YFU Switzerland

Misiones en La Serena

Hello everybody 🙂

I’ve just recently come back from an awesome two weeks in La Serena, wich is a city about 13 hours from PitrufquĂ©n by bus. I had the great opportunity to go there with the youth group from the church I’m attending here. The main idea of those „misiones“ is going from house to house and listening and talking to the people who live there. It was a great experience and I’m very grateful that I could be a part of it.

We left on the 12th of January at 10PM to Santiago. We arrived there at around 6AM and took our bus to La Serena at 9AM. The ride wasn’t as comfortable as my first bus experience here, but I enjoyed it all the same. At night I could look out of the window and see the stars ,which are very visible here, and in the second part of the journey we could admire the desert and the sea from our seats.

Once we finally arrived at the bus terminal in the late afternoon, we were received by the kids from La Serena and brought to the school we would be spending the next 1.5 weeks in. The youth group I’m part of is from the Dominican Family, which is a worldwide community of the Roman Catholic Church. So in these „misiones“ there were a bunch of kids from other Dominican schools or churches. That was great since I could meet a lot of new people and make new friends. There were people from Santiago, ValparaĂ­so, Chillán and other Chilean cities.

Selfies at the beach because we're cool ?

Selfies at the beach because we’re cool ?

After eating a very late lunch, us from Pitru went to the beach. This was the first time I’ve gone to the beach in Chile and it was great. We didn’t stay very long because we had to go back to eat dinner, but it was enough for me  to walk in too far and be splashed by a big wave ?.

Us girls from Pitru (short for Pitrufquén) shared a (class)room with the girls from Valpo (short for Valparaíso). We all slept on mattresses and the sleeping bags we brought with us. It was quite comfortable.

The program of the days we spent there was quite tight. In the morning at 8 there was mass where you could go voluntarily, then there was breakfast at 8:30. At 10 we’d have a „meeting“ did some energisers (singing and dancing), talked about what we’d be doing on that day and where we’d be going.  At 11 we left. There were 4 groups and three sectors to visit. One group stayed „at home“ and did housework. We’d rotate so that every group has visited every sector and done housework. At 1:30 PM was lunchtime. After lunch we’d have some free time until the afternoon activities started. There were four different activities: going from house to house again and activities with kids which were both from 3 to 5, and activities with adults and Zumba which were from 5 to 7. After these activities there was dinner at 9 and a last meeting at 10. After that we could do what we wanted. Most people just went to sleep because walking around all day in the hot sun is quite exhausting.

While walking around, not a lot of people opened the door. But that was to be expected. However in that way it was all the more rewarding when someone did. I had the privilege to talk to around 5 people and to be invited to enter into three homes. It was very interesting seeing the different realities of how people live and hearing their stories and thoughts. Every time I left a house I felt very grateful that those people took their time to tell us about themselves and sharing a tiny piece of their lives with us.

Since the afternoon activities required people to participate (duh!), in the mornings and afternoons we’d invite the people we talk to to join in on the fun. Sadly absolutely no adult showed up to the adult activities. We had more success with the kids, though. In the last few days quite a few showed up which made us very happy :). Usually the kids would stick around to participate in Zumba as well, which was great.

Dancing in front of the church

Dancing in front of the chapel

We also participated in the inauguration of a little chapel. It was really fun and we danced in front of the church and served delicious-looking food (we weren’t allowed to try any?).

On the last day of these „misiones“ we had a day of tourism. Early in the morning we left to see „El Cruz del Tercer Milenio“, which is an 83 metres tall, 40 metres wide, concrete cross located at the top of a hill in Coquimbo. On the bus going to La Serena you could see it and it reminded me of „Cristo Redentor“ in RĂ­o de Janeiro. Once we got there we split up into our hometowns and went exploring ?. What I found very surprising was that you could actually take a lift (the stairs were blocked) to the crossbars where you had a wonderful view over the sea, Coquimbo and, even though it was quite a cloudy day, as far as La Serena.

 

 

After taking enough pictures to last a lifetime we went to the city center of La Serena ate lunch at the zoo. We spent the rest of the afternoon at the beach. Since I didn’t pack my swimming suit I changed into shorts and a T-Shirt and went swimming like that. The water was the perfect temperature and we all had a great time. Chilean beaches are very lively; there’s people everywhere selling all the sweets you can dream of, umbrellas, shades, there even was a Captain Jack Sparrow impersonator ?.

After having spent such an amazing 1.5 weeks together, of course we were very sad to leave it all behind. Especially for me it was hard since the other people can return next year if they like, but I’ll be back in Switzerland next year ?. However the fun wasn’t over yet; us from Pitru spent three more days in La Serena/Coquimbo.

We stayed in the house of relatives of a guy in the community. After settling in, we went out to eat sushi which was AWESOME! I haven’t had it since I came here. Later, us teenagers made ourselves a nice evening with games and candy. The next morning one of the chaperones and a friend accompanied me to return to the school we stayed in because being the way I am, I obviously forgot my shorts and T-Shirt I had hung out to dry the day before after washing them ?. We then joined the rest of our group at the bus terminal to drive to Vicuña, a little town an hour outside of La Serena. The drive there was beautiful. There were vineyards everywhere, a river and a huge reservoir. Once we arrived, we went to the market where they sell the most delicious vegan brownies, homemade ice cream and fresh juice. After buying souvenirs and filling our bellies with pure deliciousness, we explored the town. I absolutely love Vicuña. There’s beautiful graffiti everywhere, cafĂ©s and markets, which give it a very artsy vibe. There’s a beautiful church, an observatory, which sadly we couldn’t visit and huge „fruterĂ­as“. We ate lunch and then went to the Gabriela Mistral museum. Since it was very hot we left quite soon, returned to La Serena and spent the rest of our last day tat the beach.

The last evening was very nice. We ate dinner in the house and just enjoyed each other’s company. We were all very exhausted so one by one everyone drifted off to their rooms. For some reason I couldn’t sleep so I stayed up and watched the stars and the moon. The great thing was that it was warm enough to do so in my PJs ?.

The next morning we went to „La Recova“ which is quite a famous market where you can buy all sorts of souvenirs and goodies. La Serena and it’s surroundings being famous for them, I bought some fresh papayas and some papaya products (sweets and stuff). We then took the bus back to Santiago and from Santiago to Freire, where we were picked up by the parents of some of the kids. Once I got back home I was very happy to see my family again. My dog (it’s actually my niece’s dog), Principe Azul was very excited to see me, too, which was really cute. After talking a little with my mom and my sister I went to sleep.

These „misiones“ were a once in a lifetime experience and I am so grateful and happy that I could take part in them. The amazing thing is that for these two weeks we spent in La Serena, us from Pitru didn’t have to pay anything because over the year we collected enough money by selling empanadas, helping out at events and the charity of people at our church, to pay everything from the bus tickets to the rent of the house and food.

A huge thank you to everyone who made this experience possible and so amazing. This is definitely something I’ll never forget ??.

My amazing community ?

My amazing community ?