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Today in My History

2001:  Reflections of Life
Just a Simple School Marm
2003:  To Be Vulnerable
2004:  Secret Love
Brad and Jen
2006:  Only God Can Make a Tree
2007:   You Can't Get There from Here

2008:  What Hath Dog Wrought?

Hello, Dolly

Books Read in 2008
Updated: 12/28
"The Black Echo" 


Tater and Tot from Bev Sykes on Vimeo.

You Tube

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Eddie Izzard on "Whose Line" UK
Letterman's Favorite Bush Moments
Uncle Jay Explains 2008
A Doggie Christmas Surprise

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Napa Valley Get-Away

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Airy Persiflage

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12 January 2009

Catching up on one of the blogs I follow, I came across the challenge:

1). Go to the 4th picture folder on your computer.
2). Post the 4th picture in that folder.
3). Explain the picture.
4). Tag 4 more people.

Well, we already know I'm not going to tag anybody, but I thought some of you (like Mary) might be interested in doing this little exercise. 

This is the picture I found:

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It is in a folder of photos of a group of Chilean students who stayed with us in the early 1980s.  I had scanned the photos for uploading to Facebook, since the Chileans had all begun to reconnect on Facebook.

This photo is Juan Ignacio Vergara, a physician, who was the leader of the group and who stayed with us.  I think Juan was appalled by the conditions under which he had to live for three weeks (in addition to the usual chaos, we were undergoing a major ant attack at the time and he once told us he could make an "ant sandwich" by putting mayonnaise on a slice of bread and turning the mayo side down on top of the kitchen counter....and the counter was clean in those days!)  He always had this air of detached bemusement mixed with a sense of being appalled, yet by the time the group left, he seemed genuinely sad to say goodbye to all of us.

Juan Ignacio was one of those people who made me believe in the "small world" theory.  We took him to Muir Woods, near San Francisco, to show him the giant Coast Redwood trees.  In the middle of Muir Woods, he ran into a guy he had gone to medical school with in Santiago.

As for this particular photo, it was taken in our kitchen and I believe Juan Ignacio is preparing something that is going to be served at the going away party we had.  Each of the groups of foreign students I coordinated had a going-away party at the end of their 3-week homestays, where the kids all prepared dishes and took care of decorations and music and gave their hostess (me!) a gift to thank me for having organized the whole experience.

The group prepared empanadas and other things and demonstrated the cueca, the national dance of Chile.  The house was decorated with Chilean and American flags.  Ned was in Brasil when this group was here and Walt was out of town--I don't remember where--the night of the party, but the rest of us were there and had a great time.

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Years later I worked in the office next to the doctor whose house hosted this party and he didn't remember it at all.  Said he'd hosted lots and lots of foreign students and obviously didn't want to be connected with me at all.

JIV.jpg (46514 bytes)We lost contact with Juan Ignacio for many years and then out of the blue we received Christmas cards from him for a few years.   He had finished his residency and had established a proctology practice.  He had married and had a couple of kids.  Then we lost track of him again. 

I didn't hear from him again until this group re-surfaced on Facebook.  Turns out that in the intervening years, Juan Ignacio had become the head of the military hospital which cared for former dictator Augusto Pinochet before his death and was the spokesperson for updates on the president's condition, so there were lots of newspaper articles, with more recent photos.

I did finally hear from him when the Chilean group started getting active on Facebook.  I had written to him to invite him to join all the fun everyone seemed to be having reminiscing.  He explained that he was not computer literate and didn't want to join Facebook, but that he was very happy to hear from me again, and gave me an update on his family.

The whole experience with the Chileans was very special and Juan Ignacio was one of the ones I labeled the "special ones" out of the 70 or so people who lived with us over that ten year period.

Tomorrow is Cousins Day...next entry will be delayed.


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The farewell party.  Juan Ignacio and I are at the back left,
Front is, left to right:  David, Tom, Paul, Jeri


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MILES TO NOWHERE:  93.5 miles


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