Saturday, February 6, 2010


Renaico is a little town. There is no real grocery store. The closest thing to the grocery store is a little market that sells basic needs [basic fruits and vegetables, yogurt, toiletries, candy, alcohol, and cigarettes]. Here, they call them "supermercados" [supermarkets]. So in short, Renaico is a pretty small, humble town.

We enjoyed the weekend seeing friends and being with the family. My sister-in-law Maritza called us the night that she got here and said that she wasn't going to be able to come see us for a few weeks because her and her husband were really busy with work. Much to our excitement and surprise, she and her husband surprised us with their arrival the day after we got here. It was really exciting to see them!

We went to church the sunday after arrival in Renaico and it was so neat. Everyone was so happy to see us and so many people said hi to us and talked to us. I love the church. It is the same wherever you go. You can enter a chapel anywhere in the world and feel the spirit so strongly. It was nice to be so warmly greeted by everyone in the branch.

The river is cute and the best part of the town. Every warm day in summer, people flock to the river to enjoy the sun and water. A few little restaurants surround the beach area of the river and serve fast food [of course "completos" are the most popular items on the menus]. Music plays loudly for all to hear and kids play on the foosball tables which cost about 40 cents for 3 balls. The line for the little diving board is full and kids running and jumping off. The older and more risky kids jump off the bridge at different altitudes. People splash, kids build sand castles, and take off in the little row boats.
It's a cute little environment.

Monday we went to the river and it was really nice. First Cesar and I biked there in the morning before the people got there and took these pictures and enjoyed seeing this place that Cesar had so longed return to. The air was warm, but the water was cold. Cesar has told me so much about this place and it is so beautiful to actually go to the places that he has accounted to me with so much detail. It is so neat to finally see where he grew up and where he comes from.
Later on, Cesar, Ely, Maritza, Maritza's Dog, Ely's friend and I took a little row boat up the river.

We found a nice spot where we put our towels down and soaked in the sun. It is exciting to be in the places that I have heard so much about :]

It was really nice...Cesar found an old friend and they talked for a little bit.

The dog was so happy to be there. She was prancing everywhere and exploring everything she could.
After a while, we rowed back to the beach. But, a river trip is not complete without going to eat "completos" so we stopped into one of the restaurants to eat a traditional "completo".

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

El Camino al sur

We leave Santiago and head for the south [el sur]. The smoggy haze lingers in the sky outside of the city. The filthy air covers the Andes mountains that serve as a backdrop for the lush greenery.

The further south we advance, the clearer the sky becomes. The further south we advance, the greener the plants become. Vineyards

cover the land until they reach the horizon. Lush green trees and plants begin to fill my view...We are getting closer to what Cesar calls home...

I soak in the view like a sponge as I snap photos....

We stop to eat at a quick stop and I get to try my first Chilean "completo" or in other words, [hot dog]. Yes, it's funny, why don't they just call it a hot dog [or perrito caliente?] like all of the other Latin-American countries??? In Chile the hot dog is distinctly different from the typical hot dog. A real "Completo" comes filled with tomato, avocado, and sauerkraut and topped with mayonnaise, catsup, and mustard. The mustard is also different. It actually contains REAL mustard seeds! It is actually really good. I will have to bring some home with me :] I always modify my completo and get it without sauerkraut and mayo and with only half of the hot dog so I don't have a heart attack from all of the fat! ;] In Chile, you will find a lot of European influence, especially German. Before and after World War II, many germans immigrated to Chile. Most of those who came after World War II, went to southern Chile. Also, the German culture was not the only culture to come to Chile. So when I ask myself, why is Chile so different? I remember that it has a unique mix of cultures that has evolved over the years...My country is similar to this, made up of people from all different countries and cultures whom in the end all make one unique country.

We continue our voyage to the south and the green just keeps getting greener.

The sun sinks into the horizon and the vegetation darkens.

We continue driving into the night.
Within the hour we reach the quiet town of Cesar's home town. The center of the town is strung with Christmas-like lights. The river flows silently. The plaza is filled with people watching a movie on a big screen that the town put up especially for that night. My Cesar feels all sorts of emotions flowing back. It has been years since he has lived here.

We get to his home and his family awaits us with a Chilean barbeque [asado]. Everyone is happy and excited to see us. We pull out all of the gifts that we can find in the luggage and hand them out. What a glorios reunion. Cesar's best friend, Claudio arrives and I finally meet the man behind all of the adventure stories. I listen intently as they all sit around the table reminiscing about old times. A lovely start to a new adventure...

