Sorry it’s been a while since I wrote in my blog. It’s been a wild ride these last few weeks. Emu’s, hitchhiking and moving to a new city have all been involved in the last while and in the next 15 minutes or so I’m going to try to catch you all up on what’s been happening in the last 2 weeks or whatever it’s been since the fire!
So unfortunately I will be writing this blog post down on my phone since my computer battery is shot and only works when plugged in. So I’m currently writing this all down with only the memory I have at this moment and in a limited amount of time, so this post may be a bit messier than the rest but bear with me because some crazy crap has happened as of late.
So the 30th came along and a few of us really wanted to get out into the mountains to go for a hike or two and see the sights. Unfortunately our only off day was the only day we have had rain since I’ve been in Chile, but that didn’t stop us. Five of us packed up and headed for the incredible city of Pucon. Pucon is a huge adventure city, known for its kayaking and mountain biking opportunities in the mountains nearby and boy did it show. Every other shop was a tourist place offering bike tours, white water rafting or volcano trekking. It was a really spectacular place and the cherry on top was the fact that the entire city had a huge volcano as the backdrop! The pictures of this place were unreal, now of course since it was raining on us the whole day we didn’t actually get to see the volcano… actually we didn’t really get to see anything that day, but the whole adventure was just hilarious from the moment we arrived.
The rain didn’t really let up when we arrived so we decided to go look around to see if we could find some food. We wandered the streets looking into all these delicious restaurants, but had a few people in or midst who were a bit picky on the meal so it took close to an hour to finally find a place. We all sat down at this pretty fancy restaurant and enjoyed the best meal since we arrived. Shrimp and pumpkin tortellini, steak and fresh caught trout were all on the table being devoured by us pour wet souls… by the time our meal was finished the rain had let up a bit so we thought we’d give it a shot and see if we could see one of the waterfalls that was nearby. We wondered to the nearest bus stop and hopped the bus heading towards the falls and just hoped that the bus driver would leave us in the right spot. He dropped us off at what seemed like the middle of nowhere, but there were some small signs saying that falls were down this gravel road so we wandered off. Of course about halfway through the short 2km trek the rain starts pouring again, but we continue on anyways not seeing any other choice at this time. We finally arrive at the spot where the waterfall was and there’s a house in the way of the path. We look around a little confused and this old creepy looking dude comes out and asks for 1000 pesos each to go see the waterfall. It wasn’t a whole lot, roughly two Canadian dollars, but what made it worse was that he was saying that with all the rain the water was too high and that we would be swept into the river at the viewpoint. So we exneighed on that idea and went down the road to the river intersection which he suggested instead. Of course when we got to the river there was a toll to see that as well! We decided we were too cold and wet to see it so we walked off empty handed down towards the highway, little did we know it was actually the wrong way and we were actually wondering further away from our destination. Luckily for us though a very random Chilean came by in this huge van and let us know we were lost. He even offered us a ride to the highway so we all jumped in and trusted this random guy in a van to take us safely to the bus stop, but he didn’t stop at the bus stop. He kept on driving, but not towards Pucon or Temuco, he drove north, away from home and away from the way to get home, but he told us he was taking us to another bus stop and we trusted him. So we drove on and on for close to half an hour and finally we arrived at a beach. Not just any crappy beach but this huge, beautiful beach with the lake full of colorful boats and kayaks sitting on shore. It looked like a total resort town, but because of the rain it was totally empty. Since the next bus wouldn’t arrive for another 15 minutes or so we wander off and danced in the rain on the beach.
The very next day we left Temuco again and headed towards the volcanoes again, but this time further north to a town called Vilcun. The city was a beautiful gateway to the mountains and had a really neat air to it. We arrived and the church we were helping with served us delicious food and tea before we headed off to evangelize to the city. We got out there and we all made our little set ups, coffee stands, busking style worship music and my photo booth. We didn’t get a whole lot of interest, but we all had a lot of fun just hanging around and bringing joy to the people in the city.
One thing that did come out of this was that one of our group members, Lee, made the opportunity to do some street art on one of the central walls in the city. The shop keeper who owned the wall was a real neat dude and was stoked to let her spread some joy to the city with her art. The only thing was that we had to come back the next day to do it, which with our schedule, would not be easy.
