The morning started off in Talca, Chile where we met Stefano from the Surmaule organization. Surmaule is a non-governmental organization that works with individuals and communities in the Maule region of Chile. The Maule region is the most agricultural and rural region in Chile. Fruit packing plants, machinery equipment companies, farming, and livestock production are some of the top businesses in the ag industry of Maule.
Since the Maule region is such a rural area, Surmaule works closely with the communities it serves to strengthen the capacity and skills of its people and promote and stimulate group action. Surmaule organization has several projects they are currently working on such as working with 50 farm families to recover after the earthquake and tsunami in 2010 and in March of 2014 will launch an urban garden program for families in the Maule region. For more information on the Surmaule organization, feel free to visit their website www.surmaule.cl.
After the presentation from the Surmaule organization, we headed downtown to the local market where local producers sell their fresh produce and meat that they harvest from their farms. We were able to walk around the market and see all the different vendors and the products they were selling. One vendor that I found intriguing and hadn't seen at other markets we visited in Chile were the people selling fresh fish.
Once we were done visiting the market, we loaded the bus and were headed for our resort, Termas de Quinamavida. Along the way, we realized just how "small of a world" it is. While driving down the road, we came across the Chilean fire department who were raising money for the year as they are a volunteer service to their communities. We quickly shared with them that we had seen a Chilean fire truck being built at Rosenbauer Fire company when we visited the company at our July SDARL session. The Chilean firefighter was also familiar with that particular truck and company in South Dakota. Jeff Thompson presented the firefighter with some Rosenbauer caps he had brought on the trip for gifts.
After this exciting coincidence we headed on to our resort. The drive to the resort was beautiful and it is hard to put into words. Sometimes I catch myself thinking I might be at home in the hills of South Dakota as we drive through the foothills of Chile the last couple of days.
Once we arrived at the resort, we were able to do what we wanted for the remainder of the afternoon. Activities that we chose from were hiking, swimming, and horseback riding. I think it is safe to say that a fun time was had by all.
As I conclude for the night, I just want to share one last story of the day. Our SDARL class today was reminded that there are kind-hearted and caring people all around the world. While we had free time today, one of our classmate's wallet fell out of their pocket and they didn't notice it was missing. A guest at the resort found the wallet and was adamant that he return it to the person it belonged to. Through various questions to people at the resort, he finally found the individual it belonged to and personally returned it to them. Our classmate was very gracious for the selfless act and wanted to show their appreciation to the gentleman. However, the Chilean gentleman would not accept anything, but just wanted us to all have a great experience with the country of Chile and the people who live here! This is just one of many great experiences we have had with the Chilean people.
Well as I review my post, it appears that I have rambled long enough! We hope everything is going well back home and we will be back soon. We want to thank everyone again for making this trip possible and an experience we will never forget!