(CHILLÁN, Chile) Four northwest Missourians on a Rotary ambassador trip have been in Chile now for more than a week.
As they travel through the central part of the country, they continue to learn more about Chile's culture and history. Alan Van Zandt is part of this group and has been reporting back to the KQ2 newsroom as he goes.
"Chile, a country of 19 million people located along almost the entire west coast of South America," KQ2 reporter Van Zandt said. "The Andes Mountains are behind me on the eastern side of the country. The Pacific Ocean lines the west. This is where four Northwest Missourians have traveled to for three weeks."
A long ways from home, but welcomed with an open heart. Four Rotarian's from Northwest Missouri are in Chile on an ambassadorial trip making new friends.
"Chilean people are very warm and kind," Rotary Ambassador Leslie Gasser said.
Another Rotary team member agrees.
"People are very caring, very loving, they're open," Ernesto Marquez said.
Chile is a quite developed country and their people are proud and they want the world to know about it.
One of Chile's Rotary Presidents said the hospitality is just part of who Chileans are as people.
"It's a country that's at the end of the world, the top of the world, the bottom of the world," Chillan Chile Rotary President Jorge F. said. "We want to be known."
The four Northwest Missouri Rotarians have traveled more than 13 hours by air to Chile. The Chileans are proud and they have good reason for it.
The country is known for its scenery and its environmental focus. Hiking through the Andes mountains, the visiting Rotarians have found out that Chile is among the top ten producers of renewable energy in the world. It's not by accident, and it could be life saving. Chile has the largest ozone layer hole in the world right above them and Chilean Rotary clubs.
"It's very important because that's why we can change missions of the world."
Both environmentally, and economically, bee farms and honey production is important in Chile. It's A $2 billion per year industry with 85 percent of what they produce being exported to Europe.
Van Zandt said, "When you're in Chile, you're never too far away from a soccer game. And a country, you grow to love it quickly. That's what the Missourian's have found out in short time. I think the first week has gone by so fast. Hopefully we can slow it down for the next two. I'm not ready to go back."