Sunday, January 5, 2014

New Year's 2014

New Year's 2014 in Concepcion was brought in with a 20-minute, ground-shaking firework display, clearly visible from our little balcony. We were expecting to hear celebrations in the streets below, but either we were too tired, or everyone else was, because it was quiet from then on. Many students are gone for the summer months, so on the afternoon of New Year's Day, when we set out for a walk, the streets were almost deserted, the stores all closed, and Chileans sleeping in quite late. Elder Kennington was happy that there was lots of hot water in our apartment building for a morning shower.

Nativity Scene set up in the main market square between Barros Arana and O'Higgins. Elder Kennington had to check out the hay bales, held together with wire, obviously (¡obvio!) used from year to year in this display.

Since it is summer here, I have been taking pictures of the flowers blooming around the city.

The hortensias (hydrangeas) are in glorious full bloom, even though it hasn't rained for a long time. In fact, there were plumes of smoke over Concepcion last night--a large fire, that closed the freeway, dropping long narrow curls of ash all over the city.

Blue hydrangeas and fuchsias

An especially nice blue hydrangea. I desperately want to go around the city of Concepcion with pruners, since no one here seems to ever prune anything, and since it never freezes, so the poor plants keep on growing. The watering is usually limited to useless over-sprinkling for a few minutes with a garden hose. The newer apartment buildings have nicer landscaping, obviously (¡obvio!) kept up by a garden maintenance company.

An early photo of cheerful pink azaleas

Yellow marguerites by the side of the road

Some sort of yellow pea-related shrub

Effortlessly beautiful bougainvillea

A typical Conce fenced garden: a narrow strip of struggling lawn, usually cut by hand or by Weed Whacker, and randomly placed plants and shrubs--here, roses, ferns and bergenia. The climate is so glorious, beautiful gardens should be more common than they are.

Hibiscus in full bloom

The favorite Iceberg roses

A fine example of Araucaria Araucana, the Chilean monkey-puzzle tree, or Pehuen, sacred to the Mapuche Indians, who ate the pine nuts as part of their diet. The needles are spiky and leathery.

Nasturtiums adding color to a rustic fence corner

This week we spent time with our new Perpetual Education Fund gerente (agent), Raul Seguel. Together we visited the presidency of the Concepcion Stake to introduce them to the new program of Auto Suficiencia, (Self-Reliance,) including education, self-employment, and job seeking. The presidency agreed with the need for members to be taught self reliance, since Chile has a real problem with easy debt and credit. 

After our training in Buenos Aires on January 16th, we will know more.

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