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This week, young Nathan, who we call that to distinguish him from another Nathan I know, and who also no longer lives here, was back in Chile. He (young Nathan) was here working for a local news outlet last semester, and came back to research a story for his grad program, which he’s on the brink of finishing (or at least it seems that way to me).

For the last week, he’s been staying here, and we’ve drunk a bunch of strawberry smoothies and talked about news reporting, and I’ve gotten a small peek into what it’s like to study journalism for real, as opposed to just winging it. One of the things that has served Nathan incredibly well, and which should continue to serve him in the future, is that he’s just game. He’ll talk to anyone, about anything, and will pretty much go anywhere, if you mention it (and invite him along, he’s not that fresco).

Which is how we happened to be at the Mall Sport, up in the hinterlands one sunny afternoon in August, on my first (and failed) attempt to buy rollerblades. We were poking around all the cuico (upperclass, like yuppie) goodness, and checking out the boats floating in this lagoon (where I saw Donavan Frankenreiter play once, in the lagoon, not on a boat), when we couldn’t help but notice that there were kids floating in hamster balls around the water.

We wondered for a moment what the height restriction is, since young Nathan is a couple of times taller than your average child, and when we asked the hamster ball people, they said, well, the balls are two meters in diameter. If he can fit, he can go. And he did. So he did.

I stayed behind, taking shot after shot of Nathan in the ball, floating in the water, just waiting for someone to come up to me and ask which one was my kid.

All set inside the sphere:

Shoving off:

Testing out the balance:

Relaxing in the lagoon:

With a few friends:

Joining the rest of us, in the world outside his hamster ball:

Nathan reported that it was fun, but possibly somewhat unfriendly to the back region, and also that the lagoon was colder than he expected. The reason you shouldn’t be friends with me is that I will encourage you to participate in pretty much any silly or funny (for me) activity that might come across our field of vision. But maybe you like that. I like to think Nathan does. All photos used with permission.

Details: Mall Sport is located way up Avda. Las Condes. Take a bus, such as the 406 up to Cantagallo (a small collection of shops, sort of an outside arcade), and walk up several hundred meters. There are buses that go straight there from Pedro de Valdivia, but we took one of these back and it took an eternity. The hamsterball extravaganza costs 3,000 CLP (about six bucks), and they send you out for about 15 minutes, and drag you back in by a cord attached to the ball when your time is up. There is also a surfable wave, a fair to middling skate park, a climbing wall and a weird navagational course for kids with a harness that takes them around the atrium of the mall.