Tag Archives: Travel

Cachando Chile… and Beyond?

Flying highMost blogs are personal, but serious bloggers keep their readers in mind, so now I have to ask you a thing or two… Continue reading


Cachando Chile Does Italy Part 1: Flying the Funky Skies of Aerolíneas Argentinas

Starting at the End

Masked Margaret Snook, Carnevale, Venice, Italy, February 2011.

Cachando Chile gets into the Carnevale spirit in Venice

Every new journey ends with its share of tales to tell, and the Cachando Chile Duo (that would be me and the Mister) have plenty to say about our recent trip to Italy. I had hoped to offer up regular doses of insights, tips, and tidbits from the road that recently took us through Rome, Florence, and Venice, but alas… the Chileno half of this expedition does not believe in leaving any sight unseen or step untaken. Forget about piazza-side espresso sipping and people watching; in fact, I think his feet keep moving even in his sleep. Remember, he’s of the “but we might die tomorrow” school of thought. Continue reading

On the Road…Home?

Feel like a stranger in the country you grew up in? A tourist in the motherland? Suffering the expat syndrome? The longer I live outside the US, the more things there are that take me by surprise when I return.

I try to get back to the US at least once or twice a year, and every time I land, I arrive disoriented. It takes a while to switch from my gringa-in-Chile self to the oddball self-appointed quasi-Latina member of the family in the US.

Drinking fountains at Atlanta Airport. June 2010. photo by M Snook

Delta Terminal at Atlanta Airport, June 2010

My first reaction is always the same: people speak English here! I always have at least one layover—usually in Atlanta—which means not only do people speak English, but they do it with a twang. As buenos días, and por favor, and gracias automatically roll off my tongue without thinking, I am always a little startled Continue reading

Chile: the Sense and Senses of Travel

Ever thought about the senses you use when you travel? No matter what kind of traveler you are—intellectual, cultural, adrenaline seeker, low-budget backpacker, VIP all the way—it’s your senses that make that experience possible.

5 Senses ©M Snook

Continue reading

Books, Computers, Cameras: Tools & Tickets

I’ve been pensive this morning. Thinking about stuff. Literally. Material things and what is important, which brings me to issues of experience, travel, photography, and most of all, memory.

It all started with a good read. I saw a short and insightful post over on a great travel blog called Uncornered Market. The piece, “Are you a Stuff Junkie or an Experience Junkie” (yes, yes… go ahead… click, read, you know you want to… it’s short and we can talk about it when you get back) sets the tangible and intangible at odds and hits the personal priority question square on its pointy head.

The wanderlusts among us know their answer (Fly away!).
So do the homebodies (Nest!).

Although I have certainly thought about this issue (and plenty: shall I stay or shall I go? shall I buy or shall I fly?), I had never put it in such a Levi-Straussian binary-oppositional sort of way. And that post set me off on a bit of existential pondering that brings me to this:

I’m in it for the experience.

There’s just too much good stuff going on out there somewhere to stay put, physically or mentally. I am inquieta (one of those great Spanish words that has no real translation into English). I want to know more, see more, do more, drink it in… and then share it. That’s me. That’s who I am and who I have always been.

The fact that I am a voluntary expat (and blog about it) is pretty good evidence of that. And though I’ve been here in Chile a long time, and yes, have accumulated a lot of STUFF in the process, what I just realized is that most of it—the stuff I value most—is experience-related stuff. Not clothes, not fancy furnishings, not much of anything sold in the local department store…

So what are the things I value most? Books, computers, and cameras. They are all tools and tickets to the experiences–past, present, and future–that truly mean so much.

Books, Computers & Cameras

Books. I have a lifelong love of books and magazines. I grew up in the country and they were my lifeline and ticket to anywhere and everywhere.

Computers. No, I am not a geek. Was once, in a former life long ago, but not now. Today my computers are the tools that let me reach out beyond the physical limits of my world. Again, anywhere and everywhere.

Cameras. Ah… now here is where the plot thickens… Photography is another lifelong love, and aside from fulfilling an artistic itch, I have just come to realize this morning, after reading the Uncornered Market post, that part—I think a BIG part—of my love for photography is that it helps me make the experience tangible.To catch and hold that which is fleeting. To make the momentary last forever. It is the “stuff” my inner junkie craves. It allows me to record for all time that which will never be repeated. It makes memory a bit more concrete.

