This has been the most action-packed week I can remember, and though I don’t have the energy to load the million pictures I should, I want to jot down the highlights, in case I forget…
One week ago today, I took Mary to a special art show at her preschool — life-sized versions of famous paintings, like Van Gogh’s Starry Night, that the kids could step into; science experiments; and displays of the kids’ work from the year (the Chilean school year ends before Christmas). I picked up the three boys from two different backyard campouts. Then, I took all of the kids to the biggest event of the year at the international school, Kermess (that’s a general term for a festival/fundraiser). It was pretty great — each nationality at the school was represented with a food booth, in addition to the typical rides, games, bounce houses, etc.
Sunday, we had our annual Primary Program at church, where the children present the entire meeting. Just before it began, Matt arrived from the airport with his mom, our first visitor to Chile! She was so excited to see the kids present their prepared parts in Spanish, and sing the songs. We came home from church to have our own Thanksgiving celebration with Granny Vicki, and our (Chilean) friends the Clarkes.
Monday, while the kids were at school, Vicki and I took a fun tour of Santiago on a double-decker bus. I saw lots of areas I hadn’t been to yet, and it gave her a great feel for the city. I made a quick mall-stop for some hiking boots (p.s. two of the stores I checked don’t even carry my size! I guess Chileans have small feet?). We picked the boys up at school so Vicki could have a look around. We treated Vicki to Carmen’s awesome Peruvian cooking.
Tuesday, I was exhausted, but had a long list of things to do to get darling Vicki ready to take care of our kids on her own in a foreign country, and to get myself ready to go on a trip! Also, Matt went to a doctor to see if he could find out why he’s been congested and coughing for an entire month, and the doctor told him not to go on the trip (doctors are more paternalistic here than we’re used to). So then I added “convince Matt to ignore the doctor” to my to-do list. (It worked — he went, and he’s fine.)
Wednesday, we got up before the sun, drove to the airport, and flew almost to the bottom of the world — to Patagonia, the region of South America near the Strait of Magellan. It was a long travel day: around four hours of flying and six more of driving. We stayed the night in a rustic little lodge on the edge of Torres del Paine National Park.
Thursday, we set off on an all-day hike in the park (you might want to put it on your bucket list — Matt thinks it’s the most beautiful place he’s ever been, and he’s been to a lot of places), whereupon Matt realized the doctor had been just a little bit right. The uphill climb was murder on his raspy lungs, and after about an hour, we turned around and regrouped. We drove to a different area of the national park and made it just in time for a three-hour boat ride to a glacier. We were the youngest tourists on the boat by about 30 years, but the views were amazing.
Friday morning, we had a scenic horseback ride. We also got to know a fascinating couple from London (she’s originally from India) who quit their jobs and are spending a year traveling around the world. I enjoyed meeting other travelers almost as much as I enjoyed the scenery on this trip — we ran across only a few other North Americans, but lots of Europeans (from England, France, Germany, and I’m pretty sure some people were speaking Dutch on one of our flights) and Australians. Our time was way too short in the national park, but we headed back to Punta Arenas (where the airport is) Friday evening to spend the night. We stayed in a thoroughly charming converted mansion and enjoyed a picturesque, but frigid, walk through the historic town.
Saturday morning we drove up a hill to try to get a better view of the Strait of Magellan before heading to the airport for our flight back home. I watched a few cute little kids at the airport, and was glad I was returning home to mine.
What a week. We are so grateful that all of our comings and goings went smoothly, and that our children were safe, happy, and well cared-for. This was our first trip alone in five years, and as much as I loved seeing Patagonia, I would have been happy to go anywhere. Take a little break from your children once in awhile! It was just what I needed.