A Beautiful Miracle

Published: November 30th 2018
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My lovely mother came to visit me. Dreams do come true. Whereas my trip with Kelsey was about seizing the day, pushing ourselves to the absolute limit activity-wise and living euphorically, my mom’s trip was more about taking time to pause, smell the roses, and enjoy everything and everyone around us. With her, my senses were heightened to the pleasure found in everyday Chilean life. I got the joy of simply being with the Chilean people that I love and my mom at the same time. My two worlds collided creating an interesting and unforgettable kaleidoscope of color.

My mom coming to visit me was every bit of a miracle. That’s probably part of the reason I walked around in a surreal fog of bliss the entire time. This trip would have been completely impossible even a couple of years ago. It's because my mother was on dialysis for 7 years due to kidney failure. Although she loves to travel, for 7 years, she had to be hooked up to a machine, 3 times a week, for 5 hours at a time while her blood was pumped through a machine, cleaned, and then circulated back into her body, essentially functioning
as her kidneys should. We waited a long time for a transplant, unsure if it would ever come. Well, miracles do happen. In May of 2015, she was called in for a kidney transplant as they had received a donor. So now, almost 2 years later, my mom is dialysis free and able to travel the world. It’s always been a dream of mine for her to visit Chile and see where I live. But back then, even if she had the money, she couldn’t go more than 3 days without dialysis.

So on Saturday when she arrived, it was special. I remember seeing her standing there at the airport, curly hair, curvy and colorful. I thought to myself, “Wow…she’s actually here!” then ran and gave her a bear hug. My host dad had gone to park the car. Then the next exciting thing happened. I got to introduce my mom and my host dad. I know they felt like they had already known each other for years, I’ve talked so much about one to the other, but here was the moment when they could finally meet. My host dad was extremely nervous because of the language barrier and
Me, mom and Papa Samuel Me, mom and Papa Samuel Me, mom and Papa Samuel

Cerro San Cristobal
all the English he had practiced seemed to fly out the window. My mom had been practicing Spanish as well but couldn’t say anything either, so it appeared that I would be the translator for the next week and a half.

We started off by going to THE hill in Santiago, Cerro San Cristobal. On the way we stopped and took pictures in front of La Modeda which is like the Chilean “White House”. Then we visited the Plaza de Armas. My mom was already getting a crash course in Chilean life as we walked and walked. Her legs almost couldn’t handle it, cramping up periodically, letting their disdain be known. My host dad heroically ran to find her some pickle juice to ease the cramps then we kept trudging along albeit at a slower pace. We stopped near the Plaza to eat pastel de choclo for lunch and my mom absolutely loved it. Pastel de choclo is a traditional Chilean dish based on sweetcorn or choclo. It includes beef, chicken, onions, black olives, and a hard boiled egg which result in a savory explosion of flavor with a hint of sweetness from the corn. It’s one of my
Papa Samuel's parentsPapa Samuel's parentsPapa Samuel's parents

Eating once at their house
favorites. After that, we met up with Dámaris, one of my host dad’s friends from Santiago, and headed up Cerro San Cristobal. Breathtaking views we beheld of Santiago, a large metropolis surrounded by stately mountains. I hugged my mom and my host dad both. This was Chile. We were here together. I was incredibly thankful.

The next day was Sunday and we took my mom to church with us. The church people nearly lost their minds and Armando in particular nearly kissed my mom to death. Haha Silvia, who often does mission trips in Asia, even pulled out her English and invited my mom and I to her house for a meal sometime before my mom was to go back. They were so welcoming. I enjoyed introducing her to Enrique, María Isabel, and others who I love dearly and who have all shown me such kindness.

That evening, we went to my host dad’s parent’s house to have once with the family. It was domestic and comforting, sitting around the table with multiple generations of my host family, plus me and my mother. Laughing, talking and sharing tea and palta. Although our surroundings weren't out of the ordinary,
I felt privileged to be there. It wasn’t unusual to share a meal with my mother. It wasn’t unusual to share a meal with my host family. But combine those two worlds and that WAS unusual. To be at the table with my mother and my Chilean family at the same time in Chile. It was just odd enough to feel special.

That Monday, my mom and I relaxed and explored Viña and Concón on our own, scarfing down empanadas, going to the beach, and sightseeing. We even walked up a serious hill which was impressive for my mom’s American legs. Then on Tuesday Isaac took us on a tour of Valparaíso.

My mom and I are very similar. I forgot how similar we are. It’s weird how after living with someone for over 20 something years straight, you can forget about their quirks, even after a relatively short time apart. She's a more introverted, but at the same time, more expressive version of me. It’s hard to explain. Basically, I’m more social, but she’s louder. Haha And neither one of us has a good poker face. Although we do try.

