Friday, August 30, 2013

My Daily Bread

I have had a lot of people ask me how the food is down here, so I decided to devote a blog post to it! If you are like most North Americans, you probably picture all Latin American food as containing some type of bean and being spicy. This conception is completely wrong, at least when it comes to Chilean food. Chile had a strong influx of German immigration in past centuries, which has affected the food here profoundly. Chile is 2nd in the world for quantify of bread consumed per person; Germany, of course, takes 1st place. We eat a LOT of bread here, and the majority is white bread. In fact, there is even a kind of white bread prepared with lard and lots of salt that is incredibly delicious, but incredibly unhealthy.

Just about none of the food here is spicy. I mentioned this casually to my host sister at lunch one day, and she said, But of course we have spicy food, like what we are eating now! We were eating a lentil and cheese casserole. I laughed and responded that I like my food so spicy that tears come to my eyes as I eat it. Everything is relative I guess. The only exception to the no-spice rule is pevere, which is kind of like pico de gallo, but pevere is generally only served in restaurants as far as I can tell.

Chileans are, however, big fans of mayonnaise. Even supermarkets with very limited shelf space have an astonishing variety:
I have had mayonnaise on salads, on hot dogs, and on top of ravioli instead of red sauce. Yummm.

Here are some of the local specialties I have tried (disclaimer- I found the pictures on other websites, I didn't take them)
1. Manjar- the same thing as dulce de leche, which is a caramel-like spread. My host family and I eat it with sliced up bananas, but it is also common in ice cream, cakes, and snack cakes. Confession: Usually my dessert here is some time of snack cake, like the kind that Hostess makes. They are the most readily available, and they're actually pretty good.
2. Completos- translated, it means "The Works." A hot dog with avocado, mayonnaise, and tomato.
3. Pastel de choclo- Kind of like chicken pot pie conceptually, but different. Picture a corn bread crust, filled with a stew of vegetables and meat, and with olives and a whole chicken wing tucked away in the middle.
4. Charquicán- This is a typical food of the Araucanos, or the indigenous peoples that have lived in a southern region of Chile for centuries. It is mashed potatoes mixed with veggies and meat, and topped by a fried egg. This was one of my favorite dishes that I have tried to date.
5. Chorrillana- French fries topped with stewed onions, scrambled eggs, and cooked strips of beef. It is every bit as greasy as it sounds haha.
6. Pisco- a type of hard liquor made from grapes. Piscolas, or pisco mixed with Coke, are pretty much the national drink of Chile. I prefer Pisco Sours, which taste kind of like a margarita.

So, after trying lots of the local cuisine, I have been really missing a lot of my favorite foods from home. Mexican food is at the top of the list of things I miss, although I was able to find a decent Mexican restaurant here which I will go to again soon. I also really miss cookies, since the closest thing they have to fresh cookies here are Oreos, which as everyone knows are not even close to the same thing. Therefore, today I embarked on an adventure: making homemade chocolate chip cookies for my host family!

I had to improvise quite a bit. First of all, they don't have chocolate chips in the supermarkets here. The fix for this was easy enough, simply buy a chocolate bar and chop it up. Next I found out that they don't have brown sugar. I compensated by grating chancaca, a hard block of cane sugar with a high molasses content, and mixing it with azucar rubia, which is basically Sugar in the Raw. Here is what chancaca looks like: 

Next, anyone who knows my type-A personality, as well as the fact that AP Chemistry was one of my favorite classes ever, can probably guess that I take a very precise approach to my baking. I was naturally not pleased to find out that measuring cups are not a thing here in Chile. I couldn't find anything other than a large Pyrex measuring glass in the SuperLíder (Walmart superstore) here, which was really expensive because it's imported. So I did as the Chileans do and totally guessed on the quantities of everything. Finally, the ovens don't have a way of selecting a temperature. You turn up or down the knob to use more or less gas and thereby approximate the temperature.

Basically the only thing in my favor was that I am at sea level, which as all bakers know is much easier than the 7000 ft that I deal with in Palmer Lake. After overcoming all the other obstacles, I finally came up with some chocolate chip cookies! Well, more or less. They taste different and have a different texture than those in the US, but they are passable. And my host family really liked them, so I suppose that is all that matters! Although they had mixed opinions about the raw cookie dough I had them try, and they were surprised to find out that we have chocolate cookie dough ice cream in the US. Overall, it was just another experience in being flexible and rolling with the punches for everyone involved!