Not everyone gets this. Put the camera down, they say, look around.
I do look around, and I want to keep it forever.

From Experience to Memory

And this is where it all becomes very personal. Today, as I watch my elderly mother’s memory fade away and the details of her life’s story shift, twitch, blink, and disappear, some never to return, I get scared. And when other details miraculously reappear with amazing clarity when we open her photo albums, I know the importance of photography.

Someone—my father usually—thought that a particular moment was worth remembering forever. He, unaware in his young self, was extending her a lifeline that would stretch 60 years into the future, to a time when he would not be there to help her remember. He was fixing a bit of their lives—and her memory—in time. He was handing her a ticket back to her own life.

And today, as I watch her cling to the pieces of her life and wonder what lies ahead for me, I know, with even more conviction, how important my camera is to me.

Matt Harding: Dancing Around the World

Matt Harding, the guy who danced his way (badly) around the world and author of the hoax that was not a hoax.

Matt Harding- Bad Dancer 2009

Matt Harding--Bad Dancer 2008 (NPR)

It’s Sunday morning and I’m listening to NPR (National Public Radio).  I hear a piece on Matt Harding, of Where the Hell is Matt fame. This guy travels the world and puts up videos of himself happily–though badly–dancing on You-Tube.

What does this have to do with Chile, you ask? Not all that much, but he’s been here in Chile, danced on Easter Island (yes, that’s part of Chile), and his project is really cool, so please bear with me!

He’s one of those guys who seems to glide through life on a sense of humor, dumb luck, and a healthy dose of right-time-right-place. He quit his job, slung a backpack over his shoulder, and set out to see the world (literally) in 2003. Somewhere along the line he had the bright idea of doing a dumb dance on camera and posting it to his web site. You Tube lofted him to new heights, a gum company sprung for further travel-dances, and the dream career he never knew he wanted was launched. He’s been traveling, dancing, and uploading videos ever since!

His 2006 video proves he was in Chile (on Easter Island, 2 minutes in). He’s also posted his notes on his trip through the Southern Cone.

All well and good. Fun guy, nice gimmick, found his niche and the way to follow his heart’s desire on someone else’s dime. Cool…

But wait-there’s more!

Matt, it turns out, is a prankster, and he came up with–get this–not a hoax (anyone can do that), but a HOAX of a hoax… Sheer genius.

Spurred on by comments on YouTube that claimed his video was a green screen and Photoshop scam, he decided to come clean. Speaking before a large audience at the December 2008 EG Conference he confessed his sins and revealed all the secrets behind this elaborate viral ad campaign. That he was an actor and afraid to fly. That Photoshop was, indeed, and essential element in his video-making process. That the project was top secret and his sponsors (Buzz!Brain) couldn’t risk hiring loose-lipped actors to dance with him, so they spent $5 million building 100 animatronic puppets (electronic robots). That they had sunk a stripped-down Boeing 727 in a swimming pool to mock up the weightless dancing scene ($17 million). And to eliminate any trace of a doubt in the audience’s mind of what he was up to, the still straight-faced Harding concluded with a pie chart that revealed a budget that included expenditures for robot uprising insurance, animatronic masseuses, hush money, and hair extensions. His audience rolled on the floor!
Man, did those Photoshop conspiracy theorists look dumb then!

But here’s the irony… EG uploaded the video(Matt Harding-Where the Hell is Matt an Elaborate Hoax), Digg picked it up (Matt Harding: Where In The Hell Is Matt? It’s a Hoax), and Jaunted, who had not bothered to read beyond the headlines, put it in their Hoax category (Matt Comes Clean: He Was Faking It All Along and it just spiraled out from there.

The media had fallen for the gag and unwittingly (or dumb-wittedly) played its part in propagating the hoax that was not a hoax and the not-hoax that turned out to be one!

I just discovered a couple more links worth adding. It seems that when Jaunt figured out that it was a joke, they came back with “we were joking too”… But they did an interview with Matt that bears checking out: Matt Harding Tells Jaunted All About His Real Dancing Videos

And in the course of that interview, I came across a spoof of Matt at Funny or Die. It takes a while to download, so be patient. And just for the record… it’s a hoax!