After the evangelism a few of us guys were given the task to move a bunch of dirt for the pastor while the girls + Johannes went back out to the streets to meet more people. While us guys were digging we came across all sorts of weird creatures and smells… scorpions and giant red crickets were the most interesting, but we also so luminescent centipedes and weird looking red/purple ants. I wish I had my macro lens to take pictures of the creatures, but you can just take my word for it that it was really gross and not exactly my favorite spot during that day. After the diffing we went straight into a church where we held the service, dirty, sweaty and all, but it turned out to be a really funny service with all sorts of weird traditions and happenings.
As soon the very interesting service was over we all went outside to get into the vehicle to go back home, but the only problem was that there wasn’t enough room for everyone and it was an hour’s ride back. So its 9 o’clock and we’re all for from home so what did we do? Well Lee contacted her friends with the wall and asked if a few of us could stay the night with them. They agree with a huge welcome and before we know it, the group is split in two and the 3 girls and I are off into the middle of the woods to this farmhouse to stay the night with these people we only met just that afternoon.
This was probably the weirdest part of the entire outreach so far so bear with me as I belt out as many of the strange events that I can remember.
The drive itself was just a bit weird because none of the 4 of us said a single word besides Lee saying “si” occasionally as the driver just rambled on and on and on, speaking of who knows what because none of us speak perfect Chilean Spanish. But that didn’t bother him one bit as he talked for a good 20 minutes before coming to a halt, jumping out of the truck and scaring this giant pregnant cow onto the road. After the cow is on the road he jumps back into the truck and starts herding this huge cow down the road! Coming within inches of the cow and times and making this poor cow almost run for its life! We’re all sitting in this truck just laughing hysterically not knowing at all what we are getting ourselves into. We finally come to a gate and we herd the cow through so it’s safe I guess and then continue to try and pass this cow on this tiny tiny road but the cow would have none of it, so for the next 5 minutes we’re driving half on the road and half off trying to get past the cow and not hit it until finally we break through, while this is all happening the driver has not stopped talking to us. Still rambling on about this and that. Luckily within the next thirty seconds or so we get our first view of the house and man is it ever a house! It was probably one of the largest mansions I have ever seen! Not the best kept up mansion I’ll say but a mansion none the less. We jump out of the truck only to be met by these huge mutant bear dogs that look like golden retrievers, but are literally twice the size! We start inside with the few things we had us and make our way to the kitchen, which is across the entire house so it takes some time. We get there and are welcomed by soda and a few moldy crackers and moldy salsa. It was a bit strange bit we all just kept laughing as we were all exhausted and confused by the insane situation we’ve got ourselves into. After a few minutes we’ve calmed down a bit and are talking about the next day when the wife comes out of the kitchen behind the other kitchen with a shopping cart. At this we all burst out laughing at the fact that they have a shopping cart that they use in their house and so from there the night just gets weird as all of us are belly laughing at the little things and feeling totally confused about life. The wife later asks us if were hungry and if we’d like a special meal. Its 11pm and we’re all kinda ready for bed, but we are all intrigued by this meal so we all agree and wait patiently for her to make us this surprise meal for us. After a few moments she brings out the first few plates and it looks promising, we have pickles and salsa, but as the main course comes out we all start laughing again because this special meal she has prepared is canned tuna wraps with toppings! Now none of us are disappointed, but just the fact that we are sitting in the huge fancy mansion and the special meal of this mansion was canned tuna was a bit hysterical! It just gets weirder and weirder as while we are eating she starts telling us about the house and the animals they have at the farm house. They have chickens, cows, ducks, turkeys and Emus… ya they have a pair of freaking emus that they use for eggs? It was honestly just the strangest thing ever and I so wish I could’ve recorded some of the things that were said that night like when we got to one room, the “Hippie Room” and she started telling us about her past and in her broken English told us that she was “muy hippie” when she was younger and repeated the “muy hippie” thing every time she told us that this room was the fun room where you smoke, drink, watch tv and play games. After the tour of the house we all went upstairs to the rooms we would stay in, or Room we would all stay in together. It was a huge room with 6 giant beds full sheeting and tons of blankets on it. It was a strange start to a weird adventure and it was even weirder waking up in this strange house all together.
