Alright so last time I wrote I was explaining about our trip to Conguilla national and how we knew that the road we were on was the wrong one…..
Well, now to continue the story. We kept on driving, asking the driver every so often to make sure he knew he was going to the right place and he insisted this would take us to the volcano so we continued on. With about 30 minutes we arrived at the gate to the park, only thing was it was empty and desolate, nobody was around. We stopped and looked around for a bit trying to figure out where we were on the map and when we finally realized where we were at, we lost a bit of hope. The gate we wanted to get to was almost on the opposite side of the volcano, basically pointless to try to get to at this point.
We saw a sign that pointed towards Conguilla national park and we figured it would be better than just turning back, so we gave it a shot and man oh man, what a road it was. To put it in retrospect, the road we took was about 40km long, and it took us almost 3 hours to get to the end of it. The road was so bad and bumpy we had to basically crawl the entire way as not to wreck the van. It was one of the sketchiest roads I have ever travelled on, taking us right to the edge of cliffs, going up and down super steep gradients and just everything that makes a road tough, but there was no turning back still. It was a bit of a rough morning with not seeing too much, but at the very end of the road we arrived at a huge lava field that spanned hundreds of kilometers! It was so insane to see all the black rock and the giant Llaima volcano standing tall at the end of it. At this point we were literally at the opposite side of the volcano to the gate we wanted to be at so we had to make an effort to just keep on trucking.
We arrived at another gate and our driver talked to the park dude in Spanish, laughing lots and then continued on without charging us anything, so he somehow got us into the park for free which was a cool little perk. We drove on around the volcano, seeing all the beautiful trees and mountains everywhere, just being in awe of what a beautiful day it had turned into.
The Conguilla national park was actually the park they filmed a bunch of dinosaur movies because the entire park looked like it came out of the Jurassic era, so that’ll give you a little bit of a hint of what kind of place we were driving through. The trees were huge and unique, and with a huge snowcapped volcano in the back ground it was a really incredible sight. We stopped at a few lakes and were just shocked by how clear the water was, it was honestly the clearest, cleanest water I think I have ever witnessed. It was really surprising, but a nice treat.
At this point it was about 3 in the afternoon and so much had happened we were all getting a little hysterical. Everything that happened was hilarious and there were so many things that were hilarious, especially with our driver who was just the most unique dude ever. I’m not sure how I can explain some of the happenings, but I’ll at least show you what we saw this day with some photos. Unfortunately, it was a bit of a photographic nightmare shooting that day, no clouds, bright harsh sunlight shooting straight down, but I did my best with what I could work with and really the experience itself was worth so much more that any photo.
We were lucky enough that our driver was willing to drive us home all the way to Temuco after the trip so got back to the house at around 6pm and were able to start packing up so we could leave later that night. Within 3 hours we had the house cleaned, packed our bags and were on the way out the door to catch our night bus to Santiago! We climbed aboard another super comfy bus and headed off to our final destination of our, sleeping on and off as our bus took us off through the night.
We arrived in Santiago at around 6am I think and were welcomed by our hosts from the very first day in Chile. She took us back to the ywam base, to where we thought we would have an entire guest house to ourselves, but were a bit surprised to find 2 families living in there already. It was kind of a funny situation and we were a bit lost as what to do, so for the meantime we threw our stuff into this dorm and stayed there for the first night.
The next few days were pretty relaxing, (well define relaxing) but in comparison to all the running around in Temuco it was nice to have a few mornings off and have time to prepare for different events.
A few of the highlights from our time in Santiago were just little things. Our second day there our hosts took us up to San Cisto, which is the largest hill in Santiago that gives you an incredible view of the entire city and man what a wonderful day it was. Just wandering around praying and enjoying the sights. From the hill we wandered back down into Santiago and walked towards the university district, passing the parliament building and tons of delicious food stands! It was just awesome.
The next few days were filled with just little events and chores to be done around the base so there isn’t much to talk about, but the next Tuesday, the 12th of April, we got another day off and 4 of us took a spontaneous trip to Valparaiso. The famous city full of colorful houses of the cliffs and street art everywhere! It was a wonderful day walking on rainbow staircases and exploring different old sectors of the city. We at an empanada shop that day with 80 different kinds and oh my gosh it was so incredible, chicken and chorizo, stuffed with cheese all in a crispy deep fried shell… honestly the best thing on earth!
It was a great little trip and it felt great to get out and do our own thing for a day. It’s actually one thing I realize I’ve been struggling with on this trip. The lack of freedom isn’t easy for me to cope with. Always having to stay in groups of two to be safe and not being allowed to wander very far. But I’m learning to work well in a group and it’s been good at least that the guys I’m with are so great and easy to spend so much time with anyways.