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Life is Good

I am writing this post feeling incredibly blessed and a little incredulous as to what an amazing past few days this has been. Life really is good! Seeing as I am more than a little obsessed with skiing and snowboarding, it has been a lifelong dream of mine to go skiing all around the world. Needless to say, skiing in the Andes was at the very top of my Chile bucket list, and the two days I spent skiing this week didn't disappoint! It was an adventure in every sense of the word.

Logistically, things were a little complicated. Through my friends' connections, we were able to find some sweet deals on packages that included lodging, transportation, lift tickets, and equipment rentals, which was awesome! However, it ended up meaning more time appreciating this wonderful view:
Here is a map showing our the past few days of my life:

Wednesday night we took a bus from Viña del Mar to Santiago to spend the night in La Casa Roja, which is an incredibly nice hostel. Walking through the front door was a giant wave of relief because everyone here spoke English! The guy who ran the hostel, Tim, was an Australian who reminds me of all the ski bums I've met in Colorado: funny, sarcastic, incredibly knowledgeable about snow conditions and mountains, and with a fantastic goggle tan. We also made a new friend Paul, who is a Canadian mining engineer who is currently working in the northern desert of Chile but lives in a ski town back in Canada. He was nice enough to hang out with us all the next day and it was fun to get to know him.

We got up at dawn the next day and headed to Valle Nevado. I think the shuttle ride ranks among the most dangerous rides that I've taken in my life. I didn't take this photo, but it'll give you an idea of the kind of curves we were driving:

The road is also not quite wide enough to be a two-lane, yet it has to accommodate both directions of traffic. The shoulder is essentially non-existent, but that does not stop people from walking and biking alongside the road or from stopping to put chains on their tires. There are also random cows that chill on the corners where the visibility is nicely reduced. Add these conditions to the Chilean style of driving, which is characterized by jerky stops and starts, rapid turns, and about a six-inch gap between bumpers of cars, and it's no wonder the boys needed to pull over and throw up on the side of the road (although if you have to throw up, you might as well look out at this view):

Soon we were at Valle Nevado! Tim from the hostel had told us that in Chile it is possible to find untracked snow even several days after a snowstorm, and he was absolutely correct. We were definitely able to make some fresh tracks! It wasn't quite powder freshies, but I was still thrilled. 
My hands-down favorite run of the day was in a river bed because we could play around swooping up and down the walls on the side of the run:
We were completely unaware that this particular run did not go back down to the base at Valle Nevado. There is one- yes, just one- sign on the run to alert skiers that you are exiting the ski area and entering the ski area of La Parva, and we dropped in from a different place so we had no idea. These two resorts essentially share a peak on top, but have different bases. My friend Kari fell on this run, and even though it is really unfortunate that she hurt her knee, it just so happened that some Ski Patrollers were coming down and stopped to see if she was ok. In the process of talking with them, we figured out our mistake. One of them very kindly volunteered to explain our situation to the lift operators at La Parva and accompany us back to the top of the mountain even though we didn't have lift tickets for the resort. 

I am now going to take a brief respite from the first story to explain the ski lifts in Chile. Although they have normal chairlifts, Chileans also use a variation of a Poma lift that they call a telesquí The good thing is each lift detaches from the cable so you have time to get situated before signaling to the lift operator that you are ready to go. The bad thing is that as soon as the lift operator presses the button and the lift reattaches to the cable, you shoot off like a bullet from a gun. Telesquís are no joke. Resorts in the US wouldn't be allowed to run lifts this quickly for liability reasons, but that doesn't matter here haha.

Back to the story. We were now at the base of La Parva and we had to take two telesquís and one chairlift to get back to Valle Nevado. I happened to be on a snowboard, which as all snowboarders know makes riding a Poma or t-bar significantly harder (and I was on a telesquí which as previously discussed is a whole new ballgame). Halfway up the first telesquí, I lost control and fell. It was the worst possible place to do so because I didn't have a lift ticket and our Ski Patrol friend was ahead of me on the hill, so I had no option but to walk. It wasn't very far but the hill was incredibly steep, and I legitimately thought I wasn't going to make it to the top. I also felt really bad that my friends all had to wait for me, not to mention the shuttle driver and the other people riding on our shuttle with us since it was the end of the day and we were close to the hour when we were supposed to meet them to ride back to the hostel.

