I have discovered that I have a mentality of more. The answer is always “yes” to more. I didn’t ever notice this back at home, but it’s stood out to me in surprising ways as we’ve been traveling and I think that’s because it’s not the default answer in other countries. I think it’s bit of an American thing.
In America, the answer is always “yes” to more. Why? Because why not. Because I can.
One time it hit me was when, re-packing, for our Annapurna trek, or really any 6+ day trek we’ve done. We only wanted to bring minimal stuff since we were carrying it farther than across town, so we cut down and left the other stuff at a guest house in Pokhara. I had such a hard time paring down. My internal dialogue was going “well what if I want to change clothes? what if that shirt is dirty? what if that top is too warm, but that one isn’t quite warm enough? what if it’s raining, but not that cold? What it’s its raining and cold? What if I want to wear something different at night when we’re just hanging out than what I wore during the day?” I’m so used to “well, why not bring it?” that’s the default. Because I can. But packing for Annapurna was different, because I couldn’t bring it, because I couldn’t carry it up the mountain! And you know what? I was fine. I was great in fact. I was so much happier with less to think about. What if I flipped my paradigm? What if my default answer was “Less! Simplicity! Because why not?” instead of “More! Because why not?”. What if our default was single item, instead of combo meal? What if our default was one car, instead of multiple car households?
How about the simple, minimalist life? No need for decor. No fifty outfits in the closet. Not because I can’t carry it up a mountain, or can’t afford it, or can’t get it. But just because, why should I just get something or have something because I can?
I heard a podcast the other day with the challenge to own less than 100 things. That seems really extreme, but something I’ll be thinking about.
I have to give Ray Wylie Hubbard credit for that quote. It was a quote that Rick and I liked before we left, but it’s become even more meaningful to us since we’ve been traveling. It seems whenever we go somewhere with high expectations, thinking it’s going to be amazing, we are disappointed. And then I remind myself that really I am just grateful to get that experience, whatever it is. Expectations can be our worst enemy – not just in travel, but in marriage too! And gratitude is such an easy thing to get lost in the shuffle. It’s something I constantly need to focus on to keep it at the forefront. When I spend my energy being grateful, instead of getting all excited and hyping up my expectations, I always end up happier and enjoying that time.
We are very thankful for Scott Kedersha. He is awesome! We are extremely grateful for his per-marital ministry for helping us understand how gratitude and expectations play out in our lives. We’ve seen it be even more prominent as we’ve traveled.
So for Chile, we’re just thankful that we get to go… no expectations. I’ll keep repeating that in my head for the next few days 🙂
As part of our cultural immersion, Pablo thought it would be good for us to visit a number of different churches in town over our stay to get an idea of the different worship styles. Our favorite was the one we visited on Easter Sunday. We walked in to a room clearly divided right down the middle. To the right, the congregation, to the left, the worship band… it was close to half and half, with the edge going to the band. But no this wasn’t a tiny church with a keyboard and guitar, we’re in South America after all. The band consisted of no less than 5 accordion players (ranging in age form 12-60), at least 5 tambourine players, 6-10 traditional guitar players, about 6 people playing a banjo-mandolin hybrid… oh, and then one little boy with a set of bongos. The service was full of music to say the least… like a super-powered mariachi band. And it turns out that the little old lady taking notes at the front table wasn’t there for “minutes” or to take prayer requests, she is where you sign up to sing. Kinda like a open mic night, you sign up there to sign/play/read the following Sunday… Rick’s request to sing Freebird was unanimously declined.
Our favorite activity of the day was teaching Guille and Nathan how to dye Easter Eggs and explaining how they symbolize Jesus’ empty tomb and the new life that comes as a result of His rising from the dead. This was a first for all of us to dye eggs from “scratch” i.e. on or own without any help from a kit. We went the professional way, we hollowed out the eggs by poking holes in the ends and blowing out the white and the yolk, as opposed to the hardboiled route. We discovered Liz is much better at this than Rick (for the record, Rick authored this paragraph. Can’t wait for the comments). The results speak for themselves… clearly, somos artistos.
Apparently no Easter trip to Argentina is complete without a visit from Ratón Pérez, he is the Argentine equivalent of the Easter Bunny Tooth Fairy. Yep the Tooth Fairy here is a rodent, a rat to be more specific. This worked out fairly well as most of what Rick knows how to say in Spanish is about animals (gato this, ratón that, monos get back). None the less he was a constant source of conversation and almost like another member of the family. Oh, and I can’t forget to mention that we got to enjoy the company of Raton Perez’s friends during our stay. Rick made big claims to Guille and Pablo about his trapping prowess… convinced them to provide some of Guille’s jewelry wire for him to make snares… it’s been two weeks, we still have two empty rat snares. Rick says he just intimidated them. Which is weird because I swear I can hear them mocking him from the ceiling above our bed. This was one of Guille’s and my, many, “inside jokes.”
