I am quite overdue for another update, and I am very sorry for the delay, but there has been much to distract.
I left you all last time describing my adventures of The Inca Trail and Machu Picchu. Since much has happened: I got a cold, I went to Lima, somehow managed to fill 3.5 days there, I then had an adventure travelling to Chile (basically there was a lot of waiting) where I have finally arrived and spent the last 3 days...
The most significant news is that this is the first of these emails being typed from an Apple (and a MacBook at that). I'm sure I'm the only person who cares, but I thought I'd tell you all anyway.
My final days in Peru were unfortunately marred by the cold I got a day or so after returning from the hike. My plans for wandering around Cusco on Sunday and taking lots of nice photos of fantastic streets and great architecture were thrown out for a day in bed instead. On Monday I knew it would be a long day when I went down with some travellers cheques in hand to get them changed, only to remember along the way that I needed my passport. My cold also made the flight back to Lima interesting because as we descended to sea level the pressure change blocked up my left ear, making everything rather dull.
Lima itself is a big city with not a great deal to see or do. I watched 2 movies in the Cinemas (Bourne Ultimatum and License to Wed) for approximately AU$4. Watching movies in the Cinemas for less than a DVD rental in Australia is lots of fun. I also had a massive Peruvian lunch with seafood dishes for about AU$12. It was a full three courses and the entree alone would have cost AU$20 in Australia.
I also spent a brief time in Central Lima. I saw the changing of the guard at the palace, which was very exuberant. A marching band played as various groups of guards marched around out the front, with big awkward looking goose steps. If I was the one deciding how it was going to be done it would've been over in a few minutes, but I guess someone thought a big show would be the way to go.
After watching the guard change, I went to the Monestary of San Fransisco. I join a guided tour, which was in Spanish, and was shown the monestary. Highlights include a big painting of the last supper featuring guinea pig as the main dish and the catacombs - including real skulls. Compared to all the other bones the skulls were particularly unnerving, since they gave some personality to the otherwise anonymous dusty bones.
But that was about all that was interesting in Lima, besides a random conversation with a map vendor (who was from Cusco and didn't make enough from selling maps because there weren't many tourists in Lima), a long conversation with my taxi driver on the way to the airport, and a random Christian thingo with stalls selling books, music and various Christian nick-nacks. Oh and the food. Actually the food, besides the Inca Trail, was the best thing about Peru. That and Inca Kola.
My last experience of Peru was having to wait 3 hours in the airport for a delayed flight. The delay would've been bareable had it been earlier. But it wasn't. So instead of flying out at 00:30, I flew out around 03:30. And I discovered that I should never attempt to sleep in airports, because it's really quite impossible with all the light and the announcements and the cleaners. The only thing that made the delay better was bumping into Erica from the hike, which meant I had someone else to chat to, even if she left 2.5 hours before I did.
The delay also meant that I missed my connecting flight in Buenas Aires to Santiago. So instead of only having to wait 1.5 hours I now had to wait 4 hours till my next flight. I guess that's what you get in the end for trying to fly cheaply.
But without the delays I wouldn't have been bumped to business class on my flight to Santiago (which included a much better meal than economy). Nor would I have got to see the Andes in the afternoon light as we crossed them. They were truly spectacular to see from the air and it made the flight quite memorable.
Otherwise I arrived safetly in Santiago and was greeted by Tim and all the Swan children at the airport. My first night in Chile was with the Guzman family, because the Swans had been quite sick and things were a little bit in disarray - and it wasn't helped by the handyman who had been installing a storage cupboard.
But on Sunday I went with the Guzmans to church and enjoyed church. Singing hymns in Spanish is lots of fun, especially when they're ones that have been translated from English. I was very surprised at the number of English speaking people there, which made it much easier to meeting new people. After church I returned with the Swans to their home. Sunday was actually the first day Sally had been out of bed in 8 to 9 weeks, which was very good.
On Monday I visited the CEP and enjoyed a chapel service there. I also got to meet the students there and the other staff. To get from the Swan's place into the CEP we travel via the Metro. The Metro is fantastic. In fact I have been impressed by the public transport in every South American country I've been to. Anyhow the MetroRed is a train network that is very cheap (about 60c for any distance), and has services coming every 5 to 10 minutes. To use the Metro you buy these smart cards that you charge with money and simply wave infront of a sensor to deduct money and allow you to travel. The quality of public transport all throughout South America makes me wonder why Sydney's is so expensive and inadequet.
Anyhow, I am really enjoying my time here. The 'work' I am doing will be split between sticking contact over the new catalog numbers on the spines of books, misc computer related tasks (playing with websites and MS Access databases), and hopefully helping out on the upcoming CEP mission week. The best bit though is getting to spend time playing with Edward, Lachlan, and Annabelle.
Well I will be here for another 3.5 weeks, so I'm sure I will have much more to say about Santiago very soon. Things are going well and I have been very blessed by the Tim and Sally. If you can pray that I can be a blessing to them and that God would teach me and use me while I am here that would be great. Also give thanks that the Swans are all nearly recovered from the sickness too (there are still a few runny noses and coughs going round).