Day one is just about finished, and it’s been a long one, mainly because I slept no more than an hour on my redeye. Nevertheless, I made it in one piece and even managed to survive visa and customs checks. I also braved a shared taxi that took way too long, though the cost was fair. And so, I arrived at my hostel.
After dropping off my bags I headed upstairs and met three fellow Americans on the same adventure as myself. We talked for a bit before heading out to explore. On our foray into Santiago we first stopped to take out some Chilean money, pesos. Then, we headed up a fairly steep trail to a vista that overlooks the city. Atop the hill is a rather large, white statue of the Virgin Mary of Immaculate Conception (Ironically, she was dwarfed by the giant cell tower that stood just behind her). I snapped a number of photos and bought a few postcards, but I also sat down for a moment to pray. I didn’t just pray for my trip, or for those that I miss dearly, but I simply thanked God for how good He is. While the monument may be a tourist attraction to most, it was a nice reminder to me that Christ humbled himself to our level. He allowed me to pause in the midst of a bustling city just to sit in awe of who He is.
On the way down, I stopped to buy a Gatorade and a snack, because it was hot and I was hungry (airplane food can only hold one over for so long). Much to my surprise, on a snack cart atop a Chilean hill, I saw my own last name staring back at me. Apparently, “McKay, más ricas no hay!” There’s no richer cookie than mine, baby! But seriously, they were good. Once we were back to the city, I attempted to capture at least a few snippets of street graffiti, which is pretty much a trademark here. Some of it is really cool. Other pieces I will not mention.
After a shower I rested some, though I didn’t let myself sleep for fear of not being able to sleep tonight (aka, an idiot nap). Instead I walked down the street to a café by myself. The waiter, much to my delight, was incredibly helpful. He gave me good advice on what to order, asked me about my trip and where I’m from, and gave me a Chilean newspaper to read. When I was thinking of leaving, a street performer walked in and started playing his violin. This resulted in me sticking around to have coffee and dessert so I could enjoy the music. I figured it was okay to splurge a little on the first day, especially given how long it was.
Two other random things: I bumped into a girl that I went to high school with. Small world, I guess! And secondly, there was also a sign in the café that had McKay written on it, unrelated to the cookie company. Who knew McKay was such a common name in Chile?
All in all, it’s been an enjoyable first day. It’s certainly surreal being on the opposite hemisphere from everything and everyone I know. I’m anxious to get the training sessions underway because I want to get to my placement. As interesting as the city is, I’m not much of a city boy. I’m looking forward to moving south where life is a little bit quieter and slower. I plan on starting each day before the Lord in prayer. He will be my peace no matter what the days bring. I know He is with me here, and that resonates soundly in my soul.