We finally got our visas okayed, so we went to the police station to get a certificate assuring everyone we are not criminals. The next day we went to the registration office, took a number, and waited awhile with a bunch of other people until our number was called. We were fingerprinted on every surface of every finger on both hands, and were assigned a R.U.T ("Root") number which identifies us in Chile now and forevermore. Fortunately the registration office no longer covers the hands in fingerprint ink, instead using a colorless ink.
This week the Instituto Down, the institute for Down's Syndrome children, was having an open house. Several ladies with children there invited us to come. It is not large, with a courtyard open to the sky, and barebones tables and chairs to work at. But the children seem well cared for and happy.
The childrens' drawings had been transformed into artwork for sale, so I bought these two to hang on the wall next to the non-working telephone.
I finally broke down and hung some Christmas decorations I found at the Hiper Lider, to accompany what is left of the Thanksgiving centerpiece, and the willow shavings flowers in a water bottle I got in Santiago.
I finally finished the crochet work around Andrea Ramirez' woven squares. I first crocheted around each square, after which the squares are crocheted together, and the whole thing surrounded by a crocheted border. Hna. Rosa is going to Santiago this weekend to visit the temple, and she will present this as a gift to Hno. Faria's wife. I can see I am going to have to make one for myself--I ended up taking the poncho out of my bag and wearing it on a cold day.
When we were walking back from the registration office, we wandered into the flower district on Calle Caupolican. I rarely find potted plants, but I found a basil (albahaca) plant, verbena, rosemary (romero) and an osteospermum growing in sawed-off 3-liter pop bottles, and had to carry them all home. The basil seeds I had planted earlier all sprouted, but the nights are still so cool they didn't make it. You can see the different growth habits of the tomato plants--one of the risks and surprises of open-pollinated, non-hybrid seed. I found a bag of guano (sea bird and bat) fertilizer, which smells strongly of ammonia.
Saturday, we were invited to accompany the other senior missionaries to Itata Falls, between Cabrero and Yungay, southeast of Concepcion. The Bensons are going home in a week from the Concepcion South mission, and this is their goodbye trip. Above, yellow baptisia blooms freely for miles along the highway.
There is not much information to be had on the Itata Falls, with the exception of a blurb in Spanish on one web page, saying that the falls are "little known". This is understandable, since once off the highway and into the woods, it is nearly impossible to find. The senior missionaries remembered the last time they came here, looking for a sign and being directed toward this tree, which says helpfully, "Solta Itata" (Itata Falls) in green paint, with two little green arrows. The senior missionaries say this has improved over the last time, with additional green paint.
The falls are gorgeous. After the rainy season, water comes down all around the rocks here.
Nor are there any annoying hand railings to spoil the view. Here Elder Balden takes a picture next to a sheer drop of 240 feet. One young family, with two little children, came out of the woods to see the falls, then turned around and went right back.
The noise of the water was very peaceful and pleasant.
Above the falls, a group of ladies in sunhats splash in the River Itata where it forms rivulets through the sandstone.
Under the falls, downstream of the River Itata.
We had a very relaxing picnic of cold chicken, excellent potato salad, and croissants from the Unimarc. A bus load of the ladies we had seen above the falls stopped on the path near our table to smile approvingly at our lunch plans, and we waved goodbye to them.
We finally had to go home. A few minutes down the road, a gap-toothed forest ranger riding a rickety bike asked about "robo," theft, having received reports of a thief who had broken into someone's car. We told him we hadn't seen any robo. Elder Balden set the GPS, and the route it chose was this long gravel road through country lanes of poplar trees and little acreages with small homes with tin roofs.