Friday, January 22, 2009*

Tuesday, January 26, 2010


We are walking down the street in the middle of Santiago chatting and taking in the sights. People walk in all directions and the streets are filled with cars bustling by. Cesar, Tia Lia, and and I are enjoying a nice afternoon in Santiago. Bunches of people walk towards and away from us in all sides. Two men with dark sunglasses walk by us heading in the opposite direction. Tia Lia says casually, "Oh there goes Natalino,". "What?! Where??" I exclaim. "Right there," she replies casually and signals behind us. I look back in the other direction and she points out the man who she claims in Natalino. "Seriously?" I ask. "Yeah, I wouldn't say it if it weren't him," she replies. "But how do you know?," I enquire as we walk further in the opposite direction of Natalino. "Really," she insists, "I'm good at recognizing faces,". "Well why don't we go say hi to him and take a picture with him or something!?" I ask exciteldy. "You want to?" she asks. "Yes!!! OF COURSE!" I declare. So we turn around and head in the direction that Natalino went. We is walking fast so we quicken our pace without running like 12-year-old girls. Luckily he stops at a newstand and we get a chance to catch up. "Natalino," Tia Lia exclaims. He turns around and she introduces me as one of his fans. He says hi and kisses us on the cheek (this is the polite way to say hello in Latin America) and shakes Cesar's hand. We chat a little bit and then ask if we can take a picture with him. He happily agrees and I get a picture with him first...

And then Cesar jumps in...
Tia Lia is great at recognizing faces!! Good thing I had my camera with me! Tia Lia is so much fun! We love her!
We get back to the apartment and Maria Jose walks in. I excitedly tell her my story and show her the photo. She is excited for me. She just had a birthday yesterday and is about to give birth to her first son. His name will be Santiago...
For those of you who haven't had the opportunity to hear Natalino, his first name is Cristián and he is the lead singer in the trio that is named after him, "Natalino". Their musis is popular and romantic. One of their most popular songs is called Desde Que Te Vi. Here's a taste...
Friday, January 22, 2009*

Saturday, January 23, 2010

I'm in LOVE with Santiago is not another man

Streets lined with tall trees, buildings rising high into the sky, pedestrians walking swiftly...Mi querido Santiago. I love this city. "Sanhattan", they call a part of it, because of it's similarity with Manhattan. I have never been to Manhattan, but I can imagine liking it.
Santiago is filled with sky scrapers, people, and cars. The city boasts everything you could possibly imagine just a few blocks away from where you live. It is wonderful. Everyone has somewhere to go and there are so many people walking everywhere. I love it.
There are parts of Santiago that are so relaxed and actually quite safe. I love the high rise apartment buildings. We drive down the streets of Providencia, one of the nicer parts of Santiago and I fall in love. The streets are lined with trees that create tunnels for the streets. The trees create so much shade for the pedestrians and automobiles. We are staying with our friend, Jose's mom and she lives in the cutest neighborhood: Las Condes. I love it as well. It resides in the middle of the city, yet it is isolated from the downtown and doesn't seem so busy. I find it a wonderful place to live.

Downtown also has it's unique beauty. It's not as high end and safe, but it is still spectacular. The Palacio de la Moneda, or in other words, the Presidential palace, El Estacion Central, or in other words, Central Station are filled with people and life.

I already told Cesar that we should buy an apartment here someday...
January 21, 2009*

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Santiago, Chile

Outside, the sun shines brightly and the air is hot. I'm comfortably sitting at a pleasantly air-conditioned Starbucks with my Mac Book in the middle of a shopping mall in Santiago. I am comfortable and not worried about someone robbing me. The line goes to the door and the lounge is filled with the chatter of businesspeople negotiating, friends chatting, and other people enjoying a drink as they relax. Everything is clean, new, and comfortable. All of the seats are occupied. The store windows have signs that say "sale". The mall is filled with shoppers buying bathing suits and summer clothes. This mall has the style of Fashion Island or the Irvine Spectrum, but filled with more people.

The people are beautiful with browned skin and light colored eyes. There are even lots of people with light skin and light colored eyes.

There is so much life. Everyone has somewhere to go and the ambient is busy. I could live Santiago

January 20, 2009*

Plane Ride

The plane takes off and we're on our way to Dallas...the plane ride is short and exciting. We never imagined being able to go to Chile so soon. It all came up so quickly. We land in Dallas and hurry to get into the tram to take us to our gate where the plane leaves in 30 minutes...Dallas airport has this great tram system to get from one end of the airport to the next. It's almost like Disneyland!

The plane ride to chile is 8 hours...almost like driving from Utah home to California. On my right is Cesarito and on my left and a Chef from the World Chef's society on my right. I loose my book under the big chef and can't find it for the life of me...I watch the movie that is on the screen and the voyage seems eternal.

Cesar turns to me and says, "I've figured out who the Chileans are here." [Chileans are not all dark like him. There are a lot of them who are fair skinned and have blue eyes or blonde hair] So I ask, "How do you know?" Cesar then points out to seats around him that are empty. I look around and see several seats in different rows that are completely empty. They were occupied when we boarded the plane. "What happened to all of these random people?", I ask. "They're Chileans," he responded and signaled toward the back of the plane. [we were sitting close, several rows from the back]. I see a big group of people congregated in the back laughing and talking softly. "But how do you know they're Chileans?," I ask. "Look!" he says, "they're all back there drinking." I chuckle to myself in disbelief...As the minutes passed, the conversation and laughing in the back of the plane grows louder...sounds like they're having fun. A few hours later one of the group members who was sitting close to us comes back and sits down. The smell proved it all. haha "So that's what Chileans are like?" I say. "Muy fiesteros (they love to party or in better words drink)," he says. haha even in the airplane.

I start to think about the voyage. Airplanes are so amazing. You board and plane and you an be on the other end of the world in less than 24 hours. In 8 hours we will be in a place that I have never seen. In 8 hours, I will be hearing everyone speak a different language, eating different foods, different architecture, different customs. It is so exciting. Anyone can just jump on a plane and be in a completely different place. I think to myself, how blessed we are to have the opportunity to go to Chile. Airplanes are so incredible. They take hundreds of people and a tremendous amounts of weight in luggage to anywhere you like.

We land in Santiago and get to the immigration counter, or in other words, the counter where you pay with new, impeccable, and perfectly crisp bills. However, we don't know this yet. We get to the counter to pay and hand the lady $120, two 20-dollar bills and one 100-dollar bill. "I can't take this bill," she says. "Are you serious? Why?" I ask surprised. "The bill is marked," she states and hands the bill back pointing to a small black mark that was on the 20-dollar bills. Really?! haha Seriously? So Cesar looks through his wallet and pulls out another 20-dollar bill and hands it over. "I can't take this bill," she says. Seriously, I think, who is this lady? "It's ripped?" she says. I take the bill back and almost had to take out a microscope to see the miniscule rip that was at the top of the bill. Finally we found a bill that was in mint condition and passed it over. So luckily Cesar had more than three 20-dollar bills, otherwise I don't know what I would have done? Stayed in the airport without entering because my money wasn't in mint condition. It turns out that the bank that they take the money to doesn't take bills that have marks or rips...I guess it isn't worth as much? haha

So we get in the line to hand in another form that we had filled out and we chat with some really nice Canadians. We laugh about the bill situation. They had a hard time as well and finally had to pay with a credit card.

Santiago is a very large city with hundreds of huge buildings and mountains as their landscape. There is a lot of smog but I imagine that it must be so beautiful when the smog clears. There is so much life. The mountains look like Utah, but the vegetation looks like California in the summer. It is so different. It is clean and modern, not what I had imagined. I am excited to see more!

January 19-20, 2009*

Saturday, January 16, 2010


I have been thinking a lot about Haiti. For some reason I have felt so connected to what is going on in this country. I knew about the earthquake very soon after it happened because I am usually very tuned in with the news and the what is happening in the world up to the minute. It seems so unreal. There are so many people suffering, left without a place to sleep, and many left alone without any family. The whole country is in ruins. The streets house dead bodies awaiting their pickup by trucks who take their bodies and dump them in the mass graves without any sort of organization or form of body identification. Those whose loved ones have died away from their sides most likely will never see their bodies or know where they were buried. People will just disappear with their location unknown.

Not only babies cry, but entire families. People are hurt and dying of basic injuries such as lacerations and broken bones, injuries that people shouldn't die from in this day and age. There are not enough hospitals to take care of the injured and even fewer supplies to keep these injuries from killing them. This country has been devastated. The streets have become the home of the survivors along with their dead brothers and sisters...

Supplies arrive, but are not able to be distributed. Survival of the fittest comes into play. People are getting desperate and the situation is getting chaotic.

A poor little baby was found under the rubble. Her cries were heard from outside the rubble of a toppled down building. It took only 30 minutes to save her life. This is just one story. There are thousands of people in the same situation.

I ask myself what can I do? What can we do? We must help our Haitian brothers and sisters. We are so lucky that this didn't happen to us and we are blessed to live in a country where we have so many resources. Because we are so blessed with resources, let's share them.

The easiest way to help that I found was that you can text "HAITI" to 9-0-9-9-9 and you will automatically donate $10 to the Haiti relief fund to the American Red Cross, or go to the Red Cross Website and donate online. You can also donate on the United Nations Website or on the UNICEF website.

Pray and give...whatever you can. Our brothers and sisters need it.