How did we get stranded in Chile? First some historical context. I have always liked meeting new people and experiencing new landscapes, so when I was 16, I joined a group of international exchange students and lived with a family in Colombia, South America. It was a wonderful experience being part of a new family and a good way to improve my high school Spanish. I fell in love with the Latin culture. I was very excited to be able to return to Colombia for the 2012 International Urantia Association conference in Medellin. The city had grown and changed so much since I had been there in 1961.
So fast forward thirty-five years to 1997, when I was asked to assist with a Urantia Foundation booth at the International book fair in Santiago Chile. Our mission was to present to the people of Chile, El libro de Urantia, the Spanish translation of The Urantia Book. There were hundreds of vendors at this well-attended and popular Santiago Book Fair which was held in the converted Estacion Mapocho, an old railroad station that hosts many exhibitions.
As I glanced through the many coffee table photo books of Chile, I was captivated by the diverse beauty of the country, especially the Lake District and the Patagonia area. When the book fair ended and I had a week to travel, that is where I went. I ended up in Puerto Varas, which is a lovely little town on the side of the second largest lake in Chile and a view of the snow-capped Osorno Volcano.
As “chance” would have it, I quickly met a nice group of young people who were quite interested in El Libro de Urantia, so I held a meeting where I introduced about 20 people to the text. One of them took me horseback riding the following year when I returned to further explore this area. I was on the way back after hiking in Torres del Paine National Park and immediately fell in love with this remote location. On that fateful ride, I discovered a gorgeous piece of property for sale in an old growth forest with a magnificent view of Osorno. I thought, what a perfect place to have a second home so, as the price was quite cheap compared to land back home, I bought the land and had a house built which I named La Casa de Vistas Divinas—The House of Divine Views. It was a great base to operate from. A group of women and I made a trip to place El libro in various libraries in Southern Chile and Argentina. This new home became my sanctuary and vacation destination. I needed a base in Chile if I was going to spread the teachings and hold study groups. My husband retired in 2005 and began to join me on my trips there.
So how did a couple of old gringos from Hawaii end up “stranded” in Puerto Varas, Chile? Granted this is not your typical stranded 6,000 miles from home story but it is my story, and many good experiences resulted from this period of travel and isolation.
We had been closely watching the progress of Covid-19 from Hawaii since late December. We had previously decided to journey back to Chile via Rapa Nui, (Easter Island) in March. We planned to meet the Mayor of the island, since he was a reader of The Urantia Book. We did get to meet him and had an interesting breakfast. The Urantia Book mentions Easter Island with an interesting story. (78:5.7, 873.3) Also, we wanted to donate a book to the local library there.
All our non-refundable flights, hotels, and tours were paid for in advance and included later flights all the way back via L.A. to Kona. As we watched the virus advance from Europe to the USA, we had to make the decision to take the trip or not. Do we throw caution to the wind or forfeit thousands of dollars? At that point there were no cases on Rapa Nui and only one in Chile, so we decided to mask and glove up and go for it. We spent three days in Tahiti and donated Le Livre d’ Urantia to the University of French Polynesia. We were extremely careful about where we went and avoided crowds. We had the Internet so we could follow how fast the virus was spreading around the world.
When we finally arrived at the Puerto Montt airport in the south of Chile we stocked up on frozen food and bought enough fresh food to last two weeks since we planned to quarantine at our home there. We couldn’t believe how fast the virus was spreading in Chile from just one case, but soon the borders were closed, international flights were cancelled, and the country went into lockdown. We were trapped! Fortunately, we could take walks on the remote roads in our immediate vicinity. It was starting to get cold as the southern hemisphere autumn was approaching so luckily there was plenty of firewood for our fireplace and wood stove. We were starting to get anxious about returning home, but all our return fights kept getting cancelled.
We soon adjusted to the isolation by taking online courses with the Urantia Book Internet School (UBIS), and we started a zoom study group on Part IV of The Urantia Book. I contacted Urantia Book reader friends from around the world, many of whom were very enthusiastic to have something to do while we were all in lockdown. We all appreciated talking and studying together once a week on Sundays. Although we missed our family back home on the Big Island we knew they were also in lockdown, so we wouldn’t have been able to see them even if we were there. We had no TV or newspapers so the Internet was our lifeline. Our zoom group is still going strong; it is probably the best thing to come out of our isolation.
Gradually things were starting to open up again in the USA and we finally were able to book a flight on June 2nd. Needless to say it was packed as people had been stuck in the south waiting for the airline to start flying again. We had to sit on the plane for two hours before it took off to process all the people on the flight for tracking. By this time, we not only had our N95 masks but also the added protection of plastic face shields. At the gate waiting area we met four Christian missionaries and told them about The Urantia Book. They said a 2,000-page revelation would be too much for them to read—they were quite old, so I hope their faith kept them safe, since they weren’t protecting themselves with any masks.
We finally touched down on home soil where some fearless Urantia Book reader friends picked us up and drove us home. What amazed me most on the whole trip was when we disembarked in Charlotte and saw all these people sitting close together in bars and restaurants, and at the gate, with no masks on. They had to have masks to get through on the flight but they obviously were very cavalier and removed them as soon as they could. It didn’t surprise me that Charlotte had a lot of Covid-19 cases shortly after that time.
After 66 hours door-to-door, we finally made it and started the state-required two-week quarantine. We returned just in time to see our orchids and the Night Blooming Cereus in full bloom. It was good to be home. My son had stocked our fridge with supplies, so we were all set to “hang tight.”
We are both very grateful for all the help, seen and unseen, that we received along the way. We both remain healthy, but doubt that we will be traveling anytime soon. We wish those who are still stuck in distant parts of this crazy blue planet Urantia all the best trying to get home, or if you are home, use your time wisely. We are fortunate to have such a wonderful revelation to keep us company. We are the pioneers of this amazing revelation, so stick around as long as you can by wearing your masks, washing those helping hands, and social-distance when in public.