We had another weekend of freedom!! It is so incredibly nice to have a break, especially with the end of summer school and the craziness of the last week, trying to get everything done. We went on another mini-adventure yesterday to make the most of our time!

From the moment I woke up, the day was already going wonderfully. Why? Because I got up at 9AM after 10 WHOLE HOURS of sleep! In the scheme of my normal life, 10 hours really isn’t that much. In the scheme of my life here, 10 hours is nearly unheard of. Same with 9AM. Ah, Saturdays! They really are the best. We intentionally planned our destination to allow for some morning relaxation time, and honestly, that was equally as nice and rejuvenating as the actual adventure. I even had time to do some reading, organize my stuff, and catch up on a few things that I had been putting off before we had to head out for the day.

Horrible picture, but this is the beginning of the dirt road to get there

Julie, Debbie, and I headed out around 11:45AM and stopped in Chilca to pick Vanessa up on our way. I was excited to have some time to hang out with her that didn’t involve talking about work/summer school! Our destination was Azpitia, a town about 45 minutes south of us. It’s just about in the middle of nowhere, and apparently, Jim and Tony randomly stumbled upon it years ago when they were doing some exploration driving where you just take turns and see where you end up. After getting there, I seriously have NO idea how they found it. You get off the highway at an exit that seems deserted, go down a skinny paved road, and then turn off onto an unpaved road that looks like a driveway. How did they even decide that it was a road? I don’t know.

First glimpse of the valley, plus a view of the road we had to take to get there

Debbie, me, Vanessa, and Julie

You drive along that mess of a road – windy, unpaved, and dusty – for maybe 10 minutes before coming around a bend and BAM you’re hit with an amazing view of a green valley. Remember, we’re in the desert here, so “green” isn’t exactly common. We’re used to a whole lot of brown, brown, brown. The reason everything is so green there is because of the river Mala that flows through the town. Early in the town’s development, the people created an irrigation system to turn this desert valley into a viable location for farming. Looking at it now, there’s no argument that it has been anything less than a huge success.

So much green! You can see the river at the bottom of the picture, but it’s a little hard to pick out because it’s so brown

We ate lunch and then spent some time walking around. You can walk along the cliff that leads down to the river, and there are a bunch of restaurants that seem precariously perched over the edge but that give you an incredible view of the valley. There’s also a fun sidewalk which is worth noting because it has trees growing out of it, situated in an irrigation channel that runs down the middle of the walkway. We took a steep staircase down to the river which is probably the brownest thing in the whole valley. I don’t know that it’s usually like that, but there has been more rain than usual this year, and a lot of the rivers are apparently higher and dirtier than in past years.

The clever irrigation sidewalks

Cool trees

Looking towards the ocean

Up close and personal with the river

We headed back to Chilca after our mini-hike. It wasn’t the longest adventure ever, but it was relaxing and beautiful and refreshingly green which was enough to make it perfect. Even better, we had plenty of time to come home, watch a stupid movie, and get to bed before the neighbors’ parties really got going.
Today was the usual Sunday routine but thankfully without the panicked last-minute prep for class. Church, grocery shopping, and time to chill before we get back to work tomorrow. I’m not completely sure what this upcoming week is going to involve, but we have a one week break to get everything ready for the start of school next week. As far as I know, my job is to just do as I’m told… I can handle that.

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