Sunday, January 12, 2014

Five Say, "Adios!"

JANUARY 11, 2014

Rachel's Reflections

Thank you for allowing me to share our experiences over the past few weeks. I am now back in the South Dakota tundra, looking at the snow on the ground and getting ready to switch my sandals to snow boots.

Five of us spent our last day taking a trip to the coastal towns of Valparaiso and Vina Del Mar on the Pacific Ocean. As Connie shared, the rest of the SDARL group visited a stable dairy and vegetable farm before heading to the coast where they will spend a few days relaxing before returning to the states.

As for Bill, Penny, Kevin, Teri and myself, we enjoyed a day with a very knowledgable tour guide who gave us all kinds of information on the Chilean culture, economy, and the various sites we were passing. 

Bill, Penny, Teri, Kevin and I on the hillside tour of Valparaiso.
Kevin and Teri Jaspers at the Vina Del Mar flower clock.
Bill and Penny Slovek saying good bye from the Pacific beach.
Rachel Mehlhaf surfing on home from the Pacific.
We also took some time to reflect on our experience as a whole on this tour of Argentina and Chili. When we were saying our goodbyes Saturday morning, I found myself somewhat conflicted knowing we have created so many memories together and built new as well as continued past friendships. These experiences have connected us moving forward, and we will be better able to relate to Latin American agriculture and how it impacts our area of the world. 

Through their site visit, Dan and ReaJean Gee were able to ensure we had many quality visits and places to stay over the past two weeks. Their visit eliminated surprises that could arise when entering a new country with different customs and culture than our own. They had already met many of our tour guides and been to the farms we visited, allowing for us to built on the initial relationships they formed and get right down to learning about agriculture in another country. Dan works very hard to make sure the dollars we invest in this kind of trip are turned into a mix of educational, cultural, and fun experiences. Simply put, the planning Dan and ReaJean do ahead of time keeps the trip more or less stress free for the rest of us.

Also, being able to get to know spouses of other SDARL Alumni added value to the tour. As I mentioned in a past post, spouses and families provide much support when we go through the SDARL class often only hearing about our experiences and the people we meet second hand. As Teri Jaspers says, "This trip has given me the opportunity to get to know people Kevin has talked about and to relate to his time spent in the organization. This trip has helped me connect with the group and gain new friendships in SDARL."

I am already looking forward to seeing my friends again on our next adventure whether is it in SD or in another country. I leave you with a few final pictures from the trip. Until we meet again, "Adios!"

Undurraga Vineyard beauty.
More Underraga Vineyard beauty.
The hillsides of Valparaiso, a colorful sight to behold.

Graffiti, otherwise known as art here, lines the walls in the residential streets of Valparaiso.