We learned quite a lot at church, despite not being gifted with quite the tongues we needed to follow the sermon. First of all, it was apparent that the church here is growing -- from the inside. Kids were evident everywhere! Furthermore, their role was not limited to sitting down ... or quiet ... or still! For example, Sabbath School was underway when we arrived, and was led by two lads of perhaps 10 and 11.
Also, we learned that churches may not be so dependent upon musical instruments in the future. Any child who can master a remote (what child hasn't?) can operate the DVD that plays the accompaniment tracks. We enjoyed singing, karaoke style, the Spanish words to worship songs we'd learned in the U.S. (Of course, occasionally, we'd get to sing the first part of the next song, until the kid with the remote woke up and stopped it. Or there'd be a couple minutes delay while the kid figured out which DVD to load for the next song. Bottom line -- the one with the remote runs the show!)
Even the sermon, was highlighted by the occasional child wandering across the platform, sometimes even stopping to wave, with the parent eventually following and casually intercepting the "rug-rat" when it looked like the pastor might be up-staged. There was one child who, having demonstrated to the entire congregation the superb health of his lungs, was finally removed from the premises. Until then, the pastor just had to tune his own pipes to match!The pastor wasn't quite a match for that one kid, but what he lacked in capacity he made up for in endurance. I understood maybe a dozen words of the sermon, and found myself beginning to contemplate my own little walkabout on stage. Anything to relieve the boredom! Case caught only the occasional phrase, too, and thinks perhaps the pastor had an accent. (OK, I can recognize an excuse when I hear one!) Still, it was a fun experience, and we were very impressed by the culture's family emphasis which, as we have described, really becomes evident in church! And it wasn't over when church was over. Several members of the congregation wished us "Feliz Sabado", a couple English-speaking ones chatted with us for quite a while, and we were issued multiple invitations to return for the children's Christmas play that evening.
By the early afternoon, having spent the last 48 hours indoors (one way or the other), we were beginning to feel a bit claustrophobic in our previously 'cozy' 10x 12 hostel room. So, we ventured out in the rain for a walk along the lake, where we were joined by yet another friendly pooch. This has been a reccuring theme of our various walks within in Chile.
It seems that each city or locale is blessed with a full complement of "free public-access pooches". As far as we can tell, it's sort of like shopping carts at the grocery store, or perhaps those forward-thinking cities like Portland, where they have a number of city-owned bicycles left out for public use. Only here, the pooch picks you up, rather than you feeling the need and picking him up. According to our guidebook (and I quote), "Chile, with its heavy Catholic influences, isn't inclined to cut the balls off anything." (Apparently, the family emphasis extends to the dogs, too.) The friendliest ones followed us for miles around town, variously heeling, running ahead, sniffing, marking their territory, posing with us for pictures, or running off after a distracting scent or bird. The small town dogs of Pucon seem very happy and well fed, their need for human companionship satisfied by whoever happens to come along and accept their presence. However, in the cities like Valparaiso, we felt the numbers were disproportionate to the space. More specifically, the numbers were distinctly disproportionate to the amount of non-sealed surface area, making it necessary to step carefully to avoid frequent "landmines" (if you get my drift) decorating surfaces otherwise intended for walking and/or driving.
Our search for fine chocolate, initiated on Case's birthday almost 10 days ago, ended in Pucon when we happened across a wonderful chocolateria. (Yes, that's what it's known as in Spanish, and the word fits quite well.) After an agonizing process of decision-making (Case assures me that his command of Spanish includes the phrase, "Give me two of everything, please."), we came away well stocked! Case's "drug of choice" is now amply supplied ... although I did notice that he told the proprietress that we'd be back manana!
And my addiction, well ... I, in my minimalist style, had packed "all-in-one" hiking/ running/walking/camping/churching/dining shoes, only to discover on the cruise ship treadmills that I had sacrificed way too much! Unfortunately, the shoes were completely inadequate for running. (They're still holding up to the other purposes, though!) Initially, I determined to make do with what I had, and made adjustments (read: reductions) in my running regimen to try and fit the shoes. (Note to self: When purchasing articles of clothing, insist that they fit self. Under no circumstances attempt to fit self to article.) Finally, this behavior caught up with me, as I've become increasingly "antsy". Everything came to a head while we spent the last three days of rain in our 'cozy' room. (Poor Case could only watch as I began climbing the walls!)
It wasn't hard to make a diagnosis, nor to prescribe the cure. I needed to run, and in order to do that, I needed running shoes NOW! Concerned that I would have to sacrifice for a less-than-ideal pair in a foreign country, I vowed never again to travel without my favorite running shoes! (I warned you that I have it bad!)
You see, I wear ADIDAS Supernova Control, size 9.5 Nothing else works, and it isn't like you can just take a prescription down to Sav-On and ask for them, either. (Did I mention that I'm a little OCD about this?) In what I can only describe as a godsend, the first sports store we saw was emblazoned with the ADIDAS logo, and there were just the shoes I wanted on the display shelf. (In fact, it was the preceding model, which I prefer anyway.) We took them home as my Christmas present, and Case came along for my much needed run!
I'm breathing easier now. (So, for that matter, is Case -- and, when it comes to that, perhaps even the walls of our room!!!)