I finally made it to the top of the hill, panting and physically exhausted, and met up with my friends and our Ski Patrol guide. I am so grateful for their patience because in their shoes I might not have been so patient ha ha. Then we had to ride another telesquí. Awesome. I had already shattered my confidence, so I was nervous to have to ride one again. I fell right as I tried to get on. After screaming a few choice words, I threw my arms down on the ground and shouted. I intended to yell, "Yo puedo!" (meaning "I can do it!") in effort to boost my own confidence but it ended up coming out as "No puedo!" ("I can't do this!"). My friend Harry reminded me that I had no choice but to get to the top. So I tried again. I muttered "Help me Jesus" over and over again the entire ride, a spoken mantra and a prayer to just please please please let me make it to the top of the mountain, and thankfully I did. Eventually we made it back to Valle Nevado. I was so thankful to have reached the base again! In hindsight, even my rough end to the day can't take away how much fun it was to go snowboarding in the Andes!

We drove down the treacherous road again, this time at dusk/sunset/dark, picked up our things from the hostel, and took another night bus back to Viña del Mar. After showering and packing up my things, I went to bed at 12:30 am. I woke up at 4 am to get on yet another bus and ride to Portillo. It´s times like these that I am glad I am young. After all, only a 20-something could come off an exhausting few days at school, get very little sleep, live off PB&J sandwiches and gas station food, and still ski for several days!

The ride to Portillo was really neat. After growing up in Colorado, I am pretty used to seeing mountains, but this was a new experience for me. The Andes are completely different than the Rockies in every way, and that was really neat to see! This picture can give you an idea of what the outer edges of the range looks like:
It was really weird to drive past palm trees and cacti on the way to ski. Once you get higher in elevation, though, there is very little vegetation of any kind - a far cry from the iconic lodgepoles of Colorado! Perhaps because of this, the pronounced beauty of Portillo completely blew my mind and took my breath away:
I couldn't stop looking around and drinking in the amazing sights with my eyes. At first I thought I wanted to ski gung-ho until the lifts closed, but then I realized that on such a warm and sunny spring day I was content to spend a good amount of time just soaking it all in. The snow was also heavy and the runs delightfully steep, so my thighs burned pretty nicely.

Portillo is a pretty small ski area, and unfortunately much of it was closed since it was later in the season and this winter they received an unusually low amount of snow. However, I really enjoyed the sections I did ski! We got to use another variation of the telesquí that as far as I know is unique to Portillo. Basically, imagine a Poma lift that can take five people up the slope at once. The slopes here are much too steep to put in a chairlift of any other type. Here are some pictures:

Thankfully I was on skis, so I didn't have to worry about falling! I honestly don't know how the snowboarders made it, because there were enormous lumps/mini hills of snow in the track. At the top to dismount you simply let go and slide/fall to a stop on the run. It was actually a pretty cool way to get up the slopes, and an example of creative innovation in response to the geography!

As it turns out, every year a group of pro-skiers from the US team come down and teach a ski camp here. I wish I recognized the faces and names pro-skiers better because I rode lifts with a lot of them! I also talked to people from several different states, France, Switzerland, Argentina, Brazil, England, and (of course) Chile. The day was a happy, albeit strange, mixture of English and Spanish as I could never tell what language(s) any one person spoke. I would start speaking to someone in one language, only to have to switch to the other! However, no matter what languages people speak, ski bums from all over are incredibly similar because they are united by a common passion :)

I think Portillo ranks as one of my favorite places I've ever skied. I feel so blessed to have had the opportunity to ski the Andes, especially since I could never ski in August in Colorado! I loved seeing all the variety in God´s creation, how even the same type of place (a ski resort in the mountains) can look so different in different parts of the world. At the same time, this was the first time in Chile I felt truly at home because skiing and snowboarding run in my blood. 

