Ok, so summer isn't really over quite yet. It's still roasting hot in the afternoons, although the mornings and late evenings have certainly cooled down some. But summer vacation is over, school has begun, and life has entered into a routine again. It's kinda nice!
Since my last post, I had several weeks of lazing around, trying to stay cool, and practicing my Spanish by hanging out with friends. Basically a typical summer. Then I went on vacation with Melissa Rogers, the 15 yr old daughter of the family I'm living with. It was an awesome week. We went to a town about 10 hours south of the city called Pucon. It's this cute little town right on the edge of a lake, nestled in between mountains, with a breathtaking view of a nearby volcano. Basically, it's a tourist town to the tee, but I didn't care. It was great! I'll just give you a quick rundown of our week.
After an all night bus ride (much more comfy than a plane!) we arrived and had several hours to walk around before we could check in to our hostel. We walked all morning, got some coffee, and pretty much knew our way around the touristy parts by lunch time. I told you it was a small town! In the afternoon we decided to hire a taxi to take us up the volcano. You can only go up so far by car, then you have to hike, but we just wanted to take it easy. After fishtailing all the way up a gravel road, we got out at a ski lodge (very empty since it's the middle of summer), and enjoyed the view. After awhile we got back in the taxi and headed to town. On the way, once we had reached the paved road again, our taxi driver suddenly ran right off the road! The road curved left and he didn't! We jumped over a little curb and almost ran into a tree. He stopped just in time. Somewhere during this time (we don't know when. I didn't even realize it had happened at first) the passenger mirror hit a woman who was walking down the street in the elbow! Some other pedestrians gathered around, and a van full of hikers stopped to check on us and the woman. They ended up taking her to the hospital. Eventually we got back into our taxi, without a word from the driver, and went home. I still paid him full price since I couldn't barter in Spanish yet. Oh well. I still have no idea what he was doing or how or why it happened!
Our evenings all week were pretty calm. Sometimes we ate out, sometimes we stayed in and watched a movie on TV, and most nights we walked around town, watching street artists, performers, and going to the little artisan kiosks. There was a stage in a small park, and there was something going on almost every night there--musical performances, traditional Chilean music and dance, karaoke, etc. It was all so entertaining!
The next day we went horseback riding to a beautiful waterfall. This was one of my favorite things we did. We galloped the horses for awhile, which was such a rush. Then a short hike to a waterfall where we got drenched enjoying the view. :o) Then when I hopped back on my horse to head home the knee of my jeans ripped! Oops! Then we rode back. The whole thing took about 3 hours. Our tour guide was an Israeli who had just finished her time in the army. She was touring South America for 10 months when she decided to stop in Chile for 3 months to work with the horses. Melissa and I, not being as experienced with horses, spent the next several days very sore! And of course, the room in our hostel was on the third floor! (Although we had a beautiful view of the volcano from our room, so we didn't complain!)
The next day we took an all around tour, visiting a river with raging rapids, a gorgeous blue lagoon with two small waterfalls, a Mapuche settlement, and then finished off with 2 hours at one of the many thermal hot springs in the area. Somewhere along the way Melissa's cell phone was stolen. Oops! The first thing we did at the thermal was to go to the mud bath. You stand in dirty water, scoop mud off the bottom, and smear it all over yourself. It did NOT smell nice! Then you let it dry (which is an odd sensation), then go to a man made waterfall to wash off. Or should I say a FREEZING man made waterfall. All the ladies were making quite a racket as they stood under the water, and Melissa and I were no exception. We just got a little more attention being gringas (we get a little more attention where ever we go). Once we were clean and cold and our skin was incredibly soft (I loved it), we headed over to the hot springs to warm up. We spent the rest of the time there, enjoying the relaxing water, and avoiding the yellow jackets. Melissa failed in this and ended up being stung right under her eye!
The next day we TRIED to go to another thermal, but the shuttle transfer left without us, so we had to switch our Thursday and Friday plans. So we took a nap, went to the beach, and went mini golfing. Mini golf is not very popular in Chile, and this place was a little outside the town, so we were the only ones there. I will admit right now--I won. :o) Interestingly enough, the woman running it was a Chilean who had lived in New Jersey since she was a kid! She had just moved back to Chile 2 years ago! Small world! It was n ice to be able to chat in English, and she ended up giving us a ride back to our hostel so we didn't have to pay for a cab.
The next day we went to another thermal (which was much warmer and we couldn't sit in for more than 10 minutes at a time) where we divided our time between the pool and the hot spring. I got a little sun burnt that day, but not too bad. I was being very careful all week and I ended up pretty tan! Well, tan for me, anyway. :o) We also got facials there--a mixture of sediment and honey. Very interesting!
Then we went home! It was a great week, and just what I needed to cap off the summer. We got home early Saturday morning, and teacher inservice began on Monday, so I jumped right into things again!
The first week of school went very well. It's so nice to be back. I really do love it.
Here's some things you can pray for.
1. The school is instituting a new writing program for 1-12th grade. It's really great, but I still don't know it all yet. I'm in charge of introducing it to the high school (obviously, being the English teacher) and I have a whole other class dedicated to it, two days a week for each grade level. So that's 6 more periods a week. Here's the request. I'm very frustrated and overwhelmed at how to structure the semester and how to teach it. There are no books or manuals, and the teacher's help that I have is in conjunction with some DVDs, so it's very difficult to understand and organize without watching 20 hours of video first. I just don't have time for that yet! I've watched some, but there's a lot more. Please pray that I'll be able to figure things out pretty quickly!
2. There's a girl in the 7 th grade who has come to learn English. She doesn't speak much, so it's a little overwhelming for her. I've taken it upon myself to help her at least one period a week because I don't think anyone else can. One on one work is the best thing for her. I'm looking forward to it, but it's more prep work and time taken away from preparing for other classes. Please pray that I will have to time and energy to do both things well!
3. My Spanish has improved this summer, but I'm still lacking, and I'm still very hard on myself. I'm my own worst critic! So there's two requests in one!
4. I need to start preparing for my second year here. There are several phases to this: 1- being voted on and approved on several levels of ABWE, here in Chile and at the home office. Really this is a formality, but it will still take time. 2- raising funds. 3- deciding where to live. I think I have several options (although none of them are official offers yet), and they're all very different. I'm praying about which one to follow up on to see if it's even a possibility.
Ok, that's it for now. It's been another long post, as they tend to be. Boy, I sure do like to write! We've been reading Robinson Crusoe in one of my classes, and I mentioned how he wrote down his thoughts during his time on a deserted isle to process and express his own thoughts. One student asked if that's what I would do if I was stranded on an island. I said yes, and then in my head added that I already kind of do....sometimes I feel like that and writing is my way to express myself and keep a tie to home!
I hope you get an idea of what my ministry and life is like here through reading this. That's certainly my goal. And along the way, I get to be creative and work through my own thoughts as well! Thanks for putting up with it. :o)