We all laid in bed kinda just waiting it out, not sure if it was safe to go downstairs or not and after about an hour we all slowly ventured to the kitchen. The weird thing was that we didn’t see anyone on our way there, the house was completely empty and it appeared we all alone on this strange property! There was a bit of bread on the table, but that was it. The 4 of us sat down and had a quiet breakfast, discussing what the plan was for this day and how we would get back to town if no one came back. We decided in the meantime that we would explore the property and see the animals that were all talked about the evening before. We all started our way back to our room to grab warmer clothes and cameras and while we were on our way the wife surprised us. We explained that we wanted to see the animals and she got all delighted and lead us to a side door and we were off to go see their pets and sure enough there were 2 Emus right next to the house and man they are hilarious creatures. Emus are apparently attracted to bright colors so when Julia came out in her bright red jacket the emus started following her around and around, it was quite a sight to see such a small girl getting chased by these birds that are almost the same size!
After exploring the property a bit more we asked if we could head back into town so Lee could start on her street art and after about 10 minutes the husband came back and drove us into to town where he dropped us off and that was the last that I think we’ll ever see of them. It was a really mellow dramatic goodbye after all that, but it will definitely one weird memory none of us will ever forget.
Lee got to work right away and the 3 of us watched as she worked her magic on the wall. It was really cool to see an artist in action and see a masterpiece go from start to finish. It took some time, so we just enjoyed the morning and part of the afternoon just relaxing and talking about life while Lee kept working on the wall and around 5 o’clock the wall was finished. She painted a girl that we had met back in Talca at one of the schools and it was super neat cause she was one of the girls that I had spent a lot of time with when I was at the school. She would play horsy with me (or caballo in Spanish) and I would carry her around the school so it was really neat to see her up on the wall like that. It would just be so cool now if we could go back to Talca and show the girl the beautiful painting Lee had done of her.
So now we are on Saturday, the second of April, if I remember correctly this was an awesome day where we were given the whole day to prepare a service for later that night at a youth group in a neighboring city. It was so refreshing for us to have time to get things ready and with that time we were finally able to make something beautiful and organized. It’s felt like that a lot of this trip has been kind of last minute planning and being thrown into random situations, but this night was just perfect. Everything ran smoothly and the kids loved it. We touched the lives of so many of them and got to hear amazing stories from a lot of them and I even met a Chilean Brandon who used to be a sports enthusiast before have very similar injuries to me. It was a cool little connection and it really felt like one of this night was something we all could be proud of. A good motivator as this was the crossover to the second half of our outreach.
Sunday, the 3rd of April, was another wonderful day where we went to a new church and heard another message in Spanish. So none of us could understand, but afterwards getting to talk to some of the people was just awesome. Honestly some of the coolest characters ever are here in Chile. After the service our hosts took us out to find a meal and after about an hour of trying to decide we ended up at this really random Chinese restaurant. But hey you take what you can get and actually the food was really good so it ended up being a good choice. The rest of the day was spent napping and resting for the next day which would be the start of our mid debrief.
Mid debrief is just a point halfway through the outreach that the leaders spend time with each student evaluating how the trip is going so far and what things could be changed. So I don’t have much exciting to tell for this day, but our second day of debrief has got quite a tale to it as well…
The plan for this day was to go off and explore the mountains a bit and after a bit of researching and asking around we found a place outside of Vilcun that had everything we were looking for. Mountains, waterfalls and volcanos. Only this was there wasn’t a whole lot of information on the place and getting there was going to be a very interesting trip. We contacted a driver and asked him if he’d be able to take us there and he said sure, but he didn’t know how to get there so we would have to give him directions. I did the research and decided it was easy enough to get there so we said yes. we arrived in Vilcun at 9am that morning where we said we’d meet him and we waited around till he showed up. And when he showed up he did it in style. The guy was wearing pink pants and a 70’s jacket, all together with long frizzy hair that just screamed 70’s. it was hilaraious and the guys spoke zero English making it all the more interesting. We showed him where we wanted to go and how we wanted to get there and he shook his head and gave us the thumbs up so we were off. The route I had picked out was supposed to take about an hour to get to the park and have pavement all the way to the gate, but after about 30 minutes of driving we hit gravel and were going towards the wrong side of the volcano so I knew something was wrong.
And on this cliff hanger i*m going to leave you cause im out of time.... not sure when i*ll be able to finish this post off, but in the meantime hope everyone is doing well and i*ll leave you with another photo of the volcano!