Seeing Chile

27 August 2005
9:33 PM

This is the first time in three days that I have used a computer. It’s a little unusual for me; even when I was at orientation without a computer, I still checked my email a couple of times daily. I suppose I should get used to it.

I have been keeping busy these last few days. Wednesday night we had onces in places of dinner. Onces (“elevens” in Spanish) was once served as a late night meal around 11:00pm. Since that time it has been moved up. The meal consists of various appetizer-like dishes. It may include avoccados, which are very popular here, and bread, which my initial encounters suggest is fantastic in Chile. We talked into the evening and watched “Brujas,” a Spanish soap opera.

On Thursday, Meg took us into downtown Santiago. We rode on a micro (pron. “mee-cro”), which is like a bus in almost every way, save its desire to never stop moving. The micro drives with its door open half the time and people jump on and off while it is still moving. Downtown Santiago is not quite as I pictured it. While there are tall buildings, there are not many, and they’re not clustered together like in large U.S. cities. In the evening, we had empanadas pino (a flour pocket of beef, onions, and other good stuff) and hung out with the local program facilitators, Isabel and Pedro.

Friday Meg put Roy and me to work constructing a “greenhouse” for the Santiago house’s new garden. We nailed some boards together successfully and threy haven’t fallen down yet. Only someone with an overly active imagination would identify it as a greenhouse, though. Most would call it, “12 boards nailed together that haven’t fallen down yet.”

In the evening we took a micro to the city bus station and caught a bus to Calle Larga. The other associate house in Chile is in Pocuro, which is a subdivision of the town Calle Larga. We arrived at night (the bus ride is about an hour). The house is cosy and the three associates there gave us a warm welcome. After dinner, we went to the rec room of the chapel next door and listened to some of the neighborhood guys practice traditional Chilean folklore music. It was absolutely fantastic.

This morning (Saturday), we had breakfast with the three local Holy Cross priests. One of them is from Michigan but only speaks English sparingly. He came here when he was 18 and has lived here for the past 42 years! Then Padre Geraldo gave us a tour of some of the local chapels. The church here is organized into a parrochia (parish), consisting of a dozen smaller chapels spread throughout Calle Larga. They are rather small, each holding less than 100 people. The countryside is gorgeous. Pocuro is surrounded by the towering Andes mountains.

In the coming days, we’ll go to see some of the work done by the associates here.