I have divided our trip into five posts, each focusing on a different element of the trip. I begin with the places because they are the most general to begin with to give an overview of our time in Chile. These are also presented in sequence--the other posts not necessarily so.
The changing of the guard at the palace in Santiago.
The Atacama Desert--the driest place on earth. Notice that there is NO vegetation.
A quaint Latin American village/town
The route to the sunset
The geysers (they pronounced it gee-zers) at sunrise. Notice the not-so-forboding ring of rocks, there to warn visitors not to step too close.
Water is Life
Salt Flats as far as you can see. Storm clouds in the distance. We were treated to a rain shower (even used the windshield wipers) in the Atacama, complete with thunder and a rainbow. (The white figure in the middle is Keith, click on the picture and you can get a close up and really see what the salt rocks look like.) Sunsets--always an awesome display of God's handiwork.
The road (and I used the term loosely) to a National Park.
I would not have guessed that animal life would have factored greatly into this trip. I was wrong. It did, both domestic and wild.
We could not get over all of the stray dogs, everywhere! They would lie on the city streets and not budge when cars drove near. They were in the small towns, on the country roads, and on the beach. I would have expected wild dogs to look mangy and rough, but only one dogs out of hundreds fit that description. Keith called them all "Pooch".
Be careful of the domestic cow found in various national parks!
We called these alpacas but later learned that they are probably vicunas. They were abundant in the desert early in the morning.
Also wandering around the desert were several emus. Here is a zoomed in shot and then a regular shot of the same scene to give perspective of the desolate landscape favored by this bird. (The emu is the dark spot in the center left of the picture.)
We also came upon a herd of fourteen llamas who were not at all shy about having us join them.
This Atacama Salt Flat is the perfect home for migrating flamingoes.
One of the cultural distinctives of any country is the food and Chile is no exception. We had wonderful food, and we had food that was OK. We enjoyed our empanadas fried on a little stove behind the counter of a bazarre vendor almost as much as the seafood platter at the oceanside restaurant. Keith couldn't get enough of the fresh fruit and delighted in the stands along the roads. He was thrilled to get huge bunches of grapes, peaches, and huge plums for just a little more than a dollar.
Fresh fish is abundant seeing that this country has over 3,000 miles of coastline.
This was a meat platter (vegetables were not abundant at most of the meals we had) that included pork, beef, sausages, and cow's udder (the yellow meat). I was the only one brave (translate: stupid) enough to taste it.
I thought the children would be interested to know that we ate "prickly pear" (the fruit in the song of Baloo in "The Jungle Book"). It grows on this cactus looking plant, has sharp spines, and must be picked early in the morning before the spines dry out into sharp points. The fruit itself is green and is filled with seeds that I likened to large raspberry or blackberry seeds. They're too big to chew and too numerous to spit. I was told they are to be swallowed and are good for cleaning out your digestive tract. It was kind of like not-too-unpleasant medicine, we didn't eat it just for the pleasure of eating it!
Keith was in his element under this arbor of fresh green grapes--his favorite fruit. Jorge plucked several bunches for us to take to our hotel!
Jorge also grew nuts and we ate these fresh walnuts right off the tree as well as fresh almonds.
A key aspect of this trip for us was to connect with the people in Chile. Not all of the people, of course. But we wanted to experience, in some measure, the flavor of the people and possibly be used by God to bless others in our path. God gave us the taste of the sweet and the bitter. We were able to be a blessing as well as to be very greatly blessed by those we met on the way.
OK, they weren't from Chile but Joey and Jamie served us a wonderful anniversary dinner in their home before driving us to the airport as we began our journey. Jamie made us feel very special, and it warmed my heart to see Joey helping with the dishes (he only cooks cold cereal and ice cream). They wouldn't let us lift a finger.
Through stateside contacts, we met up with Omar and Susana (along with translator Evie). Omar pastors a small Reformed Baptist church in Santiago, a city of 6 million. We were limited by the language barrier but blessed by our common love for Christ.
