Leaving Chile

Sorry again that it’s been so long since I’ve been able to get a post up! These last few weeks have been full of hiking, camping and lots of catching up with other students who came back from outreach in different locations, so it’s been hard to focus on keeping this up, but the blog posts from here on should be a fair bit shorter as less “insane” events have been happening.

 

So I’ll take you all back to our final destination in Chile really quick and describe what I think is almost the perfect end to such a strange trip as this one was.

Our bus to the surf town of Pichilemu was booked to leave sometime in the afternoon of the 24th, after we helped serve at this nice wedding in Santiago. Just to be safe we left the wedding early and arrived several hours early at the bus terminal so that we wouldn’t have any chance of missing the bus. Well after waiting around for an hour and a half a few of us went a little stir crazy and our travel coordinator actually went and got our bus changed to a bus that was leaving in 5 minutes... now at this very moment a couple of the girls were in the bathroom and all our bags were on the opposite side of the terminal. This made for a little bit of madness and a kinda stressful start to the final leg of our trip, but we all made it on the bus and were able to enjoy a nice long nap on the 4 hour bus ride to Pichilemu.

We arrived in Pichilemu sometime after dark, I can’t’ remember any of the times right now, but the thing was no one was there to pick us up. We sat in the dark at the random city hall for about another hour, a little confused and not sure what was going to happen. We finally got a hold of our hosts and found out that they didn’t realize that we were coming tonight and that they were actually in a meeting at the very moment so they would send someone else to come pick us up in a few more minutes. When the car came it was just a little vehicle that could hardly fit any of our bags, but hey, we stuffed them all in somehow and then got the directions to the base and started walking down these deserted, Chilean streets in the dark. When we finally got to the base we were very pleasantly surprised with the building, it had a half sized Olympic swimming pool, fitness room, dance room and a very nice sushi bar, (which is what we would end up sleeping in for the next couple nights). We enjoyed a nice late dinner at the base and listened to stories from our host. Listened to plans he has for the base and for different things that we could do while we were in Pichilemu. It was great information and the guy, Mitch, was one heck of a character himself. He told us of is different injuries from big wave riding, how his daughter is the Chilean national surf champion and how he was built the entire base basically with his own bare hands. It was a lot of inspiration to take in but really cool to hear a guy who was so dedicated to this city and making such a change to the area.

 

The next morning we were all woken up by very loud, very upbeat music that was being played next door in the dance studio. It was 6:00am and none of us were ready for that, after the late night previous. It just meant we started our day earlier and went off to see if we could find a bakery open on a Sunday so we could get ourselves some breakfast. After breakfast we spent the rest of the day doing our final team debrief from the trip, we talked about highs and lows and different things that stood out to us. Things that could change, things that were good and so on, it was a really interesting chat because our group is so talkative that I figured I had heard everything from everyone already, but nope, there was lots to be said that day too! We finished off our debrief and then all headed into town to go and explore a little bit before meeting up again for dinner, which we found out was very hard to find at 8pm on a Sunday! We did end up finding this very interesting bar that was still open and enjoyed some surprisingly good bar food.

 

The next morning we had a bit more individual debrief where we talked about our personal feeling from the trip with our leaders. It was good to get out but I was really antsy to get out to this place a few kilometers away for sunset so my heart was exactly there… oops!

One cool thing that happened while I was waiting with Johannes at the beach for my debrief to start was these three, old Chilean women came up from the beach and started jabbering on to Johannes his this excited Spanish, asking about our trip, when we’re leaving and offering if we wanted to stay with them in Chile instead of going home. It last for a good 20 minutes and was hilarious to witness. And as they were leaving they stopped again a few meters away and say a welcome to Chile song for us! It was the strangest encounter, but really was a great way to start a wonderful day!

 

We all ate lunch together after that and then split off into sort of groups, where 6 of us went to the famous surf location of Punto Del lobos, which created the most magical night from the entire trip! We walked all the way to Del Lobos which was about a 2 hour walk along a huge beautiful beach that was completely empty, and just for the few of us. It was almost like a movie, slowly coming up too this world famous location for big wave surfing and having no one around.

We arrived in the late afternoon and explored different parts of the beach and met a few interesting people and surfers. We were even able to enjoy a nice cup of coffee from a coffee truck that was at the very end of the road on the point. It was total hippieville here and I just loved it!

We grabbed some food from the only restaurant around and then moved back to the point to watch the sun set into the sea as the surfers slowly made their way inland before the dark overtook them.

3 of the people we were with were tired and wanted to head back after the sun set, so we split up again and sent them home with a collectivo. Loic, Rachel and I all stayed back to watch the stars come up.

 

Never before in my life have I ever seen the Milky Way so defined. It was so breathtaking and incredible I hardly had words for it. I tried getting some shots but there was no way to be able to replicate the feeling of being there, under the sky so bright with stars it almost seemed impossible. The three of us laid under the stars for a few more hours picking our constellations and talking about the future. I think I could confidently say that this was one of my most precious moments from the entire trip and I so wish that one day I’ll be able to go back to Chile so I can look back up at those beautiful stars and think back on this night.

 

The next day was spent relaxing at the beach and just taking in all that had happened, I ended up falling asleep on the beach for a few hours before we needed to get back to base to connect with the group for our last meal together in Chile.

The next morning was an early one. Getting up and packing so that we could start on our journey home to Norway, a grand total up 40 hours with the bus trip I think. The whole trip seemed to go by far too quickly, because before we knew it, we were standing in the Aalesund airport hugging and saying hi to the China team that had arrived a few moments before us. We all went back to the base together and in a kind of euphoric state, tried to get back to a normal routine for the next 4 days.

Hello Norway...

End of Chile Wrap up

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…..

This was our driver for the crazy trip!

 

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.

Back side of the Volcano!

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.

Loic's polaroid photo of Pom Pom and i which will go in his Coffee shop he's building in France.

 

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.

Panorama of the Parliament building in Santiago.

 

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!

Best empanada shop in all of Valparaiso! 

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.

Making pizza by candle light.

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.

Top of one of the mountains right inside of Santiago.

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.

Tallest building in all of Latin America.

 

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 start of our wonderful Fika in Chile, Ice espresso with a shot of water.

 

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! 

Opening of the gate for the big event.

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...