In order to spare everyone from reading a blogpost 5 pages long about this weekend, I decided to split the festivities into two. Here comes the second part!
Friday was filled with hiking, which you have already read if you keep up with my adventures. But Saturday was set aside to explore the city of Santiago! Martha and I decided to find this little cafe that served American type brunch. I know you’re thinking, Courtney…this is your fourth week being in the city. Do you really miss America and American food that much? The answer is no, I wasn’t desperate. But at the same time, it was nice to have a little taste of home 🙂 One review called Café Melba a gringa breakfast paradise. I’d say that’s accurate. This little café serves breakfast and lunch, but I have a feeling that breakfast is more popular. And I can totally understand why. The food was absolutely AMAZING. Martha ordered the french toast with grilled pineapple and bananas and I ordered the blueberry lemon pancakes with TONS of blueberries on top. Both were absolutely delicious, but if I went there again (which will most likely happen) I will most definitely get the french toast!!
Now that our tummies were full, it was time to explore! We ventured to the zoo en el centro. Fun fact: the zoo was definitely located right across the street from the salsateca I went to last weekend…crazy!! Another fun fact: the zoo is on the side of Cerro San Cristóbal, which means if you didn’t ride a funicular (like an elevator) up the hill and start the zoo at the top, you had to walk up zillions of stairs to go through all the exhibits. And we didn’t take a funicular, so it was up up up we went. Although we were constantly climbing stairs, we really enjoyed the zoo. I think the best part was either the monkeys or the penguins. Or both. I can’t wait to possibly see penguins in their natural habitat when I go to Patagonia!!!
After the zoo, came Cerro Santa Lucía, another cerro to climb! However this one had stairs and wasn’t as vigorous as Cerro San Cristóbal. This is a veryyyy touristy place to visit in Santiago; I encountered many tour groups and heard a lot of English being spoken… The architecture at Santa Lucía was beautiful! The yellow and white colors of it were so cheery 🙂 There were also ruins from an old Spanish fortress. Since pictures can better convey this place than my words, I’ll stop the talking and let you see for yourself.
This past Sunday, I decided to finally find this church that Jennifer Ridings recommended to me: Viña las Condes, which is a contemporary Christian church in Las Condes. I looked up directions to this church from my house and discovered that there were two ways to get there: by bus or by metro. I decided to try the bus first, and then catch the metro back home. That meant I would have to catch one bus and go down for a few blocks, and then catch another and go for a few more blocks. After about 45 minutes, I found the church!! I was so proud of myself. I think this is the first time that I’ve had to travel public transportation by myself to an area that I hadn’t been to before. And there was success! HOLLA.
Compared to church services in the states, this service was way long. Like two and a half hours long. Chileans like to sing, and I’m totally okay with that! We sang these awesome Spanish worship songs for about an hour, and I couldn’t help but get goosebumps. It was then that I truly experienced that worshiping God goes totally beyond our home churches and totally beyond the US. These Chileans sang with their whole hearts and meant it. They were truly so thankful for the love that God has shown them. Literally every hand in the church was raised. The Spirit was totally there, and I soaked in every glorious minute of it. The pastor preached about the wise man and the foolish man who built their houses upon rock and sand, but he also made it a point to preach that God will use you wherever you are to shine His light. I was meant to hear that. I was meant to find this church this particular Sunday morning and hear that message. It was absolutely awesome. My heart felt so full by the end of the service!
But by far, one of my favorite parts was when the people in the congregation turned to the person standing beside them and prayed for one another. It was so incredible to see the faith that each had. Now as for me, the poor little gringa in the midst of all these Chileans, I was just standing there, soaking in this incredible experience, partly because it was so awesome and partly because I didn’t have anyone to pray with. But alas, here comes some random woman to save the day! She came up to me and laid her hands on me and continued to pray for me for about 10 minutes straight. It was so sweet! Although I didn’t catch all that she said, I really appreciated it! She doesn’t know how much it meant to me, for someone to have reached out and shown me love at the most appropriate time! Needless to say, I will return to Viña las Condes!
Now for some tidbits of information about Chile in general. You know I love me some fun facts!
- Chileans are late. To everything. And they don’t care. I was so worried about catching the bus on time and getting to church before it started at 11. Welp, I found my way there and at 11 on the dot, the church was still pretty empty. Everyone was there around 11:15, no worries. The service was still spectacular!
- Chileans love carbs. Their diet is heavy in bread and rice and bread and rice…so many great foods. I think I’ll fit in well here.
- Chileans are direct. This could also be categorized as a culture shock to me, coming to a big city from a small town! But Chileans say what they need to say when they need to say it. Enough said.
- Chileans do not stay in Santiago on the weekends. But really though. As I was walking to the bus stop to church on Sunday and from the metro to my house, I literally passed no one on the sidewalk. How could this be? That millions of people just disappear for fun on the weekends? Well, truth is that Santiago is boring on the weekends, according to my host mom. I did not see anyone until I went to Museo Bellas Artes and the park located right next to it. Then I realized that everyone who stayed in Santiago this weekend was there. Much to mi madre chilena’s liking, I am planning on traveling these next couple weekends. So don’t you worry. I’ll find something to do and places to explore!