Patricia gave us a tour of one of the two children's homes we visited. The love that she (and Daniel in the other home) have for children is evident. We were inspired to consider ways to imitate some of their methods with needy children in the US.
Jorge was the name I associated with Chile. Keith spoke of him frequently as a business associate and we spent time with him and his family. They did not treat us as if we were business, they treated us as friends. Coyi cooked and served the most amazing meal I've ever eaten. It was a "lunch" that took two and half hours to eat. We did not just eat, we talked and savored the company as much as the food. You can see three glasses of fresh juice (grape, peach, and raspberry) at my place, made from the fruits that they grow. Keith is sitting here with Jorge's son Rodrigo and his girlfriend Paulina. Here is Keith with Jorge and Coyi. They were so good to us while we were in Chile that it is doubtful we could ever pay them back for all of their kindnesses. One of our bitter moments in Chile was an orchestrated mugging that only lasted about thirty seconds but left us without Keith's wallet and with a heightened sense of fear and suspicion. Jorge was ready to drive several hours to get us, but Keith convinced him that we were fine (and we were). He did however, see to it that we got cash and took care of all of our needs with our non-English speaking hotel staff. This is probably one of our worst pictures, but I couldn't resist using it. It is obvious that neither Coyi nor I are expecting the picture to be taken, but neither are the llamas! This picture also shows just how tall I was compared to the Chileans. We were stared at everywhere we went.
A man gathering bait for fishing while his son sorted them into little "sand ponds" he had made.
This may be Rex, a college student on exchange from North Carolina for a semester. He walks seven miles one way to spend his free time surfing the waves at Renaca.
Andres and his wife, Fabiola, had been praying specifically that God would send them help and support for the small work that is trying to get started in Vina del Mar. We were praying specifically that God would show us how we could be used in some way to minister to the lives of those whose paths we crossed. God brought us together for twelve hours last Sunday. It seemed to be a direct answer to our prayers and we are excited to see where God will lead us in this relationship.
Keith asked me to make sure my posts about our trip were not about us. He lives his life to glorify God, and is a constant encouragement to me to do the same. He may fear that this post is too much about him. But in recognizing the gift that God has given to me I acknowledge the Giver. Keith is who he is because of Whose he is. I am a beneficiary.
I thank God for the 25 years He has given to us. I have been blessed with a husband who has obeyed the New Testament command to love his wife. Here are some things I love about him.
He always encourages me, in all things, to look up to see Christ.
He loves God's creation, and the ocean is a top attraction. He can (and does) spend hours watching and feeling the power of the waves. I love watching him delight in that power.
Open and uninhibited, he is never afraid to communicate with anyone, even if they can't speak English! He wanted to know about the fishing, so he asked! "The fish are how big?"
As much as he loves to fish, he is even more drawn to fishing for men and is never more fulfilled than when conversing with someone else who has as insatiable a desire for the Lord as he does. Finding such people in Chile was a highlight of our trip.
We often point out oddities in each other that are quirks of our personalities--things we've been aware of since the beginning, that just don't change. Now when we notice them we chuckle and say, "At least I know it's still you." Keith never could get the hang of altering his gait when we would go for walks together and I always found myself running to catch up with him. I couldn't resist taking this picture as "we" were walking through a national park. At least I knew it was still him!
I've stopped running to catch up, and years ago learned to just be direct, "Hey! Wait for me, let's walk together!" He hasn't refused me yet.
Eph. 5:33 "Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband." Twenty-five years ago we made a promise to love, honor, and cherish one another, to stay together through good and bad. We made that promise and kept that promise in faith, trusting that God would keep His promises as we kept ours. We now have some measure of the fulfilling of God's promises--blessings on us and our children. We still have those commands before us, we still keep them in faith, but we also keep them with the experience of knowing all the good that God brings to us as we keep His commandments. Blessed be His name.