Loic, our French barista had a gig the next day in town at a Korean coffee shop and needed someone to join him so that he could leave the base. Weirdly enough no one wanted to go so I kinda reluctantly went, but instantly was stoked that I did. It was just a hilarious time walking around sharing stories and when we got to the coffee shop… man we got like a 10 star treatment coffee experience. Trying almost all the different coffee in the shop while conversing with the owner. It was such a cool thing to see as Loic and the owner talked about all these different methods of making and brewing coffee. The coffee shop was called Dan’s coffee and it had the best coffee I had ever tasted. Everything about the shop was so homey and relaxing, you just felt like part of the family as soon as you walked in the doors. At one point in all the coffee tasting he brought out a Canadian ice wine tea. So I was drinking Canadian tea, in a Korean coffee shop, with a Frenchman, in Santiago Chile. Talk about a multi-cultural experience! After drinking around 9 cups of coffee I was feeling a little buzzed, but it was well worth it. Loic talked a bit more and was able to get us some free coffee beans so we could make fresh coffee and an event we would be setting up the next week. It was mission success and still one of my favorite days from this trip so far!
The next day was the start of a long, long following three days. At around 5am an earthquake hit the center of Santiago, nothing huge, but enough to shake the earth and move around a few things on the shelf. The biggest thing was that the earthquake apparently affected the weather, moving water currents and other things. We weren’t sure If we believed this right away, because it was a beautiful sunny and we were able to go out and evangelize with the Korean church we were involved in. it was hot and sunny and life was just good, but later that night weather did change…
It poured and poured, raining for almost 3 days straight, flooding the street and actually knocking out the electricity and water with the first 18 hours of the rain starting. So for 2 and a half days we had no power, no water and we were stuck in this guesthouse eating up whatever food we had and drinking the last bits of fresh water that we had. It was a long few days, but it was really relaxing and we got to spend time with each other. The plus side to this was the oven was powered by gas so we were still able to cook delicious meals on these cold wet days, so nachos, pizza and different pastas were all on the menu and because the oven was tiny we had to eat in increments as the food cooked. So our meals would take 2-3 hours and we would just enjoy a simple meal under candle light. Something about the whole experience was kinda relaxing.
The 18th is when we finally got out of the house and were able to get back to life again. Only difference is that the house still had no power or water so instead of just continuing what happened before, we actually moved out of the base and to the Korean church we helped out with previously. It was an interesting move as we had nice beds and a house to ourselves at the base and at the church we had to sleep on the floor, but it really wasn’t too bad because we got to use a giant industrial sized kitchen and could cook just about whatever we wanted! The days at the Korean church were really nice because we could sort of relax and just spend our time preparing for the event we had on the 22nd. Alongside that our second off day was on the 19th so we all got to go out and do whatever we wanted in town. So three of us went to the giant park in the middle of the city and climbed the mountain there to see the views and what not at the top. It was really cool and relaxing to be able to kind of get out of the city feel and just enjoy time in nature. The air was fresher, life was brighter and I could finally feel my muscles being used again.
On top of one of the mountains in the park there’s a pool, but unfortunately this time of year the pool is closed, but I still really wanted to take a look. We went around back to where no one was watching and then I scaled the rock wall so I could get up to the next level and see where the pool was. It was in such a beautiful spot, mountains in view from every side and the city down below. The tallest building in Latin America could be seen as well as the sun that was setting. It was cool to see and I really wish I could’ve been open so I could’ve spent more time there.
We wandered down the mountain from there and watched the sun continue to set before wandering through the beautiful arts district at night. It was a fantastic end to an incredible day.
The next few days were spent preparing for our big event that would happen that Friday evening. We went out shopping in different areas, picking up cups, coffee and ingredients for pastries. On Thursday we went back to Dan’s coffee and were welcomed again by yet another incredible coffee experience and this time Loic and I were joined by our Scandinavian buddies so we enjoyed a Fika style snack. (Fika is a beautiful thing in Sweden where they take breaks from work every 2-3 hours for coffee and snacks. It’s so important to the culture and makes just a relaxing wonderful time.) After our Fika in the Korean coffee shop we headed over to the grounds we setting up the event and started on that for the rest of the evening.
The next day was the big event and we all split up to get different things ready for the night. Some went baking, some went shopping and others just relaxed and prepared little things for the night. At 4 o’clock we opened up the gate and got things going. Lee started her painting, Loic got his coffee up and running and the music guys started up the sound track. It was going great, tons of people were coming by and we had a ton of interest. I was in charge of documenting the night, which honestly I was none too thrilled about, but it gave me something to do for a while. About half way through the night I jumped on coffee duty with Loic and was able to learn how make a beautiful aero press coffee. It was actually a blast working with coffee and with different people as they came by. The night ended faster than expected and overall was a great success!
That night we went out for the best meal of the entire trip! We went to a Korean restaurant called Chicken Story with one of our hosts. He treated us to a meal filled with pepper smoothies, chicken wings and endless fries! but man the korean chicken wings were so killer and we all absolutely loved all of it!! It was a wonderful last big meal for our time in Santiago.
That was our last real event so we all went back to the Korean church and started packing up for the next adventure...