I'll wrap up the post with a few more pictures, because beauty this amazing needs to be shared:

Monday, August 12, 2013

A Love/Hate Relationship

I am realizing more and more that I have a love/hate relationship with my life here in Chile. Some days, I cannot imagine anything better than living here! The majority of these days are on the weekend. The few days in the middle of the week when I attend classes and attempt to conquer a mountain of homework are considerably less pleasant. I am taking five classes here: Contemporary Chilean Literature, Classic Spanish Literature, 20th Century Sociopolitical History of Latin America, Advance Oral and Written Spanish, and a for-credit internship. I don't think anyone considers homework exhilarating under any circumstances, but it's especially frustrating to have to read passages multiple times and constantly reference my dictionary to even make a guess as to what my readings are saying. This is especially true for my Classic Spanish Lit class because the texts are from the 1500's and 1600's, before the language had been fully standardized, and therefore contain some pretty funky grammatical structures and creative spelling. I constantly have to remember to be patient with myself, and that though learning Spanish is not easy, it will be worth it in the long run!

For my internship I am volunteering with the local non-profit AVARID, an organization that provides educational activities for children and adults with Down Syndrome. Last week, I went to volunteer for the first time with the reading group for young adults and adults. The goal of the group is to practice reading comprehension by listening to the teacher read. This is great practice for me, too, as I am learning Spanish.  I can´t help but smile when I think that my listening abilities are quite literally on par with these disabled adults because we are realizing that we are not so different from each other after all. I really enjoyed meeting everyone and am very much looking forward to spending time there every week.

To demonstrate more reasons for my love/hate relationship with Chile, I will list the good, the bad, and the ugly of my past week here in Chile!

The Good:
1. Went horseback riding on the beach last Sunday. My friend Rachel and I were trying to find some sand dunes but accidentally took the wrong bus, so we ended up in the beach town of Concón instead. We saw that we could ride horses and decided to give it a shot! This is just one of many examples of my life mantra here in Chile, which is ¿Por qué no? (Why not?)

2. Getting to know the other college students in my church. The youth group for university students at my church on Friday nights is huge! I am particularly enjoying spending time with a sub-group comprised of 20 or so other students from the US and Chilean students who just so happen to enjoy getting to know foreign exchange kids. We spend time hanging out, drinking coffee, eating at cafes or in ice cream shops, etc.

For those of you who know me well, you know that I really enjoy catching people off guard by saying or doing things that are just a little bit off-color, especially because I like to break the good Christian girl stereotype. In typical form, I think I may already having some of my new friends thinking I am just a little crazy... and who I am to argue? :) Example: A guy says, "I don't want to go to Zumba because I didn't pack appropriate clothing for such an activity." I respond, "Well, you can dance without clothes." Needless to say, no one was expecting that one.

3. Going to the sand dunes! Yes, we eventually found them. We got quite a bit of rain this week, so even a few days after the rain stopped the sand was still a little too wet to slide down on trays. My friends and I decided to somersault and roll down the dunes instead! 

4. A man standing next to me at a stop light told me, "¡Eres la mujer más linda en todo el mundo, y I love you." (The first part means, "You are the most beautiful woman in the whole world.") I was flattered, but I don't think our love will work out in the long run, seeing as he was at least 40. This is just one example of the many piropos, or compliments/whistles/honks that Latin American men use to comment on the appearance of women whom they have never met nor have any intention of dating. It's an aspect of the patriarchal culture here.

The Bad: 
1. Riding shotgun on the micro. I had always wanted to sit in the foremost seats on the bus, right next to the driver, so I decided to just do it one day this week. The bus driver started chatting me up, and even though I could barely hear him over the roar of the motor, we managed to communicate. At first everything was fine, but it got weird. First he asked me if I took a plane from the US to Chile. Uh, how the heck do you think I got here? Driving? Swimming? Then, just as I was about to get off, he asked me if I have a Chilean cell phone, followed by something else that I couldn't quite hear. I am not positive, but I think he might have been asking for my number. He was at least 50 and missing most of his teeth. Needless to say, I jumped off the bus pretty quickly. Ewwww.

2. After experiencing my first rainy day here I went to go buy some leather boots. When it rains here, it pours, and the streets flood. My running shoes got pretty thoroughly soaked, so I wanted something a little sturdier. When I rolled up my pants leg to try on a pair of boots, an older woman exclaimed, "¡Qué blanca!" or essentially "Wow! Your legs are really pale." I felt like saying, "Wow, thank you for pointing out my whiteness to me, I had no idea that I am a gringa living in a country of Hispanic people." Or, "Yes, you can thank my Scandinavian ancestors for my blindingly white skin." But instead I just said, "Si, es verdad" (Yes, it´s true). She didn't mean anything bad, and normally I would brush off this type of comment, but sometimes I get fed up with always looking and feeling like I don't belong here.

