Friday, July 23, 2010

Getting to Know Santiago and Celebrating Special Times

The weather has been quite cold in the mornings for a week or more--around 27 degrees F in the early mornings.  That may not sound too bad for winter but the challenge is the lack of central heating and the presence of uninsulated, cement walls in all the buildings.  We have three little space heaters in our apartment.  We turn on a heater in a room when we are going to occupy it.  The rooms are about 45-50 degrees in the mornings without the heaters.  The biggest challenge for me is the church.  If they don't start the heat very early on Sunday or late on Saturday, it takes forever to heat the chapel.  I am there early to practice and teach and my fingers get so cold.  That being said, the days have turned out to be sunny and in the low 50's in the afternoon which makes for some nice walking weather.

We have been able to fit in a few little excursions on Saturdays during the last month or so.  We have chosen to visit some geographic and cultural sites and and found this very enjoyable. There are two sizable hills in Santiago.  We have reported on our trip to San Cristobal on the Funicular.  A few weeks ago we took a trip to the second--Santa Lucia.  It is a much smaller hill and very easy to climb on nice walkways.  It is designed as a park with multiple, beautiful buildings and wonderful landscaping.
 (I have no idea why I have weird script here.)

These are shots of the hill Santa Lucia.  We were blown away with the beauty of the buildings in this park.
We had such a good time walking the paths.   Above is some of the beautiful winter folliage that greeted us at each bend of the trail.

We particularly like this beautiful arch and I thought the shot of Santiago through the arch shown above was great.

We have celebrated several significant events recently.  We'll start with Father's Day.  The kids sent a large box of goodies which arrived just in time for a great day for Dave.  We are so enjoying the Stephen's Hot chocolate, Raisin Bran, Miracle Whip, etc, but Dave's favorite was the test strips for the clinic which we have used over and over since receiving.  We felt like it was Christmas and we felt very loved!

Our Anniversary was on the 18th of June.  Dave went out early on a very rainy day to buy this arrangement before we opened the clinic.  It is now the 22nd of July and the small yellow flowers are still beautiful.  We have them in a small vase on the table. We can't believe that they have lasted so long.

For our anniversary, we decided to drive up the Cajon del Maipu, a beautiful drive through a mountain gorge.  It had just snowed and the mountains were covered in fresh snow.  The valleys were very green.  It was so beautiful!

About a month ago we discovered water pooling on the kitchen tile.  I would wipe it up and it would reappear.  We finally realized that there was a leak in the plumbing under the kitchen floor.  We promptly notified and owner who came to look a day later and promised a plumber five days later.  By that time we were sloshing through water in our entry, hallway and into our second bedroom--all carpeted areas.  I was putting down very large towels every hour so so and I couldn't keep up with the water.  It takes a long time for one towel to dry in our dryer.  The water was also flowing into the apartment below us so we turned off all of out water and moved across the street to the guest house of the church until the plumber finally came a week later.  He found a leak by chiseling out some of the tile in the kitchen and chiseling out about four inches deep of concrete around the pipe.and got it repaired but couldn't fill the hole for three more days.  Then he came back and put in the concrete and we were able to move back in on Dave's birthday.  He also fixed three other leaks that occurred from turning the water off and on several times but they were easy for him to fix. However, we have not seen the plumber since.  A representative of the owner came two weeks ago and said she would have the plumber there that night and have our contract to us that week but we have heard nothing since.  But, we are very much enjoying our dry apartment.  The kitchen floor looks bad but it is functional.  The wall paper is peeling badly from so much moisture.  They were supposed to have that fixed also.  We are learning patience.

We invited friends over for Dave's birthday on July first and had cake and ice cream.  I made an oatmeal cake with German Chocolate icing and it turned out pretty well.

The next day, when our schedule was more free and our house was more put back together, we invited our friends the Boydens over for a Fourth of July dinner to celebrate Dave's birthday, their anniversary and the 4th of July and also as a going away dinner for them.  President Boyden was the mission president of our son Paul when he was on his mission in Mexico City North.  They have been very special to us because of that, but they also have been a great help in many other ways.  He has been serving as Executive Secretary to the Area Presidency here in Santiago for 18 months.  He and his wife are amazing people.  They have also served in Spain as MTC Presidents.  She is a very accomplished pianist and I have inherited four of her piano students.

Here Elder Boyden is helping cook the hamburgers.  We bought a cheap little grill and had grilled burgers, green salad, baked beans, olives, fruit and hot, homemade apple pie with ice cream.  That sounded like the Fourth of July to us.  We even had the fire works.  If you look close at this photo you will see sparks flying.  From inside it looked like he had a sparkler going out there.   We really had a good laugh about it.

This is a photo of Dave with Stephen Boyden and his wife Pat.  We had such a good visit.  We laughed and shared stories for hours.

The next Monday was their going away dinner with the senior couples.  We will surely miss them a lot.