We have been staying with Pablo’s family for the last month in San Martin, and it’s been an amazing experience. We have our own room in the house, but we spend most of our time in the family area with Pablo, his wife Guille, their son Nathan (10), daughter Trinidad (6mo) and Abuelo (the grandfather). It’s been a full cultural immersion, with some comical fails along the way – we’re grateful that the Carli’s have been very gracious with us!
It has been really fun getting to know REAL life in Argentina, not just the tourist or traveler version and getting to know a town… and be known in a town. Now that we’ve been here a while we know people when we walk down the street, people stop us to talk to us, we have our favorite places to eat (Almacen de Flores and La Creperia) and the waitresses ask us about how our anniversary was and if we’ve tried their favorite hang out they recommended to us yet.We even know the names of a couple of dogs in town and they greet us, Carlita the border collie is our favorite.
Pablo and Guille have been so great about showing us the wonderful area they live in. The last two weekends we have visited beautiful lakes. First it was Lago Melquina.We packed a picnic lunch and, of course, three thermoses of hot water, the yerba and our mate – you can never go without mate! The mate starts in the car on the way to your destination, who ever rides shotgun has to be the Cebador (person who serves mate for everyone)… and basically it’s doesn’t stop until, well, ever. We got to be the heroes because we had our camping stove and pot and could heat more water up, right there where we picnicked.
We stopped at the lake first to take in the views, then walked a little ways up a gorgeous river. We lounged all day, taking turns with the fly fishing rod. Rick caught two little trout that day. My accomplishment for the day was saving Trini (the baby) from a gigantic pig that wondered over from the farm next to us. We played in the water, caught crawfish and swapped stories in a friendly soup of Spanish and English.
The next day we went to Playa Bonita at Lake Lolog, the best beach around! It’s sandy and stays shallow for at least 200 yards out, perfect for playing in. We finally discovered something we could tell Argentines that proved the value of existence for futbol Americano (football, vs. futbol which is soccer) to them… You have futbol Americano, so you have something you can play in the water at the beach. It’s really hard to play futbol in even a few inches of water, and impossible in a foot or so.
We’ve visited almost all of the 7 lakes in the region. We’ve come across some very interesting camping recommendations, which Rick tested out.
My big adventure was attempting to feed jello to a 6 month old baby who absolutely did not want to eat, while riding in a car over a rocky 4×4 gravel road. The cup of jello was empty by the end of it… but I’m not sure any of it actually got eaten.
The Carli’s have treated us to delicious asado, and taught us how to cook a proper asado. Rick is convinced we need an asado pit in our backyard someday.
Since we were going to be in the same place for more than 24 hours, Rick thought it would be a good opportunity to get some real Spanish lessons in. So we got an “intensive” Spanish tutor for 2 hours a day for a week. It kinda backfired on him though as I learned much quicker than he did (taking advanced Spanish all through high school and paying attention probably helps). This resulted in Guille and I telling each other jokes in Spanish constantly… occasionally at Rick and Pablo’s expense. They took it in good stride though. (This paragraph was written by Rick in my “voice”, he needs practice understanding 1st person, 3rd person, tenses, etc.).
[accordion-item title=”Click here to view a translation of this paragraph by Rick”]Nosotros vivamos allí para vente–cuatro horas. Yo sabo es bueno oportunidad para clases Español verdad. Entonces, nosotros compramos un tutor para dos horas un dia de semana. Es abajo enfuego en mi cabeza. Ella empezar mas major, Ella recuerdo esquela atras. Ella y Guille es los chistosas buenas… TODO EL DIA. Yo es bueno coreado. Cuidado para monos bravos; muy peligros. (feel free to compare that to Google Translate).[/accordion-item]
Maybe it’s the feeling of getting to know somewhere, or having a little taste of family and friends, or maybe it’s just hitting the six month mark, but we have both been homesick the last couple of weeks, despite being in such a beautiful place.
We’ve gone a little radio silent here lately. And I can’t blame a lack of internet this time, we’ve just been busy working.