Where I’m jumpy and easy to
Cerro PolancoCerro PolancoCerro Polanco

The elevator... Haha
startle, my mother is even more so. So tell me why, while we were in the elevator at Cerro Polanco, Isaac signaled to the elevator operator to shut off the lights? This was just after he lied and said that the elevator has the tendency to malfunction. My mom screamed bloody murder to which the lights sprang back on and Isaac and the operator laughed for days. Apparently it wasn’t the first time they had pulled this prank on tourists but my mom was the first one whose scream could probably be heard from the next hill over. Haha

That night, my mom and I got on an overnight travel bus and headed to Pucón, in southern Chile. The idea was to have a mini-vacation within our vacation. But again, my mom and I are quite similar. And what that means is, when two of us go a-traveling, we're both likely to forget the same things. The essentials...

When we got to Pucón, in the morning everything was great except for one problem.

No money, no clothes, and no underwear. What were we thinking?? Haha

Unfortunately, this is not the first time I had forgotten a change of underwear on a trip. But coupled with my mom's own forgetfulness, it resulted in a comical vacation.

My mom left her clothes in Valparaíso so was stuck wearing the same white shirt for multiple days. I packed clothes and a bikini. No knickers in sight. And we both forgot to bring extra money! So after using up almost all our cash to pay for the hostel and a couple of tours, we were close to broke. Yet we still had to eat. So that night, after our day tour to the surrounding lakes and hot springs, we went to the grocery store to buy instant ramen noodles for dinner. Yes, Maruchan. Ultra-mega classy. We laughed, incredulous that we had traveled so far to be stuck eating ramen noodles. The next day our tour was paid for but we went crossing our fingers, hoping that we wouldn’t have to pay for anything extra. We had about $15 to our name and we had to somehow still pay for lunch! We passed through Panguipulli, stopped to take pictures at beautiful lakes, and got a taste of Magic Mountain at Hiulo-Huilo, which is a nature preserve. The tour ended up
Miradores with SilviaMiradores with SilviaMiradores with Silvia

That wind was SO serious Lol
being a private tour because it was only the tour guide driving my mom and I around all day in his plush van. No one else had booked. Then we caught another overnight bus back to Valparaíso, which was thankfully paid for in advance.

Upon our return from Pucón, we went and ate lunch at Silvia’s house. Papa Samuel drove us to the other extremity of Valparaíso to where Silvia lives in Cerro Playa Ancha. The feast they prepared was unparalleled. It actually hurt, how much we ate. Their nana, Miriam outdid herself. Chips, tuna, egg and avocado appetizers, hearty potato soup, steak and mashed potatoes, then ice-cream, candy, coffee and tea. After the meal, my host dad left but Silvia and her brother took us around to some popular miradores where we took photos and enjoyed the breeze.

My mom planned to cook an American meal for my host family as well so the next day she and I went to the store. It was fun being in Jumbo, struggling together to find certain products. The ingredients that we both knew she wouldn’t be able to find beforehand, she brought with her from the States. She planned to make frito pie and homemade banana pudding. I invited Felipe over, my host brother’s best friend, who I have been hanging out with, to join is. He ended up talking to my mom for hours as he knows English very well. The family liked the food a lot so the frito pie got scarfed down immediately. Then we had to fight for the left over banana pudding.

The next day, we went to church again and then met up with Rebecca, my new American friend who has been living in Chile for the past 6 years. I met her through Felipe. She fell in love with Chile so hard that she is now a Chilean citizen. She has her own job, her own apartment, and only goes back to the U.S. to visit. Rebecca has done very well for herself here. We got desert at that Paola restaurant on Calle Pedro Montt because I wanted her to meet my mom.

On Monday, my mom’s last day, there was one more thing that she was determined to do or should I say, eat. Haha she insisted that she absolutely needed another completo. I couldn’t blame her. A mother
after my own heart. So I introduced her to my favorite hole in the wall, K-nibal. After eating that giant avocado, tomato, sauerkraut and garlic-mayo-covered Chilean version of the hot-dog, the rest of the day was just a bonus. Afterwards, we bought snickers at a little kiosk and leisurely walked around eating them. Then we visited the library.

Around 4:00 we headed back to the house. It was time for Papa Samuel to drive us to Santiago so my mom could catch her return flight to the U.S. Everything was a whirlwind. Before I knew it, we were there at the airport and I was hugging her goodbye. Papa Samuel and I sat down at the airport and shared a pizza. We laughed and talked. On the drive back to Valpo, however, I began to feel odd. I stopped talking and just stared out the dark window. It wasn’t until I got home and Elisabet asked me if my mom made it to the airport okay and how I was doing, that I realized that I actually felt like crap. Then I went up to my room and proceeded to cry. My mom left and I won’t see her
for another year. It dawned on me how long of a time that actually is.

But I have decided to be more thankful that she came than sad that she left. That’s my new decided mindset. I got to be in my favorite place in the world while also being with my favorite person. Yes, she had to leave. But I’m glad she came.

Additional photos below
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That cop was super flirty. Omgosh...

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