3. Trying to go shopping. I wanted to buy a book for one of my classes, envelopes, minutes for my cell phone, snacks, and photo prints. In the US I would go to Walmart and accomplish all of this in one place. While there are supermarkets in Chile, they still have a somewhat limited offering. Generally Chileans prefer the more traditional system of small shops that specialize in just one type of offering. There are farmacías (pharmacies), panaderías (bread stores), carnicerías (meat stores), librerías (school supply stores OR book stores), lecherías (dairy product stores), zapaterías (shoe stores), and a million more types. I had to find the proper shop for each item on my list. These little stores very rarely have websites and GoogleMaps cannot be trusted to provide accurate locations for them, so they are very hard to find.

4. Mailing a letter to my grandma. The man in the post office met me at the door, asked me what I wanted, and as soon as I mentioned the word "send" he shook his head and shut the door. I had to ask several people and finally visit the website to discover that the entire postal system in Chile is on strike. No mail for me.

The Ugly:
1. Getting my wallet stolen. Yes, I got pick-pocketed, and I haven't even been here a month. I having a bad day, and so I put away my things absentmindedly. We have been warned not to put a wallet in external pockets of backpacks because they are more easily accessible to thieves, but I wasn't thinking and put my wallet in the same pocket I would in the US, which was unfortunately on the outside of my bag. I was listening to my iPod, like many locals do when using public transportation, so I will admit I wasn't 100% alert. Somewhere in the 2-block walk between the university and the bus stop, probably while I was standing at the stoplight waiting for it to change, someone came up from behind, rifled through my backpack, and stole my wallet right off my back. Thankfully I was only carrying about $15 and a photocopy of my passport, and my wallet was starting to fall apart so I needed to replace it anyway. In reality, it was largely my fault for not being more careful, but it still makes me mad that one person would do that to another. Also, my host brother told me that no one has ever stolen anything from him and he has lived here his whole life, so I can´t help but think that I am an easier target simply because I am white. Frustrating, to say the least. Oh well, I have learned my lesson.

That's all for now, folks. Until next week!

Sunday, August 4, 2013


So far my experience here in Chile has been one of incredible contrasts. For example, I had a spectacular weekend, followed by a week on house (ar)rest when I came down with the flu, followed by what has been another pretty spectacular weekend! 

Last week a few other students from my program and I went to volunteer with the organization "Juntos al Barrio (JAB)" which means Together with the Neighborhood. It´s a really cool non-profit that asks low-income neighborhoods what projects they would like to do to improve their community. Then, a group of volunteers and residents of the neighborhood work together to complete the project. Last Saturday we were in the neighborhood Playa Ancha painting the outside of an apartment building. We had to wear hard hats and harnesses because we were climbing scaffolding to paint several stories above the ground!
It was honestly one of the most incredible days I've had in a long time. I loved getting to know Chilean students from JAB as well as all the wonderful people who lived in the neighborhood. We now have several new friends to hang out with! The neighbors were so incredibly kind and grateful to have us there. The men helped us paint, the boys ran around making announcements on the megaphone, the young adults played club music at top volume from inside their homes while the elderly blasted love ballads, and the women prepared lunch and snacks for us inside the neighborhood church. 

We also had 15 minutes in the spotlight! A local news station created a video about us as exchange students volunteering and seeing a different part of the city. They even interviewed my friend Hannah! The largest newspaper in Chile also wrote an article and interviewed my friend Kyle.

The whole day of painting was full of juxtaposition. The neighborhood we were in is definitely poor, with lots of people living in close quarters. However, it was positioned on steep hills that drop straight down to the ocean. It was the most incredible experience to stand painting on the roof, only to turn around and see endless waves stretching as far as the eye can see. The sunset took my breath away. The ugliness of poverty, experienced in a breathtakingly beautiful place. As volunteers we gave our love to brighten the walls of the homes, and we received so much love in return.

To give you all an idea of the view I'm talking about, here is a video I took of the view from another part of Valpo. The video quality is pretty terrible, but you can get the gist of it!

I recorded this video yesterday when my program took us on a tour through all the different sections of Valparaíso. Yesterday was another really fun day! I loved getting to know the area better! (Just to be clear, I live in the neighboring community of Viña del Mar, which is a combination of a beach resort and a residential community, but I my university is in Valpo).