As of mid-March, for the first time in the last six months, we actually knew where we were we going to be FOR THE NEXT TWO MONTHS!! I realize that probably doesn’t sound as shocking to you, but for us it’s insane! The first stop has been San Martin, doing volunteer work with a bible school…
and the second stop will be Tumunan Lodge in Chile. We will be working there in exchange for room and board! It’s our first Workaway job. It’s located in the Andes, has fly fishing, horseback riding and it’s own little vineyard. We aren’t sure what all we’ll be doing, but it could be anything from general lodge cleaning, cooking, garden tending, to helping in the vineyard, to helping guide guests on fishing trips. The owner was also excited that we have marketing and graphic design backgrounds, so probably a little of that thrown in too. They have a couple horses on property which they say I can ride in my free time! Oh, and did I mention they do wine tours of the Colchagua Valley? We start on April 15, so more to come. Here’s the website if you want to check it out: http://www.tumunanlodge.com/
Anyway, since mid-March we have been here in San Martin de Los Andes, Argentina. We are volunteering with a Christian ministry here started by a friend of Rick’s, Pablo. Rick met Pablo about ten years ago; Pablo was the translator for a 10 week mission trip Rick went on to La Plata, outside of Buenos Aires.
Pablo saw a huge need in this area of Argentina for people to be able to understand and apply the bible to their lives in a transformational way. Traditionally here the only way people hear the bible is through a sermon on Sunday at church. This area, and Patagonia as a whole, is very cut off from the outside world – mostly due to the government. Importing anything is crazy expensive, sending any kind of package here means you have to pay 50% of its value in import fees (we speak from experience on that – long story!), and outside information or goods are not taken kindly to. So there is just not any resource for people to know how to read the bible, or how it can transform their life.
So Pablo started a bible school here, and we learned earlier this year that it has been struggling to get attendance and really take off. Pablo asked if we were in Argentina if we would like to come help – sort of a consulting job, see what the situation is, what improvements might help, give some marketing advice and redesign the website and materials. So that’s what we’ve been working on for the last few weeks. Rick has designed an incredible website that will really draw people in and engage them! We were able to share with Pablo a lot of the successes we’ve seen with equipping classes at Watermark.
And as we studied the situation, we came to the conclusion that Pablo needed a new target audience, and we got leadership to agree on that!! (ok, marketing nerdiness – but that’s HUGE!). The leadership has even asked that we rethink all of the courses for the year – all new topics – and I’m taking the lead on that! It’s very exciting. So we have developed a whole new marketing strategy, course content, radio ads, Facebook content and strategy, rebranded everything, including the website, logo, flyers, everything!
Pablo and his family have been incredible and generous, they invited us to share their home while we are here. We have laughed and learned so much getting to spend this time with them… so much so that it deserves it’s own post….
Teaching Cards Against Humanity to new Argentine friends in the middle of nowhere We were in the middle of a four-day trek outside of Bariloche and one of the Refugios had Cards Against Humanity. A group of local Argentines asked if we knew how to play and would teach them, so of course we obliged. The funniest part was having to define so many of the cards, things I never really wanted to have to explain to anyone. But we all laughed for hours!
Attempting to trout fish in Cajon de Azul We didn’t catch anything, but it was such a beautiful place. It was a good thing that Refugio Cajon de Azul had a lamb dinner for us! It was the most beautiful refugio we went to, I could have stayed there for three or four days.
Surviving the Haupi Nahuel Traverse Our most technical and mentally exhausting hike to date. It involved rock climbing 50m up a narrow rock shoot on the side of a mountain with a 1,000ft drop below us (probably shoulda had a harness and rope) and 4 hours of ridgeline rock scrambling, followed by 3 more hours of tough hiking.
Experiencing a real asado We stayed in a small guesthouse owned by a sweet family who immediately took us in. After a lot of trekking, and then camping our first night we went to “the locals’ butcher” picked up half of a lamb and learned how you make the perfect asado on your parilla.
The hippie market of El Bolson We just hung out there for hours. Great people watching, good artenseal beer, organic produce. I also scored some feather earrings. El Bolson is Boulder, CO’s long lost twin sister.
Sunrise at Refugio Frey The granite peaks in the background turned bright pink and orange and the lake reflected it beautifully.
Stopping to pick wild blackberries In the middle of our search for a hostel in El Bolson we came across a huge patch of wild blackberries and just stopped for 30 minutes to pick them and eat all we could. They were so sweet, I think I ate a couple of pints there on the side of the road.
Staying in The Penthouse with a view over Bariloche Best view from a hostel room we’ve ever had