeous tot, Sienna, who is a bit younger than E. Along the way, Emily shares (in 3 languages) travel tips, beautiful photos and – in true Emily style – fashion!  I highly recommend giving her blog a look, not least for the stunning images and inspirational content (featured image by local photographer Tamsin!).

Ten Questions with Emily

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1. What brought you to Chile?
A Chilean man, of course . It’s funny because once I became an expat mum out in Chile I realized how many (particularly blonde!!) women come to Chile to be with their partners! I met (my now ex) Cristián in Marseilles, France in 2011 where we were both students, and came to Chile for the first time in January 2012 for a three-week visit. That was an amazing trip, in the heat of the summer, and I think I became forever enamored with Chile. Later that year I came back for a 2 month visit but skipped my return flight and stayed for a year until I fell pregnant and moved back to England. I then moved back to Chile with my daughter Sienna when she was 8 months old so that we could all make a life together out there.
2. How does Chilean Spanish compare with the Spanish of Spain? How are the cultures different? 
I find the two very different and Chilean Spanish is much easier to understand! I love how it is so musical and the intonation just sounds so lovely! I do try to adapt when speaking to different people because there are a lot of words in Chilean which are completely unique to Chile! Both cultures are very true to their own traditions but they are also very different. Chile felt very much like the « new world » when I first arrived there from Valencia, Spain where I was doing a university exchange.
3. What did you find most difficult adjusting to here? 
I definitely found it difficult to tell if people were genuine or not. I was saddened by the classism and had never seen such poverty before (like some of the makeshift housing). When I returned after the birth of my daughter, I found it difficult to stand up for my own values and techniques as a mother which were very different to the traditional Chilean way. I also found the level of contamination pretty shocking and the surrounding mountains towering above the city made me feel a bit blocked in sometimes (I am a lover of the coast).
4. Where is your favorite place in Chile? In Santiago? Any food recommendations? 
My visit to San Pedro de Atacama and the surrounding area was one of the best trips I have ever been on. I loved the atmosphere up there! It was a very mystical experience – from the shooting stars to the magnetic energy that literally pulsates through your body if you lie down on the ground, and the deafening silence of the desert.
There are so many great spots in Santiago but my favorites have to be Patronato, Bellas Artes, Quinta Normal and Barrio Italia. My favorite eatery is Quimbaya, a hidden gem I found whilst applying for my Sienna’s Chilean passport. Everything is homemade (even their ice-cream), and their menú is under $5.000. I love their banana passionfruit (« curuba ») juice and their lemon pie is out of this world! Their coffee, imported from Colombia, is also divine.
5. Where is your favorite place to go with children? 
I love how there are parks and plazas everywhere which often have playgrounds for little ones, and I think hanging out under a palm tree to stay out of the sun is a pretty awesome pastime!
6. What is it like travelling in Chile with a child? Are there any difficulties?
I didn’t travel a great deal with my daughter within Chile itself apart from getting on and off public transport in Santiago. I’d say it is just better to baby wear if you can because not all of the metro stations have disabled access so you may struggle with a stroller. To leave Chile alone with my daughter, following the breakdown of my relationship with her dad, I needed a notarized letter of consent (as do all parents wanting to leave Chile without the other parent). It was definitely a worry at the time that my daughter’s father would refuse to give us that letter.
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7. Do you have any advice for people making the move to Chile? 
As with moving to any country I would recommend trying to make friends with other expats as it is great to have a support network that can completely empathize with you and the situation you’re in. By the same token, it is important to meet people from the place you’re in so that you can feel a sense of integration. Learn the language if you can, embrace the culture but don’t be afraid to stick up for your own values.
Chile is a truly amazing country, with breathtaking landscapes, lovely people and a great cuisine – it is so important to focus on the abundance of things it has to offer. If you are moving to Santiago I would recommend getting out of the city as much as possible. It can sometimes feel like Santiago is a world in itself and it’s easy to get caught up in that, but Chile is so much more than just its capital city.
8. What is next for you on your journey?
This week we are relocating to Lisbon, Portugal! After just over two years of hard work, saving and adjusting to single motherhood we have finally gotten to the point where we can leave England again. I never really wanted to return having spent so much time away enjoying warmer climates but I didn’t really have the choice. I knew from the beginning I didn’t want to be here longterm but I didn’t know how long it would take me. I am working hard on monetizing my blog but in the meantime I plan to sign up to some modeling agencies and teach English. I am also really looking forward to us learning Portuguese and all of the other challenges that we will meet along the way. I think it will be a great bonding experience for my daughter and I, and I am so happy to have this extra time with her out of the daily grind we have had over the past couple of years of full-time work and childcare.
9. Tell us about your blog. 
My blog is about single-mum-travel with a little one – Portugal will be the ninth country that Sienna and I have travelled to together and we’ve been on over 30 flights so I’ve picked up a tip or two! Shine A Life is meant to be a celebration of the miraculous moments that are forever happening all around, and I have a passion for style, design, food and foreign languages so I like to touch on those subjects too. My aim is to promote independent brands that you wouldn’t usually come across as well as places of interest and inside information from the locals of the world.
10. Favorite places in the world you have visited.
Besides San Pedro de Atacama, another amazing trip I did was around the vineyards in Mendoza, Argentina. It is a stunning area and I loved the vibes – Argentines also seem really friendly! I visited Málaga, Spain for the first time last year and I thought it was a really great city and will definitely return!

 

Keep updated on Emily´s travels and follow the links here:

Facebook + Instagram @shinealife

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If you liked this, then you might like to:

Meet Tamsin, and her stunning photography portfolio;

Meet Siski, and her beautiful watercolors and souvenirs;

Meet Hoda Madi and her incredible abstract artwork;

Meet Sarai and discover about her life in Puente Alto, as well as her small business selling handmade goods;

Meet Sujitra, who prepares the most delicious homemade Indian food;

Meet Sally Rose, author and longtime volunteer in low-income schools.