Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Mapuche Trip, Day 2

I woke up relatively early and got in line for the shower. During this time I talked to some of the other people, most of which only knew Spanish. This was not an easy task first thing in the morning. I tried to shower and get ready as quickly as possible, then grabbed a quick breakfast, then we had a little devotional time before we split up and headed out. We walked to a different bus station with another team who was headed in the same direction, piled on, and were off. We stopped several places along the way, and people got on and off. What was interesting was that the bus was over sold, so for about an hour the aisle was filled with people who had no where to sit. I'm used to that happening on city buses where you only ride for a few minutes or a few stops, but a country bus, where it's at least 20-30 minutes between stops was an interesting sight. The other team got off, and we headed on for another hour and a half. Our team went the furthest of the three. We were actually very very close to the border of Argentina. I slept a lot during this bus ride, but when I wasn't sleeping I was enjoying the scenery outside. The south is beautiful, and I was enjoying seeing the countryside. I don't get a lot of that in Santiago!
We got to our stop around 1:30, and we were pretty much left off in the middle of no where with all our stuff. It was a dirt road, and I saw no houses in sight. What on earth were we going to do? Walk. Yup, we picked up our gear and headed off. However, the house was just over a hill, so it wasn't really that far at all. Some of the people had been to this house before, so they knew the people. So they had a good time catching up. We pretty much sat outside in the shade for the rest of the day, talking. This was a difficult time for me. I didn't really know anyone on the team at all yet, and I had an even harder time understanding the people we were staying with. Eventually I had the opportunity to talk to some members of the team separately, so that was a bit easier. We were waiting for the last member of our team to come so we could eat. He had stayed back in Victoria to buy our food supplies for the week, and then was driving in his truck to us. We expected him around 4. He didn't get there until at least 8:30, I think, so we were a little bit worried. But he got there, no problem.
Since nothing else really happened that day, I'm going to describe the living situation a little bit. (I also have pictures to show you, and I'll put up a link in one of these posts.) The house was very very basic. There were four rooms, all of which were relatively small--a living room, a kitchen, and 2 bedrooms. I stayed with a family of 6, the parents, an 8 yr old boy, a 6 yr old girl, and twin 4 yr old boys. They were wild! The house on the outside was aluminum siding, and the inside was basic unfinished drywall type material. Since they've only had electricity for about a year, all the cables and wiring were on the outside of the wall, not behind it. The electricity was pretty much only used for lights, although on occasion they played the radio. The heating and cooking were accomplished by wood stoves, a small one in the living room, and a full blown stove in the kitchen. The kitchen sink was outside and was basically a wooden trough with a hose attached to it. This is where we did everything from the dishes to our laundry to washing our hair and teeth. The "plumbing" was an outhouse at the back of the yard. This particular outhouse had seen better days. One corner of the roof would flap in the wind, the door was locked only by a wire that we wrapped around a nail (and the wire would often fall off), there were holes in some of the walls, and the fourth wall was only about half there. It was quite breezy! The actual seat was very low (I think due to the fact that they had small children), and since it was wood, soaked up anything the little boys didn't make into the hole. Gross? Yes, but that's how it was. I was in outhouses that were nicer--with a higher seat with a lid and all four walls--and outhouses that were worse--with a door that had fallen off its hinges and had to be rested in place, and that wasn't tall enough for me to stand up straight in. That brings me to another point. I was pretty much the tallest person all week. Even among my team members. One of the pastors was about my height. Other than that, I was the tallest. All the benches and chairs were on the shorter side. I felt like a giant!! I felt like I stood out even more than I do in the city. At least in the city there are other foreigners, but in the country I didn't see any others. And the Mapuche are even darker and shorter. It was an odd feeling to stand out so much.
We actually lived pretty well during the week. We each had our own bed with plenty of blankets. They weren't nice beds or nice blankets, but I was warm and comfortable, so I didn't care. The family cooked every meal for us and rarely let us do the dishes. Some of the other teams had to live in tents all week and had a hard time finding kitchens to cook in. So we were living in luxury!
It was very interesting to have most of my life in Spanish. It was difficult at times, very difficult. But I was never completely in the dark, since I could speak in English to a few people. Although I tried to keep most of my conversation in Spanish. I learned A LOT, but it wasn't easy!
Ok, that's about all for now. I still have MANY days to write about, but I need a bit of a break. :o)

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