I am actually having a lot easier time with spending money here than I was at home, because here I know exactly when and how much money I am going to get and so it is really easy to budget for. We get 85000 Pesos a month and nothing more... so we have roughly 20000 a week with some wiggle room. I find that my weekly spending on food is usually less than 10000 so spending 6000 for one lunch, every other week is not that bad. Plus, if I don't spend the money by the end of the mission, I lose it... so there is no sense in hoarding.
There are some small restaurants in Tocopilla, but with the momita you really don't ever feel like going out. There is no fast food in Tocopilla because of how small it is, so that isn't really an option, unlike Antofa. The lunches are almost always a soup, followed by a meat and startch and then dessert. Plus there is usually fresh tomatoes and cucumbers just cut up to take, if you want.
There isn't really any odd or adventurous food as far as I can tell. If there is, I haven't had it yet. It's usually chicken, pork, cut up hot dogs, beef or something along those lines. I am really, really, really enjoying eating a bowl of cereal every night, but that isn't all that interesting. Most of the food I eat I know what it is... and if I don't know, I try not to find out (which is really easy in that I can't really understand conversations yet). That has been working really good for me so far. There were two desserts that were really good, one was semola or something like that, with dulce de leche. The other was fruit topped with this stuff kind of like liquid marshmallow, which was homemade.
The Chilean people are really awesome. Most people, especially the members, are super nice. Even if they don't want to hear our message they are usually nice. It is annoying when they don't want to hear your message at all, but they tell you that they do, because it just wastes your time. But, I guess we are rewarded for the work regardless.
The people that we are teaching are generally high school age or older. We are teaching a brother and sister who are 17 and 16 respectively. We are also teaching a girl who is 13 and both of her parents are ok with it. That is one thing about the people here is that even if the parents are completely uninterested, they often let the kids learn it if they want. I think this is a little a-typical to what we are used to. Me and Elder Revi are having really good success with our level of hard work and I am trying to follow the schedule closely which I think is doing me good. We have already had some experiences that have proven that we are doing the right thing.
The whole region is dry but because most of the cities are coastal there is humidity, so it is really nice. I haven't had any issues with dry skin or cracked lips thus far. I already have a tan from my collar and it looks really stupid when I wear a regular shirt, but all of the missionaries have it so w/e (whatever).
The people's houses are really nice, but I am getting used to a different level of clean in the pension. However, we may not have to deal with that for much longer because we might be moving to a member's house which is really nice.
I don't know if I really meant to mean that my budget is really tight, it's just not excessive. You can live comfortably on it and do some stuff, but it is modest cause you are a missionary. The exchange rate is about 500 to 1. For example, cereal costs 1200 and 1 litre of milk costs 850 so I don't really know how that compares to home, but the dinner at TGI Fridays was about 12$. That probably would have been about $15 or a little more at home, plus the dessert. But I think the McDonalds in Antofa was more relative, so I don't know. I know that batteries are really expensive relatively, but that is about it.
I am getting a lot better at understanding people. Elder Revi always says that I can speak really well (I have trouble conjugating verbs, but that is just practice) and that I have really good pronunciation (which was something I worked really hard at), but that the understanding is really hard because the Chileans speak so fast. However, we were teaching a lady from Columbia and she was speaking a lot slower and I was able to understand her a lot better. When I first got here all the sentences sounded like big words, but now I can pick out most words and the trouble comes with putting the meaning to them. That is difficult because there are a lot of sayings that don't translate, like "sorry" which is "lo siento", but translates to "you I feel" which doesn't make any sense until you know what the intention is and then you can figure it out.
The visit with Alexis Sanchez's mom was really just social. We answered a few questions about our beliefs and tried to set up a few appointments to come back which fell through so we gave up, which isn't good or bad... just life.
We had a really cool P-day today. We left for Calama which is 3 hours away and where our zone leaders are. Tocopilla is kind of in the middle of nowhere church-wise, it is a branch that is not part of a Stake to put things in perspective. Anyways, we left early in the morning to go see some geyser/hotsprings, kind of like Yellowstone and then went to this little tourist town called San Pedro de Atakama and went to do some sand boarding. It was pretty fun, but super tiring so I didn't do that many runs. You have to walk back to the top every time and I really didn't want to get hurt. Now I am in Calama waiting for my time for the bus to leave for Tocopilla (10:50 ish) and writing this e-mail.
But... the coolest thing that happened was on Saturday. We were having a really slow day and not really having much success and about 7 Elder Revi said we should go to a specific family for like 15 min and just share something with them. The lesson was really spiritual and powerful for being so short. We talked a little about the preisthood authority and on prophets and at the end the daughter was crying, I believe from the spirit. The mom gave us the name of a kid in the hospital and asked us to visit so we said alright, left and went on with our day. About 9:30 I asked Revi what time we could go to the Hospital in the morning to visit the boy, so we went to check at the hospital. When we got there one of the members was in the lobby of the emergency room and we asked what was up. It turned out one of the members was in there for low blood pressure (not serious), but we showed up and they were like "Who told you she was in here?" and we said no one. That was really interesting. Then we talked with the mother of the boy and went to go give him a blessing in the morning.
I've run out of time and can't send any pictures but I will try really hard to get those for next week.