The entire city of Valpo is another example of juxtaposition. Architecture reflects the nationality of the person who built the building, so there are buildings inspired by many different European nations. There was no central planning effort in the construction of the city. People simply built their homes where they pleased. Because of this, it is not at all uncommon to find an elegant manor directly next to the humble home of a very poor family. Also, the streets make pretty much no sense since the houses are placed so randomly. They wind all over the place through the fiercely steep hills. Props to the drivers of Valpo, for I have no idea how they can coax their cars up to the top of a hill, stop suddenly to look around for oncoming vehicles at an intersection with terrible visibility, and proceed to descend without picking up too much speed or burning out their brakes. Did I mention that everyone here has manual transmissions, but that I have yet to see someone stall out?

Driving abilities is only one form of evidence of how the hills affect daily life in Valpo. For Porteños, or people from Valparaíso, their cerro is a central part of their identity. "Cerro" is the Spanish word for hill, but it also refers to neighborhood here because the neighborhoods are often divided by the geographical boundaries between hills. To get from their homes in the hills to their jobs downtown, people use machines. One type is "ascensores," which are elevators built reached at the base by long underground tunnels and exited at the top by footbridges:

There are also "funiculares" (although Chileans call these ascensores as well). They are kind of like a trolley car that moves up and down on tracks using a system of cables :

Also, tucked away in the most random places  are staircases if you prefer to walk. 

Our tour guide joked that all of Valpo is waiting to collapse. Looking at the, ahem, creative structure of some of the buildings, I can see his point. However, he is also quick to point out that these buildings have survived many significant earthquakes. Incredible! 

The street art in Valpo is another example of juxtaposition. You can find a intricate, whimsical mural right in the middle of the most ramshackle cluster of houses, or crass political complaints scrawled on the wall of an elegant row of boutiques and restaurants. There is an international street art festival here that has added a unique vibrancy to the city. I have an entire album of photos available on Facebook, but here are a few of my favorites:

We ended the day with a boat ride through the bay. We got all up in some marine wildlife's business:

I am constantly amazed that I actually live here, in Chile, next to the ocean. It is crazy to be so close to sea lions and pelicans when I grew up with deer and bears, but I'm loving it! And very, very frequently, I am simply overwhelmed by the beauty of my new home: 
I think Valparaíso is the perfect name for this city, seeing as it means "Paradise Valley."

Indeed, it is the opportunity of a lifetime to be here. That said, even my feelings are often a sharply contrasting juxtaposition. Key examples: 

1. One moment I feel like I belong, the next I feel incredibly lonely. This was especially true being home sick for the week. My host family did a wonderful job of taking care of me, and for that I am very thankful. However, as a newcomer to their home, I am still working on forming relationships with them. This is complicated by the language issue. I am reminding myself that I have only been here for two weeks, and that I have five more months to get to know them all better.

2. Embarrassment and bewilderment immediately trailing the flush of accomplishment. Again, all related to my understanding of culture and level of linguistic competency.

3. Elation followed by homesickness. I am learning that it does no good to miss people, places, or things. That is, I need to consciously be grateful for what is happening in my life at this very moment. I think as human beings we have the habit of looking fondly upon the past or anticipating what is to come while ignoring or dismissing the present. I am so guilty of this. However, I try to remember that for every thing I miss now about the US (family, friends, speaking English, Chipotle and all other delicious Mexican food, fresh baked cookies) there is something that I will miss about Chile when I return to the US (my new friends who live in other states, the Chileans I have met, pisco sours, being old enough to frequent bars and dance clubs).

At the end of the day, there is only one thing that does not change, and that is God. I am so grateful for His constant presence in my life. My friend Rachel and I went to church here this morning, and it is uncanny (and wonderful!) how similar the church services here are to those in the United State. My favorite part was singing worship songs, because they were literally all the same songs with lyrics translated into Spanish (Mighty to Save, Here I am to Worship, and Majesty, just to name a few). I loved standing beside my brothers and sisters in Christ glorifying the name of our Heavenly Father and savoring the presence of the Holy Spirit, at the same time that fellow Christians were doing the same all around the world. It was like a sneak peek of heaven!

Well, I'm signing off for now. Off to enjoy the land rich with juxtaposition!