Sunday, October 27, 2013

Santiago and Viña del Mar

We hadn't been in Concepcion a week when we discovered we were flying back to Santiago for capacitationes (training) with Bro. Carlos Farias, which turned out to be less like any training I've ever been in and more of a tour of the cities, countryside, visits to Self-Reliance Centers and to ferias artesenales, little shops tucked in the back corners of big cities. It turned out there was a reason for this.

Rising out of the Concepcion airport

Bro. Farias, the LDS church agent in charge of Perpetual Education Fund South, who made all the arrangements for our apartment and assignments in Concepcion, turned out to be fairly young, speaking good English, ex-Chilean navy, trained industrial engineer, father of four, and lover of the intensely sweet Chilean dulces. Elder K., Hna. Villarroel, and I had our carry on bags weighed at the Concepcion airport (17 lbs, the only city in the world I know of that weighs carry ons,) and flew the 50 minutes to Santiago.

Bro. Farias picked us up and took us to the LDS church complex, including the MTC, Santiago Temple and church offices, in the Providencia area of Santiago. Driving through Santiago, a city of six million people, in some ways reminded me of Los Angeles, where I grew up, especially the wide boulevards, palm trees, and tall sun-washed buildings.

LDS missionaries on the last day of training, about to be assigned to Santiago South Mission

Hna K. from the steps of the Hospitality House, with the temple in view. We stayed two nights in a little room with three bunk beds in it. Families from all over Chile stay here to attend the temple.

This cute little abuelita from southern Chile was enjoying her afternoon mate (mah-tay) in the common kitchen/dining area of the Hospitality House.

The Santiago Perpetual Education Fund couple, the Popes, in their office in Santiago. We went to lunch with Bro. Farias and the office couple from Arizona, the Udalls, in an excellent restaurant nearby. Il Papa (what the Chileans call Bro. Pope) turned out to be a childhood friend of Steve Laney, whom we visited while in the Provo MTC. They even sound alike. Wherever we go, whoever we meet from the U.S. is somehow related, went to the same early mission, or has common friends.

Thursday morning we set off for Vina del Mar to visit a Self-Reliance Center. On the way we stopped at the Millahue shop along the highway near Curacavi to buy giant meringues with mermelade (jam) called Reinas, very soft and very sweet, and bar cookies sandwiched with leches dulces, the sweetened condensed milk baked into a caramel consistency that you can find in bags in every market, often called Manjar. 

Chile is known for its hammered copper, which you can buy inexpensively here. I bought these Share Bowls for our change and etc. to free up the cereal bowls I had been using. 

The famous working garden clock in in the National Botanical Garden of Vina del Mar

Picture with Hna Villarroel and the carabineros of Vina del Mar. I am average in height for most Chileans, although the younger generation is growing taller. These carabineros are descended from the German settlers to the south, where you see more blond, blue-eyed, and taller Chileans than those descended from the Spaniards and the Mapuche Indians.

Wulff Castle, across the bay from Valparaiso

(Continued in the next blog post, above)


  1. I didn't know you guys had received a calling for a mission! So excited for you. This is the same mission that my son Matt Oakes went to and my husband Gary. It is such a beautiful area. Best of Luck to you.
    Nancy Oakes

  2. Nancy, I've never met a missionary who has been here who hasn't loved it. We are finding out why! It is wonderful.


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