Sunday, November 29, 2009

Valpo to B.A.

Hello blog people,

Michelle and I are currently in the beautiful, beautiful city of Buenos Aires! It is pretty easily our favorite city thus far.

And now for a brief update on the last few days:

1. After spending a couple of days back in Santiago, we made our way to two small coast towns, Vina del Mar and Valparaiso. We stayed at a nice little hostel in Vina del Mar and spent most of our first day there recovering from a long, long, long walk from the bus station. We were totally lost after arriving, and ended up stopping at the police station to ask for directions to our hostel. A sweet little government worker ended up walking with us for well over an hour to our hostel. We tried to give her some pesos for a cab, but she shook her head, gave us a hug, and was off for an hour long trek back across town. There's been no shortage of blessings thus far. That night, we met up with a lady from Australia that we met in La Serena, as well as two of the Minnesota folk. It was great to re-connect with them and fun to see a bit of the nightlife in Vina.

2. The next day, (Thanksgiving) we took a short train to Valparaiso. Valpo (as the locals and informed travelers refer to it as), is a colorful, hilly, kind of run down city. It's a bit like a Chilean San Francisco. We spent all of the afternoon walking around, and taking old elevators lifts up to different parts of the town. We celebrated Thanksgiving by eating a delicious completo. What is a completo you ask? Let us tell you. It is a hot dog, smothered in guacamole, mayo, and tomatoes. Don't knock it unless you've tried it.

3. On Friday we flew over to Buenos Aires, and immediately fell in love with its boutiquey self. Picture a european style city with cobblestone streets and bookstores, cafes, galleries, and beautifulness everywhere. It's really amazing and is easily our favorite city thus far. We spent all of yesterday in the Palermo Viejo neighborhood. Michelle was immediately overwhelmed by all of the beautiful design and boutique shops. She at numerous points said that she was on, "sensory overload", and even at one point apologized in advance for providing bad conversation due to her constant boutique distraction. Last night we met up with an Australian couple that we met at the Brazilian consulate in Santiago. They were a lot of fun, though the club we went to was playing '80's/'90's pop music. Think Jock Jams. Michelle and I danced like we've never danced before. We also stayed at a sweet hostel pictured below.

4. Today we wandered about the San Telmo neighborhood which features one of the largest markets in Buenos Aires. Let's say it together, "sensory overload for Michelle". Little vendors, opera singers, puppet people, orange juicers, leather swindlers, and an occasional gringo, lined the streets for miles. And if that wasn't enough, there was an antique market at the end which sported lots of really expensive pocket watches, grammaphones, and other old goodies. I've had an absolute hay day with photography and Michelle has been incredibly patient throughout.

5. As if Buenos Aires couldn't be any greater, when returning to our hostel today, we were graced with the Vikings/Bears game. My did seeing Favre live make me giddy with glee. And then for him to dismantle yet another team. It was beautiful.

We are soon off to Uruguay (maybe) and then Iguazu Falls before venturing into Brazil.

We love you all and miss you much. It's really difficult being away from home for Thanksgiving and soon Christmas too, but we're starting to get into the swing of things and have been having a blast thus far. Please email us and keep us updated about life back home as well.

And now, I leave you with a picture of Michelle and her new bag, as well as a photo of the sushi place where we had dinner.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Raspberry Farm:
After arriving in Santiago, we soon made our way down to Southern Chile to an organic farm called Brita's. Eva (the owner)
makes all kinds of delicious jams, spreads, and pie. The first day, it was quite rainy, so we spent a lot of time labeling jars
and taking photos of the different parts of the farm. The second day, we did our best to construct a giant raspberry out of
plastic red balls to help with the roadside signage, but sadly to no avail. The task proved too difficult. Later in the day,
we explored the property and explored a beautiful river that flowed through the back of the farm. We also found a giant bug.
With Michelle hiding in the house, I garnered up the courage to swipe it with a broom handle. Upon hitting it's crunchy body,
I screamed, causing a neighbor to run over and make sure everything was ok. I was just a little embarrassed, but rest assured
the bug escaped just fine and was placed gently into the grass, out of harms way.

La Serena:
We then made our way up to La Serena, about 6.5 hours North of Santiago. There, we stayed at a hostel with a number of
other gringos, 4 of whom were from Minnesota! Such a small world. The skies in La Serena are supposedly some of the
clearest in the world, and there is a large observatory in a neighboring town. So one night, we took a tour to the observatory
and were able to see the moon in all its glory (see below the picture we took through the telescope) as well as the gases around Jupiter, Magellanic (sp?) Clouds (which are really 2 other galaxies only seen in the southern hemisphere!), and other astronomical goodies. It was an amazing experience and a great reminder of how small we are.

Back to Santiago:
So now, we are back in Santiago for the day and we'll be heading West to Valparaiso and Vina del Mar tomorrow to meet some of the Minnesotans from the hostel in La Serena. Then it is off to Buenos Aires on Friday!

We're both missing home a lot, especially with Thanksgiving and Christmas being so close. We should have some access
to Skype later tonight if you are in the chatting mood. Today some Chileans even asked me for directions. I don't know if it
was the 'stache or the scarf, but I was flattered. Unfortunately, I had no idea what they were saying.

We love you and miss you all, and we leave you with this a video of our lunch today!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Dinner in Santiago!


We arrived in Santiago, Chile this afternoon. There was a brief moment of panic at the airport when we learned about the currency... Chilean pesos are in hundreds, thousands, and hundreds of thousands, which doesn't bode well with our math skills.

Tonight we are staying with Viqui and Aaron. They studied in Madison, WI and have been incredibly hospitable, generous, and kind. We just finished a wonderful meal with their family and some friends. Check out the video and know someone in Chile loves you.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Oh Peru.

Dear You,

We are back in Lima after many days of fun adventure.

After a couple of days in Lima, we got on a bus and traveled about 9 hours north to a small surfing town outside of Trujillo, called Huanchaco. Jonny learned to surf and we filled our bellies full of ceviche and corn (which the kernels are like 3x the size of American corn...its amazing!) After meeting some Americans at a restaurant who told us we would be crazy if we did not go to machu picchu, we decided to hop on another 9 hours bus back to Lima and then immediately onto another 23 hour bus to Cusco. As we drove through the night, the bus would stop and let randos on to try to sell us food/wine/you name it. It was definitely an experience. The next day (still on the bus) we stopped for lunch at a little restaurant. Jonny and I didn't have much money on us since the day before we had spent it all on the bus tickets, but were able to scrounge up about 7 soles ($3) to split a plate of rice and beans. A little Peruvian woman, dressed in very worn clothes, approached us and started speaking to us in Spanish. After a couple of minutes we picked up on the fact that she wanted to buy us another meal, which she did, and all we could do in return was say "muchas gracias". It was such a beautiful display of the hospitality of the Peruvian people, and also of the Lord's provision.

Beautiful, bustling town in the mountains. The roads are a maze of steep cobblestone alleys filled with shop after shop. We stayed a night and then took a 2 hour taxi and a 3 hour train to Aguas Calientes..the gateway city to Machu Picchu.

Aguas Calientes:
Finally some jungle and greenery! At the base of huge tree filled mountains that are usually covered with thick clouds, sits this little town that exists to bring people up and down Machu Picchu. Jonny and I pretty much jumped from restaurant to restaurant eating 4 course meals for $5 a pop....YUM:) At then end of the town are the hot springs, which we also enjoyed.

Machu Picchu:
The next morning We woke up at 4:00 am to ensure that we would be in the top 400 people to enter Machu picchu which makes you eligible to climb Waynapicchu (a huge mountain that overlooks the ruins). We took the bus up to Machu Picchu and then began our trek up Waynapicchu which was an absolutely amazing experience and the biggest work out of the decade for both of us. We climbed the steep stairs in a little under 40 minutes which i think is pretty impressive, if i do say so myself. At the top, the clouds started off below us and then began to rise up right in front of us until they were gone and the sun was shining down on Maccu Picchu. Our only response was awe. We spent some time up there journaling and looking out, and then made the trek back down to the ruins. At the ruins, we hiked up to the guard house and met some llamas..they were everywhere! Take a look at the videos:)

After another 23 hour bus ride back to Lima, we are here staying with mission workers, Sara and Rusty, who have been the biggest blessing. They are letting us stay in their house, they let us wash our clothes, and they cooked us delicious fish and rice last night and pancakes and fruit this morning! We are here one more night and then we are off to Santiago where we will be visiting a raspberry farm a couple hours south of the city.

Until next time...Peace

Thursday, November 5, 2009

First day in Lima

What a crazy city... We arrived late last night to a taxi driver holding a sign with our name on it...(a missionary who we have emailed back and forth but never met arranged it all thank goodness!) We are staying with another mission worker down here, Alexandra.

This morning we awoke to some fresh mango banana juice and bread with passion fruit and honey spread on top.
Then we found a clinic that would give us the yellow fever vaccination (which we found out only yesterday was necessary to have in order to get in and out of most of the countries we are going to), so all set there:)
The rest of today was spent walking around the neighborhood of Lima called Miraflores, eating ceviche (raw fish soaked in lime juice and onions), watching the surfers, hardly staying alive on the bus and in the taxi, and otherwise just taking it pretty slow.

Tomorrow Jonny will be taking some photos of products for local artisans that are part of a fair trade organization and then we will be off to who knows where:) Guess well let you know once we figure it out!

much love

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

4 more hours.

November 4th is finally here! After months of preparation, training, and intensive labor, we are soon to be aboard a plane to Miami. And then to Lima, Peru.

Michelle is blow drying her hair.

I'm about to start packing.

And we have to be at the airport in 4 hours.